Even at the tail end of a generation when everyone has either pulled out or sitting on its own nukes ahead of next year, Microsoft pulled some brilliant rabbits out of its hat, even if the one rumoured before the show never showed up.
Blimey. That was a show.
Oh you thought I was going to start with Scarlett or youknowwho, didn’t you? We’ll get to those things, but out of everything that happened at the show, this is the thing that sticks out to me, three hours after it happened.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer had just come on stage, to the loudest of cheers and applause like as if he was the Messiah (alright, calm down), after appearances for The Outer Worlds, Ninja Theory’s Bleeding Edge, Ori and the Will of the Wisps and Minecraft Dungeons from Mojang. Afterwards, he talked of how games can be a unifying force, why games are for everyone – a message Spencer has been banging the drum on for the past year and a half – as he noted how the number of players have tripled in under two decades to 2 billion and how players have more choice to play what they want on where they want.
“Gaming is for everyone.”
This wasn’t an salvo that declared war on his competitors or to turn tribal gamers who prefer one platform over another. This was an open invitation of accessibility, that it was for all types of players regardless of skill level or how they play regardless of physical limitations.
I think that, out of anything else, impressed me the most during the show. Props to Spencer for what was an impressive and inclusive introductory speech.
R255, G36, B0
And there it is. Project Scarlett is official. It’s coming in time for Christmas next year. And with it, we now set out on the road to the next-generation.
There was no chasis unveil (think this may bite Major Nelson on the arse) and no official name. It was similar to the Project Scorpio/Xbox One X announcement in 2016 with the exception of one big thing (I’ll get to that). But we did get some decent details on specs. They comprise of these:
- A custom AMD Zen2 CPU
- 4x the power of an Xbox One X, as previously reported
- High bandwidth GDDR6
- Capable of framerates of up to 120FPS and support for up to 8K
- Ray tracing
- Variable refresh rate
- An SSD that allows for virtual memory
Comparing it to the specs of PlayStation 5, both machines are evenly matched at the first stages of the next-generation kicking off. We won’t fully know how powerful both machines will be until at least next E3, but things are encouraging that on a power level at least, both consoles are on level footing.
That said, we did get one look at a game that would be coming for launch: Halo Infinite.
For the first time in 19 years, a new game in Xbox’s flagship franchise will launch alongside a new system. And it looked absolutely stunning.
The ball is back in Sony’s court as we now await for it to give an official idea of what to expect for its system and a game or two on its part for launch (Horizon 2 please?), but for now, next year is shaping up to be a special year in games.
I have nothing smart to say other than holy shit
It’s not Miyamoto, but god damn if you had to bring someone else out there, Keanu Reeves is probably the next best person to bring out.
Cyberpunk 2077 also finally has a release date of April 16, 2020, but the moment was overshadowed by Keanu Reeves. And if this was any other celebrity cameo, it would be, rightfully, shat on. Except this is Keanu Reeves.
KEANU. FUCKING. REEVES.
As celebrity cameos at E3 go, this is legendary tier. I mean, there ain’t that many brilliant celebrity cameos at E3 anyway, but this tops them all anyway (Sorry, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr from E3 2009/The Beatles: Rock Band).
– The Outer Worlds has a release date of October 25. I’m in for it.
– Ninja Theory’s new game, Bleeding Edge, was leaked before the show along with its trailer. So there was nothing new we didn’t already see. That said, Ninja Theory gameplay x Splatoon-like 4 vs 4 multiplayer and I’m so in. Technical alpha kicks off at the end of the month.
– Ori and the Will of the Wisps got pushed from 2019, but also finally has a release date of February 11, 2020. Still looks wonderful, but it also has spiders. I’m out. Sorry, Moon Studios.
– Star Wars: Jedi – Fallen Order got new stuff shown that wasn’t at EA Play yesterday. Later in the show, Warner and TT Games announced a brand new Lego Star Wars game that could comprise of all nine films in the Skywalker Saga, from Episode I: The Phantom Menace through to Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker next year.
– A Blair Witch game is coming from Lionsgate Games in August. Can’t say I care because I don’t really care for horror.
– Spiritfarer from Thunder Lotus Games is a game about dying. And it’s rather beautifully wholesome. Coming next year to Xbox One, PS4, Switch, Mac and PC.
– Battletoads got a run out! It looks cool! But it also has no date.
– The Legend of Wright seems to be a notebook-set RPG of sorts. I didn’t get a chance to properly pay attention to it, but it does have a theme that rips off the Dragon Quest theme.
– Xbox Game Pass PC launching today in open beta and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for Xbox Game Pass on XB1 and PC plus Xbox Live Gold membership. Available during E3 for a $1. GUESS WHO HAS A YEAR LEFT ON THEIR GOLD AND SIX MONTHS OF GAME PASS LEFT AND IS GETTING ON THAT DEAL TO GET ANOTHER EIGHTEEN MONTHS OR SO OF GAME PASS!? *points* THIS GUY.
– Microsoft Flight Simulator is coming to Xbox One as well as PC and holy crap it looks good.
– Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition got a showing. PC only. Microsoft also announced after the show, though, a brand new Age of Empires studio that’ll be headed up by former Microsoft Game Studios GM Shannon Loftus.
– It kinda tells you a lot that Double Fine becoming a first-party studio for Xbox Game Pass is a footnote here rather than its own section. Psychonauts 2 is still coming to PS4, though. No release date despite a trailer at the conference.
– Way to the Woods is so my jam, it hurts. Beautiful art style and brilliant soundtrack. I’m in.
– 12 Minutes from Annapurna Interactive is, likewise, also my jam. I am in for my thrillers.
– Here’s the thing about Gears 5’s segment during the show. That Kait trailer set to a slower version of Billie Elish’s Bury A Friend was fucking perfect. Everything after that sort of went downhill, though. Anyway, September 10 is when the game comes out, although there’ll be tech tests between now and the game’s launch. And there’s some sort of Terminator tie-in too. And Gears Pop is still a thing. I liked the trailer for it, but then it showed gameplay and I’m out.
– The new Elite controller is an improvement on the first one. Here’s hoping it won’t be as expensive.
– Dying Light 2 is coming Spring 2020 and also came with the worst line of dialogue to be said during an E3 trailer: “My name is Aiden and I’m infected.
– Forza Horizon 4’s second expansion is out this week AND IT’S BASED ON LEGO I’M IN. State of Decay 2 is also getting an expansion called Heartland. It’s actually out now.
– Phantasy Star Online 2 is finally coming west next spring to Xbox One! Except, as Sega confirmed after the show, it’s for North America. Let out a big deep sigh for that.
– A Borderlands 3 trailer. Borderlands: The Handsome Jack Collection for Xbox Game Pass. A free Borderlands 2 DLC that’ll bridge the story between 2 and 3. Next.
– Crossfire X is Smilegate’s western nod as it brings its series westbound. To put it into context, it’s essentially South Korea’s take on Counter-Strike. Also, for whatever it’s worth, Remedy has been working on the story for Crossfire 2. They’re unrelated, but just saying.
– Tales of Arise, leaked by the Bandai Namco leak the other day, was confirmed for 2020. PS4, Xbox One and PC for it. Elden Ring by From Software and George R.R. Martin was also announced at the show. No date for that, though.
– Project xCloud got hard deets. A launch for October, with Microsoft also announced that your Xbox One X can act as a server alongside traditional servers running the service as MS HQ.
– No Forza Motorsport 8, surprisingly. It may actually be the bigger bombshell of the entire show. Turn 10 creative director Dan Greenawalt was in the Project Scarlett video, but there was no mention of Forza 8 otherwise throughout the show. Is there going to be a Forza game this year? Or is Forza 8 being held for Scarlett? (I want my Forza Horizon 5 in Japan as planned, Microsoft!!! Please?)
This was Microsoft’s best E3 press conference of a generation that started out so rough for them six years ago at the same show. But more than that, it was – for me – its best E3 showing ever. Everything shown, one way or another, appealed to me. And Spencer’s speech at the top of the show was something that everyone should take note on.
It all comes full circle in a way. Start the Xbox One generation with a rough show, end it with your best showing. There’s an irony to it.