Xbox E3 2018 Briefing Press Event Notes

We’re onto the second day of E3 press events, and here’s everything that was announced at Microsoft’s Xbox E3 2018 Briefing.

Halo Infinite
The show opened with a trailer for Halo Infinite depicting the wide-open spaces of an open-world version of Halo. It looks great. No combat was depicted, which is a pretty strong statement from the 343 development team, or their marketing overlords.

Phil Spencer’s Soapbox
Spencer quickly transitioned from Halo to talking about creativity for some reason. I can’t wait to upload my skateboard design with the Kinect. Spencer talked about how the game playing fanfest attendees in the audience had their ticket proceeds going to charity. Who knows how much money that is, it can’t be that much because no number was mentioned, but the chanting support Spencer received from this section of the audience was certainly something that Microsoft had no trouble with accepting.

Spencer at least sounds like a human instead of the robot dropped in from c-space that assumed Andrew Wilson’s form at EA’s press event.

Ori And The Will of The Wisps
A new Ori sidescrolling naturevania game is on the way. The trailer showed off a cute new owl character and new challenges. It looks good and it’s an Xbox exclusive. It was given a 2019 release window.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
The first “world premier” of this event, which means that this is not at all exclusive, was a From Software made and Activision published third-person cyber augmented-samurai in feudal times action game. Lots of swords and a 2019 release window for multiple platforms.

Fallout 4
Bethesda’s Todd Howard showed up at the Xbox event to receive the fanfest cheers as he announced that Fallout 4 would be on the Xbox Game Pass video game subscription.

Fallout 76
Howard also talked about the upcoming Fallout prequel, Fallout 76 was rumored to be an online game and it is. According to Howard, 76 has four times the land to explore as Fallout 4 and it’s in the hills of West Virginia. A trailer played showing a power-armored figure watching nukes land. The trailer looks a lot like Fallout 4, but with a country song playing over it. The trailer is heavy on rebuilding and the power-armor from the start of the trailer is depicted under-foot and rusting in the ground until the vault 76 dweller puts on that armor again. It’ll be out on November 14th, 2018 for multiple platforms.

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit
Another “world premier” with a Sufjan Stevens-scored trailer from Dontnod and Square-Enix. It’s the Life is Strange spin-off about a young man with super powers. It’ll be out for free on multiple platforms on June 26th. Dontnod infamously broke picket lines and hired scabs to replace their union voice actors during a strike, so I won’t be downloading this.

Crackdown 3
Terry Crews’ voice over opens the sci-fi open-world game’s Sumo Digital trailer. It looks like Crews is playing himself, or the version of himself he acted out in the Old Spice commercials. There’s a rocket launcher that shoots an array of rubber ducks as Crews’ character exclaims “Quack Quack, Mother F-” but the expletive is beeped. As rumored, the game has been delayed again until February of 2019. It is still an exclusive to the Xbox One and Windows 10.

Nier: Automata: Become as Gods Edition
It’s a repackaged version of Nier: Automata with the DLC that came out for it. This version of the game will be out on June 26th, 2018. The Windows version on Steam is miserably broken without using some hacks to fix issues, hopefully this port will be better. I’m glad that people without a PS4 or Windows gaming computer will finally get a crack at this game, it is an extremely odd third-person action game with a style that is typically exclusive to Sony’s consoles.

Metro Exodus
Boiling seas, people turning into shadows, why it’s a Metro game trailer. You’re still Artyom in an FPS from 4A games, and it’s still going to be a very post-apocalyptic world with gas masks and other tools of the trade. It’ll be out on February 22nd, 2019 for Windows, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Phil Spencer is Talking Again
He’s standing in the audience and there’s a guy with a jersey that says “Lord Hot Monkey” seated in the aisle seat next to him. He’s introducing a trailer for…

Kingdom Hearts 3
Sora’s on the Xbox One for the first time in Square Enix’s action RPG. He’s joined by Goofy and Donald Duck. A character from Frozen runs across the water. A ton of other Disney characters show up. There’s shield surfing, gummi spaceships, and battles that look like they take too long. Some parts of this trailer have voice acting, and music, but a lack of any kind of foley so they’re really odd. It’s out on January 29th, 2019, if you’re into this kind of thing.

Sea of Thieves Cursed Sails & Forsaken Shores
A trailer boasts about the 4 million people who’ve played this Xbox exclusive pirating game game that’s been out for a bit, and some other numbers. A pirate visits a fortune teller who tells him about some evil nonsense that’ll be in the game later on. An update called Cursed Sails will be out in July, the Forsaken Shores update will be out in September. It isn’t clear if these are paid DLC or not from the trailer.

Battlefield V
Hey it’s still the same FPS coming out later this year for Windows, PlayStation 4, and the Xbox One. They played a short trailer for the single player mode and somehow didn’t include the release date, which is still October 16th. How odd that they don’t mention the “Airlifts” or the deluxe version or the early access if you pay EA $100 a year or the other nonsense that EA is doing with this game. It’s almost like they don’t want to boast about that when they’ve promised no more lootboxes.

Forza Horizon 4
Walmart Canada got one thing wrong, it’s not time for a Forza Horizon 5 but a 4 instead. This time the open-world racing is in the United Kingdom.

Ralph Fulton from Playground appeared on stage to talk about the game. Fulton introduces some folks playing the game on-stage, what cars they chose, and what part of Britain they’re in. All of the players are in the same shared world and we’re told that the game supports 60 frames-per-second on the Xbox One X in a certain mode. Apparently the game supports dynamic seasons. A lake can freeze and be available for driving.

I am very much hoping for unintelligble (to me) accents from the announcers but I doubt that Playground Games will do that. Otherwise, the game looks great. I just wish it were a little bit more arcadey in the damage profile. Burnout still isn’t really back yet, maybe next year. Forza Horizon 4 is out on October 2nd, 2018 for Xbox One and Windows.

Phil Spencer Won’t Stop Talking
He’s promised to buy more game development studios to make more exclusive games, as well as making more internal teams and studios. He announces one called The Initiative in Santa Monica, California led by Darrell Gallagher. He’s been all over working at Activision, Square Enix, Crystal Dynamics, THQ, Rockstar, and Sony. We aren’t told what specifically they’re working on.

Spencer tells us that they’ve also bought Undead Labs, the developers of State of Decay 1 & 2.

Spencer then says they’ve bought Playground Games, who you may recall from Forza Horizon 4.

Ninja Theory has also been bought by Microsoft. They once made Heavenly Sword for the PlayStation 3 as well as Kung Fu Chaos for the original Xbox. Most recently they shipped Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice for Windows, the PlayStation 4, and the Xbox One.

Microsoft’s wallet opened once again for Compulsion Games, the developers of We Happy Few which appeared to be in a bit of a nightmare of a development cycle. I didn’t care for their odd survival game when I saw it last, hopefully the finished product is better.

We Happy Few
The dystopian first-person game about “robots made out of meat” now has a release date, August 10th 2018. In 2018 I’m not sure how much interest I have in playing another dystopian game but the theme is interesting.

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds
A very hectic trailer plays for PUBG. It’s still PUBG as all hell. The smaller tropical map is said to be due this summer. A new war mode is mentioned, as well as a very short teaser clip of a winter map, but all you see is snow and boots. That winter map or mode is supposed to be out this winter.

Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition
A “world premier” of this remastered anime RPG that’ll be out on the Xbox One as well as the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Windows, late this year. Apparently some of the content and characters in this version were never in the older versions of the game released a decade ago.

The Division 2
Another “world premier.” This time, it’s set in a toppled Washington D.C. Ubisoft made a very graphically impressive version of New York City with the first Division game, but it had some oddly fascist choices to the plot. This looks like more of the same. The trailer features some of the most unrealistic online voice chat I’ve ever heard as the players fight around a downed Air Force One. Ubisoft promises it’ll be out on March 15th, 2019. No doubt the platforms are Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Windows.

Ashley Speicher Speaks About Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Subscription
Apparently games are going to boot quicker on the Xbox One, somehow using machine learning. I’m not sure what that has to do with their game pass subscription. Speicher mentioned some more games being added to the subscription. I’m not excited about the hit to game preservation, but I understand why this option is a good choice for some people.

Indie Montage Break
Lots of games with differing levels of exclusivity, or none at all. Sable has a very unique look that I’ve never seen in a game before. Below is apparently still in development. Harold Halibut looks like a very interesting polygonal adventure game. I’m not the first to say that Generation Zero looks very familiar.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider
I’m already one game behind on playing the modern Tomb Raider series. Apparently I have until September 14th to catch up before this one is out. They’re good games, Lara.

Session
It’s awesome to see a full-on 3D skateboarding simulation game again. This is yet another “console launch exclusive” which doesn’t mean much. The developer is Creature, and Session was originally a crowdfunded project that targetted Steam’s Early Access program as well as the Xbox One’s Game Preview program. There’s an old prototype demo on the Kickstarter page. No release date yet.

Black Desert Online
Hey it’s an MMORPG. In 2018. Somebody’s gotta do it. Might as well be another console launch exclusive. They’ve got a beta late this year, and it’s headed to the PlayStation 4 as well. Or you can play this game on Windows today. I have a special fondness in my heart for Korean-made video games after working there a decade ago.

Devil May Cry 5
This looks very silly, somehow. There’s a ridiculous cyborg arm and a fun sidekick. It’ll be out next Spring. This is just a “world premier,” so there’s no exclusivity expressed but it sure is wrongly implied. The game will actually be on the Xbox One as well as the PlayStation 4 and Windows. Weird as hell to hear the voice actor for Jet from Cowboy Bebop at the start of this trailer. I hear that Ninja Theory’s DmC was super, involving fighting the idea of dubstep and other goofy stuff.

Hideaki Itsuno and Matt Walker from Capcom showed up to talk about the series. They’re very excited to bring DmC back.

Cuphead DLC
Cuphead is getting “The Delicious Last Course” with a new character, Ms. Chalice, a new island, and more. 2019.

Tunic
Finji’s got a fox in a Zelda-y action-RPG by Dicey. It’s so not exclusive it already has a Steam page. Tunic will be out in 2019 on the Xbox One as well as Steam for Windows and macOS.

Phil Spencer’s Still Talking
Really. They just bring up the stage lights and he keeps talking. He’s promised that the rest of the games in this show are all “…world premier games nobody has seen before.”

Jump Force
Bandai Namco has a bunch of anime characters from Dragon Ball, One Piece, and Naruto fighting. It’ll be on Windows, PlayStation 4, and the Xbox One in 2019. Somebody is going to get really into this, but it isn’t me. Spike Chunsoft is developing it.

Dying Light 2
This trailer made me wish for an open-world Condemned, which was excellent. Dying Light  was good, but I never got far in it. Chris Avellone is apparently working with Techland on this one, and he showed up on stage to talk about it. “Dying Light 2 will be the first in it’s genre where your choices have genuine consequences in the game itself.” Avellone sets up for this gameplay trailer:

Avellone says that there are hundreds of decisions that change the game world and the characters in it, but promises like that have been made so many times before. No release date is given, but it will be on the Xbox One as well as Windows and the PlayStation 4.

Battletoads
Well heck, it’s a world premier. The original game was a crap ripoff of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Battletoads is back because of a joke about calling Gamestop to ask for it and this trailer is full of bad jokes like “4K Hand-Drawn 2.5D Graphics.” Yikes. It’ll be out in 2019 from DLaLa Studios on the Xbox One and Windows 10. Hopefully there’s a good game that comes out of this.

Just Cause 4
Steam managed to leak this one with an ill-timed popup advertisement. Rico’s still fighting a ridiculous open-world fight. It’ll be out on December 4th, 2018. Surprisingly few games are targeting a 2018 release in this event.

Gears Pop
Who the hell decided to make a Gears Funkopop game? It’s apparently a mobile game for iOS and Android next year. Why couldn’t we just let Funkopop toys fade away?

Rod Fergusson is Geared up for Gears Gears Gears Gears Gears
He’s attempting to justify this Funkopop garbage game for terrible people, and redeem himself by announcing a Gears Tactics game in the style of XCom for Windows. It really looks like XCom. Gears 5 is also announced.

Gears of War 5
I’m so out of touch with the Gears games I don’t recognize many of these characters. Apparently the protagonist is someone named Kait. The armor sets still looks very ridiculous. Like Batman Forever ridiculous. This trailer is big on haunting music spoiled by sudden action scenes. Gears 5 will be out some time in 2019.

Phil Spencer Wants to Talk More
This conference has to be over soon, right?! He’s talking like it’s closing out. He’s mentioning all the buzzwords. AI research, streaming game video. He’s even talking about building more consoles.

Cyberpunk 2077
Okay I’m onboard for more Cyberpunk 2077. It’s been too long and CD Projekt Red has purple mohawks for us.

Overall
Please condense your press events. It’s nice that people who bought an Xbox One get some exclusives. That Battletoads trailer was embarrassing, but closing the show with a non-exclusive game is an odd choice. The audience near the stage was full of fans, which is not a bad decision on Microsoft’s part to get the reaction they want, but it is still odd to me to hear clapping and wild hollering reactions during what was once exclusively a press event. Press don’t clap. They’re there to work and focus on their job. The fan reactions are a distraction from that job. I learned this lesson during a NASCAR post-race interview event, of all things.

Author: Jack Slater

A Philadelphian exiled to Hawaii. You can follow or contact me on Twitter where I'm @TimeDoctor, via the contact page, or via e-mail to zjs AT zacharyjackslater dot com More here.

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