Microsoft's Xbox E3 2018 Conference: The Liveblog

Image: ESA / E3 2017

So EA kicked off the long weekend, and now it's Microsoft's turn. Are you ready for almost two hours of trailers and announcements? Let's begin.

As always, basic housekeeping. If you want to have the stream going on a second screen, all the links you need are here:

Let's Watch The Microsoft's E3 2018 Xbox Conference Live!

Last year's Microsoft conference had new hardware, Sea of Thieves, Crackdown, a new Forza and a host of curious additions. What will Microsoft bring to the E3 2018 table this time around? Let's find out.

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As for the actual times, the conference itself will begin 0600 AEST / 0530 ACST / 0400 AWST / 0800 NZST. It's the first of two conferences on the Monday, with Bethesda starting at 1130 AEST later in the day.

All The Australian Times For E3 2018

The annual ritual is almost upon us. waking up at ungodly hours, rugging up in a blanket and slamming several coffees until the hype kicks in. Welcome to E3 2018.

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Right then, let's begin.

1730 Sunday: So, starting nice and early this afternoon (so I can properly sleep, unlike last night).

Basic thing to keep note of: Xbox will be debuting - not necessarily exclusives - 15 games tomorrow:

Red Dead Redemption 2 will probably be counted as part of that. Question is, does that include modes like Battlefield V's War Stories?

1745: Another note: the conference will be approx. 100 minutes long.

We know we'll see some Forza, Crackdown 3, Sea of Thieves, some RDR 2, probably a Halo update, and Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Ori in particular should be sensational, graphically if nothing else, although the original had a cracking soundtrack. (Although I totally understand if Axiom Verge was more people's style.)

1755: Wal-Mart hasn't leaked anything extra ahead of Microsoft's conference, although last year a lot of those leaks started dropping around midnight Australian time. So we'll see how things far on that front.

Something I'd like to throw out to people: Crackdown 3. Who's excited for it, and if not, why? Xbox is putting a lot of investment into Sumo's project, and I'm keen to know where everyone stands.

I didn't have an original Xbox growing up, and didn't grow up with the original Crackdown games, so I don't have strong feelings one way or another. I do like Sumo Digital's work, however, although Sonic All-Stars Racing is a far cry from blowing buildings up. (Reagent Games are working on Crackdown 3 as well, mind you.)

1815: Something I'd really like to see: a complete overhaul of the Windows Store. The Xbox UI has gotten several overhauls; and as Microsoft continues to talk up their efforts to promote gaming on Windows 10, it'd be nice if that was revamped to something a lot more usable.

1830: Fun aside: I've just finished playing a board game of Nightmare with friends. You know the one with the VCR tape? That, but you can play the videos on YouTube now.

It's ... it's something. Would recommend playing again. But only once.

As for Xbox, something that would make an awful lot of sense to bring back: 1 vs 100. If you have any affection for that game, Patrick wrote a lovely story looking back at its history here:

That Time Microsoft Ran A Live Game Show On Xbox 360

Anyone recall Xbox Live Primetime, Microsoft's push to do game shows on Xbox Live? No? That's probably because 1 vs. 100, based on the television show of the same name, was the only one Microsoft ever produced.

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1845: Bit of bad news for Kingdom Hearts fans: you won't get your beloved sequel this year. Although it's not too far away:

Others in the comments have bet Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Cyberpunk 2077 will get their global debuts tomorrow morning. I don't know if Tomb Raider would count as a global debut - hasn't it been shown off already? - but damn, I would love some Cyberpunk.

1915: So, I'll call things here until just before 0500 AEST tomorrow morning.

Expectations seems to be quietly optimistic, which is nice considering the holiday lineup for Xbox looks a bit unknown at this stage. I'm also curious to see the software updates for the console - some UI updates would be nice, and some more discussion about in-built features like tournaments and what Xbox has planned for baked-in esports features.

I'd be surprised if there wasn't more discussion about accessibliity, too, given the recent announcement of the Xbox Adpative Controller. But we'll find out more in several hours (if not earlier, courtesy of places Wal-Mart/Amazon/ratings agencies/the usual folk).

Until then, sleep well: we've got a long day tomorrow.

0500 Monday: And we're back. How have you all been?

Not too much has leaked overnight, although we do now know that NieR: Automata is landing on Xbox One in a fortnight. June 26, to be precise. That's a start to proceedings.

0505: Some stuff from Metro: Exodus has popped up in the last few hours as well:

Metro was one of the first games in Xbox's conference last year, so not a big surprise if we see a chunk of footage in the MS briefing again.

0512: Capcom will be joining the briefing as well:

Yoshinori is the executive producer for the Street Fighter series, FYI.

0525: Hearing that there was a talk on the Gameslice stream that someone mentioned - openly - that the hosts had to be positive. I'm assuming this is in relation to discussion of EA's conference in general, as I'd assume hosts would be told to be cheery off-camera before everything starts anyway.

"A tough but fair crowd online," Geoff Keighley quips, adds that the first game to be announced will be something people will be talking about a lot afterwards.

Cyberpunk, I wonder?

0530: So, time to crack the coffee open. No avoiding waking up Tegan this time - she bravely risked sleeping in the same room this time. Plus, mechanical keyboards buggered any chance of peace there. So, two coffees coming up.

0532: While I brew those coffees, a question for you all: what do you think Warner Bros' next game is?

0542: Right, caffeine problem solved.

As for the show itself, Rae from Gizmodo is on ground for the team right now. Here's a shot from the floor:

Image: Rae Johnston (Gizmodo)

0552: Let's talk Game Pass for a second.

It's a huge drawcard for Xbox - at least, going forward. In the next console generation, having Game Pass out of the gate is a supremely easy way to convert users over. It's an easy value proposition.

But why would you buy into Game Pass right now? The offering is a little threadbare, and games are pulled from the service every so often. So I'd like to see how many of these 15 exclusives will be added to Game Pass off the bat.

0555: A 360 degree photo from the show floor from Rae (let's see if this embeds right):

0557: Another prediction: will we see Fable this year? Something involving mixed reality or VR on the Xbox would be good too: the Xbox One X is plenty powerful.

0600: And it begins.

0601: Rhinos crossing a field. Enscriptions in rock. Something floating underwater. A beach.

It's Halo time.

Halo: Infinite, powered by the Slipspace engine. A ton of Xboxes are on the stage - 32 maybe?

0604: Phil Spencer talking about Fanfest and funds going to Gamers Outreach, which is a nice opening.

0607: 50 games in total - 18 exclusivity on Xbox - or 49, if you discount Halo Infinite.

"All demonstrate what true artisans can create," Spencer mentions, followed by an Xbox exclusive from Microsoft Studios.

It's Ori: Will of the Wisps.

0610: We're dealing with some samurai. Nioh on Xbox?

Nope, it's the next FromSoftware game.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, it's called, which drops next year.

Now Todd Howard appears. Ooer.

0613: Fallout 4 is on Xbox Game Pass, today. "And since we're here, we thought we'd give you an exclusive look at Fallout 76."

It's a Fallout prequel, apparently, four times larger than Fallout 4. Set in West Virginia (which we knew).

0615: Lot more foliage and trees than you'd expect in a Fallout game. That must be pushing the engine a fair bit.

0619: A new Life is Strange adventure, called Captain Spirit, which is free to download from June 26.

Crackdown 3 gets a run as well, then Nier: Automata on Xbox. Metro: Exodus then appears.

Launches February 22. Should be good.

0625: Fresh Kingdom Hearts 3 gameplay. We know this isn't dropping until late January.

The sound mixing for this seems ... very off. Like a lot of the background sound has been stripped out (which it must have). Just feels super weird.

0628: Now time for a bit more Sea of Thieves. Crowd seems a bit silent.

Forsaken Shores dropping in September. But, it's time for a Battlefield V War Story. No gameplay though.

"Exclusive world premiere," we hear, and then a McLaren shows up.

It's drifting through some countryside and windmills - this looks like the Netherlands, or countryside Europe. Definitely not Japan. It's set in Britain.

The entire open world is shared, apparently, so you're playing with everyone in a shared instance. Doesn't mention how many people can share an instance at once.

A 60fps mode is mentioned, which is nice. The in-game seasons change throughout gameplay, although it'll be interesting to see how quickly a season changes. "They are synchronised for every player so the entire community will experience them at the same time," the developer says.

Forza Horizon 4 launches October 2.

Phil Spencer's back.

0639: Talking about "increasing our investment in our existing franchises that you already love". But talk about investing in new worlds, too.

"We embarked on a quest, a quest to find creative teams that have the mastery of our art form," he adds.

The Initiative is a new first-party Microsoft studio based in Santa Monica. On top of that, Undead Labs have been acquired - or rolled into - Microsoft Studios. Good reward for their efforts.

Playground Games has been acquired by Microsoft as well. "They're bringing their open-world expertise to a new project - we can't wait to share more about that later." Ninja Theory have been bought by Microsoft as well, or at least signed up.

We'll need to see more detail on what this "bring to Microsoft Studios" actually means. Glad Ninja has been picked up, though.

Fifth studio: Compulsion Games, makers of the recently banned We Happy Few.

0643: We Happy Few time.

We Happy Few drops August 10. You'll need a VPN, anyway.

0645: Bit of PUBG love, as the Mixer stream lags to shit. Good stuff.

Oh, it's an anime game on Xbox. That's nice. And then Twitch stalls for me, so I've switched over to YouTube. Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition.

And here's that Fallout 76 trailer, if you wanted to see more:

0649: This smells like The Division 2 for sure.

Time for some good old fake-team chat. Ah, Ubisoft, you never let us down.

Lot greener, more foliage, more life. Also, the fake team chatter isn't quite as bad as usual. Some nice reflections in the water; that shimmering effect works nicely too.

0656: Head of engineering from Xbox Game Pass is talking about not having to choose between games. Straight ad for the subscription service so far.

Now talking about using machine learning to "invent" a way that starts games twice as quickly. "Unlike the ready to start system, faststart uses machine learning techniques based on how gamers actually play games," we hear.

It'll launch for select titles in the Xbox June update. Not really sure this is a game breaker for a ton of people, but the work on machine learning will be very handy down the road.

So as for what's happening today: The Division, Fallout 4 and Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited all available through Xbox Game Pass.

0700: It's [email protected] montage time. Below still doesn't have a release date. The Xbox is getting a new golf game. There's the Super Meat Boy expansion and Sable looks amazing.

0705: Shadow of the Tomb Raider gets a run - we'll see a lot more of this tomorrow morning at Square though.

Next up: a console launch exclusive from crea-ture studios.


But not Skate 4: it's called Session.

0706: A voiceover talking about losing her first lives, and working as a sorceress.

"Everything started to change when I started to ask the forbidden questions," it continues. There's a black stone in the middle of a desert.

This looks rather neat, actually. Ah, it's Black Desert Online. Right then.

"All content shown rendered in engine and in real time."

It's a Capcom game featuring demons. It's Devil May Cry 5.

The music is awful, though. Horrifically bad, almost. Due out autumn next year.

0713: Now, who'd like some Cuphead DLC?

That won't drop until next year though. Next up: a game from a studio called Finji.

OMFG this fox is adorable.

Tunic is made by a one-person studio, Phil Spencer reveals afterwards.

0716: Bandai Namco's new game. Finally. What are you making, Bandai?

Ah, there's One Piece and it's a cross-over game.

Is this anime Avengers?

0719: Next up is Dying Light 2. Bit of melee combat, and then Chris Avellone takes the stage.

That's ... an interesting choice for an Xbox briefing. What RPG have you got, sir? Oh, he's actually the narrative director on Dying Light 2. That's super intriguing.

He says "your choices" will have genuine consequences in the in-game world. A demo then plays illustrating how that works.

Avellone talks about being able to make hundreds of decisions.

0725: Battletoads is back!

I ... what?

Now Just Cause 4 pops up, having already been spoiled by an ad on Steam. Thanks Valve!

0727: Another Gears game. But .. it's cute?

It's a Gears mobile game, Gears POP!. Drops next year. Looks a bit silly to have the gears logo on 40+ Xbox screens, though.

It's a "unique mobile spin", although Gears Tactics is being announced for PC too:

And Gears 5 is actually coming. Why not lead with that?

Gears Tactics does look pretty neat, amongst all that. Don't mind the Gears 5 environments, either.

0735: Phil Spencer returns. We're five minutes from wrapping up.

We've covered 50 games in total, and no Cyberpunk. Bloody hell. There's time for one more game. Come on Phil.

Last piece: Xbox are working on a console-streaming service on any device. It's the Xbox Steam Link!

The next Xbox is in development, too. We won't see that for a couple of years, mind you. It'd be bizarre if it was manufactured before AMD's 7nm process drops.

It's Cyberpunk 2077 time.

0744: So that's it, hitting just around the 100 minute mark with Cyberpunk 2077 to finish.

One of Xbox's better conferences, although didn't hear one iota about the console itself. This was all about games, reasons to buy the console.

What was your favourite game shown during the conference? Vote below...

0750: Note what we didn't see: Red Dead Redemption 2. And no Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 either, which has always been a staple in Xbox conferences even with the Sony exclusivity.

But we'll see them shortly enough. Beyond that, what'd you think? I thought it was better than previous years, or at least paced better. Some of the games looked pretty good too: Metro continues to look neat, and I'm fairly into a Gears XCOM game.

Either way, it's time to chill for a bit (well, not for me) until Bethesda. See you in a couple of hours!


    I'm guessing 100% of the PC games coming will be use the Windows Store only

    I expect they'll show off the new Tomb Raider unless Square-Enix want to save that for their own conference. Forza Horizon 4 seems guaranteed but I'm less excited about it with it not being about Australia this time around :P

      There's no timed exclusivity on this one, so I doubt MS will be promoting it.

        Ah I didn't know that, you're probably right then. I guess we'll probably see it Tuesday then along with Hitman 2 in the Square-Enix conference.

          >"Hitman 2 in the Square-Enix"

          Uh, I was under the impression that IO had taken their cake elsewhere?

            I thought it was still Square-Enix but you're right, looks like Warner Bros is publishing this time around :/

    I have dibs that we'll see a Xbox VR announcement. MS is the only one with a decent enough console (in the X) to deliver living room VR which isn't compromised (like Sony's), so it'd be weird to see Microsoft still playing on the edges.

    As for games, don't hold your breath. Unless Microsoft have had something cooking which no one knows about (rare), we won't be seeing anything. Being honest, if Microsoft wants exclusives, just go buy a bunch of Japanese studios and call it a day :P.

      They've still got the Holo-lens, which surely has to get a consumer release soon given (A) devs have been messing with them for yonks and (B) the Magic Leap is looking suspiciously like it might actually start existing some time in the not too distant future.

      I'd wager some of the new game XBox announcements will be doing something interesting with that AR tech.

        I'd say Windows Mixed Reality is a more likely bet than Holo-lens.

        The tech behind Holo-lens seems great to me but they still haven't really shown a big reason for people to buy it other than another gimmick. They've tried to push it with Minecraft the last few years but with the hype behind that practically buried at this point, they really need a new angle.

      Has the X sold enough units to make VR worthwhile, though? If they do VR it will still have to work with the base XB1, so it'll still be compromised.

      That aside I'm not sure that VR games are selling well enough on the existing platforms to really be enticing new players in. I know Sony have sold a lot of PSVR units, but I'd be interested to know how many of them are gathering dust now that the novelty has worn off.

    dang it would much preferred that Cyberpunk debut on the PC Gamer Show, instead of a Mircosoft/Sony Presentation

      Depends on how far ahead development is, but on the whole it wouldn't really make sense for CDPR.

        eh its more for that fact that it would be a great headliner for PC as a platform, like how we have Mario and Zelda for Nintendo and God of War /Last of Us for Playstation

    Hoping to god that Cyberpunk isn’t a timed Xbox exclusive, that would shit me right off!!!!

      on one hand I have faith CD Projekt have the PC gaming in their heart

      on the other though, if MS offered (let's say) something insane like a billion dollars... well I wouldn't blame them if the signed the dotted line

    Lets hope this will be better than EA's. Not that it will be hard to achieve such a thing.

    I am alive and with caffeine!

      10 bucks say's they are demoing a battle royale mode of some game jumping on the band wagon with all those consoles set up...

        An extra 10 if they have someone shout-casting it

      I think there's about 80 consoles set up @Alex, looks like groups of 8

    "It's a Fallout prequel, apparently, four times larger than Fallout 4"

    Was size really the problem? Not the absolute piss-poor level of writing and how boring the world was.

    Woooo! Tales of Vesperia. I really loved that game.

    Where can we make the next Forza?

    Hey let’s make it in some of the blandest countryside know to man.

    They should have done Europe instead of Britain.

      Yep an entire continent. Sounds fun to design.

        They already did Europe in Forza Horizon 2 btw.

    Just to note about AMD 7nm - AMD already has CPU's and GPU's sampling on 7nm, its closer than you think.

      CPU sampling is for Threadripper, GPU 7nm shipping later this year is for their workstation GPUs. Consumer level stuff and SOC stuff will take at least another year, which would make an Xbox 2019 launch ... pretty difficult. Absolutely nothing would have to go wrong between now and then to make that happen.

        You have 7nm Epyc sampling as of now, as well as 7nm Vega. Indeed, both are server related, however on the CPU side, those core complexes are the same from Consumer to Server, GPU of course will likely be a wait until Navi, but the point is we are nowhere near years for working 7nm silicon in the consumer space.

          As far as a new Xbox is concerned, I think "years" - probably two, but no more than three - is still fair.

          Desktop 7nm would be strange if it wasn't a 2019 launch, though.

    Streaming for consoles to any device? Nice, the Steam Link worked well for me, hope this does too!

      I think its streaming from Azure as a subscription over the internet, not so much your console everywhere.

        Well that's shit.

          You are just a home VPN away for your home console to do the same. I do it with my Vita for PS4 games and it works not too bad.

            Tried it with a PS4 on my home network to a PC and it was an awful experience. Steam Link was much, much better.

              I don't know why, but the Vita works much better than the PC for this. I have nfi.

    I can’t remember exactly when it happened, but E3 has gotten really boring.
    Halo 6, Gears of War 5, Just Cause 5...not to mention the running joke that is Crackdown 3. I’m stuck in a time loop!
    Every year I get my hopes up. Every year I’m disappointed.
    Hopefully Nintendo does something interesting this year, beyond than the obvious Smash and Pokémon thing; or announcing games for Switch we’ve already played to death on other platforms.

    Tales of Vesperia is coming to Xbox One and if you don't believe me ClawShrimp.
    BANDAI NAMCO has just announced that Tales of Vesperia is coming to Nintendo Switch later this year so I'm frickin excited for BANDAI NAMCO'S Tales of Vesperia coming to the Nintendo Switch later this year. BANDAI NAMCO'S Tales of Vesperia coming to Nintendo Switch later this year fuck yeah. Count me in BANDAI NAMCO I'm ready for Tales of Vesperia coming to Nintendo Switch later this year.

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