Having failed to stick the landing for the inaugural Xbox Series X showing, Microsoft was clear: The Xbox Games Showcase would be one hour of straight gameplay. And that’s what the company finally delivered, offering more details and footage from Microsoft’s first and third-party studios, including Halo: Infinite, a Fable reboot Hellblade 2 a new Square Enix platformer, Everwild, and more.
Kicking off at 2:00am AEST / 4:00am NZST / midnight AWST, the showcase was billed as the first proper showing for Microsoft’s first-party titles. Halo: Infinite, Microsoft’s biggest franchise when it comes to promoting the Xbox Series X, was absent from the initial batch of next-gen gameplay trailers. At the time, Microsoft announced Halo would be held back until July, a decision that seemed almost prophetic after the PlayStation 5 reveal.
Before the official stream began, a string of smaller titles were revealed in a pre-showcase held by Geoff Keighley on The Game Awards. It started with Dragon Quest XI S coming to Xbox Game Pass and Xbox, as well as a new free-to-play battle royale and competitive FPS for 2021, Exomecha.
The reveal trailer featured giant, Japanese-style mechs duking it out on a huge desert wasteland, as well as players flying through the air on rockets. Also, mecha-dragons are naturally a thing.
As for Dragon Quest XI S, it’ll come to Xbox on December 4.
Before the pre-show began, Microsoft’s Aaron Greenberg reminded fans that the show was “just games”. That meant no info about the console’s pricing, release date, industry movements or devices would be revealed.
Another game premiered ahead of the showcase was Echo Generation, launching in 2021. There was some 3D adventuring and turn-based tactical elements shown off, as well as a touch of voxel art. There was also a new trailer for Watch Dogs: Legion.
The next pre-game reveal was Hello Neighbour 2, due out sometime in 2021. That was followed by an [email protected] montage, which featured games like Dead Static Drive, The Artful Escape, Luke, The Ascent, Last Stop, ExoOne, 12 Minutes, The Big Con, The Falconeer, Unexplored 2, Tunic, Song of Iron, Shredders, Mad Streets and Sable. All the games would be console exclusives to Xbox, but there’s no exclusivity regarding PC.
A Japanese game was the next cab off the rank. Introduced by Square Enix’s Yuji Naka, the game was the first title from a new studio within Square Enix. Balan Wonderworld is set in a world of musical theatre, where a single button unlocks different costume abilities.
Balan Wonderworld’s first gameplay reveal showcased a lot of 3D platforming segments, with the different costumes unlocking new abilities. (A little reminiscent of Super Mario Odyssey and A Hat in Time, in a way.) The game will be out in autumn 2021.
The Xbox Games Showcase proper began with a shot of a manufacturing facility in outer space. It showed the manufacture of a series of armour suits, revealing the next set suit for Master Chief.
The footage then showcased a menu screen of Halo: Infinite, revealing the footage was coming from a demo (which would presumably be made available at a later date). Chief holds an argument with an angry pilot, who mentions he found Master Chief somewhere.
The demo then shows a bit of Warthog action before revealing a large open-world map, with various objectives and locations to run past. The usual Halo abilities and guns were shown initially, but over time different tricks like a “drop wall” — a wall that you can shoot through — and new guns to the Halo universe appeared.
The main objective in the footage was to destroy four anti-air gun batteries around the area. The gunplay and battles were relatively smooth, save for the moments when the stream was beset with lag.
A new ability for Master Chief was a grappling hook, allowing them to pull enemies in, or launch themselves towards an enemy. A short cut-scene played with the antagonist at the end, before launching into a developer interview with 343 Industries’ studio head.
It was explained that Halo: Infinite will be “several times larger than our last two Halo games combined”. It’ll be running at 60fps, although the resolution wasn’t specified.
The next world premiere showed a character sharpening a stick around a campfire, before screaming at a nearby animal. Armed with a crossbow and a pack, she set off into a snowy forest, following a trail of blood.
It was a cinematic reveal for State of Decay 3, the next major project from Undead Labs. Phil Spencer then said 9 of Xbox’s 15 first-party studios would be showcasing projects during the Xbox Games Showcase, and as reiterated before, every game would be available through Xbox Game Pass on day one.
Next up was a short trailer for a new Forza Motorsport, and Rare’s Everwild. Everwild especially has an incredible comic-book style that’s possibly best described as the next-generation of cel-shading.
Dontnod’s next game was up, featuring the same blend of mystical and humanity from the Life is Strange games. It’s called Tell Me Why, and the first chapter is out next month.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps would also be getting an Xbox Series X patch later this year, the developers revealed.
Obsidian would also be releasing DLC for The Outer Worlds on September 9, called Peril on Gorgon. It’s the first of two DLCs for the Fallout-esque RPG.
Grounded also got a new trailer — with a neat fakeout to Cyberpunk 2077. That’s out officially on July 28. Afterwards, however, Obsidian unveiled a new first-person RPG set in high fantasy. It’s called Avowed, and all that was featured was a brief shot of a knight casting some form of spell in first-person.
The next title was billed as an “interactive drama” with a strong graphic novel style. It’s called As Dusk Falls.
Ninja Theory and Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 was next. A Ninja Theory developer revealed that the game would be set in Iceland, and the whole thing was being built in Unreal Engine 5, with more dev videos to be published through the official Ninja Theory channel.
Psychonauts 2 then followed, blending a gameplay scene with behind the scenes footage of Jack Black singing. There was also some more gameplay and some incredibly vibrant, almost neon, levels, with Razputin’s bag seemingly getting a badge after completing every successful level.
It was then announced that Destiny 2, including all expansions, would be available on Xbox Game Pass from September. It’ll be playable through Project xCloud as well, and optimised for Xbox Series X when that launches.
The next reveal was the first cinematic from S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, with no in-engine gameplay shown. That was followed by the next Warhammer game from Fatshark, the developers of Warhammer: Vermintide.
This was Warhammer 40,000: Darktide, and showcased a squad of 4 players in suits — not Space Marine suits, however. It’ll be out in 2021. What followed was the music for Tetris Effect, but it was actually Tetris Effect: Connected, an update of the original game with a new multiplayer mode.
After that was The Gunk, a vibrant 3D game featuring a character wandering a strange alien planet. Not much concrete gameplay details were given, but there was some very strong sci-fi explorer vibes.
The next game showed off what it described as “dual-reality gameplay”, or two worlds rendered simultaneously. The game featured two female characters walking through physically similar, but very different worlds — think hell overlaid on of the real world. It was a new trailer for The Medium, and certainly the most interesting so far.
A trailer for New Genesis: Phantasy Star Online 2 rolled, which will be due out in 2021. There was then some footage from the campaign mode for CrossFireX, which has exceedingly strong Modern Warfare vibes. A small footnote added that the CrossFire singleplayer campaign won’t be included in Xbox Game Pass; the multiplayer remains free-to-play. CrossFireX is due out in 2020, and Remedy Entertaiment are assisting on the campaign.
The final game before the showcase ended featured a small fairy flying through a magical forest, with a narrator talking about living in perfect harmony. It was a reboot of the classic Fable series, with no gameplay or release date.
At least 6 of Microsoft’s first-party studios weren’t featured during the showcase, and some prominent titles — like Microsoft Flight Simulator and it’s Xbox port — weren’t discussed or shown. Microsoft ended the stream by saying there would be more to come later in the year, likely sometime in September or October.
This post is being updated live.