For Xbox, a lot is riding on its big not-E3 press conference. Right now, following a number of notable delays, the mega-publisher’s 2022 is devoid of any major exclusives. In addition to the requisite announcements of games coming to Game Pass and announcements about more devices on which you can stream those games, Xbox might actually share some news about, y’know, actual video games.
Where to watch
The event starts at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, June 12. You can stream it on Xbox’s YouTube and Twitch channels. If you’d prefer to view it with compressions so heavy it looks like you’re watching through a kaleidoscope, it’ll also stream on Twitter. Bethesda will also co-stream on its YouTube and Twitch channels. Xbox’s Aaron Greenberg said it’ll run for 95 minutes.
Xbox will follow the showcase up with an “extended” one at 1:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, June 14. That stream won’t feature any new announcements but will offer further details about games shown off during the main event.
What to expect
Ahead of Thursday’s Summer Game Fest kickoff event, publishers and developers — in an act of marketing for even more marketing — openly said whether their games would pop up during the show; few surprises there. Plenty of reveals during Sony’s big State of Play showcase, meanwhile, had been rumoured beforehand; few surprises there either. Xbox’s event, however, is a bit more of an enigma.
It’s a pretty safe bet that something, anything, involving Halo Infinite will pop up. Halo is Xbox’s Mario. And right now, the latest iteration is the multiplayer shooter that also happens to be Microsoft’s big live service game du jour, with a regular slew of updates and a ton of previously announced additions planned for future updates. Halo Infinite still lacks multiplayer features — including support for a cooperative campaign, plus the creative level-building Forge mode — that have been in previous games and were promised for release some time this year. Last year, Microsoft trademarked “The Endless,” an obvious reference to events that happen at the end of Infinite’s campaign, teeing up a possible expansion. The studio Certain Affinity is also working on the game in some untold capacity; some fans believe it’s developing a battle royale mode.
Fans are also convinced some sort of Banjo-Kazooie revival is on the way. Via achievements, some people spotted Xbox head Phil Spencer playing the Xbox 360 version of Banjo-Kazooie earlier this month. (Some say it’s a sign; others say he’s just playing a game he enjoys.) Yes, this is the result of like three degrees of hearsay, but one developer claimed that something related to the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate fighters is en route. Spencer previously told Kotaku that any revival of the series is a call to be made by original developer Rare, now an Xbox studio.
Speaking of Rare, the venerable studio has another game in the works that’s only been shown off in screenshots and brief cinematic trailers: Everwild. Last June, after Everwild was absent from Xbox’s E3 presence, VGC first reported that the game had been rebooted internally and was now targeting a 2024 release. Maybe this year’s not-E3 show is when we finally learn its deal?
Xbox’s slate has a bunch of other announced titles in the works. Many were teased during last year’s Xbox E3 showcase yet haven’t had any info revealed in the interim. A selection:
- The Outer Worlds, Obsidian’s first-person sci-fi RPG that feels like Fallout in space, is getting a sequel.
- Obsidian is also developing a first-party fantasy RPG called Avowed.
- The horror game Scorn, inspired by the works of H.R. Giger, has been delayed a few times. It’s currently slated for a broad October 2022 release on Xbox and PC.
- The makers of Just Cause are developing Contraband, a co-op game set in the ‘70s.
- Atomic Heart is another game like the modern Fallouts, set in an alternate-timeline version of the Soviet Union where the robotics industry has proliferated. It looks bonkers.
- Somerville is a Limbo-like where you run away from extraterrestrials while accompanied by a dog.
- Due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, GSC Game World delayed its apocalyptic shooter S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chornobyl from April 28 to December 8, 2022.
Two long-dormant Xbox series are also getting resurrected. The Initiative, a new studio, is working on a reboot of Perfect Dark. Playground Games, which just released the magnificent Forza Horizon 5 in November, has another entry in the Fable series of fantasy RPGs on the horizon. It’s anyone’s guess as to whether or not either of these games will show. (For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t be surprised if Playground shared some details about a Forza Horizon 5 expansion. Its predecessor, 2018’s Forza Horizon 4, saw the Fortune Island DLC just a few months after the main game’s release.)
But the big one — the sole Microsoft first-party studio that’s sharing title billing with Xbox — is Bethesda. Last month, Bethesda delayed its two biggest forthcoming games: vampire shooter Redfall, developed by Prey studio Arkane, and open-worlds sandwich-hunting RPG Starfield. (Kotaku recently reported that Bethesda is no stranger to crunch and overwork, with the development of Fallout 76 particularly being an arduous process.) Initially planned for a November 11, 2022, release, Starfield is now scheduled to come out in the first half of 2023. It’s been in the works for years, though, and to date, Bethesda has only shown off…eight whole seconds of gameplay footage.
Actually, you know what? Let’s face it. We’re not seeing Starfield gameplay. Bethesda will probably just announce another Skyrim port instead.