Microsoft Put On Another Outstanding Show

Last year, Microsoft had a surprisingly strong E3 press conference, with big reveals like the Xbox One X, Dragon Ball FighterZ, and a long-awaited release date for Cuphead. I honestly didn’t think that they would top it this year, but I was happily surprised. Purely based on the games that were shown, this was one of the strongest E3 press conferences I’ve ever seen.

It hasn’t really come up on anything I’ve written on this blog, mostly because it’s been a really long time since a Halo game came out, but I’m a huge Halo nerd. If you’ve ever wondered who it was that reads the books they put out, that’s me. So, when Halo Infinite was leaked earlier and people speculated that it was a multiplayer only off shoot of the series, I was worried. I mean, I love the multiplayer, but I come to Halo for the world and the characters.

The very first thing shown was a reveal trailer for the leaked Halo Infinite. It wasn’t super clear what this was. We see some gorgeous vistas, some rhinoceros-looking creatures, and a Spartan riding a Warthog. Thankfully, after the trailer wrapped up, Xbox Boss Phil Spencer confirmed that this was a new adventure for Master Chief. So yes, it doesn’t have the number in the title, but this is a proper Halo 6. I absolutely can’t wait to hear more about this.

As with all my E3 coverage, I’m not going to go through everything chronologically or anything, you can watch it yourself. Instead, I’m just going to talk about what stood out to me. So clearly, Halo has me pretty pumped. But there’s a lot of other good stuff going on here.

What might have been the biggest surprise for me was Devil May Cry 5. I wasn’t surprised by the game existing though, that’s been one of the worst kept secrets in video games for a while now. Instead, I was blown away from it being at Microsoft’s show. One of the biggest rumors I had heard was that it was originally planned to be at Sony’s PSX conference last year, but had gotten pushed back for an E3 reveal because of the lackluster reaction to their E3 press conference. Clearly, that’s not what happened.

The game itself looks killer too. Everything looks great, from the models to the environments. It looks like Devil May Cry 4’s protagonist, Nero, is the main character again, and this time he has a robot arm. While I’d rather have Dante, I’m pretty into this. Also, there’s a Dante tease at the end of the trailer, so that’s cool.

Another surprise was From Software’s new game, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and again, the surprise is that it was at Microsoft’s show. I’m not really sure why, but everyone I know believed that after the game’s initial tease at the Game Awards last year, that it would be Sony pushing it. Maybe because a lot of people thought it was a Bloodborne sequel? Whatever the case, it’s here, and it looks great. From the trailer, it seems much more narrative focussed than From’s recent games, and that’s cool. I’ll be keeping an eye on this one.

Racing games have never been my thing, unless we’re talking about Mario Kart, but Forza Horizon looked amazing. This interpretation of England was gorgeous, and seeing tons of player controlled cars driving around in 60 FPS with seemless transitions into co-op multiplayer, it was a real stunner. Also, it just looks fun.

There was a surprisingly large amount of Gears of War related announcements this year. Gears 5 wasn’t a surprise, it was part of the now infamous Canadian WalMart leak, and it looks exactly like what you think a fifth Gears game would look like. But, there was also the reveal of Gears Pop, a mobile game made in collaboration with Funco Pop. I have no idea who wanted this, but here it is. More interesting, is the announcement of Gears Tactics, an Xcom-style turn-based strategy game set in the Gears universe. This sounds great, and I can’t wait to see more of it. Also, have they just dropped the “of War” from the title of the franchise? All three of these games are just “Gears”.

Even though not much was shown, I can’t not mention that a new Battletoads game was announced. Battletoads! While it certainly isn’t the Rare franchise that I most want to see brought back, that’d be Banjo-Kazooie, it is a fun one that I’d love to have back. The trailer showed no footage at all, just a tease of one of those awful hover bikes crashing into a wall and a logo. But, sometimes, that’s all you need.

Much like last year, Microsoft seems to be really trying to push away from the perception of what “Xbox” games are. Stereotypically, people think of them as Western developed first person shooters, and that’s about it. But, there’s a much bigger emphasis on Japanese games this year. I’ve already mentioned Devil May Cry, but it was also crazy to see Kingdom Hearts III,Tales of Vesperia Definitive Edition and anime crossover game Jump Force. None of those games do much for me, but it’s great to see them here.

As the conference was coming to a close, Phil Spencer gave a small tease of what’s to come from their hardware. He mentioned that the next Xbox console is currently being worked on, and that they’re working on a way to stream console quality games to phones. I feel like this generation still has a few years left in it, but if they’re already talking about the next one, maybe I’m wrong?

The conference ended with a surprise trailer of CD Projekt Red’s new game, Cyberpunk 2077. It was a fully CG trailer and did a pretty good job of setting up the world the game takes place in. It was more just crazy to see anything of the game.

This was a phenomenal conference. Phil Spencer is one of my favorite video game executives (is that a weird thing to have favorites of?) and it’s always clear that he genuinely cares about what he’s presenting. The reveals were outstanding and none of the demos outs-tayed their welcome. This is one of the strongest press conferences I’ve ever seen, and really helped brighten my mood after yesterday’s abysmal EA conference.

And finally, let’s talk about how I did on predictions. I got none of them right! Although Halo 6 was shown, I specifically said it would be out this holiday, and we did not get a release date. I knew I was wrong about Crackdown before even going into the conference, as it was delayed earlier. And of course, no Banjo-Kazooie. So, as of now, I’m at 1/6 predictions correct.

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