Project Scarlett was formally revealed today, though it was only really a glimpse. But we have an idea of its specs at least, and Microsoft also confirmed that it would include Halo Infinite at launch. That in of itself is a solid win for Microsoft, even if its press conference mostly dragged over the course of 90 minutes.
Unfortunately for fans hoping for more details on Microsoft's budding relationship with Nintendo, info on cloud integration for Switch was nowhere to seen (perhaps we'll know more after Tuesday's Direct?). Nor was Shigeru Miyamoto, who was rumored to be taking the stage at Xbox's show. In fairness though, we did get Keanu Reeves, which is pretty awesome consolation prize.
Other news included the reveal of Ninja Theory's new multiplayer game, release dates for Gears 5 and Cyberpunk 2077, Double Fine's acquisition, and more. Did you miss the show? Here's everything that was shown at today's decent but somewhat lackluster Xbox E3 press event.
Ninja Theory's New Game is Bleeding Edge
Last year, Microsoft announced the acquisition of Ninja Theory. When it joined Xbox Game Studios, it already had a game "several years in the making." Called Bleeding Edge, it's a third-person 4v4 multiplayer game with a visual style reminiscent of Borderlands and Sunset Overdrive. Honestly, the visual style is a little overbearing. Still, Ninja Theory has a good track record, and it will have Microsoft behind it. No release date yet, but a technical alpha will be out in just a couple weeks.
Keanu Reeves Takes the Stage to Reveal Cyberpunk 2077 Release Date
Cyberpunk 2077 is one of the most eagerly anticipated games around. New footage was shown at Xbox's press conference, including a fight scene featuring dual-wielding knives, hacking, and Keau Reeves saying, "Wake up samurai, we have a city to burn." And then Reeves actually walked on stage to a roaring audience. As Caty said in the USG Slack, it's the year of Keanu.
Reeves was there to officially announce Cyberpunk's release date, which was revealed after yet another sizzle reel. Alas, it won't be out until April 16 2020.
Microsoft Buys Double Fine Productions
Microsoft officially announced the acquisition of Double Fine Production during today's presentation, bringing games like Psychonauts full into its profile. Tim Schafer took the stage to promise that Double Fine would be team players. "We'll make whatever you want. Halo stuff...Forza stuff...Excel stuff...whatever you need," Schafer joked. Schafer also brought with him a brand new Psychonauts 2 trailer. Double Fine is the latest in a massive Microsoft buying spree that has included the acquisition of Playground Games, Ninja Theory, and Obsidian.
Xbox Game Pass Launches in Open Beta Today
Xbox Game Pass for PC is now available in open beta. Featuring popular PC games like Football Manager and Imperator Rome, Microsoft is aiming to have 100 games on it by August. It costs $9.99 per month and seems like a pretty solid deal for PC fans.
Additionally, Microsoft is adding Batman: Arkham Knight, Hollow Knight, Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, and Metro Exodus to the service. And as a sweetener, today it's possible to jump in and try the new Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which bundles all of Microsoft's services together, for $1.
Gears 5 is Coming Out in September
Gears 5 was shown today and the opening was... weird? Set to the Billie Eilish tune "Bury a Friend," it shows the main protagonist... well... I recommend you watch the trailer for yourself. I guess she's grappling with different sides of herself?
Anyway, it gets more conventional after that. In the second trailer, a narrator intones, "In the attack, we lost everything... everything except the need for revenge!" That's more like it. The trailer depicts a new co-op mode called Escape, wherein a team of COG soldiers invade a hive to plant a bomb to the strains of "Let's Go" by Tricky Daddy.
The Coalition further announced that a multiplayer tech test would be taking place July 17, and that anyone who preorders and plays in the first week will get a Terminator: Dark Fate character pack. Honestly, Gears 5 looked underwhelming, which is par for the course for the series of late. But it'll have to do while we wait for Project Scarlett.
We also got another look at the Funko Pop Gears game for iOS and Android... which... whatever. It looks cute, I guess.
The Xbox Elite Controller is Getting an Upgrade
Microsoft announced an upgrade to its popular Xbox Elite Controller at the show. Called the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2, it will feature some of the following:
- Adjustable tension thumbsticks
- Trigger grip
- Shorter hair trigger locks
- More ways to customize
- Three custom profiles -- Gears 5, Forza
- New bluetooth conenctivity
- New inteneral recharageable battery. Up to 40 hours per charge.
- Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2
The original Xbox Elite Controller is one of the best around, so it's worth picking this one up if you haven't already upgraded... assuming you have the cash. It'll be out November 4th for (gulp) $179.99. That's a lot of cheddar for a controller, I have to say.
Phantasy Star Online 2 is Finally Coming West
After years of waiting, Phantasy Star Online 2 is finally coming west. MMORPG fans have been waiting for this one since, get this, July 2012, when Sega first said to expect it in early 2013. Suffice it to say, Phantasy Star Online 2 never appeared, so it's a pleasant surprise to see it on Xbox One. It will be free-to-play, and will include "all the bosses and epic battles" plus crossplay. It will be out in Spring 2020.
Elden Ring Confirmed as the New George R.R. Martin Collaboration with FromSoftware
After being revealed in last week's giant bout of leaks, Elden Ring was officially confirmed today. The trailer shown at the press conference opened by confirming that Hidetaka Miyazaki and George R.R. Martin were collaborating with the project, and seemed to confirm what the Elden Ring was. "I doubt you could even imagine it," the narrator intones. "That which commanded the stars, giving life its fullest brilliance. The Elden Ring. Shattered by someone, or something." This looks like a very early look, but it already seems promising, even if it's a tiny bit heavy on Lord of the Rings imagery. It will be out on Xbox One and PC.
Project xCloud and the Project Scarlett Reveal
These were the big ones. With full cloud integration, many were expecting some kind of announcement for Nintendo Switch. That didn't happen, but there were still plenty of intriguing announcements to be had.
To begin, Microsoft heavily undercut Google Stadia by announcing that it will be possible to turn the Xbox One into a personal streaming platform starting this October, meaning that you'll be able to stream games like Gears 4 and Witcher 3 to other devices. It's not an entirely optimal way to play, but I imagine it'll be nice to be able to drag your iPad into the living room to continue your RDR 2 playthrough.
Then it was time for the main event: The new Xbox reveal. Xbox lead Phil Spencer opened by seeking to dispel the ghosts of E3 2013, where Microsoft famously shot itself in the foot while trying to reveal the Xbox One. "For us, the console is vital and central to our experience. We heard, the console should be designed and optimized for one thing and one thing only: gaming," he said.
Additional bullet points from the reveal:
- The same team that made Xbox One X and the Elite Controller is making it
- It aims to significantly reduce load time with a SSD hard drive
- It will use AMD's Zen 2 and Navi technology, and Microsoft claims that it will be more powerful than Xbox One X. It will support 120fps, 8k resolution, variable refresh rate and next-gen ray tracing. It will also feature a new generation of SSDs that are used as virtual ram. Microsoft claims that it will have 40 fold performance increases, which is... a lot.
- We got a glimpse of a Warthog bouncing through a massive world while a 343i representative said, "We can bring the world to life in a way we've never experienced Halo before."
- It will be able to connect across devices
We still don't know what it will look like, nor do we know its full name. But for now, it's being referred to as Project Scarlett, and it will be in 2020. Guess we'll have to wait until next year for the true reveal.
Halo Infinite will be on Project Scarlett
Clearly intent on learning from its mistakes, Microsoft is launching Project Scarlett with Halo Infinite, making it the first Xbox to launch with a new Halo since the original console. It's obvious that Microsoft hopes that Halo Infinite can be as big as the original game; or if you like, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
Sadly, we didn't get much more than a teaser that sets the stage, which you can watch above. It concludes with Cortana telling Master Chief, "I chose you because you were special. I knew we would be perfect together. And I was right." Master Chief vs. Cortana throwdown? Halo fans will have to wait another year to see how this all ends.
Other Games Shown
- In a surprise move, Outer Worlds headlined Microsoft's press conference with a new trailer. While we're very excited to play Outer Worlds, it's a smaller scale project than it looks, and it will actually be on multiple consoles. That said, it will be on Game Pass at launch, and it will be out October 25.
- Microsoft showed the indie game Ori and the Will of the Wisps, and lord does it look beautiful. It features huge, beautifully animated monsters, and shows like the little wisp riding a gorgeous stylized owl. It will be out February 11, 2020.
- The Minecraft makers have a new game, also available on Xbox Game Pass at launch: Minecraft Dungeons, which was announced a couple months ago. It definitely has that particular Minecraft charm. It will be out Spring 2020.
- More gameplay from Jedi: Fallen Order was shown during the event. We got to check it out a whole bunch yesterday, and you can find some of our impressions here.
- Blair Witch is getting... a video game? The initial trailer has everything you expect from the series: shaky cam footage, dark forests only partly illuminated by a shuddering flashlight, and weird alien symbols. It's out in August.
- A very pretty new indie game got a world premiere at Xbox's event. It's called Spiritfarer, and it has a lovely 2D art style reminiscent of Tintin. It will be on Xbox Game Pass along with pretty much everything else.
- We got our first glimpse of Rare's new Battletoad update, and it looks wonderful. It's a 2D beat 'em up with all the classical Battletoads elements, including the familiar speeder bikes. It looks a little like Castle Crashers, actually, which I suppose is theme appropriate. It doesn't have a release date yet, so you'll have to wait, but it looks like Rare is getting this one right.
- Flight Simulator is officially back! The much-loved flight sim returns with Azure integration, and it looks simply beautiful. Last seen in 2006, it's been a painfully long time since the series got a true refresh. To be honest, given the state of the genre, I never thought Flight Simulator would be back, but I suppose it's good for selling Xbox Game Pass on PC. Whatever it takes, I suppose.
- Wasteland 3 is another game that hasn't been heard from in a while. But we got some new footage at today's press conference, hosted by an extremely drunk miner. Not the nicest representation of Colorado, if you ask me. No release date yet.
- A new Lego Star Wars game featuring all nine films was announced. Called The Skywalker Saga, it's due out in Spring 2020. Lego Star Wars was the game that put the Lego games on the map, so it was probably inevitable that it would eventually add in the new trilogy. Nice of them to wait until the final movie though so all three could be in one neat bundle. Look forward to all the kvetching over Lego Last Jedi.
- Way to the Woods appears to be a charming co-op puzzler featuring a male deer and its child. It's oddly set in Japan, giving it a bit of a Tokyo Jungle. Looks pretty, anyway.
- Dying Light 2 has a chance to be a sleeper hit. Seriously! It looks pretty cool! Anyway, a new gameplay trailer was shown in which a narrator talks about being infected while fighting off lots of zombies. We checked it out recently, so expect our hands-on impressions soon. It'll be out Spring 2020.
- Lego is coming to Forza Horizon 4. Called Lego Speed Champions, it features Lego-themed stages and cars in an entirely new world. I'm cool with it because the trailer was set to "Everything is Awesome," which is... awesome. It launches this week.
- State of Decay 2 is getting a brand new story experience with two new paths, and it's being called the franchise's biggest expansion yet. It's available via Xbox Game Pass today.
- Crossfire X is coming to console for the first time. Developed by Smilegate in partnership with Microsoft, it is touted as "the most played FPS in the world." The trailer admittedly doesn't show much, just video game things like tanks, airplanes, explosions, and slow-motion panning over guns to the the strains of a thumping guitar. It'll be "first to console" on Xbox in 2020.
- After getting hella leaked last week, Tales of Arise was revealed at Xbox's press conference. We didn't learn much aside from the fact that it has lots of anime characters, and maybe an actual budget too. It'll be out in 2020.
- A new Borderlands 3 trailer was shown, which you can see above. The Fight for Sanctuary DLC rumors in the lead-up to E3 was also confirmed. It'll be out September 13.
Every Release Date Confirmed at the Show
- Ori and the Will of the Wisps: February 11, 2020 [Game Pass at Launch]
- Outer Worlds: October 25, 2019 [Game Pass at Launch]
- Blair Witcher: August 30 [Game Pass at Launch]
- Cyberpunk 2077: April 16, 2020
- Gears 5: September 10, 2020
- Lego Speed Champions: June 13