LOS ANGELES—Without its direct console rival Sony anywhere in sight at this year's E3, the team behind Xbox took advantage with a Sunday press conference that revolved around games, games, and more games. In particular, Microsoft finally began paying forward its investment in various acquisitions over the past couple of years to make a huge Xbox Game Studios statement in the form of legitimate gameplay variety.
Even with that in mind, nobody in the room was surprised to see one game elicit the loudest response: Halo Infinite, now confirmed for "holiday 2020" as a launch title for the code-named Xbox Scarlett console.
"We lost. We lost everything."
Unlike the game's E3 2018 tease, this year's reveal revolved around "game engine footage" that bordered on the kind of stuff you'd expect from a pre-rendered sequence. This quality came primarily from lengthy zooms on an unnamed civilian stuck floating in space on a UNSC vehicle. The trailer begins with this character waking amid booming alarms, which he deactivates by clumsily twisting a valve in a ceiling compartment.
After showing incredible detail and animations on his panicked face, the sequence shifts to a view of a holographic device showing footage of an apparent wife and child–rendering the woman's appearance with impressive real-time photogammetry, the likes of which we've only previously seen in compelling VR cinema sequences. This sentimental moment, in which both loved ones talk about missing this man, we see a tight camera zoom on his strained, nearly sobbing face. It's a beautiful, emotional piece of rendering work, made all the more impressive when his breath wafts in a cold room via dense particle effects.
Shortly after this, the man in question looks through his vehicle's cockpit to see Master Chief's iconic suit floating lifelessly nearby. The sequence concludes with Chief coming back to life, manually yanking himself out of a life support rig, at which point the man gestures to the cockpit: "There's something you need to see. We lost. We lost everything." Sure enough, a massive rip has been torn through the series' iconic halo-shaped planet.
From there, Chief responds to a surprise attack on this ship by locking the other guy into the cockpit, opening the airlock, and leaping out. The scene fades to white, followed by Chief walking along a familiar path with familiar ally Cortana's voice saying, "I chose you because you were special. I knew we would be perfect together. And I was right."
Tantalizing leaks confirmed
One of the event's biggest pop-culture crossovers, the new From Software game Elden Ring, had already been leaked multiple times ahead of Microsoft's press conference. The basic gist we knew: George R. R. Martin is part of the game's "world development," working in tandem with Dark Souls creator Hidetaka Miyazaki.
That leak didn't include footage of how the game looks in action, and today's brand-new teaser trailer didn't do much to fill that deficit. Its evocative visuals saw dramatically lit human characters kneeling, hammering, and staring stoically into the sky, while its narration included vague phrases: "The Elden Ring. Shattered, by someone, or something," and "Look up at the sky. It burns." Publisher Bandai Namco did not attach any release window to the reveal trailer.
New game Bleeding Edge, from Xbox Game Studios' Ninja Theory, also suffered from a pre-E3 leak, and its melee-focused, four-on-four gameplay looked identical to the game's leaked trailer. Instead of emphasizing exactly how its mechanics play out with a controller in hand, this trailer put a spotlight on a hypercolored cast of characters, seemingly ripped out of previous Xbox exclusive game Sunset Overdrive.
Luckily for us at Ars, we went hands-on with the game immediately after the press conference, where we discovered a frantic third-person combat game that compared positively to the wild character balance of beloved MOBA games like Dota 2 and League of Legends, only with a heavy foot on the gas in terms of those genres' character-specific superpowers and turf-controlling tactics. How exactly the game will play out in the hands of a rabid fanbase remains to be seen, but a June 27 open beta will give us a more ample opportunity to test a variety of melee-focused bruisers, shape-shifting controllers, and tricky healers.
Somehow, the event's craziest reveal did not leak ahead of E3: Keanu Reeves as a starring character in the upcoming CD Projekt Red adventure game Cyberpunk 2077. Read more about that reveal here. (Weirdly, that game's box art and "special edition" contents did leak days before the event, but that left plenty of interesting info under wraps.)
An "Ultimate" roster
Microsoft's bullish stance on the Xbox Game Pass continued apace with the reveal of a new paid-subscription tier: Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which costs $15 per month and bundles two existing subscriptions and one brand new one: meaning, Xbox Live Gold and the console and PC versions of Xbox Game Pass. (As of press time, this service does not include a bundled 3-month or 12-month option.) This was followed by Microsoft's surprise premiere of a new version of Microsoft Flight Simulator for Xbox One and Windows 10.
Its trailer began with a "powered by Azure" tag, along with an explanation about cloud processing used to process and render its real-world locations, then showed some of the most stunning real-time world simulation we've ever seen in a game. The trailer began with commercial aircraft flying over densely detailed cities and biomes, then shifted the perspective to a stunt-plane flight over prairies and cities. Zip over the space needle, then soar above a crowd of giraffes. How exactly that kind of incredible detail will scale to existing Xbox One consoles remains to be seen.
Soon after, a whirlwind sizzle reel of ID@Xbox games played out, with an attached guarantee that each of these titles would be playable for Xbox Game Pass subscribers on the games' public launch days. Games in this slew that we've already played (and quite enjoyed) included puzzle platformer Felix the Reaper, an Overcooked-like multiplayer romp called Supermarket Shriek, a narrative-heavy romp through a booze-soaked hell called Afterparty, and the eight-player port of arcade sensation Killer Queen Black.
Seemingly every Microsoft-published game at the event came with some promise of Xbox Game Pass support (with the exception of Halo Infinite, which is admittedly the most far-out first-party game in terms of launch window). The upcoming first-party sequel Gears 5 is no exception, and it finally received a release date: September 10, 2019. Instead of a major campaign reveal, however, its developers at The Coalition confirmed a slow drip of Gears 5 news over the next few months, including a "multiplayer tech test" going live in July and a Horde Mode reveal on August 19 as part of Gamescom.
Until then, interested Gears 5 fans can rush to either an E3 kiosk or a participating Microsoft Store to try out thRead More – Source