The COVID pandemic has been an event killer in 2020. The same has been the case in the video game industry with E3 getting canceled and companies opting for an online approach. With the current generation of consoles coming to an end, both Xbox and Playstation are hard at work in promoting their respective consoles — the PS5 and the Xbox Series X. Playstation had their games showcase and console reveal last month while Xbox had its disappointing third-party showcase in May.
This showcase is probably the most important event for Xbox in the last decade. Xbox had a sketchy start to the current generation due to the DRM debacle and the road to recovery from that incident at E3 has been long and hard. Xbox has lost out on consumers to Playstation over the years despite the success of Xbox One X and the introduction of features like XCloud and Game Pass. It has to be noted that Playstation made all the right decisions when it came to the single-player games for the PS4.
They’ve had masterpieces like God Of War, Marvel’s Spider-Man, Horizon Zero Dawn, and recently, Ghost of Tsushima in the current generation. Meanwhile, Xbox has always been criticized for the poor library of first-party games it had to offer during the Xbox One era.
Xbox has made amends by buying up talented studios like Double Fine, Obsidian, Ninja Theory, Playground Games, etc in hopes of creating new and exciting IPs. While Sony decided to take the “Upgrade to next-gen to experience true immersion” approach, Xbox has branched off into it’s “Xbox Ecosystem” philosophy.
Enough with the prelude, let’s talk about the showcase. A total of 22 games were showed off in the one-hour event. I’ll be covering some of the promising IPs that featured in the Showcase which took place on 23rd July.
As expected, Xbox went with its heavy hitter — Halo Infinite to open the show. They opted to present the game with a playable demo which seems to be the very beginning of the game. Right off the bat, it is revealed that Halo Infinite is indeed a semi-open world experience taking place on a new Halo ring. This was their most discussed IP of the showcase and 343 Industries have made something that draws a lot of inspiration from the previous Halo games.
The demo was played on a PC with specs that are comparable to the Series X (Kinda weird when you consider the fact that this is the main IP for the Series X). The graphic quality was a little underwhelming in my opinion. The showcase was on 1080p (I watched it on Youtube at IGN) and the game still has a solid 3 months to work with before launch, so I believe 343 can upscale the graphic quality quite a bit. It is confirmed that the game will run at 60 fps and it looks like you get to play as Master Chief facing the Banished.
Coming to Xbox Series X, Xbox One, and PC late 2020.
I have to write about Fable despite it being the ending to the showcase. For the past few weeks, rumors have been rampant on the web regarding a possible Fable game and Xbox just confirmed it with a CG trailer. From the looks of it, fans of the franchise will have to wait for a while because the trailer is the only piece of information we got. Fable is an action RPG where you get to play the hero in the fictional land of Albion.
Coming to Xbox Series X and PC, the release date unknown.
Forza Motorsport 8
Every Xbox console release is usually accompanied by this age-old franchise from Turn 10 but it looks like the Series X might be heading towards release without a new Forza. While it is certainly disappointing to hear of this, I believe that keeping the game longer in development will do it wonders. Forza Motorsport 8 is a reboot to the franchise, and the developers have confirmed that we will be getting the game at 4K 60 fps on launch with the inclusion of ray tracing. The game did get announced through an in-Engine trailer. Expect more news to drop in the near future as this one is promising.
Coming to Xbox Series X and PC, release unknown.
Everwild is Rare’s newest IP that has flown under the radar due to Rare’s involvement in making Sea of Thieves. The art styles are vibrant, colorful, and bare some resemblance to games like Legend Of Zelda and Ubisoft’s Gods and Monsters. As far as the gameplay is concerned, nothing is clear so far because all we got is a trailer that suggests an exploration game with elements of fantasy mixed into it.
Confirmed as an XSX(Xbox Series X) exclusive, release unknown.
Grounded is Obsidian Entertainment’s version of “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” movies series. It is a survival game where you play as mini-kids facing off against bugs, ants, and everything else from your backyard. Studio Head Feargus Urquhart is confident that Obsidian can narrate a story through the survival setting of Grounded. The game does have a playable demo for the single-player campaign available to Xbox Insider Program players. The game is coming to Xbox One and PC as an early access game in a couple of days!
Coming to XSX later this year;
Coming to Xbox One, and PC on July 28.
Avowed is a first-person action RPG that seems to be mirroring the Skyrim look and feel. This game is in early development and is also made by Obsidian Entertainment. We got a full CG trailer which indicates the presence of skeleton warriors, dungeons, and “Doctor Strange” style magic usage. It is being built from the ground up and looks really promising. There isn’t any more information about this game but we can expect more details to drop in the coming days.
Coming to XSX and PC, release unknown.
Psychonauts 2 is a third-person platforming game made by Double Fine, a studio that got recently acquired by Xbox. The game lets you continue the journey of Raz, a psychonaut who dives into other people’s minds and has psychic powers to tackle foes he comes across. This game comes as a sequel to Psychonauts which released in 2005. Despite being a commercial failure, the game has a massive following and is a welcome addition to Xbox’s lineup of games.
Coming to XSX, Xbox One, Playstation 4, Linux, macOS, and PC and will be releasing next year.
The Medium is a third-person psychological horror game by the Bloober team. Players get to play as a medium who can see both the human and the supernatural realms. A feature to highlight is the fact that both worlds will be rendered simultaneously and players can switch between the two to solve the murder of a girl. The game boasts the work of music composer Akira Yamaoka, famous for his work in Silent Hills. It is up for preorder on Steam and Microsoft Game Store.
Coming to Xbox Series X and PC later this year.
You can watch the Xbox Games Showcase above👆
The games I have discussed are only some of the 100 games that will be a part of the library for the Series X at launch. Some honorable mentions include S.T.A.L.K.E.R 2, As Dusk Falls, Crossfire X, The Gunk, and Phantasy Star Online 2: Genesis. All the games shown at the showcase are available to play on the Xbox Game Pass as free-to-play or for a subscription period. Microsoft wants to give power to the gamers and earn back the community they lost to Playstation in the previous console generation. Their way of achieving this is by letting players decide what they want to play and on which console.
The Game Pass is the hero of the showcase in contrast to the games shown. The game pass is a seriously good deal to consider if you cannot buy $60 games over and over again. The Game Pass Ultimate is a step up to an already wonderful feature as it gives players free Xbox Live Gold membership, letting them play online as well access the games on the store. Xbox’s reluctance to leave behind past generations of consoles through options like Smart Delivery and Backward’s compatibility might just be the difference that wins gamers over to their side of the pond.
Despite the many promising IPs that were shown off in the showcase, I did feel that Xbox may have just fallen short of that wow-factor to match the reception the PS5 garnered from the reveal of Horizon II: Forbidden West. Xbox had a solid showcase in terms of showing the community that they have something for everyone to play. But the fact remains that Playstation still has dominance in the field of first-party IPs.
This is the first time that Sony and Microsoft have taken radically different strategies heading into the next console generation and the Holiday season of this year is sure to have countless surprises for the gaming community.