Microsoft held their first-party event this past Thursday and revealed a whole bunch of new and returning games. The line up for Xbox Series X and Game Pass is starting to take shape. I did some predictions earlier in the week, so let’s see how I did. The following is a review of the Xbox Series X Games Showcase.
There was an important announcement at the beginning where we were told every game shown was going to be available on day 1 on Xbox Game Pass. This is pretty huge and that means we’re going to be all Xbox flagship titles if you subscribe to Game Pass. This does open up some fundamental questions about the Xbox, and the need to actually own an Xbox Series X console, but we’ll get into that later on.
We started with Halo Infinite and we finally got to see campaign gameplay. The opening trailer saw Master Chief being put back together in an emotional and nostalgic trailer with the classic Halo music, it kind of brought a tear to my eye (I spent so much time playing Halo 2 and 3 in the 2000’s so shout out to Middleton Road and my Halo brothers). We then got to see a demo with Chief exploring what looked like an open-world style map with waypoints. There was a mix of classic weapons in there, no sign of the Needler at this point in time, and there was also the grappling hook which allowed Chief to attack as well as traverse the environment.
The trailer as a package was very cool indeed, however, I have to say I wasn’t blown away. It looked and sounded like Halo, going back to its roots with a classic Combat Evolved feel but the gameplay didn’t look very innovative. We only got to see campaign gameplay though, multiplayer footage will be revealed later on. We didn’t hear anything about a battle royale, but that map certainly looked big enough to have 100 Spartans running around on it.
State of Decay 3 was then shown in a surprise announcement, which looked very cool. Forza Motorsport was also shown although the number was dropped from the title. The game looks great and maybe the number being dropped from the title indicates more of a live service game
Rare was up next with Everwild. It looks absolutely stunning, this is an exploration and nature game although we don’t really know what the game is. We didn’t get too many clues as to what the focus of Rare’s next title will be. This was the only showing from Rare, we didn’t see anything from Banjo Kazooie or Perfect Dark which was a shame.
Tell Me Why was shown briefly, which looked very nice indeed. Ori and the Will of the Wisps are getting an upgrade for the Series X, which makes sense as already this is one of the best looking games to come out on this generation and it’s going to be playable in 120 FPS and 4K resolution.
Obsidian was up next and showed off a few existing games including a DLC pack for The Outer Worlds: Peril on Gorgon. They’re also releasing the final version of Grounded very soon, which is like Honey I Shrunk The Kids movie – it’s a survival game where you’re in the back yard and you have to gather resources and try not to die from attacking bugs and spiders. It’s very cool. It’s going into the final beta phase at the moment.
Then Obsidian gave the fans what they wanted, the first look at their new RPG. This is called Avowed and looks like a Dungeons and Dragons / Kings & Queens RPG. This one is probably in early development so I wouldn’t expect this before 2022.
As Dusk Falls was then shown which didn’t really leave an impression on me. Psychonauts 2 was up next and includes Jack Black. Double Fine has been working on this for some time and are the most recent acquisition for Xbox Game Studios so it was great to see this one. There weren’t any major surprises here, it looked like more Psychonauts, but that is a good thing as the first game was great.
Destiny 2: Beyond Light was shown with a new trailer and the announcement that it’s all coming to Xbox Game Pass. This is something I have covered in a separate feature, as I cover a lot of Destiny content on the channel, but this is big news. It’s been free-to-play for nearly a year now and they’re bringing all previous expansions (minus the seasonal content) plus the brand new expansion to Game Pass. This isn’t like the Sony deal with PlayStation where they’re going to have exclusive content, but we’re also getting an optimised version of Destiny 2 for Xbox Series X with 60fps and 4k support. This is already a beautiful looking game and it’s going to look even better on the Series X.
There were then a few trailers that looked kind of cool, but nothing that really grabbed my attention. This included Stalker 2, The Medium and Darktide from the developers of Vermintide.
There’s a new multiplayer Tetris Effect coming as a time-boxed exclusive, which is great news as this is an excellent game and should be played by more people for sure.
The Gunk looked pretty good fun, this is from the developers that brought us the SteamWorld series of games.
To finish up the show Playground Games showed off the very first trailer for Fable. There was the classic British humour here but we didn’t get to see gameplay, this was just a trailer but it was the first time that Microsoft has acknowledged the game’s existence.
For me personally the biggest announcements of the show were Halo Infinite, Everwild, Avowed, Destiny 2 coming to game pass and Fable.
Halo is an interesting one and it’s caught a lot of flak since the show for the graphical fidelity. There have also been rumours of the multiplayer not being ready for launch, something that 343 studios quickly shut down on Twitter. I’d say it was about an 8/10 show. I wasn’t super blown away by the trailer, but it looked interesting enough for me to want to go back to to the Halo Universe and give it a go. It looked like Halo, the colours seemed brighter which harked back to the days of Halo: Combat Evolved, 2 and 3. However, the gameplay looked a little slow and there didn’t seem to be many innovations there. We did get to see a grappling hook, but that alone isn’t going to get me in. 343 have a tricky job with Halo as you have the old school fans who want that product and then you have the 4 and 5 fans who want that version of Halo.
One of the big selling points for the Series X has been the power, the flops, the potential for graphical fidelity. We just didn’t see that here with Halo Infinite. It may be the game is still in development, I would imagine 343 are in crunch mode right now trying to get everything finished. The cinematics looked great, but the campaign gameplay didn’t blow my socks off as I wanted it to. The music and weapons were all there, but I left feeling like there was something missing. Maybe we’ll get that missing element when we see the multiplayer, and we heard nothing about the Battle Royale rumour.
It was interesting to see Halo and Destiny next to each other in the same showcase. It looks like 343 are taking Halo back to the Bungie era of Halo, whereas Bungie’s new IP has branched out, evolved and looks beautiful – even when compared to these new games. Bungie has taken huge strides since parting ways with Microsoft and it’s interesting to see these two products next to each other when both are at pivotal points. There’s so much pressure on Halo to deliver, it literally cannot fail, and Bungie are about to start a new trilogy of expansions starting with Beyond Light this fall and leading up to Witch Queen and Lightfall in the following years.
We didn’t see Banjo Kazooie or Perfect Dark which was a shame, although Rare potentially has moved on from these IPs with Seas of Thieves now doing really well and they’re in the middle of development of Everwild. This looked like a beautiful game, but we’re still in the dark as to what this actually is.
In terms of predictions, I didn’t do too badly there. I called Psychonauts 2, Avowed, Forza, Everwild and Fable. I was wide of the mark with Halo, Perfect Dark and Banjo and also we heard nothing about Minecraft. I guess it was about 50/50.
It was a good show, but I wouldn’t put it down as a great one and I think PlayStation’s event took it in terms of polish and hype. Microsoft and Sony’s strategies are so different. With Sony, you have to buy their console to get access to their library of exclusives and with Microsoft, they appear to be pushing their services rather than the console itself. That may be a smart strategy – services like Game Pass and Project xCloud (which is going to be bundled with Ultimate, allowing you to play games on mobile devices from anywhere with a good internet connection).
At this point in time I don’t need to buy an Xbox, as I can get all the top new releases from Microsoft on my PC via Game Pass. I do like the look of their hardware – I’ll always use an Xbox Controller over a PlayStation controller for form factor and the console does look nicer. I’m in the small % of people who have a big gaming PC rig, Switch, PlayStation 4. Nothing Microsoft showed to me from this showcase has convinced me to buy their new console.
Let me know down in the comments what you think of the Xbox Series X Game Showcase?
That’s it for my review of the Xbox Series X Games Showcase reveal. Check out more features on This Week In Video Games and subscribe today on YouTube.