Xbox Developer Direct Roundup January 2023
Xbox kicked off the year in style this week with their first Xbox Developer Direct. This is a new format showcasing not only gameplay but the developers too, and ahead of time Xbox set expectations saying they would be showing off a select number of games including Minecraft Legends, Forza Motorsport, Refall and The Elder Scrolls Online. Today I’m going to round up everything we saw at the first Xbox Developer Direct.
First showed off last year, Microsoft showed off their latest spin-off from their highly-popular franchise, Minecraft Legends. Advertised as an action-strategy game, this initially had fans scratching their head as to what gameplay would be like. Legends is going to have a narrative co-op mode, as well as PVP. This is similar to other RTS games like Age of Empires, albeit with that familiar Minecraft charm.
In PVP it’s cross platform, and up to eight players across two teams. Each team’s objective is to destroy their opponents base, all the while building up their own defences. PVP arenas are procedurally generated and PVE enemy Piglins are also trying to knock down your base and cause a load of trouble.
The developers spoke to Eurogamer and said:
“We’re targeting a 20-30 minute game experience, but because it is a procedurally generated world that will change based on the bespoke world that is created, the teams that are in it and people’s strategy,” executive producer Lee Pederson told me during a chat about the game’s PVP mode. “But that’s what we’re aiming for, and there is a progressive experience, so the piglins will ramp up later in the game, there’s more complexity the further you go to help shape that timeframe.”
Minecraft Legends is set for release on PC, PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One, Series S and X on 18th April 2023.
Next up we had Turn 10 showing off Forza Motorsport. This is a hyper-realistic racer, running at 60fps and 4k with ray-tracing on Xbox Series X. Gameplay looks great and everything you’d expect from a realistic racing sim, focusing on realism including dirt build up, great audio, dynamic time of day and more. Cars have more realistic physical behavior through their suspension and exhaust mechanics.
We will have access to more than 500 cars to collect and race, including 100 new cars added to the game. We also have 800 unique upgrades available for the huge array of vehicles. Real-life car paints have been caputred using a spectra-photometer, allowing the developers to create paint models that have realistic light responses. Damage and dirt build up is also simulated as you race.
The one surprising thing about the presentation was no firm release date. After the show Geoff Keighley announced it would be out ‘before the end of June’, but the video presentation said ‘coming 2023’, which was notable and slightyl worrying.
This game was leaked before the showcase, however, it was still a highlight of the whole presentation with The Evil Within developers showing off their new rhythm action game. We play as an aspiring rock star with a robot arm, where you can time attacks with smashing a guitar at the same time. This one looks colourful, and has a unique style similar to Jet Set Radio. It looks like great fun, plus it’s available to play right now on Xbox Game Pass.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom
Elder Scrolls has their new expansion Necrom. We have a new class, The Arcanist, plus new adventures in Morrowind.
We’re going to be introduced to a new story called Shadow over Morrowind, and we’ll visit a new area of the Dark Elf home helping out Daedric Prince Hermaeus Mora. He was from Skyrim’s Dragonborn DLC, a giant eyeball guy living in a fortress of banned books. The most exciting part of the new story is access to the new Arcanist class, which is the first new class since 2019.
The developers spoke to IGN and said:
“Our game is super easy to pick up and put down,” he said. “As a brand new player, I could play with someone who has been playing for seven years and we could both make meaningful progress on our characters without having to grind through seven years of content.
“It’s part of our DNA and it has been for a very, very long time. We see that in our player population cycles. We have quarterly cadences where we see a big spike, and then people go play something else, then we release something and you have this huge spike again. That’s the model we’ve adopted and embraced, and it’s been very successful for us.”
This one is coming 5th June 2023.
Arkane were up next with their open-world, sandbox FPS where yo take on Vampires. Arkane describe this is their most ambitious project and their biggest world. We can team up with up to 4 players and take on story missions and also public events. This has looter-shooter elements in what looks like a cross between Destiny and Left 4 Dead. The gameplay we saw was hud-less, which looked very good, plus we got a quick look at some of the skill trees which reminded me of Outriders, or perhaps God of War. It’s a circular style skill tree with nodes, and as you progress through the game you can open up various buffs to helo you take down the hordes of Vampires.
We saw gameplay of players taking on a variety of vampires including a “Shroud” which cloaks the area in darkness. If you are familiar with Destiny Wizards, then you’ll know what I am talking about. We saw a little of the story missions, with players weilding an array of weapons. We got a brief look at the weapons and gunplay, and I’m still not really sold on the shooting mechanics. These types of games are all about the loot and the gun feel to me, and they are releasing in a competitve environment.
We have the story campaign, side missions plus you work your way towards a central heart of a zone you are trying to rid of Vampires, then you have to extract yourself against the clock. It all sounds very interesting, although with these open-world looter shooter type games hopefully Arkane has plenty of content in their pockets, because the community are going to get through this very quickly.
Redfall is set to release on 2nd May 2023.