E3 is underway! And at the heart of the event is perhaps two of the biggest names in gaming, Xbox and Bethesda. This year is also unique as the companies have done a combined conference — with Microsoft recently completing their purchase of Bethesda parent company ZeniMax Media — titled the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase.
The Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase has given people a view at what Microsoft is cooking up, both for third-party and first-party support, so let’s take a look at what you can expect in the future:
Xbox Game Pass Additions
It’s no secret that Xbox Game Pass is one of the best-valued services you can get as a gamer, with a whole library of games available to you at just a fraction of the cost of a new video game. That value is set to be increased as Xbox announced more additions to their lineup during the showcase.
Players will be pleased to know that some upcoming games will be making their way to the service right at launch.
Games like Age of Empires IV, the latest iteration of the famed RTS series, and Microsoft Flight Simulator have announced their release dates — October 28 and July 27, respectively — and have also confirmed their inclusion in Xbox Game Pass at launch. In addition, Microsoft also revealed a free Top Gun: Maverick expansion to come for Flight Simulator when the movie premieres on November 19 this year.
Other notable additions to the service include Back 4 Blood, Turtle Rock Studios’ newest co-op FPS, and the ever-popular Among Us, which is slated for sometime this year. In addition, the recently released Yakuza Like a Dragon has also been made available right now for both PC and Xbox consoles, so do check it out if you’ve been eyeing it!
But perhaps the biggest name dropped by Microsoft for Xbox Game Pass is Hades. The multi-award-winning rogue-like video game by Supergiant Games is finally arriving on consoles on August 13, 2021. Of course, it will also be making its way to the service, though a specific date has yet to be revealed.
New Updates, New Looks
In addition to Xbox Game Pass, the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase also featured updates to their existing game franchises.
Grounded by recently acquired game studio Obsidian Entertainment is receiving a variety of quality-of-life improvements as well as new base building and weapon upgrades to the game, among others.
The Season Three update for Sea of Thieves also sees a crossover with Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean! Titled Sea of Thieves: A Pirate’s Life, players will experience an original story with Captain Jack Sparrow and his crew that is sure to bring new adventures.
Content will also be coming to Fallout 76 in the form of Steel Reign, a new questline for players to delve into solo or with friends.
Besides new content, players with the new Xbox Series consoles will also enjoy improved performances for two games under the Bethesda umbrella. The first is The Elder Scrolls Online: Console Enhanced which arrives on June 15 and enables players the option of running the game at full 4K or 60FPS and also has improvements to draw distance, textures, reflections, shadows, load times and more.
June 29 will also see a Next-Gen update to Doom Eternal, offering improved visuals at 4K resolution and ray-tracing support. Thus, giving it a boost in performance that now enables it to run at 60fps, or even 120fps should you have a display that can support it.
But new games are what the people want, and third-party developers were on hand to deliver that at the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase with new looks at their upcoming games.
Alongside announcing the release date for Diablo II: Resurrected (September 23, 2021), Blizzard also unveiled new gameplay for the game — featuring the classic locations and monsters wrapped in a shiny remastered look.
Earlier before that, the upcoming Battlefield 2042 game from DICE also made its gameplay debut on the show, showcasing real-time events that affect the battlefield as you go to war with up to 128 players on the game map.
Taking a 180 turn from the gritty Battlefield game is Party Animals, a decidedly more family-friendly offering by Recreate Games. You’ll be able to choose from a variety of adorable animals to battle it out online to be the last one left standing in the ultimate competitive brawler when it comes to the Xbox consoles in 2022.
Solo and co-op action-shooter RPG The Ascent also made an appearance in the show showing new gameplay footage while announcing its July 29 release date. It was joined by Twelve Minutes, which finally gave us an August 19 date to look forward to.
Rounding up the new gameplay looks were Atomic Heart, Far Cry 6 and Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes. The latter also reveals that the spinoff game Eiyuden Chronicle Rising will also be making its way to the Xbox systems.
Looking to the Future
Of course, any E3 conference wouldn’t be complete without the unveiling of new games, and the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase did indeed provide that as well with third-party developers.
The biggest one from the third party was A Plague Tale: Requiem, the sequel to the well-received 2019 game A Plague Tale: Innocence. It sees the return of the protagonist Amicia and her brother Hugo as they face a new threat that hunts them down.
Another sequel, Slime Rancher 2, was also unveiled at the show, where players again take the role of Beatrix LeBeau as she travels to Rainbow Island and continues the gameplay of catching and raising slimes.
Dino Patti, co-founder of Playdead (Limbo and Inside), has also opened a new studio called Jumpship and announced his latest project Somerville — a Sci-Fi adventure in the style of his previous games and also promises the same hand-crafted narrative experience that brought those games acclaim.
Lovers of snowboarding games will now have another to look forward to in Shredders. In the game, you’ll be attempting to pull off insane tricks for the hope of scoring a wildcard entry to an exclusive invitational. Park riding, buttering, rails and kickers will all be present in the game for you to hone your skills on.
Finally, a brand new 2.5D sci-fi retro-futuristic action platformer called Replaced was announced at the show. Set in the cyberpunk-inspired Phoenix-City, you will control R.E.A.C.H, an A.I. trapped against its will in a human body, as it attempts to uncover the dark secrets of the city.
Big Xbox Exclusives
We finish with the exclusives offering from Xbox, giving them the chance to showcase the fruits from their multiple acquisitions.
Everyone was looking for Halo Infinite, which admittedly had a muted showing — at least for its campaign. Nevertheless, they still provided a first-ever look at the gameplay for the multiplayer and announced that it would also become free-to-play for players across Xbox consoles and PC.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 gave a more comprehensive look at its gameplay, and the first-person shooter game very much had the horror and immersive sim vibes that the original gained cult status for. It features a vast open-world filled with mutant threats for players to navigate through, and it will come out on April 28 next year.
The long-awaited Starfield from Bethesda Game Studios also made an appearance. It still is a ways away from arriving onto our hands with the announcement of a November 11 2022, release date, but we were given a glimpse into what the game might look like with its reveal trailer as it teases the chance to journey the cosmos.
They were also on hand to unveil that the game will be the first to use Creation Engine 2, the updated version of Bethesda Game Studios’ proprietary game engine. Here’s hoping there will be fewer bugs to find!
But there were more exclusive games to show at the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase, and these were ones we didn’t know till now.
The Forza Horizon series makes a return, and the latest Forza Horizon 5 will bring players to the vast landscapes of Mexico as they explore with their favourite cars. And there is set to be a variety of environments as well, with mountain ranges, rainforests and deserts all on display for the game.
The city of Guanajuato will also be available for players to roam around, with narrow streets and open plazas just some of the areas you can drive around.
A new expedition mode will be in the game to encourage players to explore the world, with new minigames also available to try. But for something more customised, players can try their hand with the Events Lab creation tools to create their own races, game modes, and gameplay experiences.
Another exclusive is the surprise announcement of Contraband from Avalanche Studios. Little is known about this new game from the Just Cause creators, but it will be a co-op game set in the fictional world of 1970s Bayan. We certainly hope to hear more about it soon.
What isn’t a surprise was The Outer Worlds 2. The original was a hit when it first released in 2019, and the quirky elements from it were certainly on show which poked fun at in their own trailer.
Lastly, the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase ended with Head of Xbox Phil Spencer revealing a new game by Arkane Austin, Redfall.
Billed as a co-op, open-world first-person shooter, the trailer sees a group of individuals fighting off against a legion of vampires. In addition to their guns, these characters also seem to boast superpowered abilities like invisibility and telekinesis, which they use at their disposal to fend off their foes.
More information was also unveiled later, with the town of Redfall unveiled to be the location where you’ll be spending your time in. Players will also plan their own path across the island; much like the studios’ Dishonoured games, they can also be joined alongside three other friends for the game.
With both blockbuster and indie games on show, the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase aimed to please many types of gamers. Though perhaps we could have done with more gameplay looks from the Xbox first-party, the showcase did plant the seed for Xbox’s plans going forward.
And that marks their E3 2021 showing! We’ll certainly look for more news to come from Xbox for the rest of the year and keep one eye on their conference next year.
Visuals courtesy of Xbox Singapore and Bethesda.