E3 2019 – Microsoft and Bethesda

Bethesda and Microsoft's presentations before E3 2017
Chase Gamwell 2019-06-11

Yesterday, I said that EA’s live stream set the tone for E3 2019. I was so wrong. Today, Microsoft and Bethesda went the extra mile to knock our socks off.

Microsoft

I’ve always been a Sony fan. I buy their consoles, play their games, and are partial to their exclusives. But I can’t deny that Microsoft has been making all the right moves these past few years. At E3 2019, they take everything a step further. From the games they announced, to the Game Pass, to where they’re headed in the future (which is far sooner than anyone expected), I’m starting to get excited about them as a gaming brand.

The Outer Worlds

Tonight’s show started with a trailer for The Outer Worlds. There’s not much new here, but it’s always nice to be reminded of Obsidian’s latest outing set to release on October 25.

Bleeding Edge

Next, Ninja Theory showcased the latest game they’ve been working on – Bleeding Edge. It’s a 4v4 melee deathmatch. A technical alpha will start on June 27th. Anyone interested should be able to go sign up for a chance to participate.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Ori and the Will of the Wisps was teased during the E3 2018 show, but it finally has a release date – February 11, 2020. That’s a bit farther back than originally announced, but it’s finally coming.

Blair Witch

I’m not one for horror games, but Blair Witch looks like it should interest folks who enjoy scary games. There wasn’t much to show past a cinematic trailer, but it definitely looks frightening.

Cyberpunk 2077

This is the part of the show I was waiting for and Microsoft didn’t disappoint. They started the presentation with a new trailer designed to introduce everyone to the fact that Keanu Reeves is now involved with the project.

After the trailer ended, Keanu stepped out on stage to talk a little bit about the game and how excited he is to be working on it. Probably the best part of the presentation was when he stated that the world of Cyberpunk 2077 was “breathtaking”, to which an audience member replied with a spirited yell, “You’re breathtaking.” (it turns out that little stunt got him a collectors edition of the game, to boot).

Best of all, we’ve got a release date – April 16, 2020. There’s a Steam page already up accepting preorders for anyone interested.

Psychonauts 2

Microsoft also announced the Double Fine Games would be joining Xbox Game Studios and Tim Schafer took the stage to announce Psychonauts 2.

Gears 5

Gears 5 is one of the staples of Microsoft’s lineup at this point, so I wasn’t surprised to see the announcement of a new game in the series. It releases September 10th of this year, and while there wasn’t much said about the single player portion of the game, there’s much ado about all the fresh, new multiplayer aspects rolling out with the latest iteration in the series.

There’s going to be a multiplayer technical test on July 17th. And select Microsoft stores will have demos of the latest game mode – Escape – available to play over the next two days. In this mode, players assume the role of infiltrators, where they get into a hive, plant a bomb, then…well…escape.

This all sounds standard fare for the Gears franchise. The most notable things about this release is that it’s coming to the PC and that if you purhcase it with the Xbox Game Pass before release, you get a Terminator Dark Fate Character Pack (there was no explanation given for why…).  

Elden Ring

This game was teased well before E3. Everyone’s been excited to see what From Software and George R.R. Martin are working on, but I’m not sure the trailer gives us a lot to go on.

The Rest

Microsoft wound up announcing sixty games at their conference. Above are the ones that seemed most interesting, but below are the rest. First, here’s a list of the other games that should be releasing in 2019 and 2020.

  • Minecraft Dungeons (Spring 2020)
  • Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order (November 15)
  • Spirit Farer
  • Battletoads
  • The Legend of Wright (coming 2020)
  • Age of Empires II Definitive Edition (Fall 2019)
  • Wasteland 3
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator
  • Lego Star Wars The Skywalker Saga (coming 2020)
  • Dragon Ball Z Kakarot (early 2020)
  • 12 Mintues (coming soon)
  • Way to the Woods (coming 2020 …for real this time)
  • Forza Horizon 4 Lego Speed Champions Expansion (June 13th)
  • Gears Pop (coming soon on iOS and Android)
  • State of Decay 2 Heartland (available on Xbox Game Pass June 9)
  • Phantasy Star Online 2 (Spring 2020)
  • Crossfire X (2020)
  • Tales of Arise (2020)
  • Borderlands 3 (September 13)
  • Dying Light 2 (Spring 2020)

And here are all the indie games that Microsoft showcased.

  • Dead Static Drive
  • Pathologic 2
  • Star REnegades
  • Afterparty
  • Totally Accurate Battle Simulator
  • The Good Life
  • Cross Code
  • Creature in the Well
  • Killer Queen Black
  • Riverbond
  • Unto the End
  • Blazing Chrome
  • Felix the Reaper – A Romantic Comedy Game About the Life of Death
  • Undermine
  • Supermarket Shriek
  • Secret Neighbor
  • Ikenfell
  • The Lord of the Rings Living Card Game
  • Night Call
  • Totem Teller

Xbox Game Pass

Microsoft spent a lot of time talking about the Xbox Game Pass last year. It sounded like an interesting idea, but it didn’t really grab me. This year, Microsoft made sure that I sat up and paid attention.

They’re finally bringing the Xbox Game Pass to the PC. For $9.99/month, gamers can have access to over 100 games, including Batman Arkham Knight, Metro Exodus, Hollow Knight Voidheart Edition, Borderlands The Handsome Collection, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Forza Horizon 4, Prey, WOlfenstein II: The New Colossus, and Rise of the Tomb Raider.

The open beta launched June 9th.

Frankly, I’m excited about the prospect of being able to pay such a small amount of money to be able to access so many games on the PC. Since PC gaming is my preferred platform, I really appreciate Microsoft’s continuing dedication to making their games available on as many platforms – and to as many players – as possible.

On top of this, they announced the Xbox Gamepass Ultimate. It provides access to over 100 console titles, Xbox Live Gold, and the Game Pass for PC at no additional charge. And players can jump in today for only $1. That’s a hell of a deal.

Redesigned Elite Controller

Truly passionate Xbox fans will be happy to know that the elite controller has been reworked from the ground up. From the looks of it, the controller is now fully customizable.

Project Scarlett and Halo Infinite

Microsoft finished strong with a reveal of their upcoming console. Dubbed Project Scarlett, they touted it as designed, built, and optimized for gaming. Featuring a custom processor co-engineered and custom designed with AMD (4x more powerful than the One X), GDDR 6 RAM, a SSD drive, and an SSD used as Virtual Ram, the console should be capable of a 40x performance increase over the current console generation.

All of this power means the next console will be capable of up to 120 fps at 8K with variable refresh rates and next gen ray tracing. It will be available Holiday 2020 and will release alongside Halo Infinite.

Pleasantly Surprised

I was blown away by Microsoft’s presentation tonight. Often, companies like to talk about how much they care, but rarely back up their words with meaningful action. But year after year, Microsoft has been delivering on every new thing they present. This year, it was by bringing the Xbox Game Pass to the PC. And the promise of fidelity that Project Scarlett will bring to console gaming (as seen in that Halo trailer) is really something special.

Bethesda

The last year has been a little bit rough for Bethesda, and I was wondering how they’d approach this year’s E3 conference. As expected, they delivered a solid list of updates for the current titles in their portfolio, and kept quiet on the projects that fans are most interested in hearing about. But they also brought along some truly groundbreaking technology that should have a definite impact on the shifting gaming landscape.

Bethesda Softworks

Todd Howard was almost immediately pushed on stage. He talked a little bit about the difficulties Bethesda Game Studios had over the last year, but lauded all of the success the studio had despite the tough year. He did mention the two games that everyone is dying to hear more about – Starfield and TES VI – but they were only mentioned in passing. It was about what I expected.

The Elder Scrolls: Blades

I tried blades and really didn’t like it, but enough players did that it is Bethesda’s second straight #1 mobile game after Fallout Shelter. A huge update is coming out tonight (June 9th), which includes new jobs, solo arena battles, a custom jewelry system, and a new dragon questline. And this fall, the game is getting a new arena mode with PVP, guilds, and friends towns.

Additionally, Blades will be coming to the Switch this fall. It will still be free and feature cross-play/cross-progression with the mobile version. This means that players will be able to start their journey on a phone and transfer all of their progress to the Switch when that version arrives.

From June 10-17, players who download and play the game will get exclusive E3 giveaways.

Fallout 76

I had a lot of fun playing Fallout 76, but quickly ran into a lack of things to do in the game. Near the end of last year, I decided to put it aside until Bethesda added more content. And that content is finally on its way.

At the conference, Bethesda announced year 2 content in the form of the Wastelanders update. This expansion will introduce human NPCs (with full dialogue trees), a new main quest, and new weapons and gear. Best of all, the update is free. On top of that, they’re adding a 52 player battle royale mode called Nuclear Winter.

To coax people back into the game, Bethesda is offering a free trial from June 10-17. It gives players access to everything in the game, including the new Nuclear Winter mode. I look forward to getting my hands on the Wastelanders update when it drops this fall.

Doom Eternal

Doom Eternal has been a thing since last E3. This year, Bethesda came to the show with a bunch of gameplay and a release date – November 22.

The game looks insane and there’s even a new multiplayer mode called Battlemode, where two demon players face off against a fully kitted slayer. And for true fans of Doom, there will be a special edition with a wearable helmet.

Stay tuned for much more information about the game later this summer at Quake Con.

GhostWire: Tokyo

This was kind of an interesting game to announce. It’s from Shinji Mikami and tells the story of about a paranormal evil causing people to disappear. Not much in the way of details, but the trailer was an intriguing watch.

Additional Updates

Bethesda also announced updates for ESO, The Elder Scrolls Legends, Rage 2. They also showed trailers for a few new offerings, including: a Commander Keen mobile game (soft launching this summer), Wolfenstein Cyberpilot (coming this summer), Wolfenstein Youngblood (July 26), and Deathloop (coming sometime in the future).

Orion

Although Bethesda didn’t bring Starfield or TES VI to E3 2019, they came with something a bit different, yet just as impressive. Earlier this year, I wrote an article about Google Stadia. While the concept of streaming games in a chrome browser sounds cool, the biggest question mark is latency.

Orion seeks to solve that issue.

Based on a number of software patents, Orion is a breakthrough in streaming tech designed to optimize game engines to work in a streaming environment. According to Bethesda, Orion should deliver a 20% improvement in stream per frame and allow games to stream using 40% less bandwidth. To prove it works, they even showcased a demo of Doom at 4K and 60 fps, played on a mobile setup with no detectable latency.

Since Doom is going to be available when Stadia launches, I’m assuming that it will be using Orion. And if the software works as well as Bethesda claims, it will go a long way in making Stadia a solid platform for gaming.

Steady as she goes

While there were no bombshells at Bethesda’s E3 2019 conference, I was pleasantly surprised with what they did bring to the show. They’re spending a lot of time updating a lot of their games. Fallout 76, in particular, is a title I’m extremely happy dive back into. Especially considering it’s more like Fallout 4 than ever before with the addition of NPCs. And Orion looks to be an interesting bit of tech that will help along all of the streaming services we’re seeing so many game companies adopt.

Stay tuned for more tomorrow!

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