One of the earliest memories from my childhood is playing Mouse Trap on the ColecoVision with my family. If you haven’t heard of it before, the ColecoVision is a video game system that released in 1982, and it marked the beginning of a life-long love of video games.
Since then, I’ve had my hands on games from Legend of Zelda and Pokémon to Halo and Assassin’s Creed, and I look forward to the E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) video game trade event every year to see what is coming.
This year is no different, with some big announcements concerning not only the games but the future of the Xbox ecosystem, too.
With over 60 games being presented along with details on next year’s Project Scarlett, I won’t go into everything here. But I will touch on some of the more exciting games that were mentioned during the conference along with what we can expect from Microsoft on the hardware front.
One game that was announced is the newest game in the Minecraft series, Minecraft Dungeons. This is one I enjoy playing with my family, so it especially grabbed my attention. Although not much was shown outside some simple gameplay, the game looks like it came straight out of the Diablo series.
My family and I also spend time building Lego sets and, while Forza Horizon 4 is getting a Lego expansion, the big reveal for me was the announcement of Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga.
The Lego Star Wars game will bring together all nine films from the Skywalker Saga and release in the spring of 2020.
What’s so exciting about this, you ask?
Well, this is the first time The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker are getting the Lego treatment.
Speaking of Star Wars, a bit more detail came out about Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order, too. We saw a deeper look into the story with Cal Kestis trying to survive after Order 66 without being ousted as a former Jedi.
In Jedi Fallen Order, we run into the likes of Saw Gerrera, who sounds like it’s being voiced by Forrest Whittaker, in a story about the Empire building the Death Star.
But we’ll have to wait to find out more when this game releases on November 15th, 2019.
Another game we saw at this year’s E3 was Gears 5. Even though the game announcement isn’t new, we now know it has a release date of September 9th, 2019, and the Ultimate edition will come out four days earlier.
But what interested me the most about Gears 5 is a new mode called Escape. Essentially, you start by tripping a bomb and proceed to fight a horde of enemies to escape. It looked hectic, fast-paced, and fun.
And then there’s CD Projekt RED that has an announced release date of April 16, 2020, for Cyberpunk 2077. But not only that, but they also told us the game would star Keanu Reeves.
I had been considering skipping this game since it’s a genre that I don’t necessarily connect with. But with Cyberpunk having Keanu (and being the follow-up to CD Projekt RED’s award-winning game The Witcher 3), I might rent it to see if it’s something I could get into.
The last three games I want to mention are from Microsoft Game Studios.
The first was more of a reveal trailer for Battletoads that looks like a graphically updated throwback to the original game you can still get play on Rare Replay.
Another game worth mentioning is the console release of Microsoft Flight Simulator. It shows off a gracefully beautiful world along with life-like planes and helicopters built with satellite imagery and Azure AI.
The last is the added detail on Halo Infinite, although the trailer seemed to bring more questions than answers.
Showing off the striking Slipspace graphic engine, the trailer introduces a story about a Pelican pilot who finds Master Chief floating in space. The pilot instantly recognizes Master Chief and powers up his armor so they can get ready for a fight.
Based on the end of Halo 5: Guardians, I’m not sure how we got to this point in the story. I guess we’ll have to wait and see when the game releases in Holiday 2020.
E3 was also full of Xbox ecosystem updates, like the Xbox Game Pass that will come to PC. While the beta is already out, the Pass is currently only $1 to celebrate the launch and limited time renewals let you get it at just $4.99.
Not only will PC games be included with Game Pass you can also bundle the PC version with Game Pass for the Xbox One. With Xbox Live Gold for $14.99 a month, this is a massive savings.
The second announcement here is the brand-new Elite Controller, named the Series 2. This controller will run you $179.99 but improves on the Series 1 Elite in multiple ways, such as the shorter hair trigger locks and adjustable tension thumbsticks.
The new Elite Controller’s battery also gets an upgrade and will have a 40-hour lifespan, making it worth the hefty price tag for more competitive gamers.
We were also told to expect Project xCloud’s beta to roll out in October 2019. For those of you that are curious about what xCloud is, it is a service meant to allow you to play your games on multiple devices, including smartphones.
While we weren’t given a price point, but the xCloud beta will let you turn your Xbox into your personal xCloud server for free – and that is pretty exciting.
Last but not least is the announcement of Project Scarlett’s hardware.
Running a custom AMD processor with Zen 2 and Navi architecture, it adds the high bandwidth GDDR6 RAM to hit framerates of 120 per second and 8K resolutions. Plus, the variable refresh rates and next-gen ray tracing will be done in real time.
Project Scarlett also adds a solid-state hard drive that doubles as virtual RAM, giving us hardware that will be 4x as powerful as the Xbox One X with load times that are 40x faster, too.
Along with the base hardware of the Project Scarlett system, we got a launch window: Holiday 2020.
But what we don’t know from this reveal is the size of the solid state hard drive, whether there will be an all-digital system, and if these will be the differences in Projects Lockheart and Andaconda (assuming they both are part of Project Scarlett), and what the price point and release date will be.
This was just a sneak peek at what stood out to me in the E3 announcements this year. As you can see, they are rather large in their importance for Xbox fans.
Even with all this information, I’m left with a few questions: What games will I spend my money on first? And will the price point for Project Scarlett be worth it as a day one adopter?