Microsoft had a strong showing at its E3 2017 press conference, debuting the Xbox One X (formerly known as Project Scorpio), showing off a whopping 42 different games on stage, announcing backwards compatibility for the original Xbox, and showcasing gameplay footage for big upcoming games like Assassin’s Creed Origins, Forza Motorsport 7, and Bioware’s Anthem. If you missed the show, here’s a play-by-play recap of what Microsoft showed off for the Xbox One – minus the roughly one million mentions of ‘True 4K’.
Xbox One X is the new high-end Xbox console
Might as well start off by answering the question we’ve all been asking: what is Project Scorpio? Its final name is the Xbox One X, launching worldwide on November 7, 2017 for $499. After an intro from Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s Karren Choudhry took the stage to talk engineering specifics: 6 teraflop CPU running at 1.172 Ghz, 12GB of GDDR5 memory, and 325 GB of memory bandwidth all chugging away inside the Xbox One X to make it “more powerful than any other console on any dimension”. All your Xbox One games and accessories will work with the Xbox One X from the get-go, and will benefit from enhanced visuals and faster loadtimes. Supersampling technology ensures that even if you don’t own a 4K TV to appreciate the 4K visuals, the 1080p output will still be improved. Other bonuses include support for 8 million pixels, HDR, a ‘wide color gamut’, Dolby Atmos sound systems, and 4K UHD Blu-ray playback. This will also be the smallest Xbox to date: a comparison shot showed an Xbox One controller resting atop the console taking up about half its size. That’s a far cry from the original Xbox One’s VHS player form factor.
Forza Motorsport 7 debuts fresh footage (and… a car)
A gameplay trailer for Forza Motorsport 7 opened with a crisp shot of a vast desert, which would soon become a theme throughout the press conference. Forza 7 will include the kind of car porn you’ve come to expect from the Forza series: high-end vehicles zooming around tracks, kicking up dust, dirt, and rain as they scream by the camera. In a strange twist, Dan Greenawalt, creative director from Turn 10 studios, took the stage to show off a “flagship supercar” made by Porsche: the 2018 Porsche 9-11 GT2 RS. It’s a bit difficult to get excited for a ridiculously expensive car you’ll never, ever own while watching a press conference, but it certainly looks great in-game. Racing fans can expect to cruise around in one of over 700 cars at 60 fps in 4K, with all the spiffy weather effects, nuanced lighting, and super high-res textures that Forza is known for.
Metro Exodus sends you back out into the wasteland
The Metro series offers up all the gritty, post-apocalyptic FPS action you could ask for, so it’s nice to see footage of the new sequel, Metro Exodus, showing off its rubble-filled wasteland looking better – and scarier – than ever. A gameplay trailer opening up inside the dark, rusted ruins of a subway system, where our hero is attacked by giant mutated animals the series is known for (in this case, a swarm of overgrown rats). He eventually escapes to the breathable air of a giant, post-apocalyptic open world. Scoping out his surroundings, he proceeds seamlessly into a dilapidated town, cautiously skulking about and picking off mutated dogs with a crossbow (complete with retrievable bolts). But it’ll take more more than a few bolts to fell a hideously mutated bear, which the player flees from by crossing a ravine on a giant zipline. Out of a nowhere, a steam locomotive storms into view, and a human ally grabs our hand to pull us up to safety. Metro Exodus is coming in 2018.
Assassin’s Creed Origins shows off stealth action in ancient Egypt
The leaks were all true: the next sequel in Ubisoft’s long-running series is Assassin’s Creed Origins, set in ancient Egypt. The era of pharaoahs and kings look gorgeous, with colossal stone statues, shining pyramids, royal gardens, and even some glimpses of supernatural elements like a battle against a giant serpent. A gameplay demo showed off our new hero Bayek, who travels with his trusty eagle eliminating targets chosen by the recently formed Assassin Brotherhood. We see a familiar clump of objective markers on the compass line at the top of the screen, but interestingly, there’s no minimap anywhere on the HUD. Instead, your hawk will scout ahead and survey the landscape from the above, marking enemies so that Bayek can formulate a plan for his assassinations. Guards are taken out through a mix of piercing arrows from afar and silent stabbings up close, with Bayek sneaking and sprinting around a gorgeous compound of stonework and palm trees. During the demo, Bayek levels up mid-mission, unlocking access to a new Ability Point, before a wild fight against a horde of grunts breaks out. As luck would have it, Bayek is also an adept close-combat fighter with sword and shield, with glimpses of additional gameplay showing off a spear as well. We’ll be sure to see more of Assassin’s Creed Origins during Ubisoft’s press conference.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is making its console debut on Xbox One
One of the hottest PC games will be a console launch exclusive on Xbox One, featuring Battle Royale combat between solo or teamed-up combatants who airdrop into a warzone full of guns and equipment scattered around for the taking. Many enter, but only one player (or team) can win, as the entire map continually constricts contestants. You’ll be able to play PUBG (as the cool kids call it) later this year.
State of Decay 2 shows off the harsh reality of survival
The sequel to the cult favorite zombie survival game got a hefty gameplay trailer, showing hordes of the undead and plenty of sepia-tone sunsets as a group of survivors band together and set up a customizable, buildable camp (within an abandoned church, in this case). If someone in your squad gets bitten (like one woman does in the trailer), you’ll have the option to ruthlessly execute them or spend precious healing resources to stave off their infection. The trailer ended with a survivor getting brutally ripped in half by a hulking zombie, which is finally taken down by that same bitten survivor who was healed by a compassionate ally. State of Decay 2 is coming Spring 2018.
Deep Rock Galactic and The Darwin Project offer two types of chaotic shooting
To break up the bigger games, we got a look at two smaller titles with an emphasis on killing everything in sight. Dep Rock Galactic is a team shooter with destructible environments set deep within an critter-infested mine, full of wise-cracking dwarves who are just aching to dig up some precious minerals then get the heck out alive. Meanwhile, The Darwin Project is another Battle Royale framework featuring people killing one another to survive, only with high-tech touches like laser shields and full-body cloaking. What we didn’t need was an insufferable shoutcaster screaming his head off during the demo.
Minecraft gets prettier 4K graphics this fall
Minecraft, the eternally popular building game, is getting a community marketplace, so you can create and share content like skins and tilesets with other players, along with community-run servers and crossplay between PC, tablet, Nintendo Switch – the whole nine yards. A new look is also coming this fall: the ‘Super Duper Graphics Pack’, which makes all those blocky textures look shinier and bathed in bloom lighting effects, all rendered in 4K.
Dragon Ball FighterZ heads up a series of exciting sizzle reels
Next up were some rapid-fire looks at a heap of upcoming games. Dragon Ball FighterZ is a luscious-looking 2.5D anime fighter from Arc System Works, the studio coming off the success of the gorgeous Guilty Gear Xrd games. DFZ’s chaotic 3v3 bouts feature all the DBZ characters you know and love – Goku, Vegeta, Frieza, Cell, Buu are all here, along with many more. Dragon Ball FighterZ is coming in 2018.
Even more sweeping desert shots usher us into a trailer for The Black Desert (a new name for Black Desert Online), an Xbox One console launch exclusive full of medieval fantasy and beautiful character customization. This MMO features action-oriented combat against a wide range of high fantasy beasties, and offers plenty of abilities which which to kill them
Another intriguing Xbox One console exclusive is The Last Night, a sweeping cyberpunk adventure with a captivating visual style, blending pixel-art voxels and high-tech cityscapes. Annapurna Interactive showed off the charming cartoon style of The Artful Escape, which transitioned with an ordinary city street, into a rock opera sidescroller rife with psychadelic visuals and the kinds of environmental shots that would fit right into a visionary music video. Lastly, Bandai Namco offered a glimpse of more gameplay from Code Vein, the ‘anime Bloodborne’ action adventure featuring vampires slicing up big ol’ monsters in a post-apocalyptic metropolis.
Sea of Thieves showcases an extensive pirate adventure
Sea of Thieves, the upcoming shared-world pirate MMO from Rare, had more seafaring, swashbuckling gameplay to show off, with a ragtag crew of pirates guiding their very own ship and diving into the depths for treasure (or in this case, supplies). After salvaging a seemingly weightless cannonball from the ruins of a sunken ship and sneakily swimming past a nearby shark, our heroes explored a tropical island discovered via a cryptic riddle and exchanged musket fire with a horde of reanimated skeletons. A spooky, enchanted cavern led to an ornate Legendary Treasure Chest buried in the sand, which inevitably disturbed the spirits of the dead once taken, which escalated into a full-on naval battle amidst a raging storm, where one player launched themselves via cannon to board the enemy ship and fight up close. The vibrant color scheme looks fantastic, while the tone is pleasantly goofy and adventurous – perfect for a pirate’s life.
Cuphead and Crackdown 3 finally get release dates – also, check out these other games
Another batch of quick-hit game footage started with Tacoma, the next game from Gone Home studio Fullbright, announcing an August 2 release date via a short teaser. Super Lucky’s Tale, which started life as an Oculus VR exclusive (which received somewhat middling reception) will be coming to Xbox One. This kid-friendly platformer has all the running, jumping, and coin-collecting one could ask for; all that remains to be seen is how it functions without the VR. Our titular fox boy Lucky sure looks excited from his adventure, coming November 7, 2017. And at long last, the gorgeous, old-timey shoot-em-up Cuphead has a release date: September 29. If it somehow misses that date, my head will explode.
Next was a live-action Crackdown 3 ad starring the charming, lovable, muscular Terry Crews. The camera crew didn’t have the decency to zoom in on Crews’ magnificent face, because evidently they hate joy. We saw a crew of Agents tearing up the city (and collecting those tantalizing green Agility orbs dotting the rooftops) with appropriate amounts of open-world mayhem. Jetpacks, explosive firepower, and a comic book aesthetic were all present in force. After months of radio silence, Crackdown 3 is coming November 7, 2017.
Next was the ID@Xbox sizzle reel that’s become a trademark of Xbox press conferences. Titles shown include Osiris: New Dawn, Raiders of the Broken Planet, Unruly Heroes, Path of Exile , Battlerite, Surviving Mars, Fable Fortune, Observer, Robocraft Infinity, Dunk Lords, Minion Masters, Brawlout, Ooblets, Dark and Light, Strange Brigade, Riverbond, Hello Neighbor, Shift, and Conan Exiles. Those help put the total number of games launched with ID@Xbox at over 500 – not too shabby!
A reveal trailer for the all-new, console launch exclusive Ashen showed a somber fantasy world, with faceless warriors and creepy spider-legged creatures. This third-person dungeon crawler appears to feature two explorers fighting for their lives in a tomb, meeting their inglorious ends by being smashed by the mace of an ancient guardian.
Ah, and those rumors of a Life is Strange prequel check out. Life is Strange: Before the Storm will be a three-part episodic series starting August 31, 2017.
New Middle-earth: Shadow of War footage introduces us to a lovable Olag-hai
is looking great, and an entertaining new sizzle reel showcased a parade of randomly generated orcs and Olag trolls spouting aggressive banter. We then cut to a fight-to-the-death club arena, where Talion and Celebrimbor decide to dominate the winner of the gruesome duel, Bruz the Chopper, and make him serve in their personal army. After an extensive fight full of sword-swinging and severed limbs, the successful mind-control on Bruz resulted in a surprisingly comedic conversation – Bright Lord? Dark Lord? Makes no difference to Bruz! With the personable Olag in tow, Talion leads an assault on a Fortress and dominates a few more key players. After hearing him roast a former ally before the battle, we kind of want Bruz to be our new best friend.
Ori and the Will of the Wisps looks as gorgeous and touching as the first
Ori and the Blind Forest is getting a picturesque sequel, with a stunning, 3D-rendered visual style that outshines the already-gorgeous original. This time, Ori will be teaming up with an owl who’s seemingly lost its entire species to some kind of disaster.
Original Xbox games are being added to the Backward Compatibility list
Here’s the perfect for-the-fans move: Phil Spencer announced that top men are hard at work porting games for the original Xbox to the Backward Compatbility lineup, including the cult classic dogfighting game Crimson Skies. OG Xbox games will ‘look better and play better’ on Xbox One consoles, as you’d hope; here are five more games that deserve the Crimson Skies treatment. Spencer also promised that free 4K updates are coming to a host of already-released games like Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, Killer Instinct, Halo Wars 2, Final Fantasy 15, Resident Evil 7, Ghost Recon Wildlands, and Rocket League, to name a few.
Anthem looks like a mix between Destiny and Horizon: Zero Dawn
Anthem, the new project from EA and Bioware first teased at the EA Play press conference, was shown off in full to close out the show. It looks damn good, with the demo starting in an open-air market with a gargantuan robot lumbering overhead. A desperate man with an uncanny-valley-triggering face comes to our hero – a freelancer – with a mission that requires a trip out into the wilderness. We then mount up into some high-tech armor known as the Javelin exosuit, bearing quite the resemblance to Destiny’s Guardians.
Some canned multiplayer banter was exchanged as two players explored a vast wilderness populated by wild alien creatures, zipping around with their jumpjets and soaring through the air as if they were wearing heavy metal squirrel suits. It looks like your Javelin lets you freely explore the land, sea, and air in Anthem, picking fights for XP and snagging treasure. Eventually, the pair ran into a gang of Scar creatures lead by a Heavy, which chattered amongst themselves a bit like Halo grunts. They were wiped out by a hail of locked rockets, before – “YES!” – our hero scored a Jarra’s Wrath legendary volt rifle (as if anyone has context for what that is). Switching scenes, we get a glimpse of a group launching headfirst into a massive storm. Anthem is coming in 2018 – and with that, the Xbox E3 2017 press conference came to an end.