X019 came with a whole host of announcements big and small. Tom and I teamed up for some live reactions and here’s what we made of it.
Tom: Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order opens the show with a great live-action ad similar to that old one with the people shooting pew pew in the shopping mall…airport …the old Xbox One. You know the one.
Mike: Not going to lie, Tom, I have no idea what you’re talking about, but I do know that Respawn looks to have nailed the whole definitely-not-mechanically-like-Titanfall look of the game. That wall running looks the biz. Got to love a bit of live-action cheese though! Nice way to kick off.
Tom: The London crowd are hyped! It’s a cool little dynamic doing these events with a big party celebration atmosphere. Gets the energy flowing.
Mike: For sure. These events generally look pretty cool to be part of but let’s see if they can keep us awake with some decent game drops this time around as the last few fell a little short. Seems like they’ve really got people hyped up and I’ve got to say, even though we’ll see nothing of the new hardware I’m expecting some pretty big software reveals this time around.
Tom: We’ve got Rare up next. And it’s not just Sea of Thieves. It’s a new IP.
Mike: Rare, absolute legends and always a fan favourite dev! Let’s see what they’ve got.
Tom: A big pretty world, deer are running around, nature looks to be a big deal. Some pretty music, and a very Ori and the Blind Forest atmosphere is what’s grabbing me. The art style is gorgeous and looks like a tidy aesthetic that sits in between Sea of Thieves, Fable and every other indie game you’ve ever played. Everwild. An exciting new game from Rare and the first debut 1st party IP from Microsoft.
A survival game from Obsidian is up next. It looks like… Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. You’re scrapping with ladybirds and ants, and working your way around abandoned Coke cans and old action figureheads. Looks like there are some Fortnite type building mechanics and another cartoon style. Grounded is out in spring of 2020. Obsidian is snowballing after The Outer Worlds and this Microsoft acquisition looks to be working for them. It’s great to see considering the state of the studio and the panic around them after they severed ties with Bethesda. Pillars of Eternity, Outer Worlds, Grounded. It’s all rainbows. It will, of course, be on Game Pass as well as Xbox Insider, for early access.
Mike: Admittedly, there’s not much standing out at first glance but I have the utmost faith in Obsidian and one of the best takeaways here is that it really looks like Microsoft’s support is already allowing the studio to spread their wings where they’ve perhaps been tied a little more closely to a publisher’s script in the past.
Tom: A very Hellboy looking game is up. Lots of Mike Mignola looking art styles and graphics and with Ron Pearlman voicing a cowboy in a poncho with a burning skull for a head. West of Dead looks pretty cool as an isometric looking shooter.
Sea of thieves shows off some interesting new story content and mechanics. Some attention for multiplayer. The latest update The Seabound Soul is out November 20th.
Rust is coming to Xbox One in 2020. Cool?
Mike: Rust has a large PC player base already and this will provide a great boost for the community. I’ve not spent much time in there but it’s beloved by players for its depth in mechanics and, being a live game, there are seasonal events and the like, something that’s undoubtedly going to increase with the new player count.
Tom: Kart Rider Drift, a PC legend coming to Xbox one. I’ve never heard of it but it looks like a fun Kart Racer/Micro Machines looking party game. It’s free though? Can’t complain. There’s a sit-down segment with the games Executive Director to discuss the title which is being referred to as iconic. Maybe I’m missing something? Maybe I’ve been living under a rock. Super customisable which looks pretty cool. A couple of eSports players are showing us what’s what. I’m honestly starting to feel embarrassed. Is this a big deal? Am I out of the loop?… no… it’s the children who are wrong.
Mike: KartRider is one of those massive Asian properties you’ve never heard of. Hundreds of millions of players and over a decade old as a series. Looks cute, bright and has some jazzy camera angles when drifting. Whether this will stand up in gameplay terms to the likes of Mario Kart is probably not going to affect its initial impact in the West, being a free-to-play game. As for these eSports dudes. Well, no idea but I’m sure they’re lovely chaps.
Tom: Bleeding Edge a title announced at E3 is being shown off. Ninja Theory was one of the big acquisitions by Microsoft after the success they had with Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice but the next title looks very different. All bright colours, wacky characters and multiplayer action. It’s coming in March with a closed beta kicking off in February.
Mike: With Overwatch overtones and an almost Sunset Overdrive attitude, you’re right, this is a very different proposition and what seems to be another great example of Microsoft letting their newest studios run wild. How it turns out is up in the air with nothing jumping out bar the fact that’s a multiplayer battler of some kind but I guess we’ll find out in February!
Tom: Three new games are on the way now. We’ll try and keep up. Planet Coaster is on its way to Xbox with a console edition. Looks a lot like Theme Park World which I’m down for! It looks genuinely gorgeous and has some beautiful looking lighting.
Mike: I have this one on PC already but have yet to give it a whirl. Got to say, I’m wondering how well console controls will translate but it certainly looks the part.
Tom: That translation from PC is always tough. I remember Zoo Tycoon feeling quite natural and the Tropico series tend to do quite well. We will see.
DontNod the team that brought us life is strange are showing off a very Life is Strange looking game about twins. The trailer is naturally cryptic and vague but rest assured it’ll be beautiful and a great story.
Mike: The writers are fantastic at DontNod but yeah, cryptic, hard to take much from this snippet. Still, this is a thing now, so that’s nice.
Tom: Anna Purna Interactive has consistently impressed me perhaps more than any indie publisher in the business and this stylish rock and roll inspired title The Artful Escape is out in 2020 and taking up a spot on my list for sure. Slick, stylised, psychedelic and just dang pretty. I’ll be looking forward to this.
Mike: Strange rock guitaring platforming ’70s psychedelic madness. I dig it. Right there with you, sold on this. Another theme today seems to be heavily stylised colourful art directions which, among various other reasons, often contribute to smooth performances. A must for this sort of faced-paced experience. The Artful Escape looks like the type of game that would fulfil that Sayonara Wild Hearts role of a bizarre experimental trip.
Tom: Project xCloud the big time Xbox streaming technology is taking to the stage. Xbox experience on all devices everywhere. It’s much like Stadia and PlayStation Now with some genuinely groundbreaking tech that might take a little time to stabilise. It’s been in preview for a while but in 2020 xCloud will launch on windows PCs. Controllers are on the docket as well with the Xbox controller being the prime player but the DualShock 4 will also be supported! Damn. What a world we are living in? The service will be expanding out to other regions in the new year as well.
Mike: DualShock 4? Weird flex.
Tom: Ken Moss the CTO from EA is here to discuss Project xCloud. There’s a discussion about ease of development for xCloud with the promise that if you’ve developed for Xbox, you’ve already developed for xCloud. A dev whoops in the front row. Madden 20 is available today on xCloud as the first of what could be many from EA. Never a company to turn their noses up at dollar bills ey?
Mike: EA will stick around provided there’s money and, well, Microsoft will probably just bankroll this until it sticks. Where the development environment is concerned, if it’s ready-to-go from an Xbox build it could be a game-changer (though not literally… because they wouldn’t need t… nevermind).
Tom: Xbox Game Pass will be coming to xCloud as well. That’s a lot of games available pretty much anywhere on anything.
Mike: Bring it to Switch! That would be a match made in heaven. But yes, very happy about this.
Tom: Yes, a thousand times yes. xCloud for Switch is the one.
Black Friday offers! Starting November 24th Xbox One S digital is $149. $20 off controllers inc. design lab discounts on Gears 5, Modern Warfare, Borderlands 3 and much more.
Mike: Ah, the XboxSAD. It’s still just a touch too high given the cost of the One S but you can see this being the best budget option out there when combined with Game Pass.
Tom: Yakuza is coming to Xbox! Daaaaaaaaamn! This franchise has become synonymous with PlayStation so it’s a big get for Xbox Game Pass. Yakuza Kiwami, Yakuza Kiwami 2 and Yakuza 0 will be coming to Game pass in 2020!
Mike: Quite the gain for MS with yet another Japanese franchise that’s been typically linked to other hardware. The success of the PC ports may have been a factor but there’s a definite push to expand the range of titles.
Tom: A lady appears to be getting a tattoo on screen…that will come up again later I’m sure…
Halo Reach is coming to Xbox One and PC in ‘Stunning’ 4K in the Master Chief Collection on December 3rd.
Mike: Considering the Xbox Scarlett is coming with full backwards compatibility, the catalogue that will be available on the system on Day 1 is going to be outstanding. First-party collections like these, given they’re pushing 4K on Xbox One X and PC, may even come enhanced out-of-the-box due to the scalability of the builds.
Tom: Flight Simulator! That’s a game where you fly planes. I have very little to add to this I’m afraid.
Mike: Even without an interest there’s a lot to be said for the new cloud processing tech powering the game’s world. This Flight Sim is far above and beyond any previous mainstream simulator software but yeah, I don’t know what that passenger mode’s all about.
Tom: OMG, is this a new Age of Empires game?
It sure looks like one.
Age of Empires IV is here. Shannon Loftis the studio head is onstage telling us that what we saw is what is being played every day at the studio. Medieval era. The Mongols and the English.
World’s Edge is the new name of the dedicated Age of Empires studio going forward.
Mike: Leagues ahead of AoE III. This one is a looker.
Tom: A beautiful throwback, another trailer shows AoE being played on old CRT PCs locally before showing off an enhanced version of Age of Empires II Definitive Edition.
Mike: I’ve been eyeing up some CRT monitors recently, especially after watching Digital Foundry take Control to a CRT with unimaginably good results. Age of Empires II sounds like the perfect game to test that setup on.
Tom: Crossfire X got a lot of time at E3. This is a huge first-person shooter specifically in the Chinese market and makes it a huge title. It’s on its way to Xbox. Remedy the team behind Max Payne and most recently Control are taking all the building blocks of Crossfire X and making a single-player campaign. DMX plays backup to a pretty action-heavy trailer. Sounds cool. Looks cool, if that’s your thing. The game will be Free to Play and Xbox seem to be putting a lot of stock in this one.
Mike: If there’s ever a smart way of bringing in a new Western crowd, it’s that single player-focus to get things off the ground and it sounds like it’s in damn good hands so I’m cautiously excited for this one.
Tom: Annapurna is back again publishing another nice looking and interesting mystery game. Honestly, everything that comes from these guys has my interest. Last Stop from the team at Virginia is coming soon.
Tom: Fortnite ad. Minecraft Dungeon ad. Minecraft Dungeon stage demo. This looks like an interesting use of the Minecraft IP. Not a big one for me but it’s interesting to watch Minecraft expand in different directions with games like this and Minecraft Earth.
Mike: Minecraft Dungeons, thus far, hasn’t really looked like it brings any new ideas to a genre that’s already brimming with life. It will be interesting to see what they showcase here but it is another way of bringing a different crowd in through a different use of the IP. Looks like a fun Diablo-lite. With cows.
Tom: There has been no follow up from the lady who had her tattoo done on stage. I am disappointed.
Mike: They botched it. Instead of a 13 they drew a 31.
Tom: Final Fantasy titles are on their way to Xbox Game Pass. A whoooooole bunch of Final Fantasy from VII up to XV and plenty in between.
Mike: That’s an impressive line-up and even better that it’s extended to PC! No VI? I’m just greedy…
Tom: Kingdom Hearts are on their way as well! All of the HD 1.78 + 9 24.6 ones. I can’t keep up with their numbering systems.
Mike: What’s striking me here, again, is that Microsoft really looks to be making a play for some titles often more associated with the PlayStation brand. Granted they’ve had KH3 and some Final Fantasy titles but these alongside Yakuza? That’s a lot of Japanese greatness.
…What on Earth is Discord Nitro?
Tom: I am also unfamiliar with Discord Nitro…you get it with Game Pass though?
Mike: Googled it; it’s Discord for a low monthly fee. So now you can pay for your Discord, too!
Tom: Game Pass announcements are dropping hard. Rage 2. Lego games. Remnant from the Ashes. The Talos Principle. Age of Empires II DE. Promise of The Witcher II next year! Darksiders III. My Friend Pedro. Life is Strange 2. The aforementioned Yakuza 0, Kiwami and Kiwami 2. The previously mentioned 1st party titles. It’s difficult to keep up with. The value in this service is genuinely incredible.
Mike: Damn right, Game Pass is already STACKED but it just keeps on giving. Looking at this insanely diverse line up really makes a discounted Xbox SAD look like an extremely good and affordable prospect for those undeterred by the lack of a physical disc drive or ownership of game licences.
Tom: ID @ Xbox get some of the spotlight as well showing off some great looking indie games. Streets of Rage 4, Skate Bird, Carrion, Luna Nights, Cris Tales and Haven are but a few.
Mike: A highlight there for me is Cris Tales which is an artful love letter to JRPGs with a battle menu that looks like it takes cues from Persona 5. Very happy to see it reach consoles. And Streets of Rage 4 is Streets of Rage 4, ‘nuff said.
Tom: Jesus, I thought we were getting to the end but it just kept going. All the titles shown will be available at launch on Game Pass.
First 3 months of Game Pass for $1. Again. Crazy value.
Mike: That, right there, is the only excuse anyone needs to blast through The Outer Worlds.
Tom: Dammit Charlie! What was with the Tattoo segment?!
Phil Spencer is on the stage. He’s saying nice things about XO and a streamer called Ewok coming to Mixer.
Mike: And, in a feat of glorious magicianary (not a real word), Phil rolls up his sleeve and reveals that the tattoo has, in fact, transferred to his arm. Check it out on Mixer or something.
Tom: We’re on to 3rd party support and Phil is doubling down on getting more 3rd party titles involved in Xbox. I think they’re doing a pretty great job to be fair.
Mike: Xbox is now a few first-party AAA heavy hitters away from matching Sony’s current gen output. If this momentum continues it will be great to see Sony’s response. Couldn’t be more excited for the next-gen.
Tom: Phil moves us onto xCloud and discusses support, feedback and stressing that this tech is not done. It’s in preview because there’s a lot left to do.
We’re near the end of the show says mystery tattoo lady charlie but it sounds like we’ve got a good old fashioned ‘one more thing’ segment to close the show.
Some details on Wasteland 3 looks to be that ‘one more thing’. There’s some chat about Fallout the acquisition from Bethesda, the re-emergence of Wasteland and the 3rd installation that’s on its way. Big visual upgrades, dialogue expansion, better soundtrack. It sounds like its a bigger and better Wasteland.
A trailer for Wasteland 3 closes off the show. It looks gorgeous. If you’re a fan of the Wasteland series’ or the OG Fallout games this is one for you.
Mike: To my great shame, I’ve never played Wasteland but this looks like the perfect opportunity to change that.
Tom: The big takeaway from this show, much like the last few of these from Microsoft, is that Game Pass is priority number 1 for Xbox. So many games added to a service that has such an unbelievable amount of value already. It’s hard to turn your nose up at the idea that Xbox Game Pass is the very best value for money proposition in video games right now. Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts, The Witcher III and Yakuza are just a handful of new games on a massive list of titles that sit along with some incredible indies from ID @ Xbox and some interesting, often underwhelming but ultimately very accessible first-party efforts. Xbox clearly isn’t competing with the likes of PlayStation or Nintendo when we look at quality. But damn are they holding their ground on quantity. Keep an eye out over Black Friday. Xbox will be affordable and damn good bang for your buck.
Mike: Couldn’t agree more. They’re really carving out their own identity in the gaming space and with the first party studios seemingly free of restraints, we’re looking at an exciting time for all types of gamers. The realisation of playing anywhere on any device without multiplayer restrictions is slowly becoming a reality and at this point, it looks like Microsoft, more so than Google, who will be the first to make it truly viable. Your move, Sony.
Go check out coverage from XO19, showcasing many of the games discussed above!