Things to Expect from Microsoft at E3 2019

E3 is a time for game showcases, demos and reveals. But what always makes E3 is the surprises, and there are few companies with the IP available to truly excite their fanbase as Microsoft. This year, Microsoft will be having a two hour conference, and with Sony skipping E3, it is their turn to shine. Bringing heavy hitters to the expo with the promise of having more exclusive announcements than ever before, Microsoft’s conference may be destined to be one of the greatest in the company’s history. So what exactly might show up there? In this article, we break down some of the biggest titles that are confirmed and rumoured to be showing up when Microsoft takes the stage on Sunday, June 9th.

 

Halo Infinite

With a rumored $500M budget and 4 years since Halo 5 released, Halo Infinite is shaping up to be the star of E3 2019. The game has been heavily under-wraps aside from the small trailer that 343 showed the world last E3, so not much is known about what exactly we’re getting in this next installment. Rumors are swirling that we will finally receive an “open world” Halo game that allows the player to truly explore at their own pace. The arena-style multiplayer that fans love is sure to make a return, but it will be interesting to see how 343 implements new modes and features to bring their fans home who have now left to play battle royale games. One thing that we know for sure is that split-screen co-op will return after being absent from Halo 5. It is also believed that Infinite may be a next-gen launch title for the new Xbox that we’re also expecting to be unveiled. What exactly does the future of Halo hold? We’ll soon find out.

 

Gears of War franchise

The Gears of War franchise will definitely be appearing this year at E3, and if rumours are to be believed, it won’t be long until the next mainline title Gears 5 is in our hands. It has been nearly three years since The Coalition released the last Gears of War title, so I am sure there are many fans hungry to see how the story of the Fenix family continues in this new entry. In addition to Gears 5, it is also expected that the spin-off titles Gears POP! (a mobile title) and Gears Tactics (a PC title) will also be present during the event.

 

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Ori and the Blind Forest’s sequel was announced during Microsoft’s E3 2017 conference and was given a 2018 release date. E3 2018 rolled around and Ori and the Will of the Wisps was given a gameplay demo and a new release year in 2019. The game looks and sounds just as beautiful as its predecessor and features new weapon based combat, new movement abilities, a speedrunning/time trial mode and the ability to auto save just to name a few improvements. Developer Moon Studios understands what made the original Ori so great co-lead developer Thomas Mahler has described Ori and the Will of the Wisps as “The Super Mario Bros 3 to Ori and the Blind Forest’s Super Mario Bros.” With the fans and developer on the same page hopefully Microsoft and Moon Studios can surprise us with a sooner rather than later release date; maybe Ori can be Microsoft’s “available after the show” announcement.

 

Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course

Fans of the critically-acclaimed, controller throwing inducing, run and gun title Cuphead should also be interested in tuning in to Microsoft’s E3 conference on Sunday afternoon. The Delicious Last Course is a DLC expansion that was announced during last year’s E3, and I am sure that Microsoft and Studio MDHR will be eager to share more about this title with fans. In fact, I would not be surprised if this DLC expansion were to be shadow-dropped to consumers on the day of the conference as a special surprise.

 

Battletoads

One of the most surprising announcements that came out of Microsoft’s 2018 E3 briefing was that the Battletoads were getting a new game after a nearly 25 year long absence. The game is being developed by Dlala Studios, a relatively unknown British developer who was handpicked by Rare to reintroduce the Battletoads to the masses. All we know about the game is that it will have body morphing genre mash-ups, 3-player couch co-op, 4K hand drawn 2.5D graphics, but fans of the series can expect another series trademark tough as nails platformer. Hopefully Battletoads is close to completion because it would be really cool if Microsoft launches the presumably digital only game right after their conference or within the next few months.

 

New Banjo-Kazooie Game

Banjo-Kazooie fans have been patiently waiting for 11 years (19 years if we pretend Nuts & Bolts didn’t happen) for the next installment in Rare’s beloved 3D platforming series. Every time Microsoft takes the stage at E3, Banjo fans collectively hold their breath and pray for the return of the Bear and Bird. But the anticipation building towards this year’s E3 is different, we have actual evidence that could be hinting towards Banjo and Kazooie’s next appearance. 3D mascot platformers are making a comeback due to the success of the Crash Bandicoot and Spyro trilogy remasters, A Hat in Time and Super Mario Odyssey and it would be fitting for the Banjo-Kazooie series to reappear and help push forward the genre it helped create.  Microsoft has struggled this generation with their output of 1st party exclusives and they are sitting on a goldmine of more formerly popular Rare IP (Conker, Perfect Dark, Viva Pinata, etc.) that can be reintroduced in the coming years. Whether the next entry is a real sequel or remake of the N64 games, demand for the series exists and Banjo’s unique mixture of humor, excellent music, polished gameplay and level design will always be appealing.

 

Fable

Fable is a series of video games with a long and somewhat tragic history with Microsoft. The first Fable title released on the original Xbox game system back in 2004, and its revolutionary morality system helped define a new generation of Western role playing games. The sequel Fable II was released in 2008 for the Xbox 360, and expanded upon virtually every gameplay mechanic present in the first one, quickly becoming one of the best-selling and most adored exclusive titles of the generation. The third game in the series, Fable III, followed in 2010. However, despite Lionhead Studios’ attempts to try and revolutionize the genre once again, Fable III fell somewhat flat of fan expectation, which resulted in creative conflict between Lionhead Studios’ director Peter Molyneux and Microsoft. Eventually, Molyneux would leave Microsoft, and the Fable series would lose all direction and purpose moving forward.

The next few titles in the series were experimental spin-offs such as Fable Heroes, an arcade beat-em-up; Fable: The Journey, a Kinect game, and Fable Fortune, a free-to-play collectible card game for mobile. All three of these games would fall flat, and tire out the Fable brand name. Fable’s final chance at redemption was with a title called Fable Legends, projected to be a major Xbox One exclusive title. However, this game once again took a vastly different direction from the previous games, and with internal conflict happening within Lionhead Studios mixed with the poor reception to the games’ trailers, Fable Legends was ultimately cancelled and Lionhead Studios was shut down.

It was thought that with Lionhead’s demise, the Fable series would be lost to time. However, rumours have emerged of a brand new Fable title debuting at E3 2019, developed by Playground Games. This Fable title is believed to be a return to form, using story elements to “soft reboot” the story, whilst building upon the gameplay elements of the original trilogy of games. As a big fan of Fable II and Fable III, I am incredibly excited at the idea that the true Fable series may finally be returning, and can’t wait to see what’s in store at E3.

 

Hardware/XCloud

It’s time to get the “Hardware War” pitchforks and banners out since our current generation of gaming is slowly coming to a close. Microsoft is slated to make the first move this year by announcing two new pieces of hardware to kick-off our next-gen gaming adventures. The first device, codenamed Lockhart, is said to be a sort of “entry model” for the next-gen of Xbox. It is believed that Lockhart will be marketed more as a device to be used to stream games via the XCloud service that Microsoft has been developing (more about that later). The second device, codenamed Anaconda, is said to be a full-featured hardcore console for gaming enthusiasts that will have a higher price-point due to the technology the device will contain. It’s safe to say that these two devices will be referenced in Microsoft’s conference and we may see both the streaming power and technological power, but Microsoft may want to keep their other cards in their hand until they see how Sony will be moving forward with the inevitable PS5. XCloud will most likely be the focal point of the next-gen discussions as Microsoft truly has something special here. The premise of XCloud is the ability to play anywhere with any device that has an internet connection. From Smartphones to PCs… an Xbox to possibly a Nintendo Switch, this technology has the capability to change gaming as we know it. This service will rely heavily on Xbox’s Game Pass subscription service which will also see a lot of air-time this E3 as the team at Xbox continues to provide more services for gamers. We also could see small hardware updates to existing Xbox One hardware and peripherals (Elite Controller V2 anyone?), but everyone’s eyes will be on the next-gen of Xbox. This year, Microsoft has a lot riding on E3 due to Sony’s absence. To say that this year’s E3 is Xbox’s most important in their history is an understatement, and the setting is right for them to hit a home run… but we’ll have to wait just a little longer to find out.

 

These are only a few of the many things that will likely show up in Microsoft’s conference. After all, with a run time of nearly 120 minutes, there are plenty of games to cover, and we are sure there will be many more surprises when Microsoft takes the stage this Sunday afternoon.

 

This article was written in collaboration with Oshie, the Pokemon Trainer and Giuliano, the Role-Playing Gamer.