It’s time for the second day of E3, and while EA’s press conference wasn’t much to write home about, today was when things kicked into high gear with a solid comeback by Microsoft, much love for Bethesda’s popular IPs, and another entertaining video from Devolver Digital.
While many were worried about the Xbox One’s future due to a lack of exclusives, Microsoft surprisingly came to the show with a plethora of interesting titles, and it seems the company has finally put exclusives as a priority. This became evident as the presentation opened, given the first trailer was a teaser for Halo Infinite, which didn’t have gameplay footage, but was a sign for what else was to be shown. It was later revealed that, in addition to first-party titles made by their current studios, Microsoft opened a new studio called The Initiative, as well as acquiring four other studios: Undead Labs, known for work on State of Decay, Ninja Theory of Hellblade fame, Compulsion Games, whose upcoming We Happy Few was given a release date of August 10, and Playground Games, the developers of the Forza series.
On the topic of Playground Games, Forza Horizon 4, the next installment in the Xbox One’s recurring driving series, was also shown off. The game features a shared online map of Britain for players to drive around, meeting other players to drift, race, and convoy with as they explore the map. In addition, the map will have synchronized seasons for all players that impact the environment, such as being able to drive across a frozen lake in winter. Coming from someone normally unenthused by driving games that aren’t kart racers, Horizon 4 has interesting concepts that made the game stand out, which was a welcome surprise. Forza Horizon 4 is set to release on October 2.
Indie titles were another major focus, between new IPs and old ones. One of the conference’s first trailers was for Ori and the Will of the Wisps, the sequel to the absolutely beautiful Ori and the Blind Forest. While the game was revealed at E3 2017, this trailer gave a close look at gameplay and new abilities -one of which functions strikingly similar to the Yellow Drill Wisp from Sonic Colors, although that’s probably not where the title came from-, as well as a release window of 2019. Cuphead, the smash hit platformer inspired by Fleischer-era animation, will receive DLC titled the Delicious Last Course, which includes an extra island with new bosses, abilities, and Ms. Chalice as a third playable character. Alongside a sizzle reel of unique titles, one of many that seemed interesting was Tunic, an isometric game with 3D camera movement that allows for large maps.
Though Square Enix will have more presence later into E3 2018, the company had multiple reveals for Microsoft’s conference. The long-awaited Kingdom Hearts III, the first installment of the series coming to a Microsoft console, was given a solid release date of January 29, 2019, after multiple delays. In addition to footage of previously revealed worlds like the Monsters, Inc. level, a new world based on Frozen was unveiled. A game in the Life is Strange universe was also revealed, titled The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, and will be a free download starting June 26. On the same day, Nier: Automata will come to Xbox One in the form of the Become as Gods Edition, which includes previously released DLC.
Devil May Cry 5 was announced, continuing Capcom’s beloved series as a sequel to DMC4. The character Nero is playable once again, this time sporting a robotic hand with electric powers that will surely make for fun combat. As the trailer ended, recurring protagonist Dante made a short appearance, though it’s unclear if he’s playable again. Devil May Cry 5 will release in 2019.
Possibly the biggest surprise from the conference was the return of Battletoads. Rare’s response to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are best known for their legendarily difficult NES debut, as well as a failed cartoon pilot and guest appearances in games like Killer Instinct and Shovel Knight: Shovel of Hope. However, ever since Rare was purchased by Microsoft, most of their beloved IPs have been dormant. That’s about to change, as Rash, Zitz and Pimple will return in 2019 with what the humorously vague trailer described as hand-drawn 2.5D graphics and three player co-op. Not only could this be a very fun game once it releases, but perhaps it’s a sign that other Rare franchises like Banjo-Kazooie and Conker could have a second chance in the future.
The grand scale of the conference is visible in how many titles there were, so many that going in depth about all of them would make up multiple posts. Metro Exodus, Crackdown 3, Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Dying Light 2, Cyberpunk 2077, Jump Force, and Just Cause 4 were just some of the games detailed, giving a wide array of genres for different kinds of players. This is what made Microsoft’s 2018 conference such a pleasant surprise; after a lack of great exclusives, one could say Microsoft is about to pull a complete 360.
Following Microsoft’s conference was a presentation by Bethesda, which also contained exciting announcements. Gameplay was shown for Rage 2 following a leak by Walmart Canada -which the developers joked about onstage-, Quake Champions was given a beta trial, DOOM Eternal was teased, and a new space themed single player IP titled Starfield was revealed. Prey received an update with new modes and the Mooncrash DLC, Wolfenstein Youngblood was announced as a co-op game featuring B.J. Blazkowicz’s daughters, and both franchises will head to VR in the form of Prey Typhon Hunter and Wolfenstein Cyberpilot.
The majority of the presentation was dedicated to two franchises, the first being Fallout. Fallout 76 was officially unveiled as an online prequel to the original Fallout, being four times the size of Fallout 4 and including features like nuclear weapon access, teaming up with friends, and base building in any location. While the game won’t launch until November 14, fans won’t have to wait long to experience Fallout 76, as a Vault-Tec Break-it Early Test Application -or beta, for those who have difficulty with acronyms- will release at an undisclosed time. Fallout Shelter also released on PS4 and Switch immediately following the presentation.
The other franchise given the spotlight was The Elder Scrolls, which everyone admittedly saw coming. Even Todd Howard, who has taken every possibility to show Skyrim at E3 for the past five years, went along with the joke in a comedic short joking that Skyrim would be playable on Alexa and played like a classic text based RPG with voice commands. However, Elder Scrolls did receive actual announcements, including a teaser for the long-requested Elder Scrolls VI, now in development. DLC was shown for The Elder Scrolls Online, The Elder Scrolls Legends card collecting game is coming to consoles, and a mobile/VR title called The Elder Scrolls Blades will release later this year.
Ending off the night was the Devolver Digital Big Fancy Press Conference, and as anyone who saw Devolver’s 2017 video will know, it’s an E3 highlight for reasons one won’t expect. The video did showcase three interesting titles- Scum, My Friend Pedro, and Metal Wolf Chaos XD– but it’s primarily a dark satire on E3 presentations and the gaming industry. It’s essentially a 20-minute sketch straight out of the Tim and Eric Awesome Show, and frankly, it’s downright comedy gold. Some were worried that the joke would be ruined since viewers now knew what they were in for, not to mention that the original is a tough act to follow, but Devolver managed to make a presentation that’s just as entertaining and topical as the last, with a few good reveals to boot. The presentation also leaves off on a cliffhanger for next year, and another Devolver Digital video down the line is just as exciting as any major E3 announcement.
Tune in tomorrow for coverage of presentations from Square Enix, Ubisoft, and Sony.