Well E3 2019 is officially here! After a decidedly mediocre EA Play on Saturday, last night it was Microsoft’s turn to wow. Or “Woah”, as it were. Microsoft E3 2019 saw a push on 3 fronts.

The first was a plethora of games, including numerous world premieres, the second was Games Pass/xCloud, and the third being their new console, Project Scarlett.

There was also a constant undercurrent of cross play availability, with many new titles being available to play across PC, Xbox One, and/or Nintendo Switch.

The Games

60 games are what Phil Spencer promised us, and he didn’t lie. However, some were titles merely being release on Games Pass, or otherwise being re-released. Halo MCC on PC for example. Most notable among all these titles were the previously unannounced games or dates for major releases.

We got a trailer for new FromSoftware game “Elden Ring“. This has has been in development for a couple of years, and the lore has been written by Game of Thrones scribe George RR Martin. It’s not like he has anything better to be doing anyway.

Finish the damn books, George!! Elden Ring is an open world RPG, no release date, or gameplay, but the trailer does give some very broad context of the games’ world.

We also got release dates for Gears 5, and Halo: Infinite. This 6th Halo in the Master Chief saga will be a launch title for Project Scarlett, holidays 2020. The CGI video features a space drifter, drifting along on his small ship in space. This is a sad space drifter, sad about things.

He then comes across a drifting object, also drifting along. The object turns out to be none other than John-117, or “Master Chief”, in the common tongue. John comes aboard, thaws out, and proceeds to declare violence as the answer to all life’s problems. Fade to black.

Gears of War 5 meanwhile, featured several times throughout Microsoft E3 2019. First, we had a close up of Kait, an NPC in Gears 4, she’s now the lead character for Gears 5. The trailer focused on Kaits fractured psyche, to the backing of a Billy Eilish track. A video highlighting Gears 5 new horde mode, or “Escape Mode”, was next.

This 3 player co-op mode has 3, all new, characters to play, and is built around a fight to survive/fight against the clock mechanic. Finally, and I still can’t find any substance behind this, there is a Terminator skin pack for Gears of War 5. You read that right. It’s cool and all, but little more than a cosmetic cash grab.

Cyberpunk 2077 hit us with a brand new trailer and release date. Best of all though, we got a glimpse at one of the games main NPCs, and it’s none other than Johnny Utah himself, Keanu Reeves! Reeves arrived onstage to triumphant fanfare and seemed to really glee in his participation.

He also introduced us to the official release date for Cyberpunk 2077: April 16, 2020. “Wake the f*ck up, Samurai. We got a city to burn.” The cinematic trailer did show off several new mechanics, including electro-whips, and arm swords. Wicked.

A standout trailer among the 60 for me was “12 Minutes“. This indie title sees characters play out a single 12-minute sequence repeatedly, trying to crack a mystery. 12 Minutes take place entirely in the protagonist’s apartment, and the top-down view gives it a unique perspective.

The player character remembers everything, so that, in essence, makes him Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. It’s a lot more than serious than that classic caper though. Developed by Annapurna Interactive, 12 Minutes won’t be out until 2020.

The Pass

Games Pass now has a new iteration: “Games Pass Ultimate”, which is available from… now. Games Pass Ultimate will allow subscribers to access Games Pass on Xbox One, PC, and also gives access to Xbox Live Gold. This new service will set you back € 14.99 a month.

There are several titles on Games Pass specific to PC, such as Imperator Rome, and Football Manager 2019. A stand-alone PC Games Pass will cost €9.99 per month. As a nice Brucey Bonus to Microsoft E3 2019, they’ve lowered the cost of Games Pass Ultimate to $1 for the duration of the event. Snap it up while you can.

Project xCloud, meanwhile, will go live in October. This streaming games service will turn your Xbox One into your own personal server. This, in turn, will allow users to play their Xbox titles on any device. Project xCloud is Microsoft’s answer to Google Stadia, and PlayStation Now. Not much information other than that, but given its being trialed at E3, there’ll be plenty more news as the week goes on.

The Project

A new Xbox. At Microsoft E3 2019. Who’d have predicted that one? Everyone, that’s who. In fairness, the specs are fairly legit. A brand new AMD processor developed specifically for Project Scarlett, it promises 8k clarity at up to 120 FPS.

The lack of any perceptible loading screens was being pushed by loads of nameless goons during the presentation video, that being credited to a fancy new SSD. The convergence of console and PC is almost complete, it seems. Additionally, that SSD will also act as virtual RAM, while the performance boost will be a full four times over current gen. As with any new Xbox system, backward compatibility will also be available from the get-go. Huzzah!

The Round-up

So there ya have Microsoft E3 2019. Did it live up to the hype? Was Sony right to skip out this year, or will they regret that decision? Personally, I thought it was an excellent keynote. Direct, to the point; games, services, hardware.

It carries on from a strong showing at E3 2018 and has now associated Microsoft with all of the major releases in the coming year. Games I’ve not featured, but will most definitely be playing? Well, Wasteland 3, Blair Witch, and Dying Light 2. Let us know what you thought of Microsoft E3 2019, and/or what titles you’ll be playing this coming year.

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