July 27, 2020 | 13:00
As part of its Xbox Games Showcase late last week, Microsoft unveiled some of its biggest hitters which will form part of its Xbox Series X launch as well as be available for PC.
The showcase, which worked as a form of replacement to any E3 presence for the firm, showed off some of Microsoft's biggest games that are set to launch soon (or at least soon-ish). Interestingly, rather than selling the Xbox Series X, the showcase put more effort into selling the concept of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, the subscription service that means you get hundreds of games for both Xbox and PC, solely for the price of the monthly fee. That also means plenty of opportunities for PC gamers to enjoy Microsoft's first-party content, as well as Xbox players.
The biggest star was, predictably, Halo Infinite. A seemingly more open-ended part of the franchise, an 8-minute gameplay video highlighted how vast the game appears to be as well as a series of new weapons and a grappling hook that didn't look like anything we've seen in the Halo series before. 343 Industries reckons it'll be many times bigger than Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians so we're guessing that's where the grappling hook will be immensely useful. We're not so sure about the graphical improvements though. Interestingly, reports came out after the Showcase that explained the Halo Infinite demo was actually running on a PC with a similar spec to the Xbox Series X, despite initial suggestions that it was running on the next-gen console.
There was also room for S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, with creepy environments on show along with a suitably impressive physics engine. As the first game didn't make it to consoles, the showcase was keen to stress that no concessions have been made solely for the sake of console owners here. It's been a good decade since the original's launch but it's distinctive enough that a sequel still seems like a thrilling reality.
Another reveal came in the form of the return of Fable, the quirky and incredibly British RPG although few details were provided here. That one was certainly a surprising reveal given no word had been mentioned of its existence previously.
Back to predictable, well, predictions, a new Forza Motorsport was also teased with the general promise of bigger and better courtesy of 4K resolution, 60 frames per second, and support for raytracing effects. The Forza series has always looked stunning so this is the natural next step for a generation change.
Alongside that, there's also news of a new RPG from Obsidian, Avowed. It takes place in a medieval fantasy setting with necromancy and magic a key part of what unfolds. Other titles mentioned included Dragon Quest XI, coming to the console and PC for the first time, State of Decay 3, Psychonauts 2, Tetris Connect (think Tetris Effect style), and Warhammer 40,000: Dark Tide.
Ultimately, the key here is that Microsoft appeared to be selling the Xbox Game Pass far more so than it was the new console. While the name might have been Xbox Game Showcase, it also doubled up well as a PC Games Showcase, highlighting just what's coming for Game Pass owners, regardless of the system owned. Of course, that does mean that Microsoft seems to be anticipating that PC gamers won't have much of a need for the latest console but if it has you tied in on a monthly basis, we're guessing that works just fine too.
July 1 2020 | 17:34