Probably. Maybe. Hopefully.
Microsoft have adopted an interesting strategy with the Xbox Series X and reveals related to next-gen. After first talking about the console at E3 2019, they officially unveiled it at The Game Awards back in December, following which they have consistently been dropping new details and snippets here and there. May saw them hosting their first Xbox Series X-focused event, and… it was a disappointing one, to say the least.
But their upcoming event on July 23 is looking different. It’s supposed to be their big next-gen blowout, where we’re supposed to learn more about what many of their first party studios are working on, while some third party stuff is also expected to be shown. Halo Infinite’s campaign gameplay debut is already confirmed, which means there’s reason enough to be excited as it is, but there’s probably going to be plenty more on top of that. So as we count down the hours to the Xbox Games Showcase, here, we’ll be talking about seven games that we think might just get some time in the spotlight at the show.
SENUA’S SAGA: HELLBLADE 2
Ninja Theory’s Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice was one of the best games to come out in 2017, and when Microsoft unveiled the Xbox Series X in December, they did so with the surprise announcement that the recently acquired first party studio was also working on a sequel. We didn’t see much of Hellblade 2, but what we did see was exciting enough.
The reveal trailer was supposedly in-engine (using the impressive Unreal Engine 5) and hinted at impressive fidelity. Even beyond the visuals, the overall tone and style of the trailer promised interesting things for the sequel.
We haven’t yet been told when Hellblade 2 will be out, and it’s hard to say how far into development it is (especially since Ninja Theory are also working on Project Mara at the same time), but as one of the biggest and most exciting upcoming first party Microsoft games, we’re quite certain that it will be at the Xbox Games Showcase in some capacity. It might be a bit too soon to reveal a concrete release date just yet, but we’re at least hoping to see some gameplay, and learn more about where its story picks up after Senua’s Sacrifice’s events.
OBSIDIAN’S NEW RPG
Acquiring Obsidian Entertainment was a big deal for Microsoft. They’re a studio that have proven time and time again that hey have the chops to develop some of the best RPGs in the industry, and now with the full financial backing and support of Microsoft, Obsidian can hopefully rise above the budget and time-related constraints that have often hampered them in the past to truly hit their potential.
Obsidian have revealed that they are working on big RPGs, something that job listings have also suggested, so there’s no doubting that work on their next flagship Xbox title is well underway, while a smaller team works on the experimental Grounded. But what exactly could their next major game be? Microsoft have made it clear that they want to turn The Outer Worlds into a franchise, so it could be a sequel that they’re working on- or perhaps it’s something entirely new.
Of course, given that The Outer Worlds itself is barely even a year old yet, we’re aware that July 23 might be too soon for Obsidian to show off their next game- but having a new project from their beloved RPG studio at their big next-gen event is surely a mouth-watering prospect.
FORZA MOTORSPORT 8
So this one is pretty much a guarantee. It’s a surprise that Forza Motorsport 8 hasn’t already released, to be honest. The Motorsport and Horizon wings had been alternating since 2011 so that there’d be a new Forza game every year, and with Forza Motorsport 7 coming out in 2017 and Forza Horizon 4 in 2018, Forza Motorsport 8 should have launched in 2019. Honestly though, it makes sense that it didn’t.
For starters, Forza Motorsport 7 – with its microtransactions-riddled systems – needed plenty of post-launch work, and Turn 10 Studios, to their credit, did that work very well. More importantly though, it makes sense that they’d want to hold off for a year with their next game in order to be able to launch it on next-gen hardware as well.
Forza is a big franchise, it always sells well, and it almost ever disappoints, and Microsoft know that it’d be a big win for them to have Forza Motorsport 8 in their launch lineup. That, combined with the timeline stuff we just discussed, means the next entry in the racing sim series being announced at the Xbox Games Showcase is pretty much guaranteed.
THE INITIATIVE’S DEBUT GAME
Microsoft’s recently flurry of first party studio acquisitions wasn’t all about acquisitions. They also set up an entirely new studio from scratch, and since 2018, The Initiative have been working in secret on… something. Reports have suggested that it’s a Perfect Dark reboot, and sure enough, teases by Xbox boss Phil Spencer about how the studio is working with legacy Microsoft IP have only fuelled those rumour further.
Clearly, The Initiative are being positioned as one of Microsoft’s flagship first party studios, and we’re more than a little excited to see what it is that they’re working on next. The real question is, will we see that on July 23? Well, that remains unclear. There have been conflicting reports about that.
Some rumours have suggested that the game will be announced at the event, while others have said the exact opposite, and both have come from sources that are credible enough (VGC and GamesBeat respectively)- so for now, it’s a 50/50 situation. We sure hope that The Initiative do show up at the Xbox Games Showcase to unveil what is hopefully a new Perfect Dark game- keep your fingers crossed.
STATE OF DECAY 3
Undead Labs may not be as beloved as the likes of inXile or Double Fine, or as big as Ninja Theory or Obsidian, or as exciting as The Initiative- but we’re still curious to see what they’re working on next. The State of Decay games have always hinted at having the potential to be so much more than what they are, and now, with the full financial backing of Microsoft behind them, Undead Labs can realize that potential.
And while it’s entirely possible that their next game could be something entirely new and different, that they will – at one point or another – make a State of Decay 3 seems very, very likely. Shortly after their acquisition by Microsoft, in fact, Xbox Game Studios boss Matt Booty commented that both Microsoft and Undead absolutely want to make a State of Decay 3, and suggested that with Microsoft’s backing, Undead would be able to realize their vision for that formula.
And with Stat of Decay 2 being two years old at this point, it seems more than a little likely that Undead will be ready and willing to take the stage at the Xbox Games Showcase with their next project. Here’s hoping that they do, and here’s hoping that it’s good.
FromSoftware and Microsoft have enjoyed a surprisingly solid relationship in recent years, especially when it comes to game reveals. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Elden Ring were both formally unveiled at Microsoft’s E3 press events, and though the upcoming showcase is not technically an E3 event, it is taking E3’s place- and we’re really hoping Elden Ring will be at the show.
Since the game’s announcement a year ago, we have seen absolutely nothing of it. You’d think that by now, FromSoftware will have more to show. Certainly, that’s how they’ve usually operated with their game reveals in the past. For instance, Sekiro was first officially teased in December 2017, and after complete radio silence for a few months, got its full reveal at the Microsoft event at E3 2018. Maybe that’s what From are doing with Elden Ring as well.
In fact, Phil Spencer recently commented that the Xbox Games Showcase would have a strong Japanese presence, similar to recent Microsoft press events, and while that’s by no means confirmation for Elden Ring, From’s upcoming RPG does seem like the likeliest candidate from that group.
How long has it been since the Fable 4 rumours first emerged? For a couple of years, we’ve known for a fact that Playground Games are working on a new AAA open world RPG, and for roughly the same amount of time, countless leaks and reports have strongly suggested that that game is a new entry in Microsoft’s dormant fantasy RPG series.
That genre, honestly, is a pretty big gap in Microsoft’s current first party output, and given how big Fable used to be for them – especially during the Xbox 360 era – it makes sense that that’s the property they’ll be turning to to plug that gap.
What’s even more exciting is that the game is being developed by Playground, an incredibly talented studio that might just give this series the shot in the arm that it needs. That Fable 4 – or whatever this new open world RPG is – hasn’t already been revealed is a surprise, but we’re hoping (and expecting) that that will change on July 23. It’s time.