E3 2018: Microsoft Press Conference roundup

The stage of the Microsoft E3 2018 press conference. The stage of the Microsoft E3 2018 press conference. MICROSOFT

Although the show floor hasn't opened up yet, the press conferences have already begun, signaling the unofficial start of the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2018. Electronic Arts started the show yesterday, and today the first company to take to the stage was Microsoft. We watched their conference and summarized the information for you to read here.

The conference began with a "Game Engine Demonstration" showing exotic locales - mountains, caves, deserts and forests - for what turned out to be a new Halo title. No gameplay was shown, but a title was - Halo: Infinite. The game made special mention of the Slipspace Engine that was being used to power the game. Once again developed by 343 Studios, the trailer offered little information aside from the game announcement itself.

Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox, took to the stage next to greet the fans and talk about the unprecedented level of creativity present in gaming today, and promised "creativity unleashed" was in store for the viewers currently watching. He also spoke about the varied and diverse audiences that enjoys gaming today, and about speaking to developers all around the world, big and small, to bring 50 different games to the media stage.

The next game shown was an exclusive from Microsoft Studios - Ori and the Will of the Wisps. This trailer showed more of the platforming that the original game was known for, including massive bosses and owl riding. The next trailer was a world premiere from From Software (developers of Dark Souls) and Activision; Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice features demons, curses, stealth gameplay and fast-paced combat in feudal Japan.

Todd Howard from Bethesda took the stage next, well ahead of Bethesda's own press conference that will be occurring later today. After talking about Bethesda's history with Microsoft, he showed a brief look at Fallout 76, a West Virginia-based prequel to the Fallout series, boasting a map four times the size of Fallout 4. More from this game will likely be shown later tonight.

The next trailer (another world premiere) was a game from Square Enix and Dontnod Entertainment, the developers of Life is Strange, called The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. The game was a new title in the Life is Strange universe, exploring the imagination of a young child; the game will be available on June 26 for free. Another trailer followed for the long-in-development Crackdown 3, featuring Terry Crews, finally giving a release month: February 29. The highly successful action RPG NieR: Automata was also confirmed for an Xbox One release, with all previously released DLC, on June 26.

The next trailer was for the upcoming Metro: Exodus, showing gameplay from a single level, with the message "Welcome to the Volga"; the game's release date was announced as February 22, 2019. The camera cut back to Phil Spencer to talk more about his love for Metro, mentioning how Microsoft wanted all of the Xbox One games to look as good as possible, before he cut to a trailer for the upcoming Kingdom Hearts III, which will mark the first time the series has been on Xbox. The trailer showcased new worlds based on the films Frozen, Wreck-It Ralph, Tangled and Hercules, though it appeared to be missing sound effects after a certain point. The final screen reiterated the previously-announced date of January 29, 2019.

The next trailer was for the previously-released Sea of Thieves, touting its user statistics and showing off what content will be arriving for the game in the future - a new land, The Forsaken Shores, which promises entertainingly diabolical foes. Cursed Sails arrives in July, and The Forsaken Shores arrives later in September. The next trailer was for Battlefield V, showcasing action sequences in a snowy, frozen environment.

Next was a "world premiere" trailer for Forza Horizon 4, showing off racing in different environments and locales with many different vehicles (including a large hovercraft), while a cover of "I Can See For Miles" by the Who played in the background. The game currently has no release date. Ralph Fulton from Playground Games came to the stage to talk more about the game, which will be taking place in Great Britain, featuring dynamic seasons and a "shared open world". An online gameplay demo followed, as numerous live players took their controllers and showed off the game for themselves, all playing together in the same session. The game will be released on October 22, and will be a part of Xbox Game Pass on the same day.

Phil Spencer returned to talk more about their commitment to expanding development under the Microsoft Studios umbrella, including the creation of a new development studio called The Initiative. Spencer also announced the acquisition of Undead Labs (developers of State of Decay), Playground Games (developers of Forza Horizon), Ninja Theory (developers of Heavenly Sword, DmC and Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice) and Compulsion Games (developers of We Happy Few); a new trailer for We Happy Few was shown after this, showing a release date of August 10.

The next trailer was for the massively popular Playerunknown's Battlegrounds, which featured a new War Mode, as well as new environments and additional content; the game will arrive officially this Winter. What followed next was a trailer for the upcoming Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition, containing all released content for a game that previously did not reach Western shores; the game will be arriving this winter on Xbox One, as well as other consoles.

Next was an announcement of Tom Clancy's The Division 2, developed by Massive Entertainment and published by Ubisoft. A live gameplay trailer showed heavily armed members of the Division exploring an abandoned building overgrown with vegetation, while numerous players offered live commentary that was clearly heavily scripted. The game will be released on March 15, 2019.

The next person to take the stage was Ashley Speicher, Head of Engineering for Xbox Game Pass, in order to talk more about the pass, which allows players to play a number of Xbox One games for a regular subscription fee. Speicher announced FastStart, which will boot games up to twice as fast as before, and will be arriving in an update later this month. New games were also announced for the pass, including Forza Horizon 4, Crackdown 3, Halo: the Master Chief Collection, and Warhammer: Vermintide 2.

They then showed a quick sizzle reel of games included with the pass: Outer Wilds, Afterparty, Kingdom: Two Crowns, The Golf Club 2019, Fringe Wars, Below, Conqueror's Blade, Waking, Raji: an Ancient Epic, Super Meat Boy Forever, Planet Alpha, Islands of Nyne: Battle Royale, Sable, Harold Halibut: a Handmade Adventure Game, Bomber Crew, Children of Morta, The Wind Road, WarGroove, Generation Zero, Dead Cells, and Ashen.

Microsoft then showed a trailer for the upcoming Shadow of the Tomb Raider, featuring Lara Croft unleashing a powerful curse upon the land by raiding the wrong tomb. The Croft Edition was also announced, which gives players early access to the game. Another trailer, from developers crea-Ture Studios, showed a return to skateboarding games and hip-hop soundtracks with a new game called Session. This was followed by a trailer for a game taking place in older days, featuring dragons, sorcery, and large hulking stone monstrosities; this was a trailer for an MMORPG named Black Desert.

Next was an in-engine, real-time-rendered trailer for the brand-new Devil May Cry 5, featuring lots of guns, punches, and huge demons that need taking down; Dante has plenty of gun and swordplay, as well as a new mechanical arm that can use electric attacks. Director Hideaki Itsuno and producer Matt Walker were brought on stage to discuss the game, which also appears to feature the original Dante. Itsuno professed that he believed this was the best game they had ever made, and they hope the fans enjoy it as well.

A new expansion for Cuphead was announced, called "The Delicious Last Course"; this expansion features a new island, new bosses, new weapons and charms, and a new playable character, Ms. Chalice; this expansion will be available in 2019. Next up was another trailer for the upcoming Tunic, a game that plays like a traditional 2D Zelda game, but with a different aesthetic and a 3D perspective. Phil Spencer then introduced an all-new title from Bandai Namco that he was quite excited about: a major anime crossover title between several properties, including Naruto, One Piece, and Dragon Ball Z. The trailer showed fully 3D combat between Naruto, Monkey D. Luffy, Goku and Frieza in an abandoned city, while Light Yagami (of Death Note) watched from above; this game is called Jump Force, and it will be released in 2019.

The next trailer showed a post-apocalyptic world, where communities lay harsh punishment upon thieves; the game turned out to be Dying Light 2, and Microsoft brought out narrative designer Chris Avellone to discuss the game more, and talk about the setting that he called the "Modern Dark Ages". He also discussed how the entire game world can change based on the player's decisions, in rather drastic ways; a demo showed how completing a mission in different ways can affect the development of a large city, changing the morale of the city and offering more health restore points.

Another trailer featured comic-book-style dialogue introducing three legendary characters: the Battletoads. A new Battletoads game will be arriving on Xbox One in 2019, featuring three-player same-system co-op. The next game announced was Just Cause 4, a new game in the celebrated open-world series featuring a lot of helicopters, motorcycles, explosions, and an inexplicable battle against a tornado. The following trailer showed a Gears of War world inhabited by FunkoPop-style characters; this was Gears Pop!, and it will be arriving on mobile devices next year.

Rod Fergusson, studio head for The Coalition, took the stage next to talk about the game, which is a collaboration between The Coalition and FunkoPop; he also announced Gears Tactics, a turn-based strategy game for PC that takes place twelve years before the original games. He lastly announced the development of the next main-series Gears of War game, known now as Gears 5. A story trailer for the game followed, showing Kait Diaz mourning the death of a loved one and defying the orders of series mainstay Marcus Fenix; some gameplay was shown as well, but it wasn't a live demo of the game. The game will be arriving in 2019.

The conference ended with Phil Spencer returning to the stage to summarize and wrap things up, noting the number of games coming soon for Xbox One, and promising more technological advancements to improve their upcoming games. He touted the use of Microsoft AI, as well as Microsoft's development of a top-quality cloud gaming service that would work on any device. As he was announcing the end of the show, one final trailer showed itself, as someone appeared to be hacking into the conference files and uploading their own trailer. This was for Cyberpunk 2077, an upcoming title by CD Projekt Red, the developers of The Witcher. The trailer featured hacking, robots, flying cars, and plenty of gunplay - but not a release date. This brought the press conference to a proper end.

Stay tuned to GeekNifty for more E3 news over the course of the week.

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