Microsoft E3 2019 Press Event Recap

Microsoft had something to prove this year. Fans, eager to see what their game studios have been working on, were clamoring for exclusive titles. What they got was over a press conference that showcased over 60 games – 14th of which were from Xbox Game Studios. They also get a brief look at Project Scarlett.

If you missed the event, no worries; we made sure to add it to the site for your viewing pleasure. That said, we have highlighted the juicer tidbits below.

Microsoft has been buying up studios left and right. That said, I don’t think anyone expect for them to acquire Double Fine. Tim Schafer came out on stage and spoke/joked briefly about the announcement. He’d also introduce footage of the highly anticipated Psychonauts 2.

It was great to see Razputin “Raz” Aquato again. This upcoming adventure sees him setting off to join the international psychic espionage organization known as the Psychonauts. Unfortunately, a group of spies are looking to resurrect Maligula, the murderous villain/new antagonist. Players will need to use Raz’s psychic abilities to stop this from happening. That’s easier said than done of course; his enemies have their own tricks to contend with.

Double Fine is the 15th studio to be snatched up by Microsoft. Just like the others, they won’t be developing exclusive content right away – Psychonauts 2 will be available on the PS4 as well as the Xbox One and PC. MS did reveal a decent number of exclusives, timed or otherwise, though. Some of them, like the new Blair Witch game, developed by Bloober Team (Layers of Fear), looked promising.

This first-person psychological horror game features an original story – it doesn’t seem to be tied to the movies – and unique gameplay elements. There appears to be a time loop, with the protagonist experiencing life threatening events before they actually happen. Or…see what already happened? The trailer was as confusing as it was creepy. What wasn’t confusing was its release date. Survival horror fans will be able to check it out come August 30th.

Ninja Theory’s Bleeding Edge – a third-person action online multiplayer game that feels like Microsoft’s answer to Overwatch or Apex Legends (even if it’s nothing like those games, gameplaywise) – also stood out. Featuring charmingly designed characters with unique melee-based attacks and special abilities, it’s poised to deliver fast paced action pack matches.

We finally got to see the new Battletoads in action. Developed by Rare and Dlala Studios, the seemed to still feature the over-the-top brawling found in the older games; players will cooperatively beat the snot out of various minions as Rash, Zitz and Pimple. It also introduced a new animation style, team-focused gameplay, and new vehicle-based levels. Here’s hoping they aren’t as challenging (read: f****** insane) as the older versions.

The game looks like a lot of fun. And while I’m not sold on the new animations just yet, I look forward to checking Battletoads out whenever it releases. The same goes for Ori and the Will of the Wisps (releasing February 11th, 2020), Phantasy Star Online 2 (which is finally coming to the US, first on Xbox) and Gears 5 – the latter of which looked great. Picking up after the events of the last game, players will continue Kait Diaz’s story as she looks to uncover the origins of the Locust. The game will come packed with five game modes. Some of them are new-ish (like the new horde mode) or expected (the campaign). Others, like Escape, are brand new.

Escape is a three-player co-op mode that tasks players with destroying Locust hives. They’ll have to go deep into enemy territory, plant a bomb, and then hopefully fight their way before it detonates. Players will have to work together if they expect to make it out alive; these missions are of the suicidal variety.

Outside of the more exclusive stuff, we are also shown exciting third-party titles. The newest Outer Worlds trailer was entertaining, Bandai’s Tales of Arise looked great, and Wasteland 3 presented a whacky post-apocalyptic experience. CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 eclipsed all of them though. Showing a new trailer that ends with a surprise appearance by Keanu Reeves (who plays a character in the game), it easily became the talk of the show.

Of course, not every game shown was an exclusive. However, a bunch of them are headed to the Xbox Game Pass at launch. That included The Outer Worlds, Wasteland 3, CrossfireX (finally coming to consoles) and all of the in-house games like Gears 5, Bleeding Edge and Battletoads. Going a step further, Microsoft revealed Xbox Game Pass for PC titles, adding it to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. The bundled plan includes both game passes and Xbox Live Gold for $14.99 a month*.

The last major announcement was that of Project Scarlett, Microsoft’s next console. We found out that it’ll be powered by a custom-designed processor, a next generation solid state drive, Zen 2 and Radeon RDNA architecture. A system without load times with 8K capability and ultra-low latency input and…look, the point was that it’s going to be powerful.

Unfortunately, Microsoft didn’t actually show what the system looks like, reveal the price point or give a solid release date. They did say it’ll launch holiday 2020, alongside Halo Infinite. Don’t work Halo fans – the game will land on the Xbox One/PC as well.

For the most part, Microsoft’s press conference was well received. They finally showed off exclusive content, some of which will be released later this year (like Gears 5). They also confirmed the rumors surrounding Project Scarlet. Though, the prospect of that news depends on your desire to purchase another console; I’m not sure I’m ready to upgrade just yet. Whatever the case, they were focused on delivering a show dedicated to their video games. Which is what everyone wanted.

*Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is currently available for $1. If you have an existing subscription, you’ll upgrade to the new plan, adding your pre-paid months to the total (up to 36 months).

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