Xbox Series X game showcase highlights ‘Halo Infinite,’ ‘Fable’ and new Obsidian RPG ‘Avowed’
What follows is a series of updates provided by Launcher’s staff from the livestream, with the most recent updates at the top.
At the end of the show, the big surprise announcement was the return of the “Fable” series, Microsoft’s long-dormant fantasy role-playing epic that debuted on the original Xbox. It was originally created by developer Peter Molyneux, who became infamous for overpromising features in the game. Still, the series was a success and spawned two more sequels and a few spinoffs, and grew a fan base thanks to its plucky British humor. It was the closest thing we had to a “Monty Python” game.
Paired with the return of “Halo,” the Xbox Series X lineup seems intent on bringing up nostalgic memories of the excitement over the first two Xbox consoles. This time, “Fable” is made by Playground Games, another British studio who has helped development of the successful “Forza Horizon” series.
CrossfireX is a multiplayer shooter coming from Remedy, the studio known for “Alan Wake” and “Control.” The title is coming in 2020 at an unspecified date.
“Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis”
It’s really beginning to feel like the early 2000s again with “Halo” and the return of Sega’s pioneering online role-playing series “Phantasy Star Online.” It appears to be a new version of “Phantasy Star Online 2” called “New Genesis.”
“The Medium,” an upcoming psychological horror game from Bloober Team (the makers of “Observer” and 2019’s “Blair Witch,” was shown briefly with a new trailer during the show.
The award-winning “Steamworld” creators are trying their hand at a new game called “The Gunk,” which appears to be another puzzle adventure.
“Warhammer 40,000: Darktide”
“Warhammer 40,000: Darktide” rounds out the Xbox world premieres focused on multiplayer. Developer Fatshark’s last game “Vermintide” was a hit with cooperative play, taking cues from the “Left 4 Dead” series with a dark fantasy spin.
“Tetris Effect: Connected”
The mesmerizing “Tetris Effect” is getting a multiplayer version exclusive to Xbox, coming as a free update in Summer 2021.
“STALKER 2” was also announced by GSC Game World. The sequel to the first-person Ukrainian horror survival simulation hit was announced all the way back in 2010, but only restarted development in earnest in 2018.
“Destiny 2: Beyond Light″
Bungie is bringing the popular shooter “Destiny 2” to Xbox Series X and Xbox Game Pass this fall. Those with a subscription to the service can play all of the current “Destiny 2” standard edition expansions, though season content will be sold separately. “Beyond Light,” the anticipated expansion coming this November, will arrive on Xbox Game Pass as well on November 10. It will also be available on Microsoft’s xCloud service.
Last year, it was announced that indie studio Double Fine was being acquired by Xbox Game Studios. The developer is currently working on “Psychonauts 2,” and has been for a number of years, to continue the story of Raz, a psychonaut who can enter the brains of others as if they were magical worlds. The new trailer showed Jack Black singing a song for the game.
“As Dusk Falls”
“As Dusk Falls” is a narrative adventure by INTERIOR/NIGHT, an Xbox studio headed by Caroline Marchal, a former lead game designer at Quantic Dream. Quantic Dream is known for “Heavy Rain” and “Detroit: Become Human,” narrative-heavy games where the story changes depending on the player’s decisions. “As Dusk Falls” claims to be a story about intergenerational pain and a sprawling epic about “how people grow and change over the decades,” all told against the backdrop of a hostage situation.
Hot off the critical success of “The Outer Worlds,” Obsidian Entertainment now promises a new first-person Xbox-first RPG called “Avowed.” Xbox acquired Obsidian shortly after “The Outer Worlds” completed. Obsidian was founded by members of the now-defunct Black Isle Studios, creators of the original “Fallout” series.
Comparisons to Bethesda’s “Elder Scrolls” series will be inevitable. But considering Obsidian’s pedigree in storytelling, “Avowed” will be one to watch.
“Grounded,” a game from developer Obsidian (known mostly for RPGs like “The Outer Worlds” and “Pillars of Eternity”), is a co-op survival adventure game where you play as children, who appear as the size of ants, in a backyard. You explore this world with up to three friends.
“The Outer Worlds”
Obsidian’s “The Outer Worlds” is getting its first DLC since its launch last year. Titled “Peril on Gorgon,” this narrative-based expansion brings players to an asteroid called Gorgon where they uncover a mystery about a science project gone terribly wrong. Players will experience new gameplay additions, including new flaws and perks, an increased level cap and three new science weapons.
“Tell Me Why”
“Tell Me Why,” an episodic narrative adventure game from Dontnod (the creators of “Life is Strange”) is releasing the first chapter on August 27 as an exclusive for Xbox. The story follows twins Tyler and Alyson who magically revisit their childhood memories together. Last year, Dontnod confirmed that Tyler is transgender, a rarity in video games, but one that fits the history of the studio well considering the sexualities, minorities and different backgrounds portrayed in the “Life is Strange” series.
“Everwild,” a game by Rare that was first revealed last year, is coming to Xbox Series X in addition to its already announced platforms (Xbox One and PC). In “Everwild,” you explore a beautiful, fantasy world filled with whimsical creatures. “Everwild” comes to Xbox Game Pass when it releases, though the date was not specified.
“Forza Motorsport” is on the clock to kick off another Xbox console. The game is still “early in development,” but Xbox promises it will run in 4K resolution with 60 frames per second. Turn 10 Studios, the creators of the “Forza” series, also boasted ray tracing lighting.
“State of Decay 3”
“State of Decay 3” is another first-party notch on the Xbox belt. Undead Labs says it’s currently in development. The showcase only featured a pre-rendered CGI cinematic.
The “Halo Infinite” reveal started with the construction of Master Chief’s armor. It was narrated by the armor’s creator, Dr. Catherine Halsey (voiced by Jen Taylor, who also voices AI partner Cortana).
It then led to a demo, taking place two years after the end of “Halo 5.” It started with a crash landing on a Halo structure. Master Chief seems to be partnered with a man who found him; they appear to be up against The Banished, a rebellion faction of the former Covenant that has been at war with humans. Their story was told during the “Halo Wars” strategy spinoffs.
The gameplay showed the return of the iconic “Halo” assault rifle and Warthog vehicles, immediately conjuring memories of the first and third games of the series, two fan favorites. And then there’s a “tactical map” feature along with a visible “upgrades” tab.
It also showed off Master Chief’s new and possibly controversial grappling hook feature. It showed him getting close to a Brute enemy, mirroring the use of a similar tool in this year’s “Doom Eternal.” The grappling hook was also used to navigate the map. Chief used it to reach higher ground, where he was met with more classic enemies of the series, including Brutes, Grunts and Jackals.
Story sequences were shown using the in-game engine, moving away from 343 Industries’s past use of pre-rendered cutscenes to tell its story and back to the series roots of telling the story within the game.
Matching the gameplay speed of its current “Halo” titles, “Infinite” will be moving at 60 frames per second. The game also promises players “the freedom to explore a Halo ring that is several times larger than the last two ‘Halo’ games combined.”
Some background on the event
The first footage and information on “Halo Infinite” by 343 Studios is expected today at noon ET during a hotly-anticipated Xbox Games Showcase. Thursday’s show is thought to be, essentially, what Microsoft would have shown if the pandemic didn’t cancel this summer’s Electronic Entertainment Expo.
Xbox marketing lead Aaron Greenberg specified in a tweet that Thursday’s show would only showcase games. While the Xbox Series X is planned for a Christmas launch, Microsoft is expanding the Xbox brand to be more of a service. But for now, the content takes center stage.
It comes at a precarious time for the Xbox brand. Sony’s PlayStation is currently celebrating a summer of two successful exclusive hits in “The Last of Us Part II” and “Ghost of Tsushima.” For the last seven years, the Xbox One console struggled to create captivating exclusive hits. Xbox chief Phil Spencer has said that the company is less focused on platform exclusivity, which is why it’s touting its Xbox Game Pass and upcoming cloud gaming service as part of the entire Xbox package.
Still, “Halo” (originally created by now independent studio Bungie) was the game that almost single-handedly sparked all goodwill toward Microsoft in the games industry due to its popularity, influence and success. The series continued to lift the Xbox 360 console, while it struggled to maintain relevance during the Xbox One generation. “Halo Infinite” has its chance to prove itself, and the Xbox brand, today.