July 23rd, 5PM BST is a crucial, crucial day and time for Microsoft and the Xbox Series X. After Sony recently gave us info on games such as Horizon Forbidden West, Marvel’s Spider Man: Miles Morales, and more, the PS5 has a very exciting line-up of future games. The Xbox Series X, meanwhile, does not have the same sort of line-up yet; however, with the Xbox Games Showcase that is being aired tomorrow (see here for more info), this could all change. A presentation focused on games is just what Xbox needs; exclusives have been an area of weakness for Xbox in recent years, and this is a great opportunity for Microsoft to really, ahem, showcase how that is changing.
With the event very close now, Ashley Harrison (of the Let’s Chat series!) and I have put together some predictions. We have each selected 6: 2 we expect, 2 we hope for, and 2 that are frankly ridiculous, for a combined total of 12. Keep reading for our picks!
Ashley Harrison: I’m going to start my predictions with an absolute banker in Halo Infinite, mostly because it’s already been confirmed to be shown at the Xbox Games Showcase, although even if it hadn’t then I’d have chosen it as one of my picks. We haven’t had a mainline Halo release since Halo 5: Guardians back in 2015, and since we know that Infinite is set to be a launch title for the upcoming Series X console, I’m expecting a full-blown reveal here including at least 10 minutes of pure gameplay. It’ll give time to show off exactly what Infinite is about and how it benefits from the new generation of consoles, whilst not overstaying its welcome. With it being a first party game, and arguably Xbox’s key franchise, I definitely expect this to get a bigger, longer showing than any other game at the Showcase. Who knows, maybe we’ll even get a November release date reveal, so we at least have some idea of when Microsoft will be launching the Series X console itself too. We’re really not that far away now if the console is releasing this year like stated; we’re almost into August.
Forza Motorsport 8
William Robinson: Whilst Xbox has had a rough time exclusive-wise this generation, especially compared to competitor consoles, Forza has remained a reliable, critically-acclaimed series throughout. The Forza games have maintained popularity through both quality and variety, and this is one of the few software areas where Xbox has overtaken the PlayStation equivalent in Gran Turismo; so, I imagine Microsoft are keen to make sure this is a battle they keep winning. In recent years, Forza has alternated between Motorsport and Horizon, which are branches of the series that lean towards racing and exploration respectively (there has also recently been a Forza Street game, too). If we go by that logic, then with the recent Horizon 4, the next game shall likely be Forza Motorsport 8. Console launches usually mean racing games showing off the visual prowess of the console, and well, Forza is a prime candidate for that. It can be tough to surprise people with a racing game, but I expect Forza to feature strongly in the Showcase, with new modes and features made possible by the power of Xbox Series X – and lots of very, very pretty cars.
Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II
Ashley Harrison: I actually didn’t know what to choose for my second expected game because honestly, having never been much of an Xbox player and instead a PlayStation one , I don’t keep huge tabs on what upcoming games are scheduled for release on Xbox. However, I do remember this being announced at The Game Awards alongside the Series X console design, and with it being a first-party release then I think it’s a pretty safe bet to assume it’ll likely be shown off. Developers Ninja Theory have already stated that the game is being developed to take full advantage of the power of the Series X, so since the game hasn’t been seen in about 7 months, it’ll be interesting to see how the game has developed since then and how exactly it is taking advantage of the console. Since it was also revealed using an in-engine cinematic trailer, I’d also like to see some actual gameplay this time around. It looked visually stunning (the lighting especially was on point) during the initial reveal, so I want to see how it looks whilst playing now.
William Robinson: Microsoft received criticism for their First Look Xbox Series X Gameplay video this year, and one reason why is that there was a lack of gameplay for the new reveals. One game that did have gameplay shown, though, was The Ascent, a promising cyberpunk action RPG (no, not that one) on the world of Veles amidst The Ascent Group; they are a mega corporation that shuts down, leaving their towering metropolis compromised. Under threat, you – and up to three other players in optional co-op – defend your district and discover the secrets of this mystery. Customisation and augmentation contribute to the cyberpunk setting and it generally seems to be on course to be an exciting console exclusive (for now it is only confirmed for Xbox and PC). The Swedish developer, Neon Giant, is made up of only 10 people, but they have experience working on game series such as Wolfenstein, Far Cry, and Gears of War. Surprise exclusives that get people talking are going to be important for Xbox, and this may well be one of those, so I expect to see more of it in the Showcase.
Ashley Harrison: It’s not exactly a secret that I’m a big RPG fan, so if there’s one thing that I’m hoping to see during the Xbox Showcase, it’s absolutely Fable 4. The last 2 Fable games, Heroes and The Journey, weren’t exactly the most well received of games, scoring Metacritic averages of 55 and 61 respectively. The most recent confirmed project in the series, Fable Legends, even got cancelled following the closure of developers Lionhead Studios. However, following a tease of Fable 4 by Phil Spencer during Xbox’s 2018 E3 showcase, I’m hoping to see a reveal of Fable 4 at this upcoming showcase, and hopefully gameplay for it too rather than just a cinematic trailer. Sony has undoubtedly smashed it out of the park when it comes to RPGs recently between the PS4 and Vita consoles, so Microsoft announcing Fable 4 could be the game reveal that helps sway my decision as to which next-generation console to buy.
William Robinson: The modern Tomb Raider trilogy has been a personal highlight of this generation, but with said origin trilogy now completed by Shadow of the Tomb Raider in 2018, the question is: where does Lara Croft go next? More spin-offs such as the brilliant Lara Croft GO are possible, but it is doubtful to me that Square Enix would stop releasing mainline entries in the series. Microsoft revealed Rise of the Tomb Raider through their presentations at E3 and Gamescom in 2014 – it was even a timed exclusive for Xbox One – so there is precedent for this, though I doubt the next game would be an exclusive again. So, which direction could Tomb Raider be going? One option is to continue where the trilogy ends, as there is a tease of future adventures; I would be glad to see Camilla Luddington return in the role, as she is fantastic as the character. In terms of gameplay, my hope would be that they double down on the exploration of environments and the tombs within them, as this is so satisfying in the trilogy. The main plot could actually be less of a factor, with more emphasis on seeking out secrets in the world. Alternatively, they could press the rest button again, but that wouldn’t be my preference. I am greatly anticipating details on where the series is headed in the future!
Ashley Harrison: The 3D Platformer has seen a bit of a re-emergence recently with original games such as Yooka-Laylee and A Hat in Time, and of course the recent remasters of the classic Crash Bandicoot and Spyro PS1 trilogies. As a result, it wouldn’t surprise me to hear a “guh-huh” during the showcase, and the announcement of a new Banjo-Kazooie game as Microsoft looks to try and capitalise on the action. Fans have been clamouring for a new Banjo-Kazooie game in the same vein as the N64’s Kazooie and Tooie, so what better time than now to release a canonical third game called Banjo-Threeie? With the seemingly friendly partnership between Microsoft and Nintendo currently, they could also announce this as coming to Switch at the same time as Series X.
State of Decay 3
William Robinson: This one is a hopeful prediction in a specific way. Undead Labs, who developed the two previous State of Decay games, are one of the studios that Microsoft has purchased in recent years, and it is now known that they are working on the third State of Decay game. This is a game that seems to have so much potential, with the concept of building up your settlement and surviving the zombie apocalypse with your friends. However, holding it back is a general lack of polish, with glitches and a varying range of visual refinement. So, with two games now out there and the support that comes with being a first-party Microsoft developer, I hope that the third game can be a step up. This, combined with a deep narrative, could really capture the attention of both myself and others – and this upcoming Showcase may be the optimum time for us to see just that.
Rare Replay Switch
Ashley Harrison: I know, I know. This is a game that if it was going to be announced anywhere, it’d be at a Nintendo Direct as that big, final reveal that Nintendo love to do, and not at an Xbox Showcase for Series X games. But hey, come on, let a guy dream. It wouldn’t be the first time that a first-party Xbox game has been released on Switch, following in the footsteps of games such as Ori and the Blind Forest and Cuphead. I genuinely don’t think there’s a partnership more revered in the game industry than that of Nintendo and Rare in the 90’s, and since a good portion of the games featured on Rare Replay originally made their debut appearances on Nintendo consoles, I’d argue it’s time they came home. I’d kill to play Banjo-Kazooie, Banjo-Tooie, and Conker’s Bad Fur Day on the train. Please, Microsoft, do the right thing.
William Robinson: It is easy to forget that the mega-hit Minecraft is a Microsoft property now, considering it is on basically every platform imaginable. If they had suddenly made it an Xbox console exclusive after the acquisition, there would have been outrage from the devoted fanbases on other platforms, so I totally understand why that hasn’t happened. However, if Microsoft really are after an exclusive that would make people buy their new console, then a full-fledged Minecraft sequel could be that game. I am saying this as a ridiculous prediction because I just don’t see it happening; it would still produce some backlash from Minecraft players on other platforms if they were locked out of new content in a sequel. In general, a follow-up could be hard to justify – how would you balance it with updates for the original game? – but Blizzard is attempting to walk that tightrope with Overwatch 2, which may be evidence that it can be done. This would certainly be a bold move that gets people talking!
Sunset Overdrive 2
Ashley Harrison: This definitely is a ridiculous prediction now, sadly, what with Sony having purchased developer Insomniac Studios and all. Sunset Overdrive was legitimately one of my favourite Xbox One games and I was so hoping that we would’ve seen a sequel already by now, but alas, that wasn’t to be. Whilst the story itself might not have been the best, it was such a gorgeous game visually, and so much fun to play. The movement mechanics that allowed you to essentially skate your way throughout the map, combined with the arcade silliness of the gameplay and enemy designs, mesh together perfectly and produce an almost comic-book level of ridiculousness in a good way as you tore through the Overcharge Drinkers with ridiculous attacks. I mean, after all, the very first boss of the game is literally a giant Mascot Blimp for Heaven’s sake. Sometimes for me the best games are ones that don’t take themselves seriously at all, and this is definitely an example of that.
Rocksteady Game Reveal
William Robinson: Okay, this is probably-almost-certainly not gonna happen. If Rocksteady finally show off their next game, it is likely going to be on the terms of publisher Warner Bros. and not at the Xbox Games Showcase… but this is the place for ridiculous predictions, so I’m going with this. Since the renowned developer released Batman: Arkham Knight in 2015, the only other release we have had from them is Batman: Arkham VR in 2016 – so they’ve been working away on a project(s?) for a long time since. There has been so many rumours of different DC properties they could be working on – Suicide Squad, Superman, Justice League, another Batman… yet, the idea of them working on a brand new IP also has enticing potential. We don’t really know much else, we’re just waiting for them to tell us more – and, whilst it is highly unlikely that this game would be an Xbox exclusive, maybe the Xbox Games Showcase is the time. Maybe?
So, there are our thoughts! With the Showcase so close, it is an exciting time for Xbox. If you have any particular thoughts or predictions, let us know in the comments!