This season of games being showcased started out roughly, to say the least. The most stand-out show in everyone’s mind, and not for good reason, has been Sony’s State of Play. Since then the pressure has been on for the good folks over at Microsoft, especially since one of their highly anticipated games, Redfall, was a complete disaster. However, Xbox really came out swinging with their latest showcase (you can watch the whole thing here) and I have to say I’m not disappointed at all. I won’t be recapping the entire showcase in this article, but I’ll give you some of the highlights that I found to be worth noting.
One of the biggest complaints when discussing these shows is the CGI trailers. As a gamer, I’m tired of seeing them. I want to see more gameplay of these games and absolutely no CGI, I know it won’t happen but a man can dream. Geoff Keighley, who spearheads Summer Games Fest held the exact same sentiments and laid out what’s going to be shown during his show – GAMEPLAY! Keep in mind Xbox has already committed to showing these games off using gameplay as well as cinematics, all of which will be in-game and/or in-engine footage. According to Xbox, 27 games were shown in total and 21 of those will be on game pass day 1.
They started off the show with the next installment of Fable with a cheeky showing off some in-game footage. While this mostly consisted of cinematic cutscenes starring your favorite vegetable enthusiast of a giant named Dave, the small segments of gameplay weren’t exactly satisfying. Fable has a troublesome development history, but it’s good to see things are finally looking up for the team behind it. There hasn’t been a solid confirmation for a release window at this time.
From the team at Compulsion Games comes a brand new title called South of Midnight. This is an action-adventure third-person game that takes place in the deep south of the United States. No gameplay was shown for South of Midnight but I can only assume this was an in-engine cinematics. In an interview with the creative director David Sears and Xbox’s own blog, Sears states the deep south was a major inspiration for the setting and the type of game he wanted to make. Sears goes on record to say “The South is a sultry, sexy, mysterious place that has not been in a lot of games. Any amount of wandering in the country is going to lead you to speculate that there might be more than what you’ve been led to believe. I felt like the South was underrepresented, and it deserves an honest love letter – it deserves its time in the spotlight“. I wholeheartedly agree with him and I’m looking forward to seeing more from the team and this game in the future!
A game that has caught my attention is Clockwork Revolution. This is a first-person steampunk action RPG that deals with time travel. Based on what was shown, we can see that your actions in one part of the timeline reverberate and changes everything in another. I haven’t always been a fan of games made in steampunk fashion but this looks like it’s worth a shot. You can’t go wrong with flashy shooters that mess with time! There’s no release date at this time so we’ll circle back to this in the future.
Something that could potentially go over a lot of people’s heads (not necessarily in a bad way) is a game called 33 Immortals. This is an action rogue-like that holds up to 33 people in a co-op session…you read that correctly. This is coming from the good folks over at Thunder Lotus Games, who are the developers of Spiritfarer, a cozy sim game where you help spirits cross over into another life. There’s no concrete date but it is scheduled for a 2024 release.
Another highlight of the show is Persona 3: Reload which is a remake of the original Persona 3 title that originally came out on the PlayStation 2 back in 2006. There are other iterations or add-ons to this title called Persona 3:FES and Persona 3: Portable which were both released in 2007 and 2009 respectively. According to an interview from IGN with producer Ryota Niitsuma and Chief Director Kazuhisa Wada, they wanted to recreate the Persona 3 experience for fans. In the interview, Niitsuma states “So we can’t really go into the details at this point yet, but we have remade basically everything from scratch as for Persona 3 the original version…So we have newly recorded voices, we have new scenes and events. We also have both new and arranged music. We’ll be kind of releasing that information, following everything. So please look forward to that“. Persona 3: Reload is scheduled for release in early 2024.
This brings me to another Sega Atlus title – Persona 5: Tactica which is a strategy RPG spin-off title that’s also exclusive to Xbox arriving to game pass day one. Surprisingly enough, this game has a solid release date of November 17th, 2023. Fans learned this game and Persona 3: Reload were coming due to a leak from Atlus’ own team leaking the videos on social media. Even after quickly taking them down, it was too late – people had saved the receipts! Nevertheless, it’s still exciting to see Xbox improve its relationship with Japanese studios and lock these games down as exclusives. You can check out some of Atlus’ other Persona titles on Xbox game pass right now!
When speaking of some of the top publishers in gaming, you’d hear the name Capcom quite often. They are having such a phenomenal run this year with some highly successful games such as Monster Hunter: Rise, Resident Evil 4 Remake, and the newly released Street Fighter 6 just to name a few. And just when you think they couldn’t do it again, it looks like they’ll drop some heat with Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Goddess. This game is filled with rich Japanese culture that mixes traditional dance with loads of sword-play and demon-killing action. There’s no release window for this game as of the publication of this article.
While there are other games that were announced that were interesting, the best part about this highlight was the deep dive for Starfield. This is Xbox’s major statement to the gaming industry that they have a gem on their hands that the world will soon get to experience. This is their heavy hitter. Their Game of The Year – their golden goose! I am honestly surprised by how much detail is in this game, and how massive it may be. Bethesda is doing what they do best in gaming, and that’s making massive RPGs overflowing with interactions with in-game characters, various side quests, and customization options galore.
This extended presentation was held by the studio’s very own Game Director Todd Howard and his team showcasing a lot of what you can do in that game. The game looked beautiful in the presentation but character models were lacking. Bethesda games are typically known for buggy launches, and in some cases very severe, so it’ll be interesting to see how this fares on launch day. As of this article, it has already been confirmed to be locked at 4k on Xbox Series X and 1440p on the Xbox Series S but both consoles are locked at 30 FPS. You can check out the full interview here. Starfield is set to release on September 6, 2023.
As I sat on my couch with my feet up munching on some pizza, I thought back on what I’d just seen and was pretty happy with it. Xbox has put on a solid show with some new titles coming out this year as well as new DLC for a few games that have previously been released such as Cyberpunk 2077 and Sea Of Thieves. The pacing could’ve been better in a few spots and not have wasted a time slot with Starfield since we were getting an extended presentation on that anyway.
Another of Xbox’s most anticipated games is Hellblade: Senua’s Saga which showed another display of what’s to come, but the trailer didn’t impress me despite being in-game footage. The only gameplay that we can sink our teeth into was revealed at the Game Awards Show in 2021 with a six-minute trailer. Other than that I felt it was a pretty solid show and I’m happy to see what’s being released for the rest of this year and more titles coming in 2024. I would rate this a 7 out of 10. Keep an eye out for more details on other exciting games to come!