What I expect to see from Microsoft at E3 2018.

I have always liked Gamescom more but E3 has the heavy hitters when it comes to new announcements. On June 10th Microsoft will unleash new games and features, Xbox has been on a roll lately and I expect that Phil Spencer will focus on quite a few games this year. Here are my expectations, be sure to let me know what you think!

Things you can be practically sure about

  • An absolute no brainer is Forza Horizon 4 from the talented Playground studios. Most likely an Asian setting but I wouldn’t rule out UK either.  I’m not expecting to see any new big features for Horizon 4, it will be more of the same but with even better visuals, with an emphasis on variation.
  • As you likely know Mixer will be the main name on the E3 floor space. This will likely mean that the streaming service will get some attention on the press conference too, showing some new features. Mixer has been a great alternative for Twitch so it will be interesting to see what Microsoft will do to try to make it more popular.

  • With Microsoft’s big investment in Gears of War it makes sense that they will try to get the most out of it. It has been a rumor for a while now that a spin-off is in the work at Splash Damage Studios, this London-based studio has an unannounced project for quite some time now. I don’t think it will be an Xcom inspired game, mainly because Splash has a big online play focus. So what will it be? If I have to make a guess, this new spin-off game will be a battle royal game with playable monsters and more approachable shooting gameplay.  (Note: the practically sure is for a new spin-off genre for Gears, what that genre will be is unknown for me)
  • The power difference between Xbox and Playstation because of the Xbox One X console will be painfully noticeable with new upcoming third-party games, and Microsoft will be smart enough to really showcase this. I am expecting some pretty big differences with Battlefield V, Anthem and other high-profile games.  Giving meaning to the “Games play better on Xbox” slogan.

  • I’m fairly sure that some new high-profile AAA-games will find their way on Xbox Game Pass (looking at you Shadow of the Tomb Raider). A little different though, I’m expecting to see that, for example Battlefield V will be fully playable for one or two weeks and that the gamer can buy the game with reduction afterwards. A new subscription that combines your Gold membership and Xbox Game Pass is the next logical step too.
  • With Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Below and Ashen Microsoft has some very high-profile low-cost games. Without a doubt these games will get some time to shine. As always ID@Xbox will get some new announcements, maybe some new console exclusives.
  • Xbox has new Avatars (made with Unity by the way, making it easier to port it over for other devices!) and as I previously wrote on Twitter has a few exclusive games for them. Expect to see a lot of announcements for that, with a big spotlight for the game from studio Electric Madness.

  • Crackdown 3, Microsoft’s big Q4 game has come a long way since its latest showing. With a focus on online play and a reworked singleplayer gamers will be more impressed by the footage than before.  Crackdown’s success is important for Microsoft so I’m sure they won’t mind to delay it to give it the best impression, even if that means delaying even further to 2019.
  • Full exclusivity for big third-party game(s), or timed but you can be fairly sure that Microsoft spend some money on a known franchise. I’m guessing either Splinter Cell, Borderlands 3 or something else. Microsoft is well aware of the strong game line-up in 2019 for Playstation (Days Gone, Ghost of Tsushima, Last of Us 2 and Death Stranding) so they must have some kind of plan to even the odds. Forza Motorsport 8 and Halo 6 won’t cut it. 

Things I hope to see but not confirmed.

  • It has been too quiet for Killer Instinct and I hope to see a Season 3. I would prefer a brand new Killer Instinct with some more fancy visuals but I’m guessing they will follow the season road.
  • Super Lucky’s Tale was one of the surprises for me last year, developer Playful really made a good game for everyone. I hope Microsoft will continue to support this studio for a sequel for Lucky or who knows? Maybe they will even get a chance to try something with Conker or Banjo, with the help from Rare.
  • Microsoft made some big investments lately into expanding current studios and even a rumored new studio. It would make sense to first announce this new studio and what game they are working on. It could be one of their dormant IP’s or a brand new one, I hope the latter.

Things I don’t expect to see

  • 2018 is all about the reworked Master Chief Collection (also coming to PC), while 343 might confirm on stage that Halo 6 is in the works nothing else will be shown or announced. Microsoft has enough to show this year so E3 2019 can get the full Halo 6 treatment.
  • Fable is a strong rumor but it is way too soon for Microsoft to show anything. This will likely be another eyecatcher for E3 2019.
  • Microsoft that bought another developer. Rumors are all over the place, even with SEGA. But if any of it was true we would have known about it already.

Closing words

I firmly believe and expect that E3 2018 will be Microsoft’s best show in years. Hardware is finally ready, the restructure of Microsoft Studios is ready and now Phil Spencer can focus on what is most important. Games, games and games. Lots of games. While most investments are a little too soon (and likely for the next Xbox) I really expect them to come out strong with some innovative new games.

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