For months now, fans and critics alike have been impatiently looking forward to the Xbox first party event said to be this month. After a rather mediocre showing in May of upcoming third party exclusives via Inside Xbox, fans have set their expectations into overdrive for July. Xbox has since tweeted out the date for the big event. With an official date set, I felt it was time to do an unofficial official predictions list for the upcoming Xbox first-party showcase!
Rumors have circulated the internet far and wide with wild speculation about what to expect. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on who you are, it’s nearly impossible to tell what’s real and what isn’t. Rumors of the fabled Fable reboot, ‘Xbox Series S’, and The Initiative’s project have all made the rounds. For my prediction sheet, I’m going to be using nothing but my intuition and a small dose of Xbox fanboyism to make some senseless, but hopefully correct, forecasts. So without further ado, here is my list.
Definitely Will Be There
Halo Infinite — Of course. Xbox’s flagship title wouldn’t miss this even if the covenant was invading Reach… Xbox has a lot riding on Halo Infinite with this new generation. It would be unsavvy for them to not show the first look at gameplay here.
Forza Motorsport 8 — Traditionally, Xbox bounces back and forth every year between Forza Horizon and Forza Motorsport, but last year had a glaring hole where Motorsport 8 should have been. It would only make sense Xbox would want to show off the graphical fidelity of the Series X with a shiny new racing sim. It would even be a good time for them to show the 120 fps they’ve been touting.
Probably Will Be There
Hellblade II — Back at The Game Awards in December, Hellblade II was shown off for the first time. Many speculated this wouldn’t be a launch title, and that’s likely, but I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of Senua in the decidedly dreary landscape she resides in. And hopefully a 2021 release date to go with her.
Everwild — XO19 didn’t show off a lot, but what we did see was something new and intriguing from Rare. Everwild showed a vibrant and lush natural world, but didn’t really give many details. Since then, we’ve heard nothing new about the title, but this Xbox showcase would be the perfect place to prove my predictions true.
New Content Updates — It’s almost hard to believe we wouldn’t be seeing content updates for some Xbox’s existing titles. Sea of Thieves right now has the most players it’s ever had. Master Chief Collection is a success on Steam, and Minecraft Dungeons is the Diablo experience we never knew we wanted. I’d expect to see a few new things going to these titles, if not more.
Fable — This seems to be the big one that has the gaming community drooling for the entire event. It’s almost no secret that Playground Games has a second team developing a new Fable RPG, but the what, when, and how are what people are really wanting to know. According to rumors from eastmen on Beyond3D, Xbox is hoping for a night of ‘mic drop moments’, and this could very well be one of them.
Age of Empires 4 — Another big showing from XO19 was the gameplay reveal for Age of Empires 4. The Age of Empires franchise has been a staple in the PC gaming community for decades. While we’ve had definitive editions for 1 and 2 in the series, it’s been 15 long years since a new entry has made its way around. Though this may not initially launch on the Series X, it is important to note that Xbox has been making a strong push into the PC front with features like Play Anywhere and Game Pass for PC.
Cuphead: The Delicious Last Course — The nearly MIA DLC for the critically acclaimed Cuphead has a chance to resurface here. With the release date still expected for this year, it’s likely they’re hoping to make an announcement at this huge event to give it some fresh life. Or maybe saving it for a surprise studio acquisition announcement?
Psychonauts 2 — DoubleFine was the latest studio acquired by Xbox, but since the announcement at E3 last year, DoubleFine has been pretty quiet. We know Psychonauts 2 was already well into production, so a launch date can’t be too far off.
Wasteland 3 — InXile has been working on Wasteland 3 for several years. They’ve recently had to push the release date back to August due to work from home conditions. Despite that, the studio has said that the new partnership with Xbox has helped them make vast improvements to Wasteland 3 that otherwise would have been impossible.
Likely Won’t Be There
Project Mara — Ninja Theory is well into development of Hellblade II and is focused heavily on their latest release, Bleeding Edge, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping the small team from tackling even more. Project Mara was announced back in January as part of the studios ‘Dreadnought’ diary series. Supposedly, the title will be more of a story-telling medium and less game-like, but interactive nonetheless. However, with Bleeding Edge only a few months into release, and Hellblade II coming in the foreseeable future, there doesn’t seem to be much wiggle room for Project Mara just yet.
The Initiative — The rumor mill has been nothing short of rampant concerning The Initiative. Partly thanks to Design Director Drew Murray being so active on twitter, and Phil Spencer teasing about the Initiative ‘doing new things and old’. The internet has been sent on a flurry of wild goose chases trying to find any real information. Many seem to have clung to the idea of a Perfect Dark reboot while others are sincerely hoping for a brand new IP. It went so far that Drew had to post a small FAQ about what he’s allowed to talk about (which isn’t much). Regardless, The Initiative seems to still be hiring for crucial development roles, meaning the game still has a ways to go. If we do get something from the team later this month, I wouldn’t expect much more than a small teaser logo.
We were fortunate to have @XboxP3 visit @TheInitiative yesterday to tour the new studio, talk about where @Xbox is heading, and – most importantly – get his hands on the sticks and experience the game in action! Photo credit @justinvgodzilla #gamedev #alwaysplayable #xbox pic.twitter.com/vLSAMEhjvc
— Drew Murray (@PlaidKnuckles) February 5, 2020
State of Decay 3 — This one is easy. While Matt Booty has recently said that Undead Labs is certainly working on State of Decay 3, there’s no way the studio is ready to show anything off at this point. State of Decay 2 has only been out two years, and they just released a major update with the Juggernaut edition a few months back. And yes the studio has the backing of Microsoft now, but they’re quite a small team, so it’s hard to believe they have enough people to form a second team to work on more than one project.
Compulsion Games — Compulsion Games is, in my opinion, the most wildcard studio under Xbox Game Studios right now. We Happy Few was a decent enough game, especially considering it was nearly stuck in development hell. It was given sufficient post-game content. It came out with a few polish issues, but the game was solid. Since then, Compulsion has been radio silent. We Happy Few‘s final DLC rounded out the story exceedingly well, not leaving much room for a sequel. So it’s likely the studio has a new IP in the works. However, the team only released its final DLC in late 2019. A new project could still be years away.
Pillars of Eternity Project — Obsidian seems to want to expand the Pillars of Eternity universe into different forms. After concluding work on Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire and The Outer Worlds, fans can’t help but wonder what’s next for the legendary RPG studio. Grounded recently had its closed beta, but that’s only a small team working on a passion project. The Outer Worlds has DLC confirmed to be coming, but what’s the main Pillars team been up to for the last couple of years? Perhaps nothing? Or perhaps helping out on the two other projects in the works? I find a new Obsidian announcement strongly unlikely, but as my all-time favorite developer, I am holding out hope I’m wrong on this one!
The Coalition — Unsubstantiated rumors had a second Coalition team working on a new IP. While they did confirm they were working on a different project prior to receiving the Gears of War franchise, it’s unlikely at this time they’d be working on that project, or be willing to share the details. The Coalition is more than likely working on Gears 6 in order to round out this newest Gears trilogy before moving on to any new projects.
Things I’d Like To See There
Studio Acquisitions — Xbox has already been taking major strides with their first-party content. While it’s always good to see new studios created like The Initiative, it’s not always feasible, or affordable. As far as new acquisitions go, I think it’s extremely likely we see a Dontnod announcement on the 23rd. This is of course my own sleuthing and inferencing. But it surely doesn’t make sense that Tell Me Why didn’t show up at the May event with the other third-party exclusive titles. Unless of course it is no longer a third-party title. I’d also like to take the grain of salt on Moon Studios and Studio MDHR acquisitions simply because they’re such talented studios with a great relationship with Xbox.
Xbox Live, Game Pass, xCloud — Something I saw floating around on Twitter not long ago was the idea of Xbox doing away with Xbox Live Gold. Now while that’s a bit unlikely considering that’s how they make a large fraction of their profits, if we put on our tinfoil hats, it could be one of those ‘mic drop moments’. With the success of Game Pass, we could possibly see Xbox phase Xbox Gold into a free service, while Game Pass becomes their new premiere paid service that comes bundled with xCloud. Game Pass Ultimate already exists, but adding an xCloud subscription to the mix either forces Xbox to raise the price again, or make some changes to all of these subscription services.
Definitely Won’t Be There
Anything Third-Party — Microsoft had their third-party event already. It wouldn’t make sense for them to bring more third-party content. I’ve seen people expecting Cyberpunk 2077 and AC: Valhalla gameplay, but that surely won’t be the case. Most third-party developers have their own showcases such as Ubisoft Forward and EA’s recent Play Live event. Not to mention Xbox has repeatedly iterated this is a first-party event.
So here’s my final roundup from each studio as well as anything extra we may see.
343i — Halo Infinite gameplay
The Coalition — Teaser for a new ip
Turn10 — Forza Motorsport 8 reveal and gameplay
Playground Games — Fable reboot
Compulsion Game — New project teaser
Obsidian — Pillars of Eternity AAA RPG
Rare — Everwild gameplay and release date, new Sea of Thieves content
Undead Labs — First look at State of Decay 3
Mojang — New Minecraft Dungeons Content, New Minecraft content for Series X
InXile — Wasteland 3 gameplay
World’s Edge — Age of Empires 4 Release date and gameplay
The Initiative — New project first look
DoubleFine — Psychonauts 2 gameplay and release date
Ninja Theory — Hellblade II gameplay and release date, Project Mara trailer
Dontnod — Tell Me Why trailer and release date
Studio MDHR — The Delicious Last Course release date
Extras — Dontnod, Moon Studios, Studio MDHR acquisitions, end of Xbox Live Gold/shift of focus to Game Pass, xCloud launch date
That’s all for my completely nonsensical Xbox showcase predictions. If you think I’m entirely off base, let me know in the comments below or shout me out on Twitter about what you think. Nonetheless, enjoy the Xbox show and happy gaming!