It’s that time of year again, and the E3 season is upon us. The disruption from the pandemic led to an occasional cavalcade of digital showcases throughout last summer, but things hopefully look a little more traditional this year. On June 13, the Microsoft E3 2021 showcase will open in collaboration with its new colleagues at Bethesda Softworks and their subsidiaries.
While unveiling the new show, Microsoft debuted a graphic showing Halo Infinite, flanked by the planet shown in the original Starfield teaser. So there are two games you can expect to see on the show right off the bat. But what about the other things?
Here are the best predictions, expectations and rumors in recent months, coated with a healthy dose of speculation and dream work.
VPN Offer: $ 1
Obviously do NOT read this if you do not want E3 2021 spoilers.
When and where is Xbox’s E3 2021 show?
Microsoft officially announced that their E3 2021 show will take place on Sunday 13 June at 10 PT / 13 ET / 18 BST / 19 CEST. You will be able to watch the show live through virtually all Xbox social channels, including Twitter, Twitch and YouTube. The show is expected to run around 90 minutes, and will feature various upcoming games from Xbox Game Studios and Bethesda Softworks.
Bethesda: Starfield and other opportunities
Source: Windows Central
In 2020, Microsoft dropped a megaton in the video game industry by acquiring ZeniMax Media, all the studios and all its technology and IP. ZeniMax includes Bethesda, id Software, Arkane Studios, Machine Games, Tango Gameworks and more, along with blockbuster IPs like Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, DOOM and Dishonored. Microsoft will emphasize their integration and partnership with Bethesda at their joint show on June 13, and strengthen the IP of the Xbox ecosystem.
The surplus event for Bethesda on this showcase will eventually be Starfield. Very little is really known about Starfield, in addition to being located in space, it is an RPG for a player, and the development is led by the teams behind the modern Fallout games and The Elder Scrolls. It is expected that you will be able to explore space, potentially in spaceships designed by yourself, but beyond that, the rest is just speculation. Some old screenshots of Starfield have leaked in the past, giving some potentially exciting glimpses into their sci-fi world. The game is also expected to be announced as an exclusive Xbox and PC.
We’ve also heard for some time that Arkane is working on an in-depth vampire-themed sim, called or codenamed “Omen.” We know almost nothing about this title, but Arkane is known for immersive first-person games that prioritize player agency. I think it’s nice to imagine a Dishonored-like hidden sim with vampire-style powers, and all the potential choice and consequence that comes with being a dark creature at night.
We have heard some whispers that Wolfenstein III could potentially be teased or announced, although it is uncertain whether this will appear or not. Machine Games is currently working with Indiana Jones in collaboration with Disney. There is not much evidence to suggest that it will appear on the Xbox show, but it is not out of the question.
Tango Gameworks is currently building Ghostwire Tokyo as an exclusive PlayStation console, and id Software has just wrapped up the second and final DLC for DOOM Eternal. It’s unlikely that any of these studios will have content to show on the Xbox show, but that’s never impossible.
Xbox: Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5 and other surprises
Source: 343 Industries
Halo Infinite will be the headline for Microsoft at this year’s E3, and may even end the show. It is a big question mark whether Halo Infinite can address feedback from the 2020 showcase, given the negative reactions to the less than impressive visual quality. I personally expect a deeper look at the gameplay in Halo Infinite, and what it really means to be a Master Chief in a semi-open world. I also expect details on the modes and features of the multiplayer Halo Infinite.
Halo has long been the flagship of the Xbox, and bears the burden of showcasing the best of what the Xbox can be. Microsoft and the 343i have shared impressive screenshots describing Halo Infinite’s improvements in recent months, but seeing everything in motion will be the ultimate test. For more on our Halo Infinite E3 predictions, go here.
Psychonauts 2 will also have a showcase, since Double Fine now sits under the Microsoft family. Psychonauts 2 is a 3D platformer that plays the sequel to 2005’s Psychonauts. Psychonauts is a well-known cult classic that explores psychological themes across Tim Burton-like mindsets, and we’ve heard that the sequel may be stronger than many probably expect.
We also expect the Forza Horizon 5 to be unveiled on the show, along with a launch date in 2021. Forza Horizon 5 is expected to be set in Mexico, across the diverse urban, desert, mountain and potentially coastal landscapes of Central America. Forza Horizon 5 will probably also be a technical showcase for Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles, pushing photorealism to new heights. When we talk about photorealism, we also expect a new trailer for Flight Simulator for consoles, and also show that they are the visual chops when it hits Xbox’s latest consoles later in 2021.
Some of Microsoft’s other in-house studios will probably be there. We have heard that Sea of Thieves can appear on the show to tease a significant content collaboration with new adventures for its millions of players. Age of Empires 4 will probably also be on the show, potentially with a new game trailer and a hard launch date for the latest entry in the legendary strategy series. It can also be an ID @ Xbox showcase, which is often the standard price, and shows the creativity of Microsoft’s independent development community. Tunic, Ascent, Cuphead’s long awaited DLC and others can be teased all the way. We can even see more details about STALKER 2.
How about Perfect Dark, Fable, State of Decay 3 or Hellblade 2? Microsoft showed these games on previous shows, but we’ve heard that most of them do not appear. There is a chance that Hellblade 2 will get some kind of teaser or update vid-doc, just to remind people that it is coming. However, we have heard that there are no short demo games in the engine. Building content for E3 takes a huge amount of time, and many of these games are only in deep content development right now, instead of being prepared for marketing materials.
However, obsidian can appear in a large way. I’ve been told conflicting information about the possibility of Avowed being on the show, which is Obsidian’s first person RPG in the Pillars of Eternity universe, which leads me to believe that there’s a 50/50 chance we’ll see something on the. I have also been told that Outer Worlds 2 may surprisingly be announced. Grounded has also been cited for a potential settings window with details of some great upcoming new features.
How about some of Microsoft’s other rumor titles? I have previously teased Project Typhoon, which is an upcoming collaborative game from the open world from a AAA partner studio. We have heard that this game can be shown at E3 2021. It is quite far in development and can be planned for 2022. Project Dragon from IO Interactive is just starting to produce from what we understand, and may simply be too far away to reveal . That said, given that the game information is out there, a CGI announcement trailer seems at least vaguely possible.
We expect third-party developers to be present as well. Battlefield 6 seems like a likely candidate for a kind of trailer at E3, along with Scarlet Nexus, and other games Microsoft has marketing deals with. We have heard that both Activision and Ubisoft can be on the show also with trailers or announcements. Although the “size” of these trailers and announcements may be some guessing (and in fact may not even be true).
Source: Matt Brown / Windows Central
The Xbox Game Pass has become a cornerstone of the Xbox ecosystem of late, and I expect big announcements for the subscription service as well. Can we finally get an Xbox Game Pass Family Plan? Can we expand cloud streaming to more territories and platforms? An timeline for Xbox Series X upgrades? Big name AAA games that hit the service that MLB The Show and Outriders did recently? All of these things work as little as possible.
And what about other surprises? I feel like a pretty significant portion of Xbox’s E3 2021 showcase is being shared among gaming circles recently, but Microsoft has the ability to keep really good things during wrapping. I did not hear about the Bethesda acquisition until just hours before the announcement, and Microsoft has improved in recent years in keeping major announcements top secret, to some extent. I think Microsoft has the capacity to release some big surprises that no one expects. Could it be a studio acquisition? Big franchise restart? A handheld Xbox ?! Who knows. Surprises are always fun.
A foundation for the future
Source: Windows Central
“Waiting” has become a bit of a meme in the Xbox community. It’s probably a sore point that the best Xbox games often come from third parties, rather than Microsoft itself. With the huge, huge Microsoft has invested in the first batch, but that is likely to change in the coming years. Weight of years, though.
Microsoft has never invested more in its first party game.
Making great video games takes time, and many of Microsoft’s recent acquisitions still had existing contractual obligations to unpack before pivoting all the way to Xbox exclusive, including things like the We Happy Few extensions from Compulsion, Wasteland 3 from inXile and The Outer Worlds DLC from Obsidian. Many of Microsoft’s new studios have also opened new studios, engaged in massive hiring, and have, of course, experienced major disruptions from COVID-19 and mandate orders from home. Games like Hellblade II, Fable, Perfect Dark and others may be longer than many of us want, but as long as Microsoft can keep an appetite for information sets, I suspect many of these games will be worth the wait.
Microsoft has never invested more in its first party game lineup, and gathered what has become an uncharacteristically aggressive attitude with a strong emphasis on delivering consumer value, with the low barrier to the Xbox Game Pass, and the prices of the Xbox Series S. Xbox has been reporting record profits and revenues in recent quarters, so it certainly seems that the strategy is paying off. Microsoft shattered the idea that it could not make good hardware. They put forward the argument that Microsoft cannot deliver great value. The missing piece is this meme that Xbox can not deliver good core games outside Forza. Hopefully for Xbox fans after E3, we see a lot of this argument revealed.