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Games at Microsoft’s Big Summer Press Conference

Microsoft's huge annual press conference included some massive reveals. What can Xbox fans expect to start playng in the next 12 months? Let's take a look the biggest headlines from the event.
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The annual summer game announcement season is here, and fans are soaking up all the news. Even though the standard show, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (also known as E3), didn’t happen this year, that didn’t stop the biggest players in the industry from hosting their own gaming press conferences. That includes Microsoft, who recently purchased the massive RPG developer Bethesda.

Xbox Game Pass
Xbox Game Studios

Microsoft’s press conference focused intently on the popular Game Pass service. That monthly subscription program allows players to access a variety of games for just $10 per month. It’s one of Microsoft’s biggest selling points, and the studio plans to bring Game Pass streaming to everything from smartphones to Samsung TVs–no Xbox console required. 

Microsoft had plenty of new games to show off during its presentation. Xbox head Phil Spencer introduced dozens of new titles to players throughout the press conference, including big showstoppers like Starfield, Redfall, Hollow Knight Silksong, and Forza Motorsport. Some critics have suggested that the Xbox will have a surprisingly lackluster 2022, now that Starfield and Redfall have slipped into 2023. However, the company confirmed during the press release that it was focusing only on games that will release in the next 12 months.

Starfield

Bethesda finally gave fans a proper look at gameplay for their upcoming open-world RPG, Starfield. The long-gestating project has been in development since the team released Fallout 4 in 2015. That’s a long time for any game, but it speaks to how massive the project has been. Bethesda’s Todd Howard bragged that Starfield contains over 150,000 lines of dialogue, and, during the Xbox presentation, noted that the game will feature 1,000 explorable planets in a massive galaxy.

Players will create a custom character, choose a background for them, and select from a series of starting skills and perks. This will sound familiar to fans of Bethesda’s other RPG titles, like Skyrim and Fallout. From there, the game will allow players to explore a huge open world and choose which factions in the galaxy they want to align themselves with. 

Fans were delighted with the news that the game will include a robust ship-building component, as well as an involved base-building minigame. This system appears to expand on the settlement system from Fallout 4, and many fans have pointed out that this makes the game look like a more narrative-driven version of 2016’s divisive No Man’s Sky. The game will release in early 2023 for Xbox, PC, and streaming.

Redfall

Arkane Studios’ vampiric Redfall got a full trailer during the Xbox showcase. The game has been described as “Left 4 Dead with vampires,” but the studio says these comparisons are a bit unfair. Fans of Arkane’s unique storytelling will be excited to see that the studio’s voice shines through in the first gameplay footage of Redfall.

Players will be able to choose between a variety of playable characters, each with its own unique abilities. One character will be able to turn invisible, while another can channel electricity. The game will feature first-person shooting elements, along with cooperative team survival modes. Players will work together to survive wave after wave of bloodthirsty vampires as they attack and try to break past the characters’ defenses.

Like Starfield, Redfall was also slated for a summer 2022 release on Xbox systems before getting pushed back to 2023. Both titles were intended to be Microsoft’s heavy hitters for the year, and their delay leaves the Xbox looking a bit bear through the rest of the calendar year. Microsoft hopes its upcoming cloud-based push helps get more players into its Game Pass ecosystem.

Hollow Knight Silksong

Team Cherry showcased more footage of their hotly-anticipated new title, Hollow Knight Silksong. The long-awaited follow-up to 2017’s Hollow Knight was announced by Team Cherry way back in 2019, and the studio has given minor teasers about the project since. Fan hype surrounding the title has only ballooned in the intervening years, with eager players gobbling up every dollop of new information regarding the 2D platformer.

The new trailer showcases a significant chunk of gameplay, the most we’ve yet seen for the upcoming title. In the new game, players will take control of another insect protagonist, this time the feminine-looking Hornet. She has similar abilities as the Knight, the playable character from the first game, though she’ll also sport a new suite of powers to keep the experience fresh.

Ironically, the new teaser still didn’t include a release date for the upcoming title. However, Microsoft said the showcase would only highlight games releasing in the next 12 months, so the game will probably be out before June 2023. This means, at most, Silksong will release 5 years after the original Hollow Knight.

Forza Motorsport

The confusingly-named Forza Motorsport is the follow-up to Forza Horizon 5. The new title is the most grounded, traditional side of the long-running Forza series. The game will feature old-school racing mechanics and more simulation-style gameplay than its more arcade-style predecessor. It also just so happens to look downright stunning, with gorgeous 4K graphics and realistic ray-tracing lighting. 

The focus on more confined tracks, instead of Horizon’s open-world approach, makes the game a more straightforward racing experience. This makes it ideal for competitive players who want to test their mettle in online play, and those who want to climb the ranks of the global leaderboards. The addictive rush of racing against other players’ ghosts and completing time trials is enough to make any gamer a Forza fan.

The game’s developer, Turn 10 Studios, has called Forza Motorsports “the most technically advanced racing game ever made.” Given that the graphics look like film footage of a real Formula 1 race, we’d say they’re not just speaking in marketing terms. The stunning title will release for Xbox, PC, and streaming later in 2023.

Persona Series

The most recent three entries in the Persona series are making their way to Xbox in the next year. Persona 5 Royal, the updated re-release of Persona 5, will arrive on the Xbox in October of this year. The game is one of the best JRPGs of all time and has received numerous awards for its storyline and gameplay. Many Nintendo fans immediately noted it was ironic that the Xbox will likely get a port of Persona 5 before the Switch system, despite the game’s protagonist, Joker, being a playable character in Super Smash Bros Ultimate

The announcement trailer also indicated that Persona 4 Golden and Persona 3 will also make their way to Xbox, PC, and streaming. This marks the first time Persona 3 has appeared on a modern system, and its first re-release since Persona 3 Portable on the PlayStation Portable way back in 2010. Many fans consider the third, fourth, and fifth installments in the Persona series to be the definitive games in the franchise. 

For those who are unfamiliar with the series, Persona is a spin-off of the Shin Megami Tensei series and focuses on the adventures of various groups of high school students in Japan. The students must balance their work, school, social lives, and their adventuring careers. Each playable character can enter a psychological world known as the “Metaverse,” where they wield magical powers granted to them by their mystical “Personas.”

Unnamed Hideo Kojima Game

Beloved game developer Hideo Kojima briefly appeared during the press conference to confirm that he’s making a game for the Xbox. The game might be the much-rumored Overdose, a title that has reportedly been in development at Kojima Productions. That game will apparently star Margaret Qualley, who also appeared in the studio’s excellent 2019 outing, Death Stranding.

Kojima offered only a few details about the game his studio is making for the Xbox system but did confirm that the title would leverage Microsoft’s cloud computing technology. His appearance during the show surprised some fans, as his titles are typically PlayStation exclusives. Microsoft has historically struggled to reach a wide audience in Japan, so its contract with Kojima could be an attempt to make headway in that market.

Overwatch 2

Finally, Microsoft highlighted the upcoming Overwatch 2, a highly-anticipated sequel (or glorified patch, depending on who you ask) for Blizzard’s critically-acclaimed team-based shooter. The Xbox trailer showcased a new hero, the Junker Queen, who likely has ties to characters like Junkrat and Road Hog. Her voice has already been part of the game; she can be heard over the PA system on the Junkertown map.

The new gameplay footage also showed off some of the upcoming hero changes that will come to the new version of the game. Tank character Orisa still has her more aggressive abilities first seen in the Overwatch 2 beta test, in lieu of her more stationary abilities in the first game. Other changes include the Damage-class hero Doomfist having his battlefield role changed to Tank in an effort to round out the game’s roster of heavy-hitters. 

The new trailer confirms the multiplayer component of Overwatch 2 will enter early access in October of this year. This means that the single-player component, which Blizzard has hyped up significantly in pre-release marketing, will probably be delayed into 2023.