Xbox Games Showcase Delivers the Game(Pas)s

Introducing the Largest, Most Creatively Diverse Games Lineup in Console History, Led by Halo Infinite by Will Tuttle for Xbox Wire

Last month, I wrote about what Xbox needs to standout against the competition.

What Xbox needs to expand is their library of games. They have strong titles like Halo, Forza, Fable, and more, but the Xbox One generation has felt lackluster compared to both Sony and Nintendo. This must be a huge factor in the decision to go buy studios and create some from scratch. It will take years to build up properly, but Microsoft is getting all their ducks in a row.

And as June came to a close with no new Xbox information, I reiterated this fundamental need for games.

Microsoft needs to come out swinging in July with games. Make the next Xbox more enticing than numbers on a spreadsheet and flashy features in a sizzle reel. The Halo teaser from last week zapped my pulse for Xbox hype back to life. There are rumors that Fable will make an appearance. What is The Initiative working on? I hope Microsoft answers these questions and teases more.

The big July showcase finally aired and Microsoft did come out swinging. While it favored its tried and true IP, Microsoft did throw in enticing new IP and partnerships. The heart of the message wasn’t “Xbox Series X is where you get to play all these games.” Instead, Xbox spent an hour selling audiences on Xbox Gamepass and why subscribing is the best option for them.

Xbox showed off a diverse library of games with at least on game for everyone. For everyone else, you can try any of the games out through Gamepass and maybe discover a new game to love.

Halo Infinite started off the show and it looked like Halo. I was incredibly happy with its showing. The campaign is supposed to run at a locked 60 fps but they didn’t say it’d be native 4K. I cannot wait to see the performance breakdown across all Xbox platforms when it releases.

A new Forza and Fable game were both announced. Forza is back in the hands of Turn10 this time around, while Playground Games is tackling Fable. I wonder what this means for Forza Horizon: Is Playground Games big enough for two teams?

Obsidian announced their next sprawling RPG titled Avowed and it sure looks a lot like Skyrim 2. I bet this game is roughly five years away. I wonder which will release first, Avowed or Elder Scrolls VI. Heck, maybe Avowed will release before Starfield. Not my cup of tea, but I know plenty of folks that are jazzed for this kind of game.

Tetris Effect: Connected was revealed. The same Tetris Effect I love, but with multiplayer included. This is exactly what I would have included in Tetris Effect, so much so that I mentioned it in my review of the original game in 2018.

If there was anything I wish I could add to Tetris Effect, it would be some sort of versus mode. I always enjoyed putting Tetris skills to the test against another player in a head-to-head battle. With the online leaderboards in place, I think they’d be a cool addition. There are Weekend Rituals that happen for 24 hours, starting on Saturdays. These involve the community coming together and working toward a goal in a specific mode. If the goal is met, participating players unlock new event-only avatars and game levels. It’s cool for the community to come together, but I’d like to be able to put my skills to the test against others in a real time game, rather than just high scores on a board.

The last game that stood out to me was As Dusk Falls. It’s an “interactive drama” from a brand new studio called INTERIOR/NIGHT headed up by Caroline Marchal, formerly a lead game designer at Quantic Dream. Here’s the pitch:

As Dusk Falls is a multi-generational story set in the American Southwest about resilience, sacrifice and how the mistakes of the older generation transmit to the younger. What begins as a focused tale of two families trapped in a hostage situation, becomes a sprawling epic about how people grow and change over decades.

Xbox had a strong showcase today that really fleshed out the reason Gamepass is their future and not necessarily the Xbox consoles themselves. With the fact that xCloud will be included with Gamepass Ultimate, there is no need to buy a new beefy box. All you need is a subscription, controller, and a compatible screen. Maybe old Xbox One consoles can become the xCloud compatible box for people’s televisions. While this may be the future Xbox as a company wants, they smartly are still pouring millions of dollars into developing powerful and capable hardware. Giving consumers choice about how and where to spend their money and time is helping Xbox themselves become ubiquitous with modern gaming.