E3 2019 – Microsoft & Bethesda Highlights

Pretty much what was expected.

E3 week has begun. Several developers and publishers from around the world have gathered in Los Angeles to display new projects or new footage. E3 itself wasn’t officially open yet on Sunday, but Microsoft and Bethesda held their annual E3 conferences separately at the Microsoft Theater and the Shrine Auditorium, respectively. Each show had the usual abundance of flair and vertical slices, the validity of which is questionable, but the announcements themselves were certainly real, and there were some noteworthy highlights.

Microsoft revealed a slew of games from a wide range of development studios, ranging from indie games to big, AAA productions. However, the biggest news was Project Scarlett.

It’s been known for some time now that Microsoft had already begun work on their next console, but they officially shared details on the project during their conference. According to the pre-recorded video played during the show, Project Scarlett will be an impressive machine. Designers of the system claim that it will be four times more powerful than the Xbox One X, Microsoft’s current premium home console, and will be capable of 8K output and 120fps, or frames per second.

Additionally, the console will come with a new type of solid-state drive, or SSD, that will double as a high-speed hard drive and virtual RAM, or random-access memory. This SSD will reportedly give Project Scarlett performance speeds forty times greater than current consoles. The official Xbox Twitter account states that the console will support native 4K at 60fps, and that your games and accessories will carry on to the new system.

Microsoft didn’t provide pricing details, but they did give Project Scarlett a 2020 holiday season launch window. Finally, they announced that Halo Infinite will be a launch title, meaning the game and the console will release simultaneously.

Earlier in the conference, excitement surged through the room as a new trailer for CD Projekt Red’s ‘Cyberpunk 2077’ began to play. The trailer was constructed well, but it was a cinematic, meaning it’s ultimately not representative of actual gameplay.

‘Cyberpunk’s’ trailer ended in a rapid, triple-punch of pure excitement. First, when a mysterious character at the end of the trailer was shown to be none other than actor Keanu Reeves, an uproar of applause ensued. The release date of April 16, 2020 was revealed just seconds after, generating even more excitement and furious applauding. Then Keanu Reeves came out on stage. That was when the hype truly peaked. The already excited crowd exploded into applause upon seeing Reeves.

Reeves took the stage to briefly talk about ‘Cyberpunk’ and his experience working with CD Projekt Red, assuring the audience that the game was going to be “breathtaking.” Much to the amusement of those viewing, an attendee responded to that comment by shouting, “You’re breathtaking!”

Unfortunately, the new ‘Borderlands 2’ expansion titled Commander Lilith and the Fight for Sanctuary leaked some time prior to the conference, so it came as no surprise when it was announced. However, this announcement was still a highlight of the show thanks to the unexpected news that the expansion was available that same day, and that it was completely free.

Microsoft also announced the launch of Xbox Game Pass for PC and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Xbox Game Pass is a subscription service that grants players full, unlimited access to a wide array of titles from various developers. Xbox Game Pass for PC is currently in beta, which is essentially a testing period, and players can subscribe for a limited time price of $4.99 a month; this will eventually increase to $9.99 a month.

The other part of the announcement, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, serves as a premium option. This subscription will cost $14.99 a month, but it includes Xbox Game Pass for console and PC, as well as Xbox Live Gold membership, allowing you to play online.

Bethesda’s conference consisted primarily of expansion packs and new trailers for sequels that were announced long ago; there was little in the way of new intellectual properties, or IPs. Though, to be fair, that’s usually par for the course at E3, regardless of developer or publisher.

There were two new IPs revealed at Bethesda’s showcase. The first is called ‘Ghostwire: Tokyo,’ which is being developed by Tango Gameworks, the studio behind ‘The Evil Within.’ ‘Resident Evil’ creator and Tango Gameworks founder, Shinji Mikami, briefly took the stage to announce the new game before yielding the floor to ‘Ghostwire’ director, Ikumi Nakamura.

Nakamura explained that in the game, people in Tokyo are vanishing, and the player is tasked with investigating why. The trailer rolled after this, and from the trailer, it is clear that the game will delve deep into the supernatural. No release date was revealed, and no release platforms were announced.

The other new IP, ‘Deathloop,’ is coming from Arkane Studios, developer of the ‘Dishonored’ franchise and 2017’s ‘Prey.’ The trailer shown depicted two opposing characters named Colt and Julianna who are stuck in a time loop. Every time one of them dies, the recently departed simply wakes up somewhere, alive and well.

Both characters appear to possess magical abilities, and both aim to kill the other, but for different reasons. Colt wants to break the cycle and believes the only way to do so is to kill Julianna. Julianna, on the other hand, enjoys the cycle and wants it to continue. For that to happen, she believes she has to continuously kill Colt. It is unclear if players will be able to choose which character to play as or if players will be forced to play as either Colt or Julianna. As with “Ghostwire,” no launch date or platforms were announced.

E3 began on June 11 and will end on June 13.