E3 2018 is still over a month and a half early, but I’ve decided to start the party a little earlier than usual this year. It seems like more and more companies are trying to outdo each other by announcing things early, so in an effort to actually make some guesses as to what we’ll see, I’m starting my E3 prediction series a little earlier than normal.
This year, we’re kicking the prediction series off with Microsoft, who continues to find itself behind Sony. Part of their struggles seems to come from first party games or the fact that they don’t produce nearly as many console exclusives like they used to. Sea of Thieves came out last month but would you say it has/had the same buzz as a game like Horizon Zero Dawn or God of War? Sure, not a fair comparison, but this is the situation Microsoft finds itself in.
This year, I think Microsoft is bringing more to the table in terms of first-party content and some timed exclusive deals. They need to cut Sony’s momentum somehow, right?
Here we go…
The Usual Names: Let’s get this out of the way first, we already know that games such as Crackdown 3 and Ori and the Will of the Wisps will be at the show. Expect actual gameplay and launch dates as well. In fact, I’m willing to bet that one of the show surprises is that Crackdown 3 releases in June. My guess is that Ori will be sometime late summer, early fall. Expect to see the next Forza game as well, since we basically have 1 new game in the franchise every year. If my calendar is correct, then we’re likely looking at Horizon 4.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider: Square/Crystal and Microsoft have worked well together in the past, and while I think the year-long timed exclusive business is over, the Xbox One X will be the primary platform for Shadow of the Tomb Raider. As such, Microsoft will get to showcase the game on their stage, as well as announce a launch date. (I’m hearing some sort of Tomb Raider event this Friday, so we may actually get the launch date much sooner than E3.)
The Division 2: Ubisoft typically aligns their games with either Microsoft or Sony, and if I remember correctly, The Division was always showcased on the Microsoft stage as well as had a few timed exclusive content and DLC. My guess is that The Division 2 also gets exclusive stage time with Microsoft this year, even though the game will be a major presence during Ubisoft’s show.
Halo Is Back…Finally: Need to make a splash? For Microsoft, the Halo franchise is their showstopper. It’s been a long time since Master Chief has graced our consoles and I can’t help but believe 343 is finally ready to pull the curtain back on Halo 6. They’ve been teasing it for a while now, so at this point, we should be good to go. I know fans were fairly divided on the split campaign of Halo 5, so I expect Master Chief to be the focus for nearly the entire campaign this time, instead of roughly half of it. I think another shock to the crowd would be a Fall 2018 release date as well.
I also can’t help shake the feeling that there will be a second Halo announcement, likely not as big, but perhaps a remaster of Halo: Reach? Now that’d be cool.
Fable Returns: I feel like Microsoft is double down on first party exclusives this year and Fable is another franchise which I feel is inevitable. Even with Lionhead Studios no longer around, the most recent rumors pegged primary Forza Horizon dev, Playground Games, as the studio behind the new Fable. I hope this is true, I’m actually kind of curious to see what a racing developer does with an action/RPG style game instead. While I’ll admit that Fable always had its flaws, I always enjoyed each game for what they were and I do hope Microsoft intends to revive the series.
Sunset Overdrive 2: With Insomniac set to release Spider-Man in a few months, what else is the studio up to? Sunset Overdrive 2 of course! I absolutely loved the first game, and I desperately want another go with this franchise. I’m pretty sure the first game sold really well, so I have to believe that both sides are motivated to give the series another go. I loved the gameplay loop of the first game, grinding over rails and other trick moves to earn points during combat. Really unique, really quirky, and really fun.
Killer Instinct 2: Let’s keep the sequels going! The rebooted Killer Instinct got three seasons of fantastic content and a lot of community support. I’d love to see Iron Galaxy behind the next installment of the popular fighting franchise with a bigger budget and more content from day 1. The 2013 game was, unfortunately, a little barebones when it first launched, but the game expanded greatly over the next few years. With game’s getting really one shot to impress, I hope a potential sequel can come out of the game strong.
Third party power: I already mentioned Tomb Raider and The Division 2, but I’d imagine that Microsoft is working the phone lines to secure some timed exclusive content for upcoming third-party games, similar to a deal that Sony has in place with Activision for Call of Duty and Destiny. Could it be with Ubisoft over The Division 2 and what I feel will be a new Splinter Cell (similar to Conviction)? Maybe it’s with Take-Two and Red Dead Redemption 2. EA is also another popular pick here with BioWare’s Anthem or perhaps the next Titanfall game from Respawn. Or could the mystery company be Bethesda to showcase a new DOOM or the oft-rumored game Starfield?
Game Pass Expansion: Game Pass seems to be a pretty big deal for Microsoft, especially considering that they’ve been making new releases available for Pass owners. Sea of Thieves, Crackdown 3, and State of Decay 2 are just a few of the games that are available on day 1. Pretty sweet deal when you consider you only have to pay 10 bucks a month to play them and countless other games. Expect Microsoft to spice up this package even more by adding new games to it, and perhaps a few other goodies for subscribers. The Game Pass is a major piece of the puzzle for Xbox One, so don’t be surprised to see Microsoft shine the light on it even more.
Well, that’s my list. Sure, a lot of it is fairly safe, but I believe Microsoft’s sole focus is to really dive in with first party exclusives. Give fans a reason to get excited about their console, and what better way to do that then with games.
Anything you think is coming during the Microsoft presser? What games would you like to see on stage?