It’s E3 week! Except there’s no E3, with the games industry’s biggest annual event taking the year off entirely, its place in the calendar taken by journalist Geoff Keighley’s Summer Games Fest.
There are a number of showcases taking place throughout this week under the Summer Games Fest banner, but the biggest of the lot was Microsoft and Bethesda’s event on Sunday.
What we got was a barrage of trailers and gameplay reveals for a mix of already announced and debuting games, and Microsoft set the tone by announcing that everything featured in the show would be coming to Game Pass in the next 12 months.
Read on for our pick of the bunch.
Arkane’s open-world co-op FPS opened the showcase with a lengthy gameplay trailer. Set in a post-apocalyptic town in Massachusetts in the throes of a vampire invasion, you play as one of four heroes who are taking the fight to the bloodsuckers. Each character has different specialisms and equipment, and judging by the trailer you’ll need to make use of everyone’s skillset. The game can be played solo, but it looks like one you’re going to want friends on board for.
Release date: 2023
Hollow Knight: Silksong
After what feels like years of no-shows in Nintendo’s Direct livestreams, in which the game was expected to eventually appear, Team Cherry’s wildly anticipated Hollow Knight sequel was a surprise inclusion in the Xbox show. What was unsurprising is that it looks brilliant, but annoyingly we still don’t have a release date. The Metroidvania is coming to Game Pass on Day One, though.
Release date: TBC
With Horizon having a year off, the floor was taken by the Forza series’ more straight-faced sibling, which made its debut at the Xbox show. Just called Forza Motorsport, we got an in-engine demo of a race on the returning Maple Valley track, with dynamic weather, ray tracing and predictably very pretty-looking cars.
Release date: Spring 2023
A Plague Tale: Requiem
Don’t like rats? Steel clear of this one. The sequel to 2019’s sleeper hit, A Plague Tale: Innocence, is another veritable vermin-fest, as we once again follow siblings Amicia and Hugo who after fleeing their plague-ravaged home find themselves in another desperate struggle for survival. Expect supernatural powers, tense stealth gameplay and – if we haven’t made it absolutely clear already – more on-screen rats than you’ll have ever seen.
Release date: 2022
Microsoft Flight Simulator 40th anniversary
Microsoft Flight Simulator is celebrating its 40th anniversary, and what better way to toast it than with some new planes for the most recent entry and a Pelican from the Halo series. Because who hasn’t always wanted to fly one of those over their house?
Release date: November 2022 (Halo add-on from today)
The follow-up to Blizzard’s colourful team-based multiplayer shooter is finally arriving on October 4 as a free-to-play game looking bigger and better than the beloved original, and the Xbox trailer introduced us to a new Tank character called Junker Queen.
Release date: October 4
Silksong might have stolen the headlines, but it wasn’t the only attention-grabbing indie in the Xbox showcase. Cocoon is notable as it’s from the lead gameplay designer of puzzle-platformer masterpieces Inside and Limbo, although this game looks less horror-tinged than either of those, and adopts an isometric top-down perspective. On CV alone, this is one to keep an eye on.
Release date: 2023
Forza Horizon 5: Hot Wheels
Forget what we said earlier: there is more Forza Horizon this year after all, in the shape of Hot Wheels-themed DLC for last year’s exceptional Forza Horizon 5. This isn’t the first time developer Playground Games has experimented with the famous toy cars; a similar DLC add-on was released for Forza Horizon 3, and if this is is as much fun as that one, we’re in for a treat.
Release date: July 19
Obsidian is best known for its epic, combat-heavy RPGs, but it’s immediately clear that Pentiment is something a bit different for the studio. It’s still an RPG at its core, but the game is a 2D narrative-driven medieval murder mystery with a unique art style. We haven’t seen much yet, but we’re already very interested.
Release date: November 2022
Sea of Thieves Season 7
Rare’s multiplayer pirate ‘em up goes from strength to strength, and season 7 was shown off via a rather delightful sea shanty that we felt we needed to include here.
Release date: July 21
Untitled Kojima Productions game
There’s no name or even a vague release date. In fact, we don’t have the faintest idea what it is at all, but Hideo Kojima working on a “completely new game” with Xbox Game Studios still has to get a mention. The Metal Gear creator’s last game was Death Stranding, the PlayStation console exclusive and the first title from then new studio Kojima Productions. It sounds like the untitled Xbox project won’t be set in the same universe, but Kojima did say that it’s a game he’s always wanted to make, and warned that it might take a bit of time for it to come together.
Release date: TBC
Bethesda’s dizzyingly ambitious space RPG was the game everyone was hoping would show up, and Microsoft did not disappoint. In the first (surprisingly extensive) Starfield gameplay reveal, we were shown various locations, including a moon called Kreet and its capital city, New Atlantis. Starfield definitely looks like a Bethesda RPG, but the character creator appears to be far deeper than anything we’ve seen in a Fallout game, and if its maker can marry vast, No Man’s Sky-style exploration with memorable characters and exciting combat, we could be looking at a game for the ages.
Release date: 2023