Player 2 vs The Xbox/Bethesda Showcase 2022
After a rough year thanks to Covid, wars and general shifts in the industry causing delays, all eyes were on Xbox to see if it could garner back some goodwill from disappointed fans with their Xbox/Bethesda showcase. Focused on the next 12 months of games, the showcase had a few surprises and some good looks at big titles in the near future. Paul and Matt are of course here to run you through all of the announcements and give their thoughts on just how things are looking.
Matt: This one really grabbed me if I am honest. I am getting a four-player Far Cry Vibe with all the Arkane trappings layered over the top. Loving the aesthetic and the style, which is no real surprise considering the studio. The only worry I have is that sometimes Arkane’s shooting feels a little off and considering the fast-paced nature that Redfall is going for, that could be problematic. Otherwise, it looks like another winner from what is fast becoming one of my favourite studios on the planet.
Paul: I was quite dismissive of Redfall this time last year when the game debuted but the gameplay here completely won me over. Tonally the game looks really cool, the action was crisp, and it looks great!
Hollow Knight Silksong
Matt: We heard the rumours and they turned out to be true, Silksong is a day one Gamepass title. Fantastic news for Xbox and in the context of this show, the beginning of a great lineup of indies and smaller unique titles coming to Gamepass on day one. Still no release date for Silksong but at least it has been narrowed down to 12 months now.
Paul: Thanks to old mate Snitch on Twitter we’d already heard about the Hollow Knight news but it didn’t make the trailer any less exciting. Surely we’re close now and it’s just Nintendo that gets to drop the date… surely! Please! I’m begging!
High on Life
Matt: When is a Rick n Morty game not a Rick n Morty game? When it is High on Life. It looks quite mental and if I am honest I am not sure it is for me. It could be absolutely amazing or it could be the pits, I don’t think there will be any middle ground with this one.
Paul: I can’t stand Rick n Morty and most of the other works from the same team but oddly High On Life worked for me in a way that those others haven’t. Keen for more
Riot Games Coming to Gamepass
Matt: Probably a smart move from Riot as their games are just starting to stagnate, so giving Xbox players access to all the goodies, characters and maps is a smart way to get an influx of new players. The big question is how the controls will translate to consoles.
Paul: A massive get for Gamepass. I’m not playing any Riot games but I’m in the minority and so those fans will be pretty stoked with this news
A Plague Tale: Requiem
Matt: If I was in charge of Xbox, I would be throwing all the marketing money in the world at this one, because while it isn’t an exclusive, it is coming to Gamepass on day one and looking fantastic. The first Plague Tale is a special experience that surprised the hell out of me with how good it was, Requiem looks just as good and I just can’t wait. I am going to assume with the vague 2022 release date it will be at the back end of the year.
Paul: Still haven’t played the original and each time I see Requiem in action I’m reminded that I need to go back and play it ASAP. This fresh showing is the latest reminder for me
Matt: Phwoar. Those are some sexy reflections. I get that Forza Horizon is more crowd-friendly, but Motorsport is shaping up to be truly stunning and the fact that Microsoft let Turn 10 only focus on PC and Series systems has let them truly push the graphical boundaries. Shame it couldn’t make this year for MS, but I would rather have a quiet Xbox year than broken games so I will wear it.
Paul: Yep, reflections, yep, super impressive world systems. Pass for me
Matt: I don’t know how I feel about this. I honestly feel like it is too late for Overwatch 2. The hype has gone, the world has turned a little sour on Blizzard (with good reason I might add) and the excitement just isn’t there. I feel like this is going to have to be balls-to-the-wall amazing for the second entry to recapture the heights that the first game climbed too.
Paul: The recent beta came and went like a wet fart. The fan hype just isn’t there but F2P might help get people in the door. Zero asking price gets people in the door and maybe then they can rediscover what they loved in the first place. The franchise is in limbo but if they can make a few smart moves then maybe Blizzard can still save it.
ARA: History Untold
Matt: Not much on show here, just a cinematic trailer but I am always interested in a new strategy title so I will keep my eye on how this one shapes out. They may have missed the boat though with Humankind also confirmed for Gamepass this year.
Paul: The lack of gameplay dampened any hype I could possibly have in the short term but ARA looks cool enough. Til next we meet!
Forza Horizon 5: Hot Wheels
Matt: The Hot Wheels expansion in Forza Horizon 3 was a blast and I expect this to be no different. Crazy fun added to an already fantastic game, how can it be bad?
Paul: Gee this is how you support the fans who’ve supported you this far isn’t it? Can’t wait to get into the chaos!
Matt: Apparently ARK 2 is a very different game to the original, with a much bigger focus on combat and story, but we saw none of that with this trailer, just Vin being a dino rider.
Paul: Yep, nothing new to learn about this outside of a 2023 window. I remain intrigued though I honestly can’t explain why.
Matt: Just utterly gross. Holy heck I am not sure my stomach is up to it. I say this as a compliment because that is clearly the design brief. Scorn finally getting a release date is nice and fans of horror look like they are in for a massive treat, I am just not sure I am.
Paul: I’ve followed Scorn for what must be 5 years now so I’m thrilled to hear that it has an imminent release date. It’s certainly hard to look at, so hopefully, it won’t be too much when I actually go hands-on.
Matt: I really liked the look of this one. It seems a little Soulsish, but in a kind of Jedi Fallen Order way, a touch more approachable and fast-paced. The world seems fantastic and some of the powers look like a lot of fun. I am going to be watching this one closely.
Paul: The team has a superb pedigree, best shown on Ashen but Flintlock is grabbing my attention in ways that Ashen didn’t. Very, very cool and I can’t wait for more.
Matt: I cannot overstate the importance of Minecraft to Microsoft and while it may not be for the “core” gamer, the market is huge for this well-loved title. Legends looks like it is going to be another accessible and approachable spinoff for Minecraft fans everywhere. It actually gave me some serious Overlord vibes which is A-Ok in my books.
Paul: I’m not a Minecraft dork but I love that they continue to branch out in other ways to shake up the formula. Legends is the latest attempt and I hope it works out.
Matt: A few survival games are coming to the fore of late and this is another one. These games live or die on how they can make the “boring” stuff like mining and resource gathering interesting. If they can do that it could be a winner.
Paul: This looks like the more zen survival game that I’m looking for… hopefully. If I’m right about that then this one could hold my interest
Matt: I have actually played a lot of Gunfire Reborn on PC during early access and I can confirm it is a fun little roguelike that does some very cool things. It feels like the perfect addition to Gamepass to me.
Paul: I think I’ll only know if I’m into this one if I go hands-on with it, so with that said, bring on October and the launch!
The Last Case of Benedict Fox
Matt: Possibly the most interesting-looking game of the show, I really dug this kind of dark spirit theme. It looks to me like The Darkness as a Metroidvania and if that can’t get you excited, I just don’t know what will.
Paul: I’m all about what they showed of this one. It’s hitting on all the right beats to get me very interested so hopefully, we won’t have to wait too long before we’re going hands-on with it.
As Dusk Falls
Matt: A story-driven adventure that uses a kind of stop-motion comic book styling. It looks cool, but it will live and die on its writing, which is impossible to get a read on during a trailer.
Paul: As Dusk Falls was presented really well and locked my interest away immediately but as Matt alludes to, things could go pear-shaped fast if the writing isn’t up to standard. For now, the sample size gives me reason to feel positive but we’ll see when the final game arrives.
Matt: I was ready to roll my eyes and bemoan another Battle Royale but when they announced a campaign my attitude changed. The combat looks like it is super fun so if the single-player campaign is put together well I could certainly be converted.
Paul: Yeah my tone changed too. I can’t cop another Battle Royale but a campaign for a game that otherwise looks pretty cool has me suddenly very interested.
Matt: This game has a great little community and now it is finally heading to full release with a story mode it should bring a few more players, including myself, in to check it out.
Paul: I avoided Grounded because it was unfinished, but now that 1.0 is finally nearly here I can allow myself to get excited at last!
Ereban: Shadow Legacy
Matt: Another game that really captured my attention, Seems like it has taken the concept of Aragami and extended it to a much grander scale. Very excited to see how this one pans out and if Raw Fury can continue to climb the list of must-watch indie publishers.
Paul: A phenomenal sense of style despite a story pitch that seems a bit by the numbers. Gameplay is long though so I’m keen for more.
Matt: Obsidian’s little side project looks like the animated sections from a Monty Python show which certainly makes it unique. How the gameplay will hold up I am not sure, but there is no denying it has piqued my interest.
Paul: The long rumoured Pentiment is finally here. It’s not what I imagined it looking like but I’m in enough to give it a proper crack.
Matt: It looks like Diablo 4 is going full “Destiny” and that could be a double-edged sword. The tight campaign of the previous games has always been something I have thoroughly enjoyed so the worry here is that story and scripted sections take the back seat to community and collusion. If they can get the balance right though, it could truly take the top-down ARPG to the next level. I can say it is looking stunning, like really stunning.
Paul: You’re not getting a single Diablo Immortal dollar out of me Blizzard but extract what you like here with Diablo IV because I’m all in! All about that ease of co-op too!
Matt: A quite cool-looking Zelda-like with a unique style, Ravenlok could be a real winner from the gameplay on offer. Another great indie title from Xbox in this show and another day one Gamepass title that looks like it deserves to be checked out at the very least.
Paul: I feel like the turnaround between Echo Generation and Ravenlok has been incredibly fast so I’m cynical about the 2023 release date but based on what we saw it’s one of my most hyped titles already.
Matt: Whenever a trailer starts with “from the man behind Inside and Limbo” I am going to sit up and take notice. It looks amazing if I am honest and I am very excited to see how it turns out.
Paul: The Limbo/Inside factor has me sold already. Say no more
Kojima Working With Xbox
Matt: It had long been rumoured, but now it is confirmed. The legend himself is creating a game for Xbox. No idea what it is or what it will be but we can expect flaming space whales, creepy Norman Reedus and possibly a Geoff Keighley cameo. One thing I will say, there is a very loud (but small) section of the Sony fan base that is having trouble accepting this today so it is probably best to avoid those Kojima-focused Reddit forums today.
Paul: We all knew it was coming but based on several leaks we’d all expected more than what we got, but it’s always interesting to see what Kojima is up to and so with this one (supposedly called Overdose) and supposedly Death Stranding 2, he’s gonna be a very busy man.
Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty
Matt: Team Ninja has jumped back in with Xbox after cosying up to PlayStation for the Nioh franchise and while I am disappointed this isn’t a new Ninja Gaiden game, I am happy to see them back. Not sure how this game will play, if it is closer to Nioh, Ninja Gaiden or something new, but Team Ninja have a pretty good track record so I am keen to see more.
Paul: One of the games I loved the most from the show and a bit of a return to form after the fairly rough Final Fantasy Origins. It’s nice to see the pairing with Xbox once again.
Persona On Gamepass
Matt: More holes filled in the Microsoft back catalogue. Adding the Persona games to Gamepass, much like how they did the same thing with the Yakuza games, is the perfect way to bring a long-running franchise to a new system and get new players into the fold. Sega and Microsoft are getting very buddy buddy of late and this is just another step in their love affair.
Paul: I don’t like Persona but it can’t be argued the enormity of this given the franchises surging popularity on PlayStation. I doubt this means P6 is suddenly day and date, you can bet Sony has that locked down still, but there’s a change in the winds coming it seems
Matt: I was a little unsure of what to expect from Starfield. I struggled to think how the gameplay from Fallout/Skyrim could convert to an outer space setting. Now I have seen it, I want in. Now. It looks stunning and honestly, that looked like the best combat to ever appear in a Bethesda RPG. I hope, like in Fallout 4, that the base-building and starship-building stuff is optional though because I have all the creative ability of a blind ant. My hype levels for this game have been upgraded from interested to must-buy.
Paul: I’m super into much of Starfield, but I won’t lie, I was a bit underwhelmed. Every system they demoed was great, but it’s that visual disconnect that left me wanting. The eyes are soulless as ever, and I dunno, it just doesn’t quite look next-gen enough? It’s petty because there’s so much else to like but with close a year until launch, I hope some love can go into those presentational aspects to elevate the game into a new level of atmosphere.
Matt: This was always going to be a tough conference for Microsoft with so many big hitters already having been bumped, but I think they recovered as best as they could. Getting good looks at Redfall and Starfield was great and Xbox continued their strong support of quality indie titles coming to Gamepass.
There is no escaping this is a barren year for Xbox from the AAA front, but there are still a bunch of exciting smaller titles coming that deserve your attention. I must say though that 2023 is looking increasingly crowded, not just from Xbox either, we could be in for a real cracker of a year.
As for games like Perfect Dark, Fable, and Gears 6, I think we can possibly expect to hear more about them at Gamescom with a more future-focused conference from Xbox, so I wasn’t disappointed when Microsoft focused on the next 12 months only for this show.
Paul: The self-imposed constraint of just the next 12 months sadly knocked a few big hitters out that I hadn’t expected. I thought we’d be looking at Avowed and Hellblade II in this window but not to be. 2022 is nightmarish if you’re an Xbox stan, with quite literally no new first-party titles arriving while their direct competitor starts to gather momentum once again. The brand is in a good place regardless though, here’s hoping that 2023 begins the glory days that we’ve expected for the company given all the acquisitions they’ve made.
Also, a massive shoutout to Xbox Australia who hosted me at their Melbourne FanFest. It was a fantastic experience!