Player 2 Vs The Xbox Games Showcase 2023
The Xbox Games Showcase has been and gone for another year. Was it filled with excitement and cheers or was it nothing but a big old disappointment? Did Microsoft give fans some hope or was it nothing but a wet fart? Did Phil extend a hand of friendship to Sony or did he fly-kick a life-sized replica of Kratos in the head? We have you covered with Matt and Paul here to fill you in and keep you up-to-date on everything that came to light in this year’s big green show.
Matt: Richard Ayoade. ‘Nuff said really.
Exactly what I needed from a Fable game trailer. British humour, magic, action and kickin’ chickens’, my worries for Fable, or at least the tone, have been banished. No release date yet but this is heading in the exact direction I want it to and I want more ASAP.
Paul: Save for some real, pure gameplay, this Fable trailer delivered everything that I could have wanted from it. The tone was on point, they nailed the humour, and now all we need is to see the game in action. Presumably 2025 at this point
South of Midnight
Matt: Finally we know what Compulsion has for us and it is once again a game with a unique sense of Style. No gameplay, but the assumption based on Xbox comments is in-engine footage that tells me this game is going to look like no other and that look is pretty rad. The worry here is not the look, however, but the gameplay so we will have to wait and see on that score.
Paul: Contrast was fine, We Happy Few was quirky but didn’t strike a chord, but South Of Midnight is tonally, exactly what I want to see from Compulsion. Now to wait and see what the studio has in store on the gameplay front, because at this point, that is what will make or break the game.
Star Wars Outlaws
Matt: We now know what is being delivered by Ubisoft on the Star Wars front. Only a cinematic trailer (with gameplay coming at Ubisoft Forward) so we don’t really know what is happening on the gameplay front, but honestly I love the idea of an open-world Star Wars experience.
Paul: I didn’t have this on my Xbox bingo card, Ubisoft sure, but I didn’t expect to see anything of the game here. Star Wars Outlaws is far deeper into development than I had expected based on the CG trailer that we got here and the promise of gameplay tomorrow at Ubisoft Forward. This is already being promoted as the first-ever open-world Star Wars game, and I’m right here for it!
Matt: a 33-player massively multiplayer rogue-like is one hell of a concept and should they stick the landing, this could be the next big indie hit.
Paul: It’s certainly not the direction that I had expected Thunder Lotus would go in after the success of Spiritfarer. 33 Immortals embraces elements of their previous works in Jotun and Sundered, but amps it up way further. Whether or not they can execute this design decision is going to be interesting
Matt: I enjoy the Payday games, I can just never get a group of mates together to play them. This latest edition is certainly looking more expansive and involved than the previous games the fact it is coming straight to Gamepass means that I have a much greater chance of getting a posse together to rob some banks.
Paul: Never played a Payday, and to be honest, I’m not sure if I’d ever seen one in action, but I really enjoyed what I saw in this trailer. The gameplay loop looks exciting, and getting it on Gamepass is almost certainly going to ensure that I dip my toe in and try the IP out for the first time!
Persona 3 Reloaded
Matt: The Persona series has always passed me by, their massive runtimes have always put me off. I feel like I can’t keep putting off diving in though, because so many speak highly of them.
Paul: The Instagram leak from the other day spoiled the surprise for fans here, but it was great to see this nonetheless. I’ve still not really given Persona a go, despite my love of JRPGs, but maybe jumping into 3, where the franchise really started to explode in the West, is the best place to start, especially with a remake.
Matt: This was a warm balm for my soul. I want this so much, my love for Obsidian goes all the way back to when they were Black Isle Studios working on Fallout 2. Even when they miss (eg Alpha Protocol) they still make an enjoyable experience so I have no doubt that Avowed is going to be the perfect fix for anyone still jonesing for a Skyrim fix, especially with Microsofts wallet behind it.
Paul: I’m buying everything that Obsidian is selling with Avowed. In the absence of Elder Scrolls, this ticked all of those same boxes that the likes of Skyrim, Oblivion, and Morrowind did, with that Obsidian flare that is so endearing. The gameplay looked superb and so if they can sling it our way in Early 2024 that would be grand.
Sea of Thieves - Secret of Monkey Island
Matt: The game that keeps on keeping on. Right up there with No Man’s Sky in terms of redemption stories. Combining with Monkey Island is a brilliant crossover and it may be the exact thing to get me back into the game. Coming on July 20 too!
Paul: The pop in the Xbox Fan Fest room when this announcement dropped was immense. I know Sea Of Thieves’ quality was improved consistently post the initial launch, but I didn’t realise just how many hardcore Xbox fans it had retained. This DLC looks awesome and does have me really tempted to come back to the pirate life.
Flight Simulator 2024
Matt: Making the ultimate flight game and technical marvel that is Flight Sim even more accurate and engaging by adding a whole range of aviation-based careers is a pro move. The emergency services roles seem especially exciting. Obviously, this isn’t a game that is for everyone, but it is a game that impresses everyone. A Dune spin for the current Flight sim is great too.
Paul: This was crazy. I didn’t think there was much that Asobo could do after the success of the prior game and yet Flight Sim 2024 adds a host of awesome new features. I’m not even a student of Dune but I was digging the collab that they announced for the current game as well.
Hellblade 2: Senua's Saga
Matt: Senua herself was here to introduce the game and boy is it looking stunning. Unreal 5 is flexing and flexing in a big way here. Now I just need to get my hands (and ears) on this one soon.
Paul: I was disappointed that we didn’t see a gameplay slice that included both the combat and the mind games that we saw, but I do feel like they’re going to once again succeed with that mechanic. I’m getting my Xbox headset charged and ready for Early 2024!
Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth
Matt: Paul is going to say something like “I still have never played the Yakuza games” and “I should finally dive in”. I will say yes, yes he should and everyone should nag him until he does. I, on the other hand, am a seasoned pro and as a seasoned pro, am always craving my next fix. Bring it on.
Paul: No comment, Matt already has this covered
Matt: The Fallout MMO is another example of redemption and while it isn’t as astounding as Sea of Thieves’ rise, it is still great to see where it is at now. I probably won’t dive back in, but many players are still enjoying the game, so this is great news for them.
Paul: Look, good luck to them. The trailer presented well, and as you say Matt, it’s been. Nice to see the trajectory of the game improving from all reports but I’m already not a Fallout fan, and 76 really stung at launch so there’s so going back for me I suspect
Kunitsu-Gami: Path of the Godess
Matt: A new Capcom game that looks wild. Crazy visuals and combat. Hard to say what it is all about but I am certainly excited to see more.
Paul: I thought they were going Monster Hunter for a while because the visual style really looked the part. As a big Monster Hunter fan, I was disappointed once I realised that it wasn’t the next big entry but this new IP looks nice even if we know nothing more about it
Matt: Like flight sim, Motorsport isn’t a game for everyone, but for those that are keen on it, well they are super keen on it. I am someone who loves these games at a mid-level kind of experience. I am certainly not diving deep into gear ratios and surface wear, but I do enjoy the pure racing experience. After Gran Turismo fumbled the ball a bit, there is undoubtedly a group of gamers out there keen to dive into this sort of experience and I do not doubt that this will deliver.
Paul: I’m not a racing sim person in the slightest so while the new Forza footage is surely impressive, it does absolutely nothing for me.
Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom
Matt: My MMO of choice just keeps getting bigger and better and frankly, it is a little scary just how much is in this game at this point. I have said it before it is the perfect MMO for solo players as there is just so much questing and story content that you could happily play for hundreds of hours without ever running across another human. I am playing it now on my PC and it is awesome.
Paul: I need to start ESO – ASAP
Matt: A bunch of new things, some of which look great, especially the story and co-oop stuff. Probably won’t be enough to get me in though, but I might dabble with my son at some point.
Paul: I’m not going to be giving Overwatch 2 at any point, so while it’s interesting to see how they’re feeding their community, I won’t be among the ravenous masses devouring this new stuff.
Persona 5 Tactica
Matt: Another Persona 5 spinoff this time in the form of a tactics game. This one was sadly leaked before the event but I am sure fans are going to dig this one. It is also the sort of game that I dig so it may be the gateway into the franchise I needed.
Paul: The other half of the Atlus pre-show leak but that world of Persona keeps on expanding in weird and wonderful ways. Good luck to them but I’m a ways off this one
Matt: A new game from DontNod that, for me at least, feels like a mountain climbing version of Journey. It will be interesting to see how a dev team known for great stories will implement it in this sort of game. One to watch for sure.
Paul: Aren’t DontNod spinning a lot of plates currently? They already confirmed only days ago that Banishers: Ghosts Of New Eden is coming at the end of 2023, and now Jusant too. All this is also off the back of Harmony: The Fall Of Reverie being pretty mediocre from reports. Jusant looks great, as does Banishers, but I worry that we’re in a Telltale-like death spiral here, scrambling to stay afloat.
Still Wakes The Deep
Matt: Horror on an oil rig is a great idea and one I am surprised we haven’t seen before. Not much else to go on, but a good first showing.
Paul: It presented well, but as you say Matt, we have scant little information to work with so it’ll be worth keeping this one on the radar ahead of it resurfacing sometime in the future
Dungeons of Hinterburg
Matt: A stylish 3D adventure that appears to grab a lot of the best elements of the genre and wrap it up in that warm, indie graphical touch. This was one of the best games during the show, certainly the one I think more should be talking about. Very keen for more.
Paul: This one looks excellent… that all said though… the game is trying to do quite a lot, and that leaves me worried. The tried and true “jack of all trades, master of none” saying is bubbling away in my head here, so I sincerely hope that I’m wrong, because it’s putting out all of the right vibes with me.
Cyberpunk 2077 - Phantom Liberty
Matt: I really enjoyed Cyberpunk once the shit was all sorted and I am all for more of it because frankly there is nothing else like it. This is a spin on the Kurt Russell classic, Escape from New York and I am more than ok with that. Throw Idris Elba into the mix and all I can say is sign me up.
Paul: Cyberpunk 2077 has been cleaned up, and so now, with the DLC incoming, it might finally be time for me to give the core game a second chance. I bounced pretty quickly following the disastrous start, but the word is good these days, and I’m all for second chances
City Skylines 2
Matt: The first game was the game that all SimCity fans needed and the second looks to take that even further. I can’t say that I want to play this on an Xbox though, a mouse is a must I feel so PC it is.
Paul: City Skylines is sooooo good, and so I’m really keen on this sequel. The crowd at Fortress really enjoyed it as well, so it looks like the game will have a solid fanbase right out the gate. With an incredible foundation behind it, I’m keen to see the ways in which City Skylines 2 can up the ante.
Matt: This might actually be the game to get me into the Persona style because I can jump in clean. Not sure I dig the setting though, it feels like pretty well-worn territory at this point in the JRPG genre.
Paul: We’re of a similar line of thinking Matt, and it was nice to see that this one didn’t leak alongside the Persona footage. Keen to learn more about this one ahead of its planned 2024 release window.
Matt: The Banner Saga was hands down fantastic and this, while totally different is shaping up nicely. The key here will be combat depth and if it can sustain the player’s interest for the entirety of the run time, but as it stands I am certainly excited to see more.
Paul: Towerborne speaks to me more than most games from this Showcase, and that says a lot, because the Showcase was exceptional. Towerborne has the pedigree behind it, and the ideas at play to be a real winner, but as you say Matt, lasting factor is going to be a major piece of the puzzle
Matt: Another of my favourite studios, Inxile looks like they are onto a winner here. Part Bioshock, part Steampunk RPG. This is looking very very cool. This is one of two Unreal 5 RPG’s they are working on and I am very keen to see more.
Paul: This one is sadly going to be a fair way off, but it was without doubt my favourite reveal of the showcase for all of the Bioshock vibes that it gave off. It was the look and tone that instantly won me over. Now bring on 2025 or later!
Matt: A massive look at what is shaping up to be a massive game. There is a lot to talk about here but really the best way is to watch the trailer/showcase for yourself. This is certainly a Bethesda RPG and all the hallmarks of that statement were on show. But at the same time, it is clearly that formula taken to the next level. From the combat to the graphics to the level of choice, everything that Fallout and The Elder Scrolls have done before has been amped up, improved and fleshed out. The combat deserves special mention and you can see that bringing in ID Software to help with the gunplay was a wise move because it looks to be easily the best combat system that Bethesda has ever implemented.
A lot is riding on Starfield for both Bethesda and Xbox. Xbox is desperate for a AAA hit that doesn’t have the word Forza in the title and Bethesda has taken a huge risk by leaving their hit franchises behind and focusing on a new IP. Before this showing I felt like Starfield was going to be a good, possibly very good game, now I am leaning more towards it being straight-up great. There is a lot here that excites me and my hype levels are now at the point where I am in a position to be really disappointed if it fails to land.
Paul: Starfield has the weight of the world resting on its shoulders, and based on what was shown, Todd Howard and the team can carry that weight confidently. The game is looking exceptional… except for that one hardcore fan guy who became Starfield’s Halo “Craig” moment. Another shoe has dropped post-event with Todd confirming 30FPS on consoles, which while not necessarily surprising, is disappointing nonetheless.
Sour notes aside, the world is begging for exploration, the shooting looks fantastic, and the customisation of both your character, and your spacecraft look top notch. Bring on September 6th!
Matt: Look if RPGs are your thing then this show was your thing. So many RPGs. Fable, Starfield, Clockwork Revolution, Persona, Avowed the list seems endless. Xbox is really becoming the home of RPGs, aren’t they? Along with that though it was a pretty solid showing. Nothing announced in the show missed the landing and even stuff that isn’t my bag (like Flight Sim) was still impressive. 2023 still feels a bit light on towards the end of the year (much like Sony if I am honest) but 2024 seems like it is absolutely stacked. It was a little disappointing not to see Gears 6 or whatever ID is working on (though Phil was sporting a Hexen t-shirt… one of his famous teases perhaps?) but overall it was a really strong show for me.
Paul: Xbox has been regularly criticised for leaning too heavily on the Halo, Gears, and Forza trio for many years, and with two of those absent in this showcase it was nice to see the diverse nature of the Xbox Game Studios portfolio starting to bubble to the surface. Of course, what we may soon start to see is an over-reliance on RPGs as Xbox has scooped up a great many RPG developers in recent years and partnered with others to plug JRPG gaps. Hopefully, all of them can keep out of each other’s way to ensure they can all succeed!