Over the last few weeks, Microsoft has been ramping up the hype machine for XO19, promising announcements from first-party Xbox Game Studios, new titles for Game Pass and more in the ‘biggest Inside Xbox episode ever'. There were indeed quite a few big announcements, including new IP from Obsidian and Rare, Project xCloud updates, Halo: Reach's PC release date, Age of Empires IV gameplay and more.
Starting off with the new IP. Rare has announced a brand new game called ‘Everwild' with a teaser trailer. The game promises to deliver a “natural and magical world”, although the project is still in early development, with Rare veterans working on it. Rare is also working on the next update for Sea of Thieves called ‘The Seabound Soul' which promises new quests to take on, new weapons for your ship and new cosmetics for The Arena PvP mode.
On Obsidian's end, the studio announced ‘Grounded', a new multiplayer survival game with a familiar cartoon aesthetic. A smaller team at Obsidian is handling development while others focus on the next single-player RPG. Grounded will be coming to early access on Xbox One and PC in Spring 2020, with closed alpha testing taking place sooner as part of the Insider program.
Ninja Theory is another traditionally single-player studio currently working on a multiplayer title. Bleeding Edge was announced at E3 earlier this year and has been undergoing closed alpha testing since then. The game will officially be releasing on the 24th of March, complete with a brand new hero character.
343 Industries' Brian Jarrard also made an appearance at XO19 today to announce that Halo: Reach will be coming to The Master Chief Collection on PC and Xbox One on the 3rd of December. It will be available on the usual Microsoft Store on console and PC, but you can also get the game via Game Pass for both platforms, or on Steam on PC. The Steam version does have cross-platform multiplayer with the Game Pass/Microsoft Store version, although there is no cross-play between Xbox One and PC for now.
Microsoft's new first-party Age of Empires studio is now known as ‘World's Edge' and will handle the IP moving forward. In the meantime though, Relic Entertainment has been hard at work on Age of Empires IV, which finally got a gameplay trailer today. Age of Empires IV will be set in the medieval time period, although we don't have a release date yet. While we all wait for the sequel, Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition is available to play on Steam and Game Pass for PC, containing some graphical enhancements, quality of life improvements and all DLC. Further updates will come in the months ahead as the developers collect player feedback.
Minecraft Dungeons, the action RPG/dungeon crawler spin-off, is coming out in April 2020 with multiple classes, procedurally generated dungeons and four-player co-op.
Xbox Game Pass also had some big updates, with over 50 games coming to the library, spread across this year and 2020. Key highlights include Rage 2, The Talos Principle, Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition, Age of Wonders: Planetfall, Darksiders III and The Witcher 3.
In 2020, Game Pass subscribers on console and PC will also be getting Final Fantasy 7, Final Fantasy 8 Remastered, Final Fantasy X & X-2 Remastered, Final Fantasy 9, Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy and Final Fantasy XV. SEGA is bringing Yakuza 0, Yakuza Kiwami and Yakuza Kiwami 2 to Xbox for the first time, with all three games coming to Game Pass for PC and console next year too. Finally, the Kingdom Hearts HD collections are also finally coming to Xbox, allowing fans to play the complete series on Microsoft's console for the first time.
Now with all of those game announcements out of the way, Microsoft also had a few key updates for Project xCloud. For starters, testing will be expanding to Windows 10 PCs next year and Microsoft will be adding in support for more Bluetooth controllers, so you will be able to play games using a third-party gamepad from the likes of Razer, or even Sony's own Dualshock 4. More invites are being sent out to those who signed up to the insider program and expansion to other countries is planned to begin next year.
Those getting into the testing phase now will also have a lot more to play, as the Project xCloud catalogue has expanded to include over 50 games. The library now includes titles like Forza Horizon 4, Devil May Cry V, Tekken 7, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, DayZ, Dead by Daylight, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, ARK: Survival Evolved, Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, HITMAN Season 1, Just Cause 4 and more. EA has also announced a partnership with Microsoft, which starts off with bringing Madden 20 to xCloud with three more games to come in early 2020.
Microsoft has also confirmed that when Project xCloud properly launches, you will be able to stream the games you already own using the cloud servers and Game Pass subscribers will also be able to stream their games. All of this comes with full cross-play and cross-progression, so you can make some progress on a game during your morning commute and then pick up right where you left off when you get back home to your local hardware.
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KitGuru Says: While I'm not the biggest fan of the Inside Xbox presentation style, they certainly did fit in a good number of announcements to end the year on. 2020 is shaping up to be even bigger too, as Microsoft will want to pull out all the stops for Project Scarlett's launch.