After months of hardware reveals, spec reveals, and hype, Microsoft is finally doing a proper first look at gameplay footage for its upcoming next-gen console, the Xbox Series X, showing off gameplay from 13 games that will be headed to the console this fall.
Before you get too excited, the trailers showed off come from a variety of third-party games, the biggest of which are Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Madden 21, which had already been announced to arrive on the Series X this fall. Bigger reveals — like Halo Infinite, which is expected to be the flagship launch title for the new console — won’t come until a later event planned for July.
That left today’s event feeling a little more like the grab bag of indie titles and third-party games that Microsoft uses to pad out its E3 keynotes in between its big Halo, Forza, and Gears of War reveals rather than the exciting news itself.
Still, the new trailers do show off what the Xbox Series X can do in action, with Microsoft using the event to highlight the graphical prowess, improvements like ray-tracing lighting effects, 8K resolution, and faster load times that the new hardware is capable of.
Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
The new trailer isn’t just a first look at Assassin’s Creed Valhalla on the Xbox Series X; it’s the first gameplay reveal for Valhalla, period, coming off of Ubisoft’s earlier cinematic story trailer. As one might expect, there’s a lot of Viking pillaging, with glimpses at raiding an English fortress, leading a band of warriors, and lots of axes.
Bright Memory: Infinite
A new first-person sci-fi shooter that also sees players wield a sword and fight fantasy monsters, Bright Memory: Infinite is developed by just a single developer, Zeng Xiancheng, who makes up the entirety of FYQD Personal Studio. It’s been on Steam Early Access for a while, but it’ll be jumping to Xbox Series X, too (where it’ll take advantage of things like DirectX Raytracing for effects).
Call of the Sea
Call of the Sea is a first-person adventure puzzle game set in the 1930s that has players exploring a mysterious island. Think serious Firewatch vibes here with even more impressive-looking scenery.
A single-player space combat shooter, Chorus looks like it’ll be full of fancy particle effects and high-flying shooting. It’ll be out sometime in 2021.
Microsoft hasn’t officially announced a Forza game for Xbox Series X yet, but if you need something to tide yourself over (or just something a little more fun), it looks like Dirt 5, the latest entry in Codemaster’s long-running Dirt racing game series should help scratch that next-gen racing itch.
Madden NFL 21
It’s Madden! But it’ll look even better! Notably, EA hasn’t pledged to support Smart Delivery at this time, but it did announce that owners of the Xbox One version of Madden NFL 21 would get the Xbox Series X version of the game for free, too.
The most anime of any of the games Microsoft announced today, Scarlet Nexus looks like a cartoon come to life. Step into the shoes of Yuito Sumeragi, a psychokinetic warrior who can fling things around with his mind and explore the techno-futuristic city of New Himuka.
Described as an “atmospheric first-person horror adventure game,” Scorn looks like it was ripped right out of an H.R. Giger painting. There’s not much actual gameplay on display here, but it certainly looks creepy enough.
Mutant dinosaurs have taken over the planet, and in Second Extinction, players will fight them back to retake the globe from the reptilian hordes with the video game way: with lots of guns.
The Ascent is solo / co-op top-down action RPG set in a cyberpunk world gone wrong — the mega-corporation that controls the world has collapsed. Players will have to fight through enemies either alone or with friends to figure out what went wrong — and maybe win actual freedown.
The Medium is a “psychological horror game” from Bloober Team — the studio behind Blair Witch, Observer, and Layers of Fear. Players take the role of Marianne, a medium caught between two worlds: the real one and the spirit world. The studio promises more details coming soon.
Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2
The sequel to the cult classic vampire RPG, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 will put players to rise through underground vampire society in Seattle. Players will be able to choose how they want to advance in the world, be it through brutal violence, political cunning, or... dancing?
Yakuza: Like a Dragon
A new title in Sega’s Yakuza series, Yakuza: Like a Dragon kicks off a new storyline without series mainstay Kiryu, whose saga ended with Yakuza 6. While already out for the PS4 in Japan, Sega is promising that Like a Dragon will be available as a launch title on Xbox Series X. Additionally, Like a Dragon will also support cross-save functionality between the Xbox One and Xbox Series X versions of the game, in addition to Smart Delivery.
Microsoft also announced that nine of them will support its cross-generational Smart Delivery program — meaning that while each title will offer an Xbox Series X Optimized version, it’ll also be available on the Xbox One; buy a copy for one of those two consoles, and you’ll get the other version included for free.
Smart Delivery-compatible games announced today include Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Chorus, Dirt 5, Scarlet Nexus, Second Extinction, The Ascent, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2, and Yakuza: Like a Dragon. Of the remaining four games, it’s not clear whether they’re simply Xbox Series X exclusives that won’t be available on the Xbox One (hence, no need for Smart Delivery) or whether those developers simply won’t be supporting the feature, expecting players who wish to play on both consoles to buy two separate copies.
The fact that most of these games are cross-generational titles also means giving an easy frame of reference to compare to. It’ll be easy to see how much better Assassins Creed Valhalla looks on an Xbox Series X compared to an Xbox One from 2013. But those chances will likely be more incremental at this stage, given how early on we are in the lifecycle of these consoles.
And that’s a very exciting thing. As good as these games look today, we’re still likely months or even years away from seeing games that can truly harness the power of the hardware that Microsoft (and Sony) is offering.