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The 9 biggest announcements from the Xbox E3 2019 press conference

From “Project Scarlett” to Keanu Reeves, here are the announcements that really stole the show at the Xbox E3 2019 press conference.

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biggest announcements xbox e3 2019 press conference

From “Project Scarlett” to Keanu Reeves, here are the announcements that really stole the show at the Xbox E3 2019 press conference.

Well, that’s it, folks. The Microsoft Xbox E3 2019 press conference is over, and it was quite the ride. We’re currently bathed in a warm green glow in the Microsoft Theather, but we’ve not just been clapping and cheering along with the influencers: we’ve been hard at work.

Thank you for following the event with us live on Twitter, and on our ever-growing guide to everything Phil Spencer, the Xbox team, and their ever-growing army of first-party studios had to show. It’s all newsworthy stuff, of course, but here are the 9 biggest announcements, the moments from the Xbox E3 2019 press conference that we think made the biggest waves.

Keanu Reeves (Cyberpunk 2077)

Microsoft clearly knows its audience. Just when we thought the biggest cheer of the night was going to be the start of the Cyberpunk 2077 trailer, it turns out, it came at the end. When Keanu Reeves rocked up as a character in Cyberpunk 2077.

Then that cheer was bested about five seconds later when a door at the side of the stage opened, and Keanu walked out onto the stage wreathed in smoke. It was such a big cheer that even Keanu then giving us the release date for Cyberpunk 2077 at the end of his little speech didn’t get as big a cheer as the man himself.

He’s also just a very lovely and personable bloke. Can we get Keanu to do all the press conferences from now on?

The Outer Worlds

This is one we’re really excited for. It’s basically space Fallout, and the more we see of The Outer Worlds, the better it looks. Which is good, because we’ve got a demo with Obsidian later in the week. The key takeaway here was the release date reveal: The Outer Worlds will release on October 25, 2019.

Xbox Game Pass PC/Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

We already knew about Xbox Game Pass on PC, and earlier today, the pricing was revealed. But during the Xbox E3 2019 press conference, we learned that some very PC-specific titles, like Football Manager 2019, will also join the roster. Oh, and Halo: The Master Chief Collection, too, on PC for the first time. No big deal.

Oh, and that it launches into public beta today.

But there’s more: Microsoft also announced Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which combines Xbox Game Pass on Xbox One, Xbox Live Gold, and Xbox Live for PC into one bundle. For $14.99 a month. Which is quite the bundle already, but as an added incentive, you can get your first month for $1.

Microsoft acquires Double Fine Productions

Continuing on from last year’s Xbox press conference, where Microsoft announced it acquired a whole bunch of third-party studios and brought them in-house under the Xbox Game Studios banner, there was just one such announcement this year. But it was a big one: Double Fine Productions.

This means that Psychonauts 2, which is currently in development, will become an Xbox Game Studios title. But better than that, it means Double Fine will hopefully get bigger budgets to staff up and continue making weird, scrappy games.

And we got to see a bit of banter with Tim Schafer on stage. He’s such a nice bloke.

Gears 5

Rod Fergusson popped onto the stage to talk to us about Gears 5.

First, he announced that the Gears 5 release date will be September 10, 2019. Then, he casually mentioned there’d be an online technical test of its new “Arcade” multiplayer mode in July, followed by a hands-on build of its “Horde” mode at Gamescom in August.

Then, erm, the stage exploded in pyrotechnics a bit for some reason? We think it’s to show off a new mode called “Escape” but there’s no gameplay on show here, just a pre-recorded trailer? Bit odd. Seemed like a bit of a letdown after the release date reveal, but the game will be playable at select Microsoft stores over the next two games if you want to get your hands dirty. Finally, what looked like a really cool Terminator game just turned out to be some pre-order tat for Gears 5, which was quite the letdown.

Though nothing went down quite as poorly as the audible groan from the audience when the Gears of War/Funko Pop cross-over popped up on screen.

[email protected]

There were so many games revealed in the [email protected] segment – all of which are also going into Xbox Game Pass – that we struggled to keep up with them all. It’s great to see Microsoft renewing its commitment to indie games, though, and particular highlights from the segment were Dead Static Drive, Afterparty, Felix the Reaper, Totally Accurate Battle Simulator, and the beautiful Way to the Woods.

Project xCloud and console streaming

“Two months ago, we connected all Xbox developers to Project xCloud,” says Phil Spencer. There are two ways to do it, he says. You can either use your console at home to stream your games to wherever you like, or you can stream from Microsoft’s xCloud data centre hardware. And that’s all he said about that, because he then said, “Let’s talk about our next console.”

Project Scarlett

We must confess, we were a little surprised to see Microsoft still referring to this as “Project Scarlett” and not more of a… final-sounding name. But the talking heads of developers, discussing the aims of the project, the capabilities of the machine, and yes, some of the specifics of the hardware, was very encouraging. One of the points they kept coming back to was loading times. They are very much going to war on loading times.

We don’t have all of the exact details, but we made some quick notes as we went along:

  • Custom AMD Zen2/Navi architecture
  • GDDR6 memory
  • Frame rates up to 120 frames per second
  • Real-time ray tracing
  • A custom-built SSD (to eat up those load times) but can also be used as virtual memory to boost performance (sounds suspiciously like a Windows page file, but if the SSD is architected with this feature in mind, it should work well)

And then Phil popped back out on stage to announce that “Project Scarlett” will be launched in “Holiday 2020” with a very special launch game…

Halo Infinite

We were treated to what looks like the opening cinematic for Halo Infinite. It. Looks. Epic.

Assorted other musings

Here are a few other things that we thought were cool or memorable, but we couldn’t really cover them all in that much detail:

  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps is coming February 11, 2020, and it looks spectacular. The level of polish on that game is incredible.
  • Jedi: Fallen Order will release on November 15, 2019. There was a bit where the Jedi kills a big spider with his blue lightsaber, which looked a lot like the Shelob bit from Lord of the Rings.
  • There’s a new co-op Minecraft dungeon crawling game, appropriately called Minecraft Dungeons. It’s coming in Spring 2020, and reminds us of The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures.
  • There’s a new Microsoft Flight Simulator, “powered by Azure AI and satellite data,” apparently. As if those games weren’t punishingly realistic enough before.
  • Wasteland 3 looks rather nice.
  • We got a release window for Dying Light 2: it’s spring 2020.
  • Forza Horizon 4 is getting a Lego expansion, and it releases on June 13.
  • Phantasy Star Online 2 is coming to Xbox One.
  • So is CrossfireX, as a console exclusive, but we’re none the wiser what that is yet. Maybe that’s why it reminded us of Metal Gear Solid a bit?
  • Oh, and there’s a Blair Witch game. It looks horrific, which is… good?

Don’t forget to check out the full list of everything announced.


To keep abreast of all the biggest developments at E3 2019, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and bookmark our E3 2019 landing page.

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We hate to ask, but global advertising revenues are the lowest they've ever been. It's killing the online publishing world. If you like what we do and want to support free, quality games writing, then please consider supporting us via Patreon, buying us a coffee, or subscribing to our newsletter.


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Tom is an itinerant freelance technology writer who found a home as an Editor with Thumbsticks. Powered by coffee, RPGs, and local co-op.

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Wasteland Remastered gets a release date

Wasteland Remastered will upgrade the 1988 RPG’s look just in time for Wasteland 3.

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Wasteland Remastered release date
inXile

Wasteland Remastered will upgrade the 1988 RPG’s look just in time for Wasteland 3.

inXile Entertainment announced the remaster back in 2018, with a scheduled 2019 release. But with release dates prone to slipping, instead, Wasteland Remastered will launch on February 25 2020. That’s my birthday if you’ve been wondering what to get me. [Duly noted – Ed.]

The game will simultaneously launch on Steam, the Windows Store and GOG, inXile said. Additionally, Wasteland Remastered will be available via the console and PC versions of Xbox Game Pass.

“Wasteland Remastered is an overhaul of the 1988 title that brought the post-apocalypse to video games,” inXile said in a post on its website. “The Remastered title brings new graphics, audio, music, and digitizes the physical paragraphs book from the original with brand new artwork.”

Here are the before and after pictures. It’s like weirdly-specific time travel.

Wasteland remastered

The remaster is being handled by Krome Studios. That’s a name I haven’t heard in years. Krome developed the Ty the Tasmanian Tiger games in the PS2 era and rebooted the Spyro franchise in 2006. It also remastered the Bard’s Tale games.

Wasteland 3 is set to launch on May 19. Its predecessors were recently free on GOG.


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Pick up The Bridge, an Escher-inspired puzzler, for free

The Bridge, a perspective-swapping puzzler is free on the Epic Games Store.

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The Bridge - Epic Games Store
The Quantum Astrophysics Guild

The Bridge, a perspective-swapping puzzler is free on the Epic Games Store.

According to its Epic description, The Bridge “forces the player to reevaluate their preconceptions of physics and perspective.” And, its black-and-white, pencil-drawn graphics certainly make it look like a brain-breaking M.C. Escher drawing. But, with a bearded suit-wearing guy – who wouldn’t look out of place in Braid – exploring it.

I missed this one back in 2013. When it came out, I was in the middle of my freshman year of college and taking a break from video games. But, if I had been playing games at the time, this one’s mash-up of Fez mechanics and philosophical self-importance absolutely would have appealed to me.

Make of that what you will.

The Bridge screenshot

Now that The Bridge is free, Epic has unveiled next week’s freebie. Get ready to simulate some farming. That’s right Farming Simulator 19 will be up for grabs next Thursday.


More video games from Thumbsticks

Head over to our new releases page for the latest Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 games. You can also stay up to date by following Thumbsticks on Facebook, Google News, Twitter, and Flipboard.

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This week’s best Nintendo eShop bargains

Are you looking for something new to play on Nintendo Switch this weekend? Here’s news of some new eShop discounts.

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Nintendo eShop Sale - VVVVVV

Are you looking for something new to play on Nintendo Switch this weekend? Here’s news of some new eShop video game discounts.

This week’s crop of Nintendo Switch digital discounts in Europe includes a range of classic indie games published by Nicalis.

We’ll never stop recommending Terry Cavanagh’s masterful platformer VVVVVV, even if he is a little sheepish about its qualities these days. Likewise, Daisuke Amaya’s timeless Metroid-style adventure game, Cave Story+. Classic shmup Ikaruga also comes highly recommended, particularly as it can be played on Switch in Tate Mode.

Other discounted games include sports sim Football Manager 2020, futuristic stunt racer FutureGrind, and no less than five titles from the Jackbox Party series.

We’ll also highlight Super Life of Pixel. It’s a simple and charming platform game that takes players on a trip through various console generations. Originally released on Wii U, the Switch version includes six new vintage consoles. It’s a neat idea, delightfully executed.

Here are some more sale recommendations. Visit the Nintendo eShop in your country for the full lineup of discounted games.

Nintendo Switch sale highlights

  • The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+
  • The End is Nigh
  • Ikaruga
  • VVVVVV
  • Cave Story +
  • Toki Tori
  • Toki Tori 2+: Nintendo Switch Edition
  • Football Manager 2020
  • Johnny Turbo’s Arcade: Super Burger Time
  • FutureGrind
  • Crystal Crisis
  • RemiLore
  • Umihara Kawase Fresh!
  • Blade Strangers
  • Redout
  • Code of Princess EX
  • Tiny Barbarian DX
  • Swords & Soldiers
  • The Jackbox Party Packs 2-6
  • Gear.Club Unlimited 2

More video game bargains from Thumbsticks

Bookmark our sales page for the latest Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 offer. You can also get regular gaming news updates by following Thumbsticks on FacebookGoogle News, Twitter, and Flipboard.

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We hate to ask, but global advertising revenues are the lowest they've ever been. It's killing the online publishing world. If you like what we do and want to support free, quality games writing, then please consider supporting us via Patreon, buying us a coffee, or subscribing to our newsletter.


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Stardew Valley passes huge sales milestone

Eric Barone confirms that Stardew Valley has passed another sales milestone.

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ConcernedApe

ConcernedApe confirms that Stardew Valley has chalked off another sales milestone.

Eric Barone – also known as ConcernedApe – has revealed that small-town farming RPG Stardew Valley has now sold over 10 million copies.

Tweeting the news, Barone said:

Stardew Valley has sold over 10 million copies. It’s strange & amazing to think back to when I was making this game in my bedroom w/ no clue if anyone would like it. Only 4 years ago! To everyone who has played this game, supported it, and made all of this possible: Thank you!!”

Stardew Valley –  which began life as a tribute to Harvest Moon – was first released on PC in 2016. If you’ve read Jason Schreier’s excellent book on game development, Blood, Sweat and Pixels, you’ll know that the game’s journey to release was not easy, and involved a lot of, well, blood, sweat and pixels. Fortunately, it was an instant hit, selling over 400,000 copies in two weeks.

Following its PC launch, Stardew Valley was ported to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PS Vita, Xbox One, Mac, mobile, and even Tesla Arcade. Yup, players can tend to their carrots from the comfort of an electric car. Modern life truly is reasonable.

Barone is planning to support the game for a while yet, so it’s not too late to move to the country and live the life you’ve always dreamed about.


More video game news from Thumbsticks

Bookmark our new releases page for the latest Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 games. You can also get regular gaming news updates by following Thumbsticks on FacebookGoogle News, Twitter, and Flipboard.

Support Thumbsticks

We hate to ask, but global advertising revenues are the lowest they've ever been. It's killing the online publishing world. If you like what we do and want to support free, quality games writing, then please consider supporting us via Patreon, buying us a coffee, or subscribing to our newsletter.


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Cyberpunk horror game Observer looks to be getting a sequel

Bloober Team is teasing a sequel to Observer, its cyberpunk horror walking sim.

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Observer sequel
Bloober Team

Bloober Team is teasing a sequel to Observer, its cyberpunk horror walking sim.

Games as dripping with atmosphere as Observer don’t come around very often. Confined within a crumbling tenement building in an oppressive future, the game managed to capture the big mood of cyberpunk without losing its soul among all the neon lights and body mods.

Now, Bloober Team is almost certainly hoping to catch V I B E lightning in a bottle again. While they haven’t officially announced a sequel, the Polish studio tweeted a short, glitchy video today. It showed a rundown city and was captioned with the tags “#cyberpunk #blooberteam #horrrorgame.”

More definitive, though, is the logo at the video’s center. The cube, composed of Cs, will likely look familiar for fans of the original game: it’s the icon used by Chiron Incorporated, Observer’s all-powerful corporation.

Further, Bloody Disgusting reported that fans had translated the binary in the video, with the results reading: “Daniel, are you there?” That’s almost certainly a reference to Detective Daniel Lazarski, the lead character of the original game.

Cyberpunk icon Rutger Hauer played Lazarski in the original game. But, the Blade Runner actor sadly passed last year. That fact leaves some questions open about how exactly the next game will tie-in to the original.

Questions aside, after last year’s lackluster Blair Witch, it’s exciting to see Bloober return to its most interesting IP.


Follow Thumbsticks on FacebookGoogle News, Twitter, and Flipboard for news of the latest new releases and video game sales.

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We hate to ask, but global advertising revenues are the lowest they've ever been. It's killing the online publishing world. If you like what we do and want to support free, quality games writing, then please consider supporting us via Patreon, buying us a coffee, or subscribing to our newsletter.


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