Phil Spencer started leading Xbox and redefining the brand’s future in 2017, which was a pretty tumultuous time for the company. Xbox 360 was an incredibly successful system for Xbox and a stellar follow-up to the original Xbox, which was already a game-changer. The debut system utilized an internal 4 GB hard drive and helped make online gaming inseparable from console gaming with Xbox Live. The Xbox One however brought confusing marketing, always-online requirements, and a camera that was supposedly completely necessary for system operations and had to be on at all times. Making things even more problematic, borrowing and sharing games were needlessly difficult, which PlayStation appropriately criticized in a timely advertisement that will never get old. I hope it lives in Xbox’s memory and keeps them fearful of ever ignoring user feedback again.
Building for the future
Things have been shifting, changing, and growing since Phil Spencer took over though. All the nonsense that everyone hated from the Xbox One’s reveal was quickly gone or changed, outside of the name of the console; the company launched new versions of the system that looked better and more like a video game system and less like a bloated VCR. Many things were improved for the console over its lifespan, and a lot of the changes came at or near launch. Used games and always-online requirements were changed pretty quick and eventually Xbox started making bigger moves that would pay off in the future. I’ve been a fan of Xbox since the original system launched and have been patiently waiting to see the results of Phil’s careful and meticulous planning. I knew it would take a few years to see the benefits of studio acquisitions, massive investments, and focusing on games again (instead of TV and cars) but thankfully Xbox Game Pass made the wait a little easier to bear.
The Xbox & Bethesda E3 presentation was where we would really see if Xbox was going to continue to grow as a formidable influence and key player in the industry, and I think their answer was a resounding yes. A few Bethesda games, including Starfield, were shown off — and all of them are exclusive to Xbox, PC, and Xbox Cloud Gaming. There was a lot of speculation about what would happen with Bethesda’s future games and Xbox made it very clear during the show that anyone playing Bethesda games would be doing so on their platform. By the end of the show, more than twenty games were discussed, with some of them being announced for the first time, and most of them are launching in Xbox Game Pass.
Starfield was announced in 2018 but Todd Howard showed some in-engine visuals that help show the game’s tone and direction. It’s currently scheduled to release November 11, 2022. It will be available exclusively on Xbox and PC. Starfield will also be available in Xbox Game Pass at launch.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl
Stalker 2: Heart of Chernobyl was announced in 2018 but Xbox’s show brought a gameplay trailer that included a release date. Stalker 2 is set to release April 28, 2022, on Xbox Series X|S and PC. This also marks the console debut for the series.
Back 4 Blood
Back 4 Blood looks like the Left 4 Dead follow-up we’ve all been begging Valve to release for the last twelve years. The multiplayer first-person shooter is set to release on October 12, 2021 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. Back 4 Blood will also be available in Xbox Game Pass at launch.
Not much is known about Contraband yet other than it’s being developed by Avalanche Studios and that it appears to be a new IP, barring some connection that hasn’t been revealed yet. There is no release date and platforms were not announced, but it is being published by Microsoft so it’s safe to assume it will be exclusive to Xbox, PC, and Xbox Cloud Gaming.
Sea of Thieves: A Pirates Life (Free Update)
Sea of Thieves is set to receive a new update soon and it’s completely free. A Pirate’s Life is a new storyline featuring Captain Jack Sparrow and other characters from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. You can set sail with Captain Jack Sparrow on June 22, 2021. Sea of Thieves is available for purchase on Steam, Microsoft Store, and Xbox. It’s also available on PC and Xbox via Xbox Game Pass.
Battlefield 2042 was officially revealed during Summer Game Fest but a gameplay trailer was shown during Xbox’s presentation. Battlefield 2042 is currently scheduled to release October 22, 2021, for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC.
We’ve been looking forward to Twelve Minutes for quite a while but the newest trailer from Xbox’s presentation finally gave us a date to throw on the calendar. It’s releasing August 19, 2021 for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. It stars Daisy Ridley, James McAvoy, and Willem Dafoe and looks like another must-play indie.
Psychonauts 2 gameplay was finally shown and it looks like something only Double Fine could dream up. It’s set to release August 25, 2021 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Linux, macOS, and Windows. It will also be available at launch in Xbox Game Pass. You can also play the first game in Xbox Game Pass while you wait for Psychonauts 2 to get here.
New content was announced for Fallout 76, which is nice to see. It had a pretty bumpy launch but it seems to be getting better with each new update. Steel Reign will be available for free on July 7, 2021. The Pitt was also announced as a future update. It’s set to release sometime in 2022. It definitely seems to bear some influence from Fallout 3, which makes sense considering The Pitt was a DLC expansion available for the game.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Console Enhanced
The Elder Scrolls Online: Console Enhanced is an upcoming next-gen update coming to Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 on June 15, 2021.
Party Animals is an upcoming multiplayer title that looks like it was inspired at least partially by Overcooked and Gang Beasts. It looks cute and like a lot of fun. It’s coming to Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and Xbox Cloud Gaming platforms in 2022.
Hades is already a worldwide sensation in the indie community on macOS, PC, and Nintendo Switch but it’s coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S on August 13, 2021. It will also be available in Xbox Game Pass at launch.
Somerville is being created by developers that previously worked at developer Playdead, the makers of Limbo and Inside. Somerville looks like it’s expanding and building off of everything Limbo and Inside did and those were incredible games. Somerville is currently scheduled to release sometime in 2022. It is not clear if it will be on PlayStation platforms at this time. The video simply ends by saying it’ll be available on Xbox Game Pass on console, PC, and the cloud.
Halo Infinite Multiplayer Reveal
Halo Infinite multiplayer looks like everything I want as a longtime Halo fan — and I know I’m not alone in that thinking. It looks bigger and better than ever while also looking like Halo, which hasn’t always been the case. Halo Reach, Halo 4, and Halo 5 all seemed to struggle at representing the series aesthetic and feeling. The three games were great but this is when the identity and gameplay of the series started to shift into less defined territory. The multiplayer will be free for anyone playing on Xbox or PC with no purchase or subscriptions being necessary. The campaign will only be available to owners of the game or anyone subscribed to Xbox Game Pass.
Diablo II Resurrected
Diablo II: Resurrected is coming along nicely and the latest trailer came with a release date. It’s scheduled to release September 23, 2021 for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC.
A Plague Tale: Requiem
A Plague Tale: Requiem was revealed during the show and is set to release sometime in 2022. It is confirmed for Xbox Series X|S and PC. It is not known if the game is a timed exclusive or if it’s coming to other platforms.
Far Cry 6
Far Cry 6 has already been seen a few times but it was shown off again during Xbox’s presentation. It looks like it could be the best in the franchise, especially with Giancarlo Esposito starring as the main villain. It’s scheduled to release on October 7, 2021, for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Amazon Luna, and Google Stadia.
Slime Rancher 2
Slime Rancher 2 was announced and it looks even cuter and more addictive than the first game. It’s scheduled to release sometime in 2022 and will be available on day one in Xbox Game Pass. It is currently not known if it will be on platforms other than PC and Xbox.
Shredders looks beautiful. We haven’t had a lot of big extreme sports games in the last few years so this is good to see. It’s currently scheduled to release on Xbox Series X|S in December 2021. It will also be available at launch in Xbox Game Pass. The game appears to be a timed exclusive.
Atomic Heart was officially announced during the show and it looks very interesting. It’s an open-world action RPG set in an alternate universe during the rule of the Soviet Union. There is no release date but it has been confirmed for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC, and Xbox Cloud Gaming. It will also be available in Xbox Game Pass at launch.
Replaced is a cyberpunk platformer set in a post-apocalyptic world. It’s coming sometime in 2022 for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC. It looks like it’ll be worth keeping an eye on for several reasons, including the energetic and atmospheric soundtrack. It will be available at launch in Xbox Game Pass.
Grounded – The Shroom & Doom Update
Obsidian’s backyard survival experience filled with bugs (not the technical kind!) and crafting elements is set to receive the ‘Shroom & Doom’ content update on June 30, 2021.
Among Us – 15 Player Lobbies
Among Us is getting 15 player lobbies on all platforms on June 15, 2021. I’ve been wanting to check this game out for a long time and have the perfect excuse to since it’s coming to Xbox Game Pass on the same day. Xbox Game Pass may sound sus but it is in fact the best deal in video games.
Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes
Eiyuden Chronicle Hundred Heroes is an upcoming RPG from Yoshitaka Murayama and Junko Kawano, who both worked on the Suikoden series together. This looks like a classic JRPG but some updates and twists thrown in. There’s no reason not to try it either since it will be available in Xbox Game Pass at launch.
The Ascent was previously announced but Xbox reminded everyone that it’s coming soon and that it looks like a must-play game, especially since it’ll be in Xbox Game Pass when it releases July 29, 2021.
Age of Empires IV
The latest Age of Empires IV trailer brought in-engine gameplay and a release date. It’s set to release for PC on October 28, 2021. It will also be available on PC through Xbox Game Pass.
The Outer Worlds 2
We don’t know anything about it yet but The Outer Worlds 2 is officially happening. The fun and silly trailer consistently remarks on how early the game is in development and that the developer doesn’t know much about what the game will include or be. The first game was really good and it’ll be exciting to see what Obsidian Entertainment does with Xbox’s stacks of cash.
Microsoft Flight Simulator
Microsoft Flight Simulator might be the game that pushes me to get an Xbox Series X. The trailer featured gameplay from the game running on Series X, and it looks stunning. It’s also available on PC but my computer would probably sound like it was taking flight if I tried to run this game at max settings. Sinking into the couch while flying around the world sounds like delightful and it will be possible when the game launches on Xbox Series X|S on July 27, 2021.
Forza Horizon 5
It wouldn’t be an Xbox E3 show without Forza. I don’t care about cars other than as a form of transportation but I am in love with the Forza Horizon series. The latest trailer looks great and Xbox even provided a gameplay trailer. Forza Horizon 5 will be available November 9, 2021, for Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC, and Xbox Cloud Gaming.
Redfall is a new IP from Bethesda Softworks and Arkane Austin. We don’t know a lot yet but we do know it’s an action-packed vampire game from the creators of Prey and Dishonored, which means it will likely be a must-play game. Redfall will be available Summer 2022 and it will be exclusive to Xbox, PC, and Xbox Cloud Gaming.
Xbox Mini Fridge
It started as a joke fueled by memes about the console’s size, which kind of died down after everyone realized the PlayStation 5 was much bigger in size. Microsoft didn’t forget all the fridge jokes though and so an Xbox Series X-themed mini fridge will be available to purchase Holiday 2021. I don’t even really need a mini fridge but I’m definitely grabbing one. How often do they make appliances based on game systems? I hope Sonly announced a PlayStation 5-themed water heater too.