If 2019 was dominated by information about the PlayStation 5, things turned around at The Game Awards in December of the same year when Microsoft caught the media's attention after announcing the Xbox Series X. After that, it was a few months of mainly that console until Sony introduced the controller to the PlayStation 5. After that, Microsoft tried to take back the initiative with a somewhat unsuccessful event in May, but Sony soon strengthened its position after the well-delivered announcement of the PlayStation 5 console last month.
Now it's Microsoft's turn to run an event containing the reveals that one could argue would have been the ones to feature in the now-cancelled E3 trade fair. That being the case, at the Xbox Games Showcase, we can expect to see a lot of games, even if there have been surprisingly few leaks from Microsoft. One thing that we can be sure to see, however, is the return of Master Chief.
Microsoft has already confirmed this and also promised gameplay after having built up plenty of hype for Halo Infinite with unexpectedly well-orchestrated patience. We have seen the game in small, small doses, and only now will we see gameplay, which has been described by the developers themselves as a soft reboot of the series. It seems like we will get to fight against brutes who have gathered the remnants of the defeated Covenant, and it is thus a violently angry and probably exceedingly dangerous foe that Master Chief will have to face this time.
Not much is known about the game, and it will probably appear either first or last at the event. If I were a gambling man I'd bet my money on it opening the show because you usually want a surprise at the end, so expect to see the Master Chief for at least a few minutes as his new adventure is presented.
Another likely appearance will come from Senua's Saga: Hellblade II, which was actually one of the first games to be announced for the Xbox Series X. It is of course based on the award-winning Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, and looks to be a dark story gorgeously told. We also know that developer Ninja Theory is working on a game called Project: Mara, but it feels unlikely that we'll see both. Ninja Theory has just released Bleeding Edge, with Hellblade II well underway, and Microsoft will probably want to wait for a future event for Project: Mara.
I expect a lot of British flavour in the Xbox Games Showcase, as Microsoft has acquired several skilled UK-based developers in recent years. Rare was actually one of their first studio purchases, and after a decade of struggles, the dev has struck gold with Sea of Thieves, which is well on its way to becoming its most successful game ever. The studio has already announced the game Everwild, which we don't know much about other than that it looks ... different. In any case, this is the start of a new game series and I look forward to seeing what the innovative studio cooks up next.
Rare is also involved with the new Battletoads, which is being developed by Dlala Studios. The game has recently been age-rated by the Brazilian equivalent of PEGI, which is usually a sign that a launch is imminent. I think that it will get a surprise launch in connection with the event, and, of course, it will be included with Xbox Game Pass.
Speaking of Xbox Game Pass, it is also likely to feature prominently. Microsoft often has some spectacular additions when they have events of this kind. Reasonable guesses would be games like Mortal Kombat 11: Aftermath, Borderlands 3, or maybe even Resident Evil 3.
But let's continue looking at British studios because, a few years ago, Microsoft also picked up Playground Games, which has since made it quite clear with obvious job advertisements that it is working on a role-playing game in an open world. Numerous rumours claim that it is a new instalment in the Fable series, and that seems likely. I doubt it's Fable 4, but rather a reboot.
One thing that has been talked about a lot before the Xbox Games Showcase is The Initiative. This is Microsoft's new prestige developer that has been said to be making a ridiculously lavish game (they're calling it "AAAA"). It consists of mainly industry veterans, and they are generally believed to be working on a new Perfect Dark. That is based partly on job advertisements, vague statements and the fact that the studio is led by Darrell Gallagher who helped reboot Tomb Raider in 2013. He may well be hungry for a similar reboot for Joanna Dark. But, The Initiative is just a two-year-old studio that started from nothing. If the development has not gone absolutely fantastically well, then I actually think that this is a developer that Microsoft will save and thus show off later, maybe at The Game Awards in December or even E3 2021.
One game that is almost guaranteed to show up is Psychonauts 2 from Double Fine. It is expected to be released later this year and is likely to be announced for the Xbox Series X as well. The latter probably includes Gears Tactics, which was released for PC late this spring. It's already confirmed for the Xbox One, and I would be genuinely surprised if it does not appear as an Xbox Series X adventure in conjunction with the Xbox Games Showcase. Obsidian's Grounded is also expected to appear briefly, as well as Microsoft Flight Simulator, which launches for PC next month. I fully expect an announcement of the console version's release date and confirmation that it is heading to Xbox Series X.
The last first-party game that I think will be announced is a new Forza. Not Horizon, as that was the last in the series, and Playground Games is busy with its aforementioned role-playing game. Instead, it is probably Forza Motorsport that will make a comeback after three years in the garage. It's arguable that the series dropped off a little in its last instalment and the need for a real refresh is there. It also seems reasonable that it will not be called Forza Motorsport 8, but will be given another title, something to mark it as the beginning of a new era.
And then? Microsoft also has developers such as Compulsion Games, Inxile Entertainment and Undead Labs. Unfortunately, I think we will have to wait to see what they are all working on, one or two surprises allowing. Compulsion Games is probably doing a completely new single-player adventure, we know that Inxile Entertainment has just started the development of an AAA role-playing game after finishing Wasteland 3. Finally, we know that Undead Labs was rumoured to be making a new Dead Rising together with Capcom. Whatever they are actually doing, I think we'll have to wait for it.
But third parties will also be at the Xbox Showcase, it has already been confirmed. Given Microsoft's Japanese offensive in recent years, they might have something going on with Capcom, Sega or maybe Square Enix. Many people probably also hope that they do something with Team Ninja, which was previously associated with Xbox, or maybe FromSoftware, but it feels unlikely.
However, I am convinced that we will see Cyberpunk 2077 in all its glory running on the Xbox Series X. It has also been rumoured that Microsoft has tried to get back the marketing rights for the Call of Duty series, which was previously associated with the Xbox 360. Considering that there will be a new game in the series this autumn and that the latest games in the series were launched in October - it means that we are currently three months away from a new Call of Duty without even knowing what it's called or which franchise it will be based on. It could possibly mean that Activision will actually announce Call of Duty at Microsoft's event and has saved it for this purpose, but don't hold your breath. It has also been rumoured that Microsoft and Bungie could be about to start a collaboration for the Destiny series and their upcoming game, something that would surely delight fans given the history between the two companies.
Finally, some of the games we saw during the somewhat criticized May Xbox event were actually really promising. This mainly included Scorn, The Ascent and The Medium. There's a good chance that all three will show up next week, and summing up, it seems like there will be a lot to see on Thursday.