Microsoft has shared a first look at the next Halo video game at its E3 Xbox press conference. But Halo Infinite which will complete the second trilogy in the blockbuster series was only briefly teased. More time was given to other exclusives, including fresh Gears of War and Forza titles, as well as games in new franchises. Microsoft also revealed it had bought several indie studios including two of the UK’s leading developers. The firm had previously acknowledged that it needed to do more to build up its range of first-party content.
A total of 18 “console launch” exclusives were announced at the Los Angeles event. “Microsoft gets a solid A,” commented Michael Pachter, who follows the video games industry for Wedbush Securities. “Nice to see them investing in more first-party gaming, and Game Pass is looking like a better and better offer,” added Stephen Totilo, the editor-in-chief of games news website Kotaku.Microsoft’s rivals Sony and Nintendo will preview their own titles later in the week.Sales of the Xbox One lag far behind those of Sony’s console, which has made it a challenge for Microsoft to convince third-party publishers to restrict games to its platforms.
At the end of March, 39.1 million Xbox Ones had been purchased worldwide encompassing all versions of the games machine according to market research firm IHS Markit. By contrast, 76.6 million units of the various PlayStation 4 consoles had been bought. But Microsoft went into E3 with two advantages. The Xbox One X released last November boasts more powerful graphics hardware than the PlayStation 4 Pro. And Microsoft offers Xbox Game Pass a Netflix-like subscription service that offers access to more than 100 titles including new first-party releases.
The firm revealed that the service would soon benefit from FastStart a new facility that will use “machine learning techniques” to speed up game-loading times, although it did not explain how. In addition, it revealed several third-party big-name releases from the past – including enhanced editions of Fallout 4 and Tom Clancy’s The Division – were being added.New content was also announced for the Xbox and Windows exclusive Sea of Thieves. The pirate-themed title has previously been described by Microsoft as its “fastest-selling first-party new intellectual property” of the current generation of hardware.
The DLC (downloadable content) pack Cursed Sails is due in July, and Forsaken Shores in September. And the audience cheered the reveal of Gears 5 the latest entry in Microsoft’s third-person military sci-fi shooter Gears of War series. The trailer appeared to place a female protagonist at its centre for the first time.