It’s finally here. My co-writer Nicholas and I have been giving E3 2018 predictions on different companies over the last few weeks. Now we’ve hit the first of “the big three”, the console manufacturers. It’s time for us to go over our Xbox E3 2018 predictions. For this talk, we had to bring in our friend Eric Jackson, a member of our TiC affiliate program through the Basement Radio Arcade Podcast and the Gaming Perspective. We’ve put together a general list of topics and games and all pitched in our thoughts. Let’s dive in!

 

Third-Party Presence 

Sam: So, let’s get this kind of talk out of the way first. I think it’s fair to say Xbox will have a lot of third-parties on stage this year, with lots of big marketing deals. We already know they’ll have Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and Cyberpunk 2077 seems a safe bet, as does Bethesda’s rumored Starfield. If Splinter Cell is revealed this year (as we all think it will be) then there’s a good chance we’ll get a teaser for that as well. I’ll go a step further here and say we’ll see at least one third-party game end up on Game Pass. Maybe it’ll be Shadow of the Tomb Raider, maybe it’ll be something else, but a big-third party game launching day and date on Game Pass would be huge for Xbox. If Sea of Thieves was any indicator, Game Pass is actually helping game sales and third-party companies are going to take note of that.

Eric: I concur that they’ll have a big third-party presence. With a lot of their big first-party guns not ready yet, they definitely need to build hype and using big, showpiece third-party titles like Cyberpunk 2077 is the smart thing to do. 

Nicholas: Strong third-party content makes sense for a lot of reasons, as you guys have stated. I also think we’ll see a variety of Japanese titles, like Nier: Automata. Even if they don’t get individual stage time, a sizzle reel-style approach could work.

Major Indie Titles 

Samuel: Microsoft has done better over the last few years showing off indie games, whether they are full exlusives, timed or entries into the Game Preview program. This year, it’s safe to say we’ll see three big indie games at the very minimum: Ashen, The Last Night and Below. 

Nicholas: Below could appeal to the fans of isometric-style games, though that’s definitely going to be a difficult game to show without using up a lot of time. Still, since it’s come out of hibernation after all this time, showing will definitely aid awareness of the title.

Eric: We definitely need to see more of these games, particularly The Last Night and Ashen. Ashen looks like it’ll be a lot of fun and The Last Night simply looks gorgeous. I think some of them might drop in July or August, though if necessary I can see them getting pushed back to December or January next year. 

Forza Horizon 4

Samuel: So, Forza Horizon 4. While it was technically leaked (if you believe the ResetEra leaks earlier this year) it definitely seems like a given that it’ll show up. Gamers have been asking for a racing title set in Tokyo and I think they’ll get it. Tokyo is a beautiful setting, with a fantastic vibe that Playground Games can use, like something straight out of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Now, Forza games generally release in September, which is looking a little packed this year. That said, there’s a lack of racing titles this year, so with a strong marketing push it’ll do fine. I also think this will be one of the first things shown, if not the game that kicks off the show.

Nicholas: There’s no doubt that Forza Horizon 3 was a racing masterpiece, so Playground Games can build on that. I expect this to be one of the big showpieces for the Xbox conference.

Eric: Forza Horizon 3 was phenomenal but they don’t want to run the risk of the series getting stale. A fresh coat of paint like being set in Tokyo will do wonders, especially if they add features like police chases, which would really be appreciated.

Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Samuel: Despite being a smaller title, Ori and the Blind Forest was an incredible game, that looked fantastic and had challenging gameplay. Ori and the Will of the Wisps will be gorgeous, especially at 4K with HDR on the Xbox One X. I think we’ll see a gameplay demo or trailer, followed by a Spring 2019 release date.

Nicholas: It’s almost guaranteed to be there, with a gameplay footage demo and a release window of somewhere in Spring-Summer 2019.

Eric: Ori and the Blind Forest was a masterpiece, so I cannot wait to see what Moon Studios does with the sequel. There’s no doubt it’ll be absolutely beautiful and I definitely see it dropping anywhere from January to March next year.

Halo 6

Samuel: Now we come on one of, if not the biggest game we’ll see from Xbox at E3 2018. 343 Industries (343i) has been working on what is presumably Halo 6 for a long time now. In fact, if we were going by the standard of past Halo games (which were on a three-year cycle) then it’d be due out this fall. That said, I have trouble believing it comes out this year, especially since 343i is focusing on fixing Halo: The Master Chief Collection. A release date of early fall in 2019, say late September or early October, would work quite well. That’s more than enough time for a beta or two, extra development time and a huge marketing campaign, which I think will focus on the campaign, to address concerns caused by Halo 5: Guardians.

Nicholas: While I think Halo 6 is a shoe-in to show up, I’m not sure we get more than a teaser. We might, don’t get me wrong but I think it’s possible they might just tease the next Halo game and do a proper blowout next year, closer to when it’ll release. I also think a beta coming out around the holiday season is very likely.

Eric: This’ll have a big presence, with plenty of stage time. They need introduce the setting for this entry and tie in all the events that are leading up to everything going down. I’m actually wondering if they might be willing to release Halo 6 in the beginning of the year. While it would miss the holiday rush, it would also dominate any month in the first half of the year, giving it plenty of room to make noise. Whatever it is they do with this game, it’s going to be big and it needs to be ambitious. I have no idea how they’d do this but maybe even bringing the multiplayer and campaign closer together, with some sort of crossover mode. I also think that while Halo is on stage, 343i might take some time to announce Halo: Reach remastered coming to the Master Chief Collection. After all, it’s the only mainline shooter that still isn’t a part of the collection, and that kind of fanservice would bring some goodwill.

Xbox Roadmap – What Far-out Games Do They Show?

Eric: So, here’s the kicker everyone is wondering about. As far as I’m concerned, they have to have a roadmap, at least of some form. I’m not asking them to go crazy and show every planned game over the next four years, but gamers want to see the next big thing. Right now, Xbox doesn’t have the option of keeping everything close to their chest. I think we need to see at least two big unannounced titles: one new AAA IP and one AAA revival, like Fable or Perfect Dark. Two big new games should be enough to show gamers that they are listening They simply can’t hound commitment enough, as far as the core gaming audience is concerned. Everybody’s looking for the next big thing, so by ending the show on a Fable teaser or the reveal of a big new IP, they’ll close things out with something fresh on gamer’s minds. 

Nicholas: They’ve got to show at least one big thing and I think Fable makes the most sense. Playground Games is a respected studio and according to the leaks earlier this year, they’re the ones working on the Fable reboot. I’d be down for just a CGI teaser confirming that it’s in production. On the other hand Perfect Dark isn’t required to be there but I’m definitely not going to complain if it does show up.  

Samuel: I’ll sign off on everything you guys are saying. They don’t have to show everything in the pipeline, two big titles should be enough to put the worries of most gamers at ease. Either Fable or Perfect Dark alongside a new IP and I’ll be happy.

Rumors/Crazy Predictions/Assorted ‘Smaller’ Topics

Samuel: There’s been a rumor some time that the game Electric Square is making for Xbox is some sort of Forza kart racing title. While I have reason to believe it’s true, with Forza Horizon 4 taking center stage, would they show Forza Kart (theoretical title) this year? I don’t think so, unless it’s extremely different. There’s also the rumors that Splash Damage is working on a Gears of War spinoff title. Splash Damage worked alongside The Coalition on Gears of War: Ultimate Edition and Gears of War 4, so giving them a shot at their own Gears title makes sense and I think we’ll see that this year, with a release date sometime in 2019. The more I’ve had a chance to think about it, I also believe it’s possible we’ll see Xbox Live Gold drop the paid requirement to play multiplayer online, since Xbox appears to be going all-in on Game Pass right now. The last thing on my mind (and I freely admit it’s a bit out there) is some sort of Microsoft-Nintendo collaboration. They’ve been arm-in-arm over Minecraft and crossplay, so maybe they’ll come to an agreement and we’ll see something crazy like Banjo in Smash Bros.

Nicholas: Phil Spencer has reiterated how he wants Japanese games on the Xbox platform, so in addition to Nier: Automata, I think we’ll see other titles like Yakuza or even Persona come on over to Xbox. I also think they’ll give Sea of Thieves a quick presence on stage, maybe recapping how the game has grown and showing a quick glimpse of the next expansion. While Splash Damage might show up with the rumored Gears spinoff, The Coalition definitely isn’t going to be there, as I think it’s fair to say Gears of War 5 is a next-gen title. We’re also practically guaranteed to see the Elite Controller 2, since it leaked earlier this year.

Eric: Any kind of Forza Kart title would be a tough nut to crack, as it would need to be different than Mario Kart or Sonic Racing, else it runs the risk of being “just another Kart game.” That said, I’ll keep an open mind, I’m willing to let them sell me on it. It’s also possible we’ll see a second show after E3, maybe at Gamescom or later in the year. If that happens, I can see Forza Horizon 4 taking the spotlight at E3 2018 and a Forza Kart game revealed later in the year.  I also agree with Sam, free multiplayer on Xbox Live makes sense and it addresses concerns about Windows 10 gamers getting to play on Xbox Live without a Gold subscription. While I don’t know if it’ll show up this year, I can’t help but wonder about ReCore 2 possibly being cooked up, maybe even by a new team like Moon Studio. There’s also been a lot of talks around Sega and Microsoft possibly working together, so maybe we’ll see some older Sega IPs showing up in some fashion, whether it’s select remastered digital titles or even full-on revivals. Finally, I’m aware people aren’t the biggest fans of third-party exclusivity, but seeing something like Ninja Gaiden revived would be awesome.

Summary

So, that’s our Xbox E3 2018 predictions. Forza Horizon 4, Halo 6, a Fable tease, a Gears-spinoff, a huge third-party presence and a few other things should round out a strong show. If you agree or disagree we’d love to hear from you.

For our previous E3 2018 predictions, check out our thoughts here: