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Sam Loveridge

All pressure was on for the Xbox Games Showcase but Microsoft really delivered

Fable 4

The Xbox Games Showcase 2023 had everything riding on it. Coming off the back of a disappointing Redfall launch and a long run of silence around first-part releases out of Xbox Game Studios, fans and critics alike were stacking up the odds against Microsoft Gaming being able to deliver a showcase that would satisfy. But, with two solid hours of back-to-back announcements (and a major info drop for Starfield), Xbox did everything right. 

The publisher promised a double-bill of updates and reveals for upcoming Xbox Series X games and Game Pass wonders, coupled with a gloriously in-depth look at Starfield ahead of its September release. The first half – aka the Xbox Games Showcase itself – was full of non-stop surprises. We got a fresh look at Xbox exclusives we've not heard much about for years, alongside new games from studios that have been silent since their acquisition by Microsoft. Suddenly, Microsoft's collection of Xbox Games Studios has an incredibly enviable slate.

First-party pizazz

(Image credit: Obsidian)

Firstly, we got release windows for Avowed and Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2. And although both are set to drop in 2024, getting a better sense of what Avowed was all about was much needed. It was a game we'd not heard about since 2020, after all, and the upcoming Obsidian game is certainly high up the list of most anticipated Xbox titles. Senua's Saga continues to look like the best-looking game Xbox has in its line-up too – I still can't get over how realistic the excellent Melina Juergens' mo-capped face looks rendered in Unreal Engine 5.

Speaking of faces though, I did not have seeing Richard Ayoade's face pop up on my Xbox Games Showcase bingo card. Ayoade's debut as vegetable-loving Dave the Giant was such a strong opener, particularly when you consider just how feral the Fable community has been for an update on this title. The trailer was an immediate reassurance that despite Playground Games now being at the helm, rather than series creators at Lionhead (the studio sadly shuttered in 2016), none of the British slapstick comedy that made the original series so iconic has been lost. Any trailer that makes use of the word 'wanker' on a global stage gets high praise from me.

(Image credit: Playground Games)

But, British idioms aside, just that trio of updates alone was such an agenda-setter for the show. They're three top Xbox exclusives that have been in the works for so many years but without any sense of public-facing progress, and that's been a big criticism of Microsoft of late. Those updates, along with an October 10 release date for Forza Motorsport, showed that Microsoft is listening and understands that updates for these titles were long overdue. 

However, Microsoft didn't stop there and also gave us the reveal of three new games from Xbox Games Studios developers. Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024 is everything I want from the next Flight Sim, with missions like remote cargo drops and search and rescues to complement its naturally zen gameplay. South of Midnight was an impressive reveal from We Happy Few developer Compulsion Games, the second drop of the entire showcase and one which easily arrested attention. The visually-striking Clockwork Revolution closed out the show, with a look at the time-bending steampunk RPG gameplay from Wasteland 3 developer inXile Entertainment before Xbox boss Phil Spencer took to the stage to wrap everything up. 

(Image credit: Complusion Games)

The icing on the cake? Spencer revealed that there are Xbox Series X restocks on the way, and that a new black 1TB Xbox Series S in direct response to fan feedback. It's a beautiful hardware update, and one that directly answers concerns about the ballooning install size of video games in the modern era.

Winning partnerships

(Image credit: Ubisoft)

Microsoft almost didn't need sections for third-party games, and yet somehow it just made the entire package all the stronger. Microsoft leant on its partnerships well, with Keanu Reeves popping up to showcase Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty gameplay – and that all-important release date. It wasn't quite the 'breathtaking' moment from the 2019 Xbox showcase, but it had the same vibe. 

The showcase also had the full reveal of Ubisoft's new Star Wars Outlaws, the first open-world Star Wars which will be set during the time of the original trilogy – an epic trailer that teases a gameplay walkthrough to come at the Ubisoft Forward just 24 hours later. 

(Image credit: Dontnod)

But, the announcements just kept on coming. No chatter, no hyperbole, just reveal after reveal, including showings for a swathe of Persona games, a new Capcom game called Path of the Goddess, a new title from the Banner Saga devs, and an awesome-looking climbing game from the Spiritfarer dev. And that really is just to name a few. 

The Xbox Games Showcase was sublime, and it all hung off the successful focus on Microsoft's own games. This is a Microsoft back on form and I can't wait to see what the next 18 months mean when these games start dropping on Xbox Series X. 

Here's everything announced at the Xbox Games Showcase.

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