Checkpoint #4: The E3 Report

Xbox Project Scarlett, Breath of the Wild 2, Doom Eternal, Watch Dogs Legion, Marvel's Avengers and more

Welcome to another week of Checkpoint. For this week’s issue, we’re reporting on the highlights from all the major E3 shows. Back to our usual format — whatever that means! — next week.

Giveaway Alert — Call of Duty: Black Ops 4

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There’s a lot of news to digest, so enough fluffing on about freebies. This issue is long enough that it may be truncated in Gmail, but you can click here to read in your browser if you prefer. Onward:

Microsoft: A new Xbox generation, Game Pass, Elite controller Series 2 + more

Xbox Project Scarlett

Big ticket items first: Microsoft announced that the upcoming next-generation Xbox, codenamed Project Scarlett, will be hitting stores in time for holiday 2020 — we’ve got about 18 months to knock off our current-gen backlogs.

According to what we’ve heard of Scarlett’s specs, it’ll make your new-ish Xbox One X look quaint. Scarlett will support 8K resolution — which is, to say the least, quite a long-term bit of future-proofing. It’ll have a solid state drive, real-time ray tracing, a CPU four times more powerful than the one in the X, and support up to 120 frames per second.

Naturally, Scarlett will support the xCloud streaming service.

We should hear a lot more at E3 2020. In the meantime, here’s Polygon with everything we know about the console, trailers, ray-tracing demos and more.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

We knew that Game Pass was going to be extended to PC, but Microsoft delivered an unexpected home run for player value at this event.

Microsoft announced Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which brings Xbox Live Gold ($9.99), Xbox Game Pass ($9.99), and the new Game Pass for PC ($9.99) into one bundle at $14.99 per month.

It seems Microsoft is willing to take a hit to revenue to continue executing on the platform strategy that has been shaping up under Satya Nadella and Phil Spencer. If you’re paying for Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass already, you’ll be saving money and getting more for it.

When you switch over or sign up, you’ll get your first month for a special introductory price of $1. Get all the details at The Verge.

Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2

Available in November, the popular Xbox Elite controller is getting an update.

The Series 2 will feature Bluetooth, an internal rechargeable battery pack that offers 40 hours of play per charge, and adjustable tension on the thumbsticks.

The adjustable triggers now have three levels of depth, up from two. And the rubber grips now wrap all the way around the device to stop them from falling off, as they sometimes did on the original.

Start saving your US$180, and in the meantime, learn more at Windows Central.

Project xCloud: October public beta

Project xCloud is Microsoft’s game streaming service. All eyes have been on Google Stadia in recent weeks, and we didn’t hear a lot of new info about xCloud at E3, but we do know one thing: we’ll all get to try it out in October, when it goes into preview.

Backwards compatibility

There were a couple of important announcements around backwards compatibility this year.

Firstly: Microsoft is going to great lengths to ensure that anything you can play on the Xbox One today will be playable on Scarlett. That means Xbox One games, and it also means 360 and original Xbox games that have been made backwards-compatible for Xbox One.

Unfortunately, that list isn’t going to grow much from now on. Microsoft announced that its next batch of backwards compatibility releases will be its last. Check out the list of releases on Kotaku. If you’ve been hanging out for a port and it’s not listed there, I’m sorry to say that you won’t be getting it at all.

Right now Microsoft’s most interesting work is happening on the hardware and platform side. There were a bunch of exciting game reveals that shouldn’t be missed, though:

Those are the big ones. A few other notables:

Bethesda: Doom Eternal, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, Orion cloud gaming platform + more

Bethesda announced Orion, a software platform that apparently improves cloud gaming performance dramatically. Orion aims to give players on slower internet connections a better quality streaming experience.

Orion is not a streaming service in itself, as Google Stadia and Microsoft’s xCloud are. Instead, it’s a library that can be implemented by game publishers to enhance performance on services like Stadia and xCloud.

A beta test will be available later this year. More details at The Verge.

Devolver Digital: Fall Guys, Bootleg, Carrion + more

Devolver Digital had a bunch of new games to announce. Most of the coverage focuses on the shtick, so let’s focus on the real:

Ubisoft: Watch Dogs Legion, Ghost Recon Breakpoint, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey updates + more

Square Enix: Marvel’s Avengers, Final Fantasy + more

Square Enix’s main reveal involved its long-awaited Marvel game, now officially titled Marvel’s AvengersIt’s coming to PC, Xbox, PS4 and Stadia on May 15, 2020, and there’s a trailer. The game will take place outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Final Fantasy

New titles

Nintendo Direct: Breath of the Wild sequel, Luigi’s Mansion 3, Cadence of Hyrule + more

A sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is in development. We saw a trailer and we know the game will come to Switch (no surprises), but there’s no release date in sight yet.

The game may or may not feature co-op or a playable Zelda — the game’s producer is being particularly cryptic on these points. Tellingly so? You decide. The sequel uses the same world and many of the same art assets as the original, but has a distinct horror vibe to it.

Luigi’s Mansion 3 is heading to the Switch and loads of new details were revealed during the Direct. Luigi is on vacation, and the mansion in this game is the hotel. Luigi’s gooey friend can be summoned to help you get past obstacles, and can be controlled in co-op (hey, it beats being a hat).

The game will also feature new multiplayer modes, and launch sometime in 2019, though no specific release date was announced.

Pokémon Sword and Shield came up, but we didn’t hear a lot about it that The Pokémon Company hadn’t already covered last week.

PC Gaming Show: Borderlands 3, Baldur’s Gate 3, Evil Genius 2 + more

The PC Gaming Show is a big one, with news from many organizations, so let’s crunch through the highlights.

EA Play Recap: Star Wars Jedi, Sims 4, EA Originals

We covered EA’s event in last week’s edition, but to ensure this E3 report is complete, here are the highlights:

That’s it for this edition.

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- Flob