Will Microsoft play its full hand, or keep its cards close to its chest during this year’s Xbox E3 press conference?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for gamers, with E3 right around the corner! Before the deluge of official information hits, we’re here to deliver our predictions for Microsoft’s Xbox press conference. We’ll take a look at both rumours and facts to see what’s incoming for the Xbox platform—there are always some surprises in store!

E3 2019: Xbox Predictions

  1. Gear 5 release date and an in-depth look at gameplay
  2. Fable 4 makes an appearance
  3. Splinter Cell sneaks onto the Xbox E3 stage
  4. Long lost RARE-ities make an appearance
  5. Next-Gen Xbox hardware cometh
  6. Halo Infinite becomes the prime focus for next-gen Xbox hardware launch

1

Gears 5 release date and an in-depth look at gameplay

We’ll start off with an ultra-safe prediction: you can bet your Brumak that Gears 5 will have a massive presence on Xbox’s stage. The dramatic ending to Gears of War 4 left me anticipating the sequel to see where the story leads us next. It’s time to rev up those lancers as Kait Diaz and the rest of the crew make their return for Gears 5. Last year at E3 we got a brief look at gameplay, along with an emotionally-charged story trailer that has everyone questioning Kait’s loyalty to JD and the rest of the group.

Check out the Gears 5 announcement trailer below:

I fully expect Gears 5’s “2019” release window to change to a locked-down date this fall. It’s also a safe bet that the game will be playable at the show, as gory and glorious as ever.

You might also like: What is E3? A Primer to Gaming’s Biggest Event of the Year

2

Fable 4 makes an appearance

Microsoft has acknowledged Forza Horizon’s developer Playground Games has been hard at work on a big title. You might think, “They’re probably working on the next Forza Horizon,” but that may not be the case. Last year, Playground Games started hiring for a “AAA open world RPG,” which doesn’t sound like Forza Horizon at all.

Aaron Greenberg, Xbox Games Marketing General Manager, has stated that the team is working on a “big, big project.” All we know is the title will be an Xbox exclusive, and this could be the open-world RPG the studio is hiring for. Much of this fits the bill for the next Fable game, following the closure of Lionhead Studios. Sources speaking to Eurogamer say the game is, indeed, a new Fable entry.

If Playground Games is working on the next Fable, this would be the perfect time to introduce the title alongside new next-gen hardware. I hope this one is true because I can’t wait to return to adventuring in Albion!

3

Splinter Cell sneaks onto the Xbox E3 stage

I was surprised the next Splinter Cell installment was a no-show at Ubisoft‘s E3 2018 conference. In many respects, it felt like the announcement was imminent. Perhaps the biggest indication was the Ghost Recon Wildlands Season 2 content that featured a cameo from Sam Fisher himself. The real clincher for me was the return of Michael Ironside, the original voice actor for Fisher. During a reboot of the series in 2013, the voice actors were changed, shocking many fans. In 2018, Ironside made an appearance on Inside Xbox to discuss his role in the Wildlands Season 2 DLC. He spoke in-depth about his role as Fisher and showed off parts of the upcoming Ghost Recon content. Most interesting, Ironside went into detail about the character’s roots, proclaiming, “I never left. I am Sam Fisher.”

It seemed the world was primed for Fisher to make his big return last year, but it never happened. It could be possible that the Splinter Cell series is being held back for next-gen consoles. Previously, the series has been a technical showcase for Microsoft’s consoles, dating back to the original Xbox in 2002. The game’s excellent shadow and lighting detail helped the console stand apart from the competition. Could the series do the same thing for a next-gen Xbox console at E3 this year? I think the chances are pretty good. As a massive Splinter Cell fan, my fingers and toes are crossed. Please, Ubisoft—make this happen!

4

Long lost RARE-ities make an appearance

It’s well known Microsoft is sitting on a powder keg of explosive IPs from their acquisition of Rare in 2002 with big franchises like Banjo Kazooie, Perfect Dark, Conker’s Bad Fur and Jet Force Gemini, to name a few. Some of these appeared briefly during the Xbox 360 era, but they are long past due for a return. We’ve seen brief flashes of these classics making a comeback with Rare Replay and last year’s teaser announcement of Battletoads, but it’s time for a more prominent return. Lately, Microsoft has acquired many new development studios, so perhaps one of those studios is handling a classic Rare IP that we will see on stage this year.

5

Next-Gen Xbox hardware cometh

Last year at E3 2018, Microsoft confirmed that next-generation Xbox hardware was in development. Since then, rumours have been swirling that we will see the Xbox One successor during this year’s presser—and it makes total sense. Sony recently spilled the beans on what to expect with the PS5, so what better way for Microsoft to respond than by giving us the lowdown on their next-gen hardware? Reports are saying the hardware could come in two flavours: one focused on power, codenamed Anaconda, and the other on value, with a reliance on streaming content known as Lockhart. Throw in Microsoft’s highly touted Project xCloud streaming technology and it paints a clear picture of a very exciting roadmap unveiled at this year’s E3.

6

Halo Infinite becomes the prime focus for next-gen Xbox hardware launch

Microsoft came out full force last year with the first look at Halo Infinite. The details around the game are still sparse, but we do know the title is a sequel to Halo 5: Guardians and a “spiritual reboot” for the franchise. This entry seems to be moving in a new direction with open world elements appearing in the trailer. There are also rumblings of a battle royale mode, similar to Fortnite or Apex Legends.

Check out E3 2018’s Halo Infinite trailer:

Another confirmed detail that has me very excited is Infinite will shift the story focus back to Master Chief. Chief and Spartan Locke shared a lot of screen time in Halo 5, a design choice that many fans were not keen on. Worry no more, Chief is back and he is the focus. Much of the trailer we saw last year was a tech demo around the new Slipspace game engine, flexing its muscle in a big way. We haven’t seen the actual game yet, but I think come June we’ll have our socks knocked off with more concrete details. If Microsoft is positioning Infinite as a next-generation experience, it could act as the “tip of the spear” in showing off the rumoured Xbox next-gen hardware coming down the pipeline.

I hope you enjoyed my predictions for this year’s E3, looking forward to seeing many of these come true. Even if they don’t quite pan out, part of the fun is seeing all the surprises, so have a great E3!

Be sure to check out Walmart Canada’s video game section for all Xbox One, PS4, PC and Nintendo Switch titles!

See also: What We’re Most Excited About This E3

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Matthew has been involved in all things gaming since the 8-bit era. He is a veteran of the video game and tech industry who has been passionate about technology and gaming for over 20 years. He has been covering interactive entertainment and esports on the web, in video series, podcasts and on international television. Follow Matthew’s gaming adventures on twitter and instagram @dapper_tux and join in on the fun!