Microsoft said it will bring its new cloud-based game streaming service to Windows 10 PCs, as part of a flurry of other announcements revealed at this year’s X019 show.
Project xCloud had the most running time of anything else at Thursday’s show, showing the company’s investment in the new technology. The service is coming to Windows 10 PCs next year, and Microsoft is currently working to expand the territories in and platforms on which it’s available.
Microsoft last month began rolling out a public preview for xCloud, which lets users play high-powered Xbox games such as Halo on their smartphones. The service is powered by Microsoft’s Azure data centers on specially-designed servers built from Xbox components. Users don’t need to own any games, or even a console, to use xCloud.
Microsoft also revealed today that it is expanding the number of titles that are compatible with xCloud to more than 50, with Bandai Namco’s Tekken 7 and Capcom’s Devil May Cry V as big standouts in the lineup.
“With 2.6 billion gamers in the world, Project xCloud is our dream of bringing gaming everywhere,” said Catherine Gluckstein, general manager of Project xCloud.
You’ll also be able to stream your library from the Xbox Games Pass next year, as well as use a broader assortment of Bluetooth-enabled game controllers with xCloud. Notably, and somewhat oddly, this includes the Sony Dual Shock, so next year you’ll be able to play Xbox games with a PS4 controller if you so choose.
One interesting piece of information about the xCloud technology was almost lost in the shuffle. Ken Moss, CTO at Electronic Arts, came on stage to announce that EA’s Madden NFL 2020 football game is available for play on xCloud as of today. Apparently, any game you’re currently building for the Xbox platform is automatically compatible with xCloud from the jump; Moss mentioned that it took almost no time to move the new Madden onto the xCloud servers and boot it up. EA will bring three more games from its library to xCloud in the next few months, and Moss made a point of mentioning that they won’t necessarily be sports games.
This year’s holiday season is the last for Microsoft’s Xbox One, before 2020 marks the debut of the company’s next-generation system Project Scarlett. The X019 show, broadcast live from the Copper Box Arena in London, marked the Xbox One’s swan song, alongside a handful of other big announcements for Microsoft’s gaming division. This included a new batch of titles for the Xbox Game Pass subscription service, a new Xbox exclusive from the creators of Life is Strange, and the debut of Obsidian Entertainment’s first game as a Microsoft subsidiary.
Microsoft also announced that the Age of Empires series, like Halo, now has a dedicated studio in Washington state. Led by Microsoft general manager Shannon Loftis, the new studio is called World’s Edge, and is currently working on Age of Empires IV. A remastered version of Age of Empires II, called its Definitive Edition, is available as of today on Windows 10 and Steam, and is free with either version of the Xbox Game Pass.
Dontnod, the France-based creators of the popular narrative game Life is Strange, is producing a brand new title for Xbox One called Tell Me Why, which made its world premiere at X019 as a short trailer. Microsoft claims this is the first video game on the market with an openly transgender protagonist. You play as a young trans man who’s dealing with the fallout from an unnamed tragedy involving his mother, as well as the complicated relationship he had with her and how that’s affecting his relationship with his twin sister.
The Xbox Game Pass service is officially getting updated for November with Rage 2, Remnant: From the Ashes, The Talos Principle, Age of Wonders: Planetfall, and Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition. Next month, it gets Witcher III: Dark Hunt, Darksiders III, the new 4K edition of Halo: Reach, My Friend Pedro, Life is Strange 2, and The Red Stringers Club.
Interestingly, there had to have been a Microsoft talent scout at this year’s MIX party at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle, as a lot of the MIX games will be arriving on the Xbox and playable via the Pass. This includes Seattle-made games like Skatebird, as well as previously-obscure independent productions like Haven and She Dreams Elsewhere.
Other announcements from the show include:
- Minecraft Dungeons is coming out in April 2020. It’s confirmed to be a procedurally-generated dungeon crawler for at least three players, without character classes; instead, “you are what you wear.” It’s heavily influenced by classic action-RPGs like Diablo, and is probably going to take over a measurable fraction of the world next year.
- Louise O’Connor, 20-year veteran at Microsoft studio Rare, opened the show with the world premiere of (a trailer for) the brand-new game Everwild. It’s being internally developed at Rare by a separate team from the Sea of Thieves.
- Obsidian Entertainment will follow up last month’s successful debut of The Outer Worlds with an Xbox exclusive in spring 2020. Unusually for Obsidian, it isn’t actually an RPG. Instead, it’s a co-op survival game called Grounded, where players take on the role of kids who’ve been shrunk to a microscopic size. You fight ants, hunt bugs for food, craft shelter, and wield bows and spears, with the tagline “Go big, or never go home.” It’ll be coming to the Xbox Game Pass at launch.
- Square Enix is bringing the last 22 years of mainline Final Fantasy games to the Xbox Game Pass next year, including VII, VIII, iX, X, X-2, XII, XIII, XIII-2, Lightning Returns, and XV. They’ll also be joined by the HD editions of the first two Kingdom Hearts games, enabling Xbox owners to play through the entire series on a single platform.
- Sega’s popular Yakuza series of action-RPGs, set among the crime families of a fictionalized version of Tokyo, is being ported to the Xbox for the first time. Yakuza 0, Yakuza Kiwami, and Yakuza Kiwami 2 will all arrive on the Xbox in 2020, and all three will be available via Game Pass. Despite the naming scheme, 0 is a prequel, while the two Kiwami games are high-end remakes of the PS2 games that started the franchise.
- Crazy Racing KartRider is a popular Korean free-to-play racing game that just celebrated its 15th anniversary, with a player population of around 300 million. It’s coming to Xbox One at some point in 2020 under the name Kartrider: Drift, with crossplay enabled between the PC and Xbox populations and keyboard support. Kartrider will still be free-to-play on Xbox One, though you’ll need Xbox Live Gold in order to compete with other players.
- Ninja Theory’s 4-vs.-4 team-based shooter is officially releasing on March 24, 2020, on Xbox One and Steam, with crossplay between platforms. It’s currently in a technical alpha testing phase, with a closed beta coming soon. A new character named Cass debuted at X019, a hybrid character with powerful cybernetic legs that let her make big jumps.
- inXile’s Wasteland 3 closed out the show with a brand-new trailer, dealing with the new game’s setting: more than 100 years after the bombs dropped in 1987, people scramble for survival in what used to be Colorado. This time out, instead of being deputized agents of the Desert Rangers, your team of post-apocalyptic adventurers are part of a revolutionary movement against a harsh patriarch who has the mountains under an iron fist. Studio head Brian Fargo says the new game, thanks to Microsoft “turning on the juice,” features 3 million words of dialogue, a big visual upgrade over the crowd-funded Wasteland 2, and a soundtrack created by Mary Ramos, who worked on every Quentin Tarantino film as a music supervisor.
- Boston-based developers the Molasses Flood are bringing their sophomore project to Xbox in 2020. The new game is a co-op 4-player survival/crafting game called Drake Hollow, where you play as kids sucked into an alternate dimension. There, they quickly befriend some of the local fauna, and must use improvised weapons and structures to defend themselves from the monsters in the woods.
- The British indie developer Variable State (Virginia) is bringing a new game, Last Stop, to Xbox. Set in London, Last Stop is a multiple-perspective adventure game about what happens when three students investigate an odd man in their neighborhood who they suspect might be a serial killer. Body-switching and bizarre detective work ensues.
- Raw Fury, based in Sweden, premiered a new game called West of Dead, a supernatural Western shooter narrated by Ron Perlman (Hellboy, Pacific Rim). A gunslinger with a flaming skull for a head fights the restless dead in the Wild West.