E3 2018 can be framed as both an opportunity and a challenge for Microsoft and the Xbox One. The Xbox One X, released in late 2017, has enabled Microsoft to market from a meaningful position of strength for the first time since 2013. The better Microsoft's line-up of games at E3, the better the Xbox will perform. But acknowledging the necessity of a strong line-up of exclusive AAA titles isn't the same as delivering it. The Xbox One X outselling the PS4 Pro is a step forward, but if Microsoft's goal is to start making up lost ground on the PS4 overall then more Halo and Gears of War may only be a good start. E3 2018 is Microsoft's chance to prove its resolve.
The Xbox E3 Briefing will air live on Sunday, June 10, at 1:00 pm PT via the official Mixer broadcast, Twitch, Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook. An official calendar link on the Xbox website shows that the event is planned to last two hours, though that might be wishful thinking -- even the Xbox One X reveal event didn't last two hours. This year Microsoft will also be hosting a second livestream event, a "Live at E3" edition of Inside Xbox, on Monday, June 11, at 3:00 pm PT. The Inside Xbox stream will feature more announcements, as well as interviews and game demos.
Compared to other announced press conferences the Xbox event has surprisingly few confirmed plans, but there are plenty of rumors to make up for it. Here's a summary of the news and rumors currently revolving around Xbox's E3 2018 plans.
The list of officially confirmed games planned to be shown by Microsoft during E3 is short. The company very clearly wants to surprise Xbox fans who will be attending E3 or watching from home. Forza Horizon 4 will be announced at E3, according to an Xbox Spain representative who let the news slip by accident. Forza Motorsport and Forza Horizon have alternated releases each year, so the announcement isn't much of a surprise. But it goes to show how tightlipped Microsoft has been this year.
Also confirmed for E3 is Sea of Thieves, though it may not be featured during the Xbox press conference itself. Rare will be teasing some of its upcoming plans for both major and weekly Sea of Thieves events. But since it has been several months since Sea of Thieves' launch, Microsoft may push the reveal to the Inside Xbox livestream on Monday.
To make up for the short list of confirmed games, there are myriad rumors regarding potential Xbox announcements at E3. Regarding exclusive titles, Crackdown 3 is an obvious choice. It's still slated for 2018, after all. Minecraft is always a crowd pleaser and could have new content in the works. And Age of Empires 4 was announced last year, so it may be in a playable state by now.
Gears of War is a hotbed for rumors, with up to three different games potentially being announced at E3 this year: Gears of War 5, a Gears of War Battle Royale, and a real-time strategy Gears of War.
Playground Games, developers of Forza Horizon and now rumored to be a first-party Microsoft studio, opened a second studio to create an open world RPG in 2017 -- rumored to be the next Fable. An E3 announcement seems unlikely, but the rumor lingers.
And then there's Halo. Halo 6 is widely rumored to be announced at the show, but there are so many secondary Halo rumors it's hard to tell what's true. Some say Halo 6 is focused entirely on Master Chief, others say it revolves around a squad of four marines. Is it named Halo Infinity? Does it feature a Battle Royale mode? Is it planned for 2019? Odds are whatever form Halo 6 takes, 343 Industries is building the largest Halo project yet.
If first-party and exclusive game rumors were a mess, then third-party and multi-platform rumors are complete chaos. To make up for a dirge in exclusives, Microsoft has been leaning heavily on Xbox One X Enhanced multiplatform releases. That will likely only grow in 2018, but which titles will be showcased is a complete mystery. Since Assassin's Creed Origins was shown in 2017, Assassin's Creed Odyssey would be a likely inclusion this year. Similarly, Anthem could make another appearance. Microsoft often works closely with Warner Bros., so Rocksteady's rumored Superman may be announced at the Xbox briefing.
Another likely appearance could be Cyberpunk 2077. The Witcher 3, some may have forgotten, was announced during an E3 press conference. CD Projekt Red and Microsoft get along well, and you know Microsoft would love to debut gameplay for Cyberpunk 2077 stamped with Xbox One X Enhanced.
Less reliable rumors include the leaked Walmart retail listing potentially being Xbox related, and that included Rage 2, Just Cause 4, Borderlands 3, and Dragon Quest 2. Dragon Quest 2 is especially odd yet interesting because Phil Spencer has said Xbox will be highlighting some titles from Japanese partners at E3. And that bit of rumor also points towards From Software's Shadows Die Twice. While it's not likely an Xbox exclusive, if Microsoft was able to unveil what game Shadows Die Twice truly is, that would be something. A slate of indie titles is bound to be spotlighted at E3, too. Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Below, and Ashen seem likely, but are absolutely only the start of what Microsoft will have at E3.
To sum up Xbox's potential software announcements for E3 - is two hours going to be long enough?
No major Xbox hardware announcements are planned or rumored for E3 this year. With the Xbox One X being such a recent launch, Microsoft has no reason to lean further into hardware releases for at least a few more years. Even the left-field handheld Xbox handheld rumors seem to have gone silent for the time being. For those curious about any potential Xbox One X price drops or hardware revisions, the best you'll likely do at E3 is the previously announced sale price of $450. That sale, as well as discounts on the Xbox One S, controllers, Xbox Live Gold, Game Pass, and assorted games, will go live on June 7.
Whereas no platform announcements are likely to be made for Xbox console, there may be further plans revealed for Microsoft's efforts on PC. With the Play Anywhere initiative and Game Pass subscription service proving successful, Microsoft may have further plans to improve the ties between Xbox and PC.
Xbox could also bring out its recently announced Xbox Adaptive Controller, a highly customizable controller built to address accessibility needs. The applications for the controller are endless and you can't help but think Microsoft may have lofty plans for the device beyond the Xbox. Maybe a peek at those ideas could be shown at E3, if not just a simple celebratory lap for the hardworking developers who made the device a reality.
More on Microsoft's plans for Xbox at E3 2018 is likely to be made available in the days to come. Microsoft's Xbox E3 Briefing will air Sunday, June 10 at 1:00 pm PT, the first press briefing from the big three console manufacturers and second overall event following EA's Saturday event. Following its press conference, Xbox will be featuring E3 coverage including interviews and live game demos via its official Mixer channel for the duration of the event.