Although leaks abounded prior to this year’s E3, the Microsoft Press Conference of 2019 still had a number of surprising reveals that led to some jaw-dropping moments for players everywhere. From hints dropped and last year’s conference, gamers probably expected to get their first look at Scarlett, see the Master Chief in his full glory, and hear the roar of Lancers in Gears 5 — but there were still a few exciting Microsoft E3 secrets to share. Here are some of the most shocking, puzzling, and surprising moments at Microsoft’s Xbox convention:
Age of Empires 2: Definitive Edition
In an interesting move, Microsoft decided to release a definitive edition of Age of Empires 2, a title first released in 1999. Even weirder, the title boasts new 4K graphics for its RTS top-down gameplay, and a new campaign called “The Last Khans.” In most player’s minds, this twenty-year-old title was long and forgotten, effectively buried under two decades of other releases from similar and competing franchises. Although the graphical upgrades seem like putting a new paint job on a very old vehicle, nostalgic fans will certainly appreciate the adjustments, and will surely put many hours into conquering the world and vanquishing their enemies. Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition will be released in the Fall for PC only through Steam, the Microsoft Store, and Game Pass.
For most western fans, the trailer for Crossfire X left many in confusion, as its obscurity in North America made some wonder if Microsoft was announcing a new series or mistaken partnership. Introduced by Phil Spencer as a franchise that seemingly everyone should know, this free-to-play FPS comes from a major overseas hit made by Korean company SmileGate Entertainment that still maintains a fanatical fanbase in Asia, with a heavy 660 million players worldwide. Crossfire also surprisingly has a very robust esports community, something that Microsoft hopes to profit from and use to their advantage in the console market. With its Counter Strike-esque gameplay, free-to-play business model, and easily accessible matchmaking, players can look forward to Crossfire X making its mark on Xbox One in 2020.
In another surprising move, Microsoft announced the creation of Minecraft Dungeons, a third-person dungeon-crawler in the art-style of one of the most popular building games of all time. From the trailer, it appeared to be a blocky version of Diablo and Gauntlet Dark Legacy, having players progress through pre-built — or perhaps randomly generated — maps to score loot, level up, and progress through a skill tree. Featuring four-player parties and couch co-op, this title will surely bring gamers of all ages and experience levels together to fight against blocky baddies and score some sweet gear when it releases on Xbox One and Windows 10 PC, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4 in Spring 2020.
Gears of War 5: Terminator Dark Fate Skin Pack
Love it or hate it, no one saw the surprising movie tie-in of Terminator Dark Fate with the release of Gears of War 5 coming at Microsoft E3. While it’s only a multiplayer skin pack of the iconic Terminator T-800 endoskeleton and film protagonist Sarah Connor, this move by Microsoft surely left a few fans scratching their heads. The film, distributed by Paramount pictures, seems very “on brand” with the Gears franchise, although it would have been much better to have Arnold Schwarzenegger’s brilliant physique shredding through the Locus horde in upcoming Escape mode as the game drops on September 10, 2019.
Microsoft Flight Simulator
An equivalent to Microsoft announcing a new iteration of Excel at E3, the update of the long running Flight Simulator franchise was pleasantly surprising, but an interesting choice for the usually fan-focused gaming convention. The upgraded version of the hardcore aviation sim features beautiful landscapes created in part by satellite data and Azure AI, and is supposedly focused on maintaining the authenticity of the flying experience. While not really geared towards casual fans, this E3 trailer is sure to entice some gamers to try the title when it releases on PC with Xbox Game Pass in 2020, and on Xbox One at a later date.
Keanu Reeves in Cyberpunk 2077
A welcome reveal to be sure, Keanu was the highlight surprise of the entire Microsoft Press conference at E3 2019, and led to some amazing on-stage moments. Mostly known for his work in The Matrix and John Wick, his inclusion in CD Projekt Red’s newest title, Cyberpunk 2077, brings joy to the hearts of fanboys and fangirls everywhere. From the looks of the trailer, Reeves will fill some sort of mentorship role in the title, and his voice will presumably guide players through the CD Projekt Red’s futuristic RPG environment. Interestingly enough, this is not Keanu’s first time in a video game, as his polygonal likeness was also featured in the Matrix games on Gamecube, PC, Playstation 2, and Nintendo Gamecube. Players can look forward to getting up close and personal with the cinematic legend when Cyberpunk 2077 drops April 16, 2020.
What do you think? Did we miss any surprising Microsoft E3 reveals? Did you see any of these releases coming? Check out the full list of Microsoft E3 2019 announcements and let us know in the comments below!