Xbox Showcase was a great crowd-pleaser — but leaves us waiting for next year

Patrick Dane
rcus Fenix and Dominic Santiago in Gears of War E-Day.

The Xbox Showcase felt like a needed win by the green brand. The platform has had challenges in recent months, with Hellblade 2 having a cooler critical response than it’d hoped, alongside the closures of Arkane Austin and Tango Gameworks, letting go of two talented studios and all of their developers. 

This showcase felt like a good way for the platform to draw a line in the sand and try to chart the future, though. It also had the luxury of PlayStation dropping a disappointing State of Play just last week, making Xbox look much, much better during this ‘Not-E3’ period. 

That’s important, too. With E3 now canceled and Summer Game Fest feeling some ways off the magnitude of events of old, Microsoft’s showing is refreshing. It remains a relic of a bygone age, but an age there is a hunger for. While Nintendo and Sony may prefer several smaller shows throughout the year, Xbox gets to monopolize the time of year that people still associate with “when all the video games get announced.”

It was a pretty great show, too. What Microsoft brought to the showcase could easily stand shoulder to shoulder with what it offered at any of the previous E3s for the last decade. There is a lot to like here, and it’s beginning to feel like we’re finally seeing that finalized future of a unified Xbox, Bethesda, and Activision Blizzard. It’s been a reminder of just how much IP the platform now wields.

The Xbox Showcase was impressive 

We saw the return of a lot of games that had been lost in the Xbox void for some time. Perfect Dark was a real surprise, as that game has been mostly silent since 2020, when it was revealed. It had been rumored to be wracked with development issues and rebooted, but what was shown looks great and, crucially, feels like Perfect Dark. Fable also reemerged in stunning fashion. The in-game work looked exceptional, and it retained the heart of that series — with the British, dry humor really filtering through. 

Speaking of escaping the void, while not an Xbox-specific title, we also saw Dragon Age: The Veilguard. The game has reportedly been in the works since 2015. It was even publicly revealed in 2018 — but Bioware’s fantasy RPG finally resurfaced, and it looks like we’re getting closer to it actually being in our hands.

That’s not even to talk about potentially the biggest announcement of the night: Gears of War: E-Day. It seems Microsoft is preparing to head back in time and give players more time with Marcus and Dom as it plans to explore the two’s struggle through the titular E-Day, where the locusts erupted from beneath the surface of Sera. 

I’ve not even mentioned Doom: The Dark Ages, Indiana Jones: The Great Circle, Age of Mythologies, Avowed, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024, South of Midnight, State of Decay 3, STALKER 2, Diablo 4: The Vessel of Hatred, or World of Warcraft: The War Within, Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 or the Starfield DLC. You can’t argue with that slate. It’s impressive, and as mentioned, these three once separate entities are finally beginning to feel like a cohesive whole. That’s a positive future for the brand to build upon in the coming years. 

Waiting for greatness

However, that’s partially the problem, too. A lot of this is in the future. Many of the biggest announcements were greeted with a 2025 release date — or no indication of a release date at all. 2024 is a hangover year for games after both one of the best years in gaming history, and the horrific layoffs seen around the industry. It’s left us with a relatively muted end of the year. Dragon Age: The Veilguard aside, I hoped we’d get a big surprise or two for the coming months — but that’s not materialized.

That’s also unfair to expect. Microsoft putting out Fable or the new Gears of War at the end of the year is a wild hope. It’s also exceptionally consumer-brained to expect big things after such a rough time period for the entire industry. However, at least when it comes to big AAA games from the big two publishers, it feels like both Xbox and PlayStation are going to be having a quieter time this year.

That’s not to say 2024 is going to be devoid of big, exciting releases or that Microsoft had anything short of an impressive showing here. There is still STALKER 2, Assassin’s Creed: Shadows, Call of Duty: Black Ops 6, Dragon Age: The Veilguard, Avowed, and Indiana Jones and the Great Circle in the holiday release period (assuming nothing gets pushed back). That, and as has been the case all year, I’m sure smaller games will pop up out of nowhere to take the gaming community by storm. 

However, when you start looking at what is to come next year and beyond from the biggest gaming platforms, I feel like a kid looking longingly into a candy shop called ‘2025 and beyond’. Xbox had an impressive showing; I just wish it’d gone further in dispelling my feeling this is going to be a quieter year. 

If you’re an Xbox fan, why not check out our list of the 30 best Xbox games ever made? We also have an article listing the greatest video game characters of all time.