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X019 event: Rare and Obsidian announce new games and XCloud service expands

Keith Stuart

Microsoft revealed a host of new Xbox and PC titles at its X019 fan event in London on Thursday night, including projects from Rare and Obsidian. The company also announced it would expand its xCloud game streaming service and its Xbox Game Pass subscription platform.

The major game revelation was Everwild, a title from veteran studio Rare. With development being led by Louise O’Connor, known for her work on the cult favourite Conker’s Bad Fur Day, the project looks to be a mystical, woodland-set action adventure game, with a muted painterly art style reminiscent of Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

“While Everwild is still early in development, we are very excited about the unique potential of the game we are creating,” said Rare studio’s head, Craig Duncan. “The Everwild team is focused on building an experience that allows for new ways to play in a natural and magical world.” No release date was given.

The role-playing adventure specialist Obsidian Entertainment showed off its next project, Grounded, a first-person cooperative survival game in which players are shrunk to the size of insects and have to survive in a garden, building protective forts and seeing off attacks from ants and spiders. Survivors must hunt for resources and craft weapons and tools while exploring the open environment.

The French studio Dontnod unveiled Tell Me Why, an adventure about identical twins reuniting in the Alaskan town in which they grew up and tackling their difficult past.

Microsoft also announced a range of deals with Japanese studios and publishers. Sega’s acclaimed action titles Yakuza 0, Yakuza Kiwami and Yakuza Kiwami 2 are all coming to Xbox One and Game Pass in early 2020, as are all the Final Fantasy titles from VII onwards. Among the 50-plus other titles announced for the service were Witcher 3, Wastelands 3 and Minecraft Dungeons – all arriving at the same time as they release on Xbox.

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The xCloud game streaming service – which will allow users to play Xbox games on their Android phones and other devices – is set to be launched in 2020 after this year’s test phase. But there are still no details on how payment will work – whether a monthly subscription will be all that’s required, or if users will also have to pay for most games, as with Google’s Stadia.

Fifty titles are being added to the xCloud roster, including Hitman, Just Cause 4 and Forza Horizon 4, and Windows 10 PCs will also be able to access the platform. Microsoft has a prototype of the service running on iPhone although there are no details on when it may arrive on Apple’s devices. A wider range of controllers will be supported next year, too, including the PlayStation Dualshock.

An interesting range of independent games was also announced. Publisher Annapurna Interactive revealed Last Stop, a supernatural adventure set in modern London, and the Swedish publisher Raw Fury showed gothic twin-gun rogue-like shooter West of Dead, starring Ron Perlman with a story by Fable co-creator Dene Carter. The Molasses Flood, the developer of the acclaimed survival game The Flame in the Flood, showed Drake Hollow, billed as a village-building adventure.

There was no talk of Microsoft’s forthcoming Scarlett console. The focus of the night, however, was very much on new projects from reliable Xbox studios and major boosts to the company’s digital gaming services. The xCloud announcements will certainly have been noticed by Google, which is launching its rival Stadia streaming service on 19 November, with just 12 games at launch and a lot of the promised features delayed until next year. With xCloud also launching in new territories including Canada, western Europe, Japan and India, the competition between the two tech giants will be global and fierce.