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Xbox showcase 2023: Is Microsoft back in the game?

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Xbox fans have finally got a long-awaited look at the console's upcoming games.
After Sony's summer offering was widely seen as a disappointment, the expectations for Microsoft's own showcase were… cautious.
It's had a troubled year due to its high-profile battle to buy Activision Blizzard and Redfall's disastrous release.
But the general verdict seems to be that it put on a pretty good show.
Fans got a first glimpse of the update to fantasy role-playing game (RPG) Fable thanks to a two-minute trailer starring a giant Richard Ayoade.
Set in the same world as its prequels, the series' trademark British humour seemed to be very much intact.
Other games from Microsoft-owned studios were shown, including Forza Motorsport, Obsidian's RPG Avowed and Hellblade II: Senua's Saga.
There was also a good mix of third-party games.
The biggest was probably the reveal of multiformat open-world title Star Wars: Outlaw.
And then there was Starfield – the Triple-A RPG from Elder Scrolls studio Bethesda that got its very own one-hour showcase.
Regarded as Microsoft's biggest release in quite some time, the planet-hopping RPG promises players a whole galaxy to explore.
Bethesda showed off various mechanics, such as the game's different playstyles and ship crafting system.
People were impressed by Starfield's sheer size – The Guardian said it was a "supermassive black hole of a game" – though some fans worried they wouldn't get time to play it.
Director Todd Howard said the level of detail in the game meant it would be locked at 30 frames per second on both versions of the Xbox.
And some will have mixed feelings about the news that the Elder Scrolls developer's resurrected one of its "most annoying" characters for its space odyssey.
It would be unreasonable to expect any showcase to be filled with back-to-back big reveals, and quite a few expansions to existing games were announced.
Fallout 76: Atlantic City, Overwatch 2: Invasion and Elder Scrolls Online: Necrom were all shown.
A Monkey Island add-on for popular online pirate-em-up Sea of Thieves was also announced – perhaps the biggest "didn't know we needed it" announcement of the night.
And Cyberpunk 2077's Phantom Liberty update was introduced in a recorded message from Keanu Reeves.
It wasn't quite as breathtaking as his E3 appearance to promote the original game, but it was met with approval from many.
One of the main complaints – if you can call it that – was that a lot of the games teased on Sunday won't be out until at least next year, as pointed out by Eurogamer.
A couple, Fable included, didn't give a release date.
And there were some grumbles about the Hellblade II trailer – which didn't show any gameplay.
But, if there were a Metacritic page for Microsoft's 2023 showcase, it would probably say the show had "generally favourable" reviews.
And even PlayStation fansite Push Square was among those admitting it was "probably the strongest Xbox Showcase in recent memory".
Microsoft still has hurdles to clear in its Activision Blizzard buyout, and the PS5 remains the bigger-selling console.
It's clearly got big plans for gaming, though, so it's worth keeping an eye on the big green machine.
Microsoft's collected all of its showcase trailers on its website.
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