The event we had been waiting for finally came to fruition last night, the Gamescom 2021 Xbox Live Night was (almost) everything we had hoped it to be, with bizarre but fascinating historical depictions of Trebuchet weaponry and virtual flights around Cologne. Suffice to say, we had a great time covering the evening’s events, but if you couldn’t attend then do not panic, we have you covered. Below are Electric Games’ Top 8 announcements that were made at the Xbox Live Night.
Forza Horizon 5
We will kick off this post-show summary by starting with the game we thought had the most torque (and stage-time) last night: Forza Horizon 5. Exhibiting some unbelievably majestic environments from the game’s Mexico-oriented map, we glided through a myriad of biomes, paradisiacal beaches, historical cities, chasmic canyons and into sweaty dense foliage, it is clear that Forza Horizon 5 is no exception to the varied landscape the series has previously been known for. Waving around the medal for both the highest point and largest map in any Forza game to date, Horizon 5 boasts a series of seasonal weather events, including dynamic dust storms, as well as a fresh collection of daring driving events this time ostensibly revolving around the driving out of planes. Donning the same simple yet masterful interface, the game looks and sounds crisp, especially seeing as Forza Horizon 5 implements both visual and auditory Raytracing features. Stay in gear for November 9th, the day that will leave smoke behind it as Forza Horizon 5 goes from 0-60mph in 2.6 seconds. Car metaphors are my favourite.
Dying Light 2: Staying Human
Second in the top 8 list comes Techland’s prequel production that is Dying Light 2: Staying Human. Consisting of over double the parkour moves when compared to the first game, survivors in Dying Light 2 will be able to employ a plentiful 3000 free-running animations. Looking like an apocalyptic hybrid between Farcry and Fallout, Dying Light 2 is at its core a first-person, open-world survival horror game, but it is also so much more than that. Toted to be a ‘narrative sandbox’, Dying Light 2 is not a title that scrimps on any storytelling; the game’s choice-driven plotline being one of the developer’s primary focuses since the game’s announcement at E3 2018. Humans present a greater threat this time around in Dying Light 2 despite the undead developing a tendency to be much more voracious at night, an idea reminiscent of shows like The Walking Dead. To battle and flee both parties, dead or not, users are equipped with an arsenal of weapons ranging from Crossbows to Shotguns, as well as a variety of gadgets like a Grappling Hook and a Paraglider used to scale the series’ tallest buildings and float to safety away from the City’s savage denizens. It seems that a lot has changed in the 20 years that have passed since the plot of the first Dying Light publication, and we cannot wait for the 7th of December to get our grappling hooks on the game.
Point Blank Games’ Stray Blade title was an unexpected arrival at Gamescom 2021, showing only footage from the pre-Alpha version of the game. Now, I am prepared to give the benefit of the doubt to incomplete pre-Alpha titles that are a year away from release, yet I don’t feel I need to with Stray Blade – the game looks incredible already. A strategic hack and slash combat game, Stray Blade finds itself in the immemorial valley of Acrea, a divided land ravaged by a war that of course we are destined to repair which we do with the help of a sarky little wolf companion named Boji. Showcasing some impressively fluid combat mechanics with a user interface not too dissimilar from The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Stray Blade looks to rise up from the shadows and dominate the discussion in 2022. At first, I was undecided on the game’s distinctive visual design, but within a few minutes of gameplay footage I had permanently changed my mind for the better: keep an eye on Stray Blade folks, this one is going to be big.
State of Decay 2: Homecoming
In 4th position sits not a game per se but an expansive DLC package named Homecoming, an add-on to State of Decay 2 to rightfully celebrate achieving a ten-million strong player base. Homecoming is a remastered aftermath of the previous Heartland update, offering four new bases among much more within the Trumbull valley. State of Decay, which came out in the summer of 2018, is another thrilling open-world survival horror game with a vibe comparable with Players Unknown BattleGround, only the graphics are far superior, and the gameplay is, for the most part, smooth, tactile and satisfying. Fans of the community-building survival series may have been expecting some news regarding a 3rd iteration of the series that was announced last year, but instead received the Homecoming DLC to keep them entertained for the time-being. PS: pay attention to the title of Homecoming, it represents a final celebration of sorts – the next announcement regarding State of Decay will likely be a 3rd game, so keep the faith!
Microsoft Flight Simulator 6th World Update
The Xbox Live Night at Gamescom 2021 kicked off with footage of a plane flying around what looked to be a European city which I enjoyed watching for a good half-an-hour, but as I was preparing to host a livestream I became distracted and perplexed: was this real aerial footage or was this a flight simulator? I had played several flight simulators before, but I didn’t remember it looking like this. Well, soon enough I got my answer: it was gameplay footage from the 6th World Update of Asobo Studio’s Microsoft Flight Simulator. Including a lifelike Junkers JU-52 plane, an accurate topographical representation of the Alps Mountain ranges as well as several new cities in 3D detail, like Basel and Vienna, and four new crafted airports, like Stuttgart and Lubeck, the World Update 6 contains a lot of new material based on Germany, Austria and Switzerland. If that wasn’t enough, the update, available from the 7th of September, also consists of near 100 new places of interest to admire from the sky, as well as a new Volocopter to race around the cities of Europe in. I could not believe how real this gameplay footage looked, the only thing that gave my analytical eye a hint was the lack of complete raytracing of tall glass buildings. If you fancy a quick aerial sojourn, be sure to download Microsoft Flight Simulator on the 7th of September!
Wasteland 3 DLC: The Cult of the Holy Detonation
About an hour into the conference came David Rodgers to inform us all of a Wasteland 3 DLC named The Cult of the Holy Detonation. I initially thought David was telling us the name of his heavy metal rock band with the moody title of the package, but it turns out that he was just there to talk about the DLC. Transporting us from desolate Colorado to an equally as barren, at least on the outside, Cheyenne Mountain, the Holy Detonation DLC acquaints us with a tribe of unpleasant human beings that have devolved into some hideous, irradiated monstrosities who idolise a mini-sun-of-sorts. As a Children of Atom style group, the Cult of the Holy Detonation are in possession of a harnessed nuclear explosion that is swirling and bustling within the confines of a machine. Needless to say, a cult of monsters is probably not the best demographic to hold a nuclear weapon, so we as the main character are equipped with new armour and weapons to lay siege to the cult comprised of all new enemy types. If you are a fan of Wasteland 3 but are hungry for fresh content, this is the DLC for you. Hold tight for its release on October 5th!
A game I hadn’t heard of before was Psychonaut, an admission I feel guilty about after seeing the extent of lore surrounding the game. During the Xbox Live Night at Gamescom 2021, Double Fine Productions announced Psychonaut 2, a platform-adventure game coming out today, August 25th 2021, that follows as a direct prequel to the first game released 16 years ago. Offering a whole new story revolving around the character of Raz, who has just joined the ranks of the Psychonaut Interns, the game makes good use of customisable Psychic abilities named Psi-Powers to provide a thrilling, oft comical and entirely enthralling play. If you are a fan of the Ratchet and Clank style of writing with eccentric visuals, Psychonaut 2 would be well worth a look in. Put it this way, fans would not idolise the game (or the staff, hint Tim Schafer) in the way they do if Psychonaut was an underwhelming play. I mean, a crowdfund that reached almost 3 million dollars is a good reason Psychonaut 2 actually exists – people adore this game, and it has been immediately extolled by various critic networks.
Into The Pit
And last, but not least, on our list of Xbox Live Night announcements is a rogue-like title named Into The Pit, a title that effectively sums up what the game is all about: a descent into hell. Utilising a slew of different magical casts, like runes, we are tasked with frenetically banishing a demonic presence from an infested town, all whilst trying to discern what happened to your demon hunter cousin, Luridia. If Skyrim used illegal substances and developed an obsession with the occult, the result would be Into The Pit. A very neat concept shouldered with an undeniably ebullient and slick visual design, Into The Pit is a game that should not be cast to the shadows. If the sound of the game floats your boat, you can find it on GamePass on the 19th of October.
And here we come to the end of our Xbox Live Night summary; eight fantastic looking games all, with the exception of Stray Blade, set to release in the coming weeks. Other announcements made last night concerned a Sea of Thieves Mayhem pack, a portfolio of indie-arcade games that are to be brought to GamePass in the near future, as well as Age of Empires 4 which would explain the Trebuchet. No mention of Halo, but all hope is not yet lost as we have plenty of time left at Gamescom 2021 for a potential announcement. It was a great evening, and for the next couple of nights you can find our livestream event on YouTube if you’d like to watch the two-hour show yourself. In the meantime, see you at tonight’s Opening Night Live!
Images sourced from Xbox and Steam.