Microsoft Xbox at E3 2018: New console coming, Halo Infinite, Gears 5, Fallout 76 and more

The company makes its biggest case yet for why gamers should choose the Xbox over a Sony PlayStation or Nintendo Switch.

Ian Sherr Contributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
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4 min read

Editor's note: Are you looking for the latest on Microsoft's E3 2019 press conference? Of course you are. And if you need info on all out E3 2019 coverage, it's all here too.

Microsoft's next Xbox console could come as early as 2020, if rumors are to believed. But while you wait, the company's got a new Halo for you. 

The hit Xbox action series starring the superhuman Master Chief in his latest adventure to save the galaxy was teased Sunday during the company's press conference here at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. Phil Spencer, Microsoft's head of Xbox, said it will be the character's "greatest adventure" yet, though the company didn't say much more than that, nor when it will be released. The game will be called Halo Infinite.

Watch this: E3 2018: Halo Infinite announced

The new Halo was just the tip of the spear. The day also brought announcements about some 50 games and 20 exclusives designed to show the world the Xbox is the gaming device to buy, even if it's not the most popular.

To emphasize that, the company wowed attendees at the Microsoft Theater in downtown Los Angeles with a series of announcements about plans for its most popular franchises, including the Gears of War space shooting epic and its hit Cuphead and Ori adventure games. 

And if that's not enough, Microsoft also dropped hints about its next Xbox console, saying teams are "deep into architecting" the next device, though it didn't give a timetable for a release (Thurott.com cites a source saying the new device, code-named Scarlett, will land in 2020. Microsoft declined to comment.) The company also said it's building a new streaming service designed to allow gamers to play on an Xbox, PC or phone.

"The world of gaming is on a historic growth path," Spencer said. "In this significant moment, we are constantly challenging ourselves [as] to where we can take gaming next."

The message throughout all of it: Microsoft wants fans to know it hears them. The company has been criticized for its lack of compelling and exclusive new games, something Nintendo and Sony have been successful at over the past few years. The top recently released games list on CNET game-review aggregating sister site Metacritic, for example, includes Sony's God of War epic and Nintendo's update for Donkey Kong. While Microsoft does have some popular exclusive games of its own, such as Halo and Gears of War, the criticism has grown louder.

"Listening to the fans about how important exclusive games is is really important to us," said Mike Ybarra, corporate vice president of Xbox and Windows Platform at Microsoft, in an interview after the presentation. He added that by showing 50 games on stage during the Xbox press conference, the company was all about its commitment to giving gamers a wide selection of popular titles to play. 

That includes exclusive games made by Microsoft. "We always tell our teams to focus on the gamer," he added. "If fans ask us for exclusives and first-party titles, that's where we're going to focus."

For the complete list of games Microsoft announced -- including Forza Horizon 4 -- head to GameSpot.

The E3 press conference schedule

Saturday, June 9

Sunday, June 10

  • Microsoft said it's building a new Xbox, as well as creating a game streaming service. It also announced highly anticipated games like the space dramas Halo Infinite and Gears 5 and more. [Read our recap here.]
  • Bethesda showed off a bunch of new installments to its most popular franchises, including the alternative-history Nazi shooting game Wolfenstein Youngblood, a new game in the industry-defining Doom series, a sequel to the post-apocalyptic shooter Rage and a new Elder Scrolls game. Probably the most popular announcement of the evening though was Fallout 76, the latest in its post-nuclear-war series. [Read our recap here.]

Monday, June 11

  • Sony showed what it hopes will be a slate of upcoming hit games. It also gave shorter glimpses of other games including the follow-up to its samurai game Nioh, a remake of the zombie shooter Resident Evil 2 and a look at an action game called Control.  [Read our recap here]

Tuesday, June 12

Biggest games of E3 2018

See all photos

First published June 6 at 3:22 p.m. PT.
Update, June 10 at 9:30 a.m.: Adds details about what we expect in terms of a new Halo game, a new Gears of War and rumors about a streaming service. 1:54 p.m.: Adds details from the press conference about Halo, Fallout and others. 2:19 p.m.: Adds details about Cuphead sequel. 3:14 p.m.: Adds details about newly announced Xbox and streaming service.
Update, June 11 at 12:38 a.m.: Adds details from Bethesda's press conference and interview with Microsoft exec.
Update, on June 12 at 9:08 a.m.: Adds details about other press conferences; 10:12 a.m.: Adds rumors about next Xbox.

E3 2018: What to expect: All the rumors and early news from the year's biggest gaming show 

E3 2018 coverage at CNET: All of our E3 2018 coverage in one place

E3 2018 coverage at GameSpot: Wall-to-wall coverage of the show from our sister site GameSpot

E3 2018 coverage at Giant Bomb: Still more commentary and news from E3, from our colleagues at Giant Bomb