Microsoft’s powerful Project Scarlett console might be coming in 2020, but there are still plenty of reasons to still get excited about your Xbox One and PC this year. We played a slew of hot upcoming releases at Microsoft’s E3 2019 showcase, from big AAA blockbusters like Gears of War 5 and Halo for PC to charming indies like Supermarket Shriek and Spiritfarer. Here are some of the best games coming to your Xbox One and PC in 2019.
Gears of War 5
We got our hands on Gears of War 5’s new co-op Escape mode, which flips the series’ classic Horde mode on its head by challenging you and two friends to escape an enemy-infested hive before poison gas overtakes the whole place. Characters in Escape have unique Ultimate abilities (a la Overwatch) that let you help your teammates out by creating a defensive barrier or dropping extra ammo -- and you’ll need to do these things to stay alive. Gears of War 5’s cover-based gunplay feels as satisfying and smooth and ever, and Escape is shaping up to but a tense new twist on the classic co-op experience. - Mike Andronico
If you remember the game show Supermarket Sweep, in which contestants race around grocery stores collecting items with a shopping cart, you’ll understand the pun that this game is named for. The game itself is tangentially related. You play as Billy the human and Goat the goat, who sit together in a shopping trolley, and move it either left or right by shouting loudly. You use the triggers of your controller to direct them around dangerous shops, filled with fire, swinging axes and pits.
There is apparently a story with multiple endings if you beat all the levels, but you may just be interested in competing for the best times and scores on the leaderboard, or simply unlocking many strange cosmetic items to dress your characters with. - Richard Priday
Rare’s classic beat-em-up has been completely revitalized for the current generation, featuring a gorgeous hand-drawn art style and an intricate combo system that lets you juggle your cartoony foes in all kinds of delightfully creative ways. And it wouldn’t be a Battletoads game without a fiendishly difficult hoverbike section, which has been reimagined as an over-the-shoulder death romp that forces you and up to two friends to dodge obstacles with pinpoint precision. Battletoads is by far some of the most fun I’ve had at E3 so far, as my teammates and I shouted, cheered and laughed as we died over and over again.- Mike Andronico
Adventuring across the ocean sounds like a thrilling experience, but Spiritfarer aims for a relaxing and therapeutic atmosphere. As Stella, or her cat if you’re playing in co-op, you sail your boat around a world of small islands, meeting characters who need some help passing into the next life. You take them on board, build them a room, and go on quests to satisfy their needs before you then bid them goodbye.
There’s lots of smaller activities to do around these characters’ narratives, like fishing, growing plants or upgrading your personal abilities, but everything feeds into this collection of narratives about coping with death, beautifully illustrated by hand-drawn animation and art. Plus, you can give every NPC a hug, which is completely adorable. - Richard Priday
Taking huge cues from the XCOM series, this turn based strategy game sees you control a small squad of soldiers, taking out monsters around the world while researching new tech and keeping the remnants of humanity on your side to fund your activities.
The enemies here are the creation of a virus, one which can cause different mutations to the basic enemy types in each playthrough. But for most of the game, you will slowly be moving your squad across levels, finding baddies and taking them down with various weapons and abilities. It’s tense and high stakes, as a single error could cost the life of one of your men, but accepting your losses and quickly reassessing your plan is all part of the fun. - Richard Priday
Forza Horizon 4 Lego Speed Champions
Following in the footsteps of Forza Horizon 3’s Hot Wheels expansion, Forza Horizon 4’s new Lego Speed Champions add-on proves that even toy cars look and feel great in Playground Games’ gorgeous racing universe. Lego Speed Champions marries the airtight arcade racing of Forza Horizon 4 with a joyously vibrant Lego world for you to speed through, which had me grinning with nostalgia and made me feel like I was living The Lego Movie. Everything is awesome, indeed. - Mike Andronico
This simple but fast paced puzzler looks like it has a lot of potential. In a circular arena, you control a dot, avoiding the shapes which come flying at you from the edges of the circular arena. The different polygons have different abilities - squares go straight, triangles home in, pentagons aim for the position you were in when it spawns. The complexity then comes with the level modifiers, which include enlarging the dot, limiting your vision to only the area immediately around the dot, or adding tokens to collect while you’re under attack from the shapes.
While we only tried five levels in single player mode, there will apparently be up to four player co-op available, as well as a level editor where you can make your own puzzles to beat. It’s easy to understand how everything works, but the rapid pace of the challenges plus a quick restart mean you could easily sink hours into this without realizing. - Richard Priday
Ghost Recon Breakpoint
Ubisoft’s futuristic special ops series was on display at the Xbox event, in which we were able to try a single mission. The objective was to infiltrate an enemy compound and liberate a captured scientist as one of four operatives, each with unique loadouts and abilities. The game has an open world, allowing you to take different tactical approaches from multiple directions.
There’s also an overarching story going on in the background, about a rogue squad of Ghosts who have taken over the island you are now trying to take back from the inside. It’s familiar Ghost Recon stuff, but with more freedom than ever before. - Richard Priday
Halo: The Master Chief Collection for PC
Microsoft’s Halo mega-collection -- which includes Halo 1 through 4 in addition to spinoffs Reach and ODST -- is finally coming to PC, and it’s shaping up to be the port fans have been waiting for. The decade-old Halo: Reach looked gorgeous running at 4K resolution and 60 frames per second, and being able to pick off Covenant with a mouse and keyboard felt great. You’ll be able to buy the PC versions of these games a la carte, or get the whole package as part of Game Pass for PC later this year. - Mike Andronico
Be sure to follow our E3 2019 news hub all week long for the biggest reveals and impressions out of Los Angeles.