Xbox Gamescom 2021 recap: Forza and Age of Empires, but no Halo

Screengrab of 2021 Corvette Stingray from Forza Horizon 5 Official Initial Drive trailer
(Image credit: Forza | YouTube)

Microsoft has hosted the first of its two Xbox Gamescom 2021 live streams, and showed off exactly what it promised. Last month, Microsoft clarified that the event would have "no big reveals or major surprises," which seems eminently true so far. The live stream highlighted a number of anticipated titles, including Forza Horizon 5, Age of Empires IV and Psychonauts 2. We also learned that cloud gaming will soon be available on Xbox consoles. Information on Halo Infinite, however, was nowhere to be found.

If you missed the event, you can rewatch the whole thing on the official Xbox YouTube channel. Just be warned, the stream is 90 minutes long, and contains a lot of developer interviews about known game features. These may be of interest if you're already invested in an upcoming release, but they probably won't do much to win over new fans.

To cover the highlights, let's start with Forza Horizon 5. Microsoft saved this open-world racing game for last, but we got a substantial look at the title, with both live gameplay and prerendered trailers. As we learned a few months back, the latest Forza game will take place in Mexico. Now we know that the Mercedes-AMG One will appear on the game's cover, and that the game will have a rather gaudy yellow/blue/pink limited edition controller.

Age of Empires IV also got some time in the spotlight, with a particular focus on everyone's favorite siege unit, the trebuchet. The developers gave some real-world background on the complicated weapon. They also touched on how historical accuracy and documentary storytelling would complement the strategic gameplay.

The biggest news to come out of the live stream was that Xbox cloud gaming will be available on Xbox consoles this holiday season. Microsoft touched on this idea before, explaining that cloud gaming would soon expand to consoles, smart TVs and (as-yet unannounced) Microsoft streaming hardware. Cloud gaming on consoles will be available for more than 100 titles to start, and will target 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second.

There was one notable absence from the Xbox slate today, however: Halo Infinite. The upcoming shooter — which will not have co-op campaigns or Forge level-creation tools at launch — did not feature at all in the live stream, leading players to wonder whether it might show up at tomorrow's keynote instead. At present, the game doesn't have a specific release date, although it's supposed to come out in late 2021.

Beyond that, we learned about minor updates for Microsoft Flight Simulator, Sea of Thieves, Wasteland 3 and State of Decay 2. We may get more Microsoft updates tomorrow, so stay tuned for additional Gamescom coverage on Tom's Guide.

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.