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In person, the Xbox Showcase is a pilgrimage for the most enthusiastic clappers


Phil Spencer, in trademark suit jacket with jeans and a logo tee combo, standing on stage at the 2023 Xbox Games Showcase
Image credit: Xbox

Let me tell you, being at an Xbox Games Showcase in-person is quite the experience. I'd got my pass, got seated in the theatre and finally had a chance to take in my surroundings. There were lots of folks, obviously, either excitedly chatting or awkwardly swivelling their legs to let people pass. Many wore Xbox jerseys. One man had an Xbox logo shaved into his head. A photographer asked our section to smile, so I managed the pained grin of a British person who encounters a stranger on a walk, the bunching of my cheeks pulling my lips into a curl. Meanwhile, those dressed in their Microsoft jerseys crossed their forearms and hollered.

The countdown flashed up on screen and the crowd started chanting, "five, four, three!", and for a second it felt like I was the only one who hadn't supped from a bowl of green liquid or beat my chest to the rhythm of "Play it day one on Xbox Game Pass". The crowd was on another plane of existence and, for brief moments, I was there with them. At other times I felt the physical fatigue of the trailer train more acutely than ever.

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I thought, overall, the Xbox Showcase was pretty strong! The crowd roared for Fable, which managed to capture the excitement of adventure mingled with Lionhead's killer Britishness. And when Ubisoft's Star Wars Outlaws popped into view, I caught a glimpse of a dark silhouette quite a few rows down from me who practically leapt out his chair when "Lucasfilm" flashed up, then did that overexcited thing where he lost control of his arms and occasionally snapped them onto his mates' shoulders either side of him. While I'm a cynical bastard who's succumbed to Star Wars oversaturation over the last few years, it was rather lovely to see such unbridled joy.

How about Flight Sim's update eh? While this announcement wasn't met with quite the same cheers as some of the other offerings, I was sort of staggered by it. Like, the game lets you pilot a plane and do how many different jobs? The jobs don't stop. I didn't know that there were that many jobs involving planes, and Flight Sim 2024 will support practically all of them?! Ridiculous. For the first time, I clapped lightly.

More and more and more trailers, one after the other. It hit me then, that we were a bunch of people gathered in a literal theatre and we were all there to watch trailers: those things you'd normally see before a film starts.

Kasuga Ichiban in the nude in a Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth's trailer.
Image credit: Sega

All was forgiven when I saw RGG Studio's logo pop-up and I realised why video game trailers are magic. I witnessed my boy Ichiban Kasuga butt-naked on a beach… in the USA?! In the trailer he somehow doesn't clock his Johnson is on full display as folks either scream or acknowledge that it's caught the wind with good humour. Kasuga's appearance was welcome relief after the slightly bleak, lengthy murmur of the Hellblade 2 trailer. God, I'm so excited for more Yakuza, if hopeful it's not all set in the US. Part of the magic of Yakuza is its Japanese identity and how it shares it with you in city form. Please don't wrench that away from us, RGG.

People opted for toilet breaks as Elder Scrolls Online and Overwatch 2 entered the fray. I chuckled to myself, then felt a bit bad about chuckling to myself. How much actual gameplay have I seen in this bowl swimming with cheers? Five minutes? Yeah, probably. You can't let your mind drift at all, lest you miss five trailers; there is no pause button under the seats.

Metaphor: ReFantazio looks gorgeous and it's by the makers of Persona 3, 4, and 5. Who knows what was happening in the trailer itself, but man, I couldn't help but think the game deserved more space than its tight squeeze into a showcase of such high trailer turnover. Maybe it's just because I'm a Persona fan, but we're onto a potential all-timer here aren't we? Atlus and high fantasy. Blimey. And it got less of a reception than Starfield's limited edition controller, which says it all really.

When Don't Nod announced a climbing game, with a little grub companion who screams and creates organic handholds, I see the name of the game flash up and squint at it for a while: "". Jusant. Cool. Although, I tried bouldering once and I couldn't open a door for a week, so I don't think it'll convince me to give it a go again.

Big Phil Spencer announced their biggest "one more thing" yet. One of the execs before the presentation described Starfield as something like, "The most important RPG ever made". They aren't ones for hyperbole, it seems. The Starfield Direct was a longun' but I have to admit it held my attention the whole way through. Myself and the crowd found the Adoring Fan's appearance an absolute treat, with some of the biggest cheers erupting when it was revealed you could board people's ships, either to fulfil a pirate fantasy or make friends. Personally, I think the fun optional perks are the most interesting asides, with the option to have parents a particularly interesting idea. After a bit of space-raiding, it might be quite nice to visit the 'rents, have a lasagne, catch up on things.

A mech-shaped ship constructed with Starfield's ship builder.
Image credit: Bethesda Game Studios
A spaceship flies through space orbiting a blue planet in Starfield
Image credit: Bethesda

I don't think I was alone in my scepticism, but after Starfield's 45-minute deep dive, I have to admit I'd gone from skeptic to someone excited to dig into another Bethesda RPG again. When I saw, "By the makers of Skyrim and Fallout" flash up on screen, it was a reminder that, hey, back in the Xbox 360-era I'd log on and see everyone playing Skyrim or Fallout at the same time - for weeks on end. Bethesda are capable of magic and I'm hoping what we saw is a glimpse of it.

All in all, my first in-person video game showcase was certainly a time, with the atmosphere of a sermon beamed to a cult. No, but seriously, I like how the Xbox Games Showcase collates a bunch of reveals and exciting trailers together - but I wish there was a way to let some of them breathe, you know? Also, Gears Of War didn't make an appearance, so I think I have to give the event an overall rating of 0/10.

NotE3 and Summer Game Fest 2023 is over for another year. You can find out all the latest news by visiting our E3 2023 hub, or you can catch up with our round-up posts of everything that was announced at Summer Game Fest, the Xbox Games Showcase, the PC Gaming Show, Day Of The Devs, and our top highlights from the Wholesome Direct.

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