Xbox held 2020’s first episode of Inside Xbox today. The show was pretty packed despite running a little under an hour. Featured were new release dates, game pass announcements and lots of cool things to look forward to on the Xbox brand.

The show kicked off with an encouraging message from Xbox head Phil Spencer addressing the current COVID-19 pandemic. It wasn’t necessary, but a nice and welcome touch.

The first major topic of the episode was an extended look at the story mode of the next game by Obsidian Entertainment, Grounded. The game, initially revealed at X019 last year, is essentially Honey I Shrunk The Kids meets Fortnite’s save the world mode. Players take control of a shrunken down character, then have to survive, build and brave the elements of the backyard.

Grounded will enter Xbox Game Preview and Steam Early Access on July 26th.

Next, we got another look inside the upcoming Xbox Series X, specifically regarding the technology behind the console.The segment didn’t cover anything we didn’t already know, such as the quick resume function, the expandable seagate storage card and etc. Check out the coverage here and here.

Larry Hyrb, Xbox’s longtime host who goes by the name, Major Nelson, next gave what he called a “Round Up” of the last month of Xbox related gaming. In it, Ori and the Will of the Wisps and Bleeding Edge were both covered (and we have reviews for both…just saying). Also covered was the recent Juggernaut Edition update to State of Decay 2, as well as Gears 5 getting a free trial period from April 6th-12th. As a bonus, if you play Gears 5 between now and April 20th, you’ll get former WWE Superstar Batista’s old finisher, the Batista Bomb as an execution in game. The locust horde isn’t going to powerbomb itself, you know.

Apex Legends next event centering on Bloodhound got a mention, and we got a release date for Forza Street. The mobile version of the popular race sim hits Android and iOS devices on May 5th. Rounding out the round up was a confirmation of a May 26th release date for the upcoming Minecraft Dungeons, and the recent addition of a free educational pack to Minecraft.

The next segment was the traditional slate of Xbox Game Pass announcements. A few titles became available before the show aired such as Nier: Become as Gods Edition and Totally Reliable Delivery Service on the console side, and Overcooked! 2 on the PC side. Coming soon to the service are Alvastia Chronicles and Journey to the Savage Planet on April 9th for console. Over on PC the service will be getting Football Manager 2020, Alvastia Chronicles, Mistover, and Stranger Things 3: The Game. No date has yet been set for the PC additions, only being labeled as “coming soon.” For both PC and Console, both the Thermal expansion to Human Fall Flat and Yakuza: Kiwami will be “available soon.” Additionally, Journey to the Savage Planet will be getting an expansion called Hot Garbage on April 15th.

To end out the Game Pass segment, it was announced Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, PC and Console will be available in Japan and South Korea starting on April 14th.

The next feature was all about Gears Tactics, the upcoming tactical strategy game from The Coalition, developer of the Gears franchise. The main character is named Gabe Diaz, who happens to be the father of Gears 5‘s protagonist, Kate Diaz. The game will feature a “three action system,” where units you control can move, shoot, or use your skills as you want. Executions play a big part in the Gears franchise (they made one a powerbomb) and they return in Tactics as a new mechanic. When you perform an execution in Tactics your entire team gets a boost, but you have to be strategic and not just rush in. It’s a new dynamic based on an old mechanic and it looks pretty sweet.

A deep customization system was shown, for both weapons and characters and according to the Game Director, Tyler Bielman, everything in the game is earnable. There will not be any microtransactions or loot boxes. Gears Tactics will be releasing on April 28th for PC, with a console release to come at a later date. Thankfully, the title has already gone gold, so no more delays between now and release.

Some Project Xcloud announcements came next. Three games will be joining the beta of the streaming service: The Sims 4, Unravel 2, and Dragon Age: Inquisition. The following 11 European countries are also being added to the program’s beta testing:

  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Spain
  • Sweden

Following the Xcloud news, we got our first true surprise of the show. Back in January, Devolver Digital teased a Hotline Miami Collection for Xbox. Those dreams were realized today, as a new trailer featuring the aforementioned collection dropped, along with the news it would be available now.

The next trailer shown was for a new game called Atomicrops, and it’s bonkers. It appears to be a farm management sim but with a bigger focus on combat and really crazy looking enemies. There was a giant sun trying to kill the player. One commenter on the youtube trailer called it, “Stardew Valley + Enter the Gungeon.” Yeah that’s pretty close. Atomicrops comes out on May 28th.

Hello Games next presented a first look into their new game, The Last Campfire. First revealed during the Nintendo Indie World presentation earlier this year, the game is a 3d adventure puzzler set in what the developer called a “charming dark fantasy” world. They mentioned referencing classic dark fantasy movies for inspiration like Labyrinth and Dark Crystal. No release date has been yet given, however it has been previously shown with “Summer 2020.”

We got a detailed look into some features the Xbox has to assist parents during this time of stay-at-home…ness. These features aren’t anything new, but are maybe overlooked so getting a good explanation on how to limit screen time, content restrictions, a ton of privacy settings, the copilot controller feature, etc. is a good thing for those stuck at home. Xbox Game Bar for Windows got a pretty hefty update, bringing integration with Razer and Xsplit into the fold.

Saved for last, Sea of Thieves detailed their next free content update called Ships of Fortune. With it comes an expanded reputation system for both adventure and arena modes, a new pvp focused trading company called Reaper’s Bones, an Emissary role for each existing company, and the best news of all: cats. Yes, you can now have a cat as a pet in Sea of Thieves and PUT OUTFITS ON THEM. The update is out on April 22nd.

That’s everything that happened at Inside Xbox for April 7th. See anything you like? With Microsoft declaring all events will be digital for them going until at least August 2021, we will most likely see this type of show carry forward. Stay safe out there friends.

About The Author

Nic S.
Sr. Staff Writer

Nic Stevenson, sometimes called AnthroMetal, is a writer, producer, broadcaster and lover of video games and metal. He's been gaming since he was a wee lad with the Sega Master System way back when and, aside from a 5-year romp through the academic halls of anthropology, followed the gaming industry religiously. He is an avid lover of metal music and sometimes will even play his guitar or sing if necessary. There are no games or genres outside of his purview. Really anything he could play to boost his gamerscore on Xbox Live. You can find him there, usually playing something old because of an ever-increasing backlog, sometimes playing something new when he's able. He has tattoos of BioShock, dead space and borderlands 2 so far, with plans to add as many as he can for those games deemed worthy. He may run out of space. Look, he really really likes video games okay? Okay. Also, he streams sometimes on twitch.