Developer Direct Indiana Jones
Xbox has just wrapped up its first major showcase of the year, in the form of a Developer Direct. These kinds of showcases are usually entirely focused on first-party developers, those under the Xbox Game Studios banner, but sometimes, apparently, we get some guests — like Square Enix, which showed up here with Visions of Mana.
In the January 2024 Xbox Developer Direct, we got a deep dive into some of Microsoft’s upcoming games, as well as release windows or dates for all of the games featured: Avowed, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2, Visions of Mana, Ara: History Untold, and Indiana Jones and the Great Circle.
Here’s everything that was announced at the Xbox Developer Direct for January 2024.
Avowed Release Window
Avowed from Obsidian Entertainment is best described as “the people who made Not-Fallout are now making Not-Skyrim,” and we got a very good look at its gameplay systems here during the Developer Direct. It’s looking pretty slick, overall, but there’s really no escaping that this first-person fantasy action RPG is very deeply steeped in Skyrim vibes. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though, it does look like a lot of fun, and while it doesn’t have the big, open world of Skyrim, it does still have all the pieces to make it work.
Avowed was given a release window of Fall 2024 during the presentation, and will be coming to Xbox Series X|S and PC.
Senua’s Saga Hellblade 2 Release Date
We’ve known about a sequel to Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice since 2019, and while we definitely expected it to come a lot earlier than it did, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2 seems to have needed quite a bit of time in the oven. The results speak for themselves, though, and Hellblade 2 is looking utterly gorgeous and sometimes even borderline photorealistic. Developer Ninja Theory also talked about some of the sound design going into the game, with a huge focus on binaural audio that’s sure to send shivers up the spines of headphone-wearers.
The best part is that we don’t have to wait long to play it. Senuas Saga: Hellblade 2 will be released on Xbox Series X|S and PC on May 21, 2024. It’ll also be a digital-only release, which is fine, I guess.
Visions of Mana Release Window
There are a number of reasons I would not have expected Visions of Mana to make an appearance at the Xbox Developer Direct — it’s not made by a first-party developer, it’s not exclusive to Xbox, and it’s Square Enix, which largely ignores Xbox as a whole. But hey, here it is, and we got a deep dive into the game’s combat and gameplay with a few key explainers from staff on the game. It’s looking suitably adorable and charming, and certainly a huge step up for the series compared to previous entries.
We got a vague release window too, with the game set to be released on PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC in Summer 2024. There’s no word on if it’ll be on Game Pass, but we wouldn’t expect it if it hasn’t been revealed already.
Ara: History Untold Release Window
Look, I’m not just saying this because I recently reinstalled Civilization 5, but Ara: History Untold really does look like a new Civ game in all the best ways. That’s not surprising at all, given many of the staff at developer Oxide Games previously worked on the Civ series, and I mean, the results certainly are nice. It looks absolutely beautiful, has all the charm and grace of a Civ game, and seems to expand on the genre in really interesting ways, like putting a heavier focus on cultural domination.
Ara: History Untold is launching in Fall 2024, and it’s only been announced for PC so far.
Indiana Jones and the Great Circle Reveal
And here we go, the big one: Microsoft and MachineGames finally revealed Indiana Jones and the Great Circle, a first-person action puzzler from the team that made the modern Wolfenstein games. And yes, in case you were wondering, you can punch Nazis, staying true to both MachineGames and Indiana Jones. We saw a decent chunk of gameplay here, with plenty of whipping and swinging and punching, and it really does look like the game you’d imagine in your head when you hear “first-person Indiana Jones game.”
Perhaps most surprisingly, given this is the first we’ve ever seen of the game, Indiana Jones and the Great Circle is coming this year, in 2024. It seems to have been confirmed to be exclusive to Xbox Series X|S and PC, so PS5 players are sadly missing out.