SURPRISE APPEARANCE: Keanu Reeves unveils the Cyberpunk: 2077 release date at the Xbox E3 2019 briefing in Los Angeles.
SURPRISE APPEARANCE: Keanu Reeves unveils the Cyberpunk: 2077 release date at the Xbox E3 2019 briefing in Los Angeles. Casey Rodgers

Microsoft wows audiences with games and Hollywood star

THE annual E3 gaming expo in Los Angeles on June 9 contained a huge number of game announcements and surprises for fans.

The 90-minute presentation showcased 60 games, including eagerly awaited titles such as The Outer Worlds, Gears of War 5 and Halo: Infinite, but Microsoft somehow managed to overshadow its Project Scarlett next-generation console announcement with a surprise appearance by a well-known Hollywood star, too.

The hugely anticipated roleplaying game Cyberpunk: 2077 had another story trailer unveiled, which revealed a surprise twist that actor Keanu Reeves plays a significant character in the game - moments before the real-life Mr Reeves walked on to the stage, shared his enthusiasm about the upcoming title with the thousands of astounded gamers in the audience, then revealed the release date - April 16, 2020.

Some of the many other titles announced during the briefing included Wasteland 3, Psychonauts 2, Battletoads, Blair Witch and Forza Horizon 4: Lego Speed Champions, all of which were met with great enthusiasm by the audience.

Towards the end of the presentation, Xbox head Phil Spencer shared more information on Microsoft's next-generation gaming console, currently known as Project Scarlett and set for a release around Christmas next year.

While no firm technical specifications were revealed, Mr Spencer said the unit would set a new bar for console power, speed and performance.

Project Scarlett will feature a custom AMD processor several times more powerful than in the current Xbox One X, as well as high-bandwith RAM and a solid-state drive for storage.

Although not directly confirmed during the announcement, it is almost certain the device will be optimised for streaming gaming services.

A new Xbox controller, the Elite 2, was also unveiled. Described as "the second iteration of the fan-favourite Xbox Elite wireless controller", the new controller has been "re-engineered for ultimate performance, customisation and durability, and includes 30 new and improved features such as adjustable- tension thumbsticks, wraparound rubberised grip, shorter hair-trigger locks and up to 40 hours of rechargeable battery life". There is no word on Australian pricing or a release date at the moment, though.

PC gamers got a particular treat during the announcements as well, with more details of the company's Xbox Games Pass for PC revealed. Working in the same way as its extremely popular Xbox Games Pass for the console, it is in public beta now and will provide unlimited access to more than 100 PC games for $A10.95 a month - although for $15.95 a month, gamers can get Game Pass Ultimate, which will provide access to both the PC and Xbox Game Passes, along with an Xbox Live Gold subscription (which is required for multiplayer on the Xbox console).

Mr Spencer said it was great to celebrate with the company's fans and "show how we are delivering against our vision to empower gamers to play the games they want, with the friends they want, wherever they want".

"With thousands of Xbox games in development, we curated our show around our players, with new titles premiering in Xbox Game Pass across console and PC, and game streaming that enables them to play their favourite games, with their friends, wherever they go," he said.

Royce Wilson attended E3 as a guest of Ubisoft.