Contraband was one of the biggest surprises from the Xbox and Bethesda £3 conference this year and it's an all-new co-op heist game. Developed by Avalanche Studios – the team behind titles like Just Cause and Mad Max – with this unique-looking Xbox exclusive, we can expect that players will be in for some open-world, vehicle-led mayhem.
Contraband release date
Unlike most of the games shown during Microsoft’s game-studded E3 conference, the mysterious Contraband was given no release date whatsoever. What we do know, however, is that whenever this intriguing Microsoft exclusive does arrive, it will launch on Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and PC.
Microsoft also confirmed that Contraband will get a day one Xbox Game Pass launch. If that wasn’t tantalizing enough, you can also expect Contraband to release with full Xbox Cloud Gaming Support.
Why care about Xbox Cloud Gaming Support? Because by harnessing the power of the cloud it means that even those without a Series X or S will be able to play next-gen exclusives like Contraband. Much in the same way that the Switch has used the cloud to help it run titles that are too demanding for its modest hardware, Microsoft is hoping to bring the next generation of gaming to Xbox One owners by harnessing Xbox Cloud Gaming Support. Every cloud, eh?
Contraband gameplay, setting and characters
While we have yet to see any gameplay in action, we do have a fairly good idea about what awaits players in Contraband. Set in the 1970s, this open-world co-op adventure sees players exploring the fictional world of Bayan - a smuggler’s paradise.
In the cryptic CG teaser, we get a glimpse of a map that details your squad’s heist plans, and what looks like your base of operations. That map refers to a rather ambitious-looking heist known as the "Sun River Job". This heist seems to involve nabbing a fireproof safe from Khoo Private Storage and bolting it across the border in order to make a clean getaway. The map also suggests a decoy to help with the safe getaway.
Another shot is of someone working underneath a four-wheel-drive vehicle in a cluttered garage. If you can figure out what the significance of the neon sign saying "Ketok Magic" is, let us know. We can only find that the word Ketok means "knock" in Indonesian and that there's a Canadian indie musician called I Am Robot and Proud, AKA Shaw-Han Liem - who also co-created the PlayStation 3 and PS Vita game Sound Shapes - who has a song called Ketok Magic.
Another shot of a radio setup has a list of preset channels hanging from a rooster ornament. That lists River Valley, Highlands, Coastline, and Pirate Tower, all locations we can expect to visit in the game. There's also what looks like a ship's cargo manifest, no doubt detailing some delicious loot.
After the announcement, Omar Shakir, game director at Avalanche Studios shared this update:
"Three years ago, we started talking with our partners at Xbox Game Studios about what a co-op smuggler’s paradise would look like and how we could bring it to life together. Today, at the Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase, we finally announced what our team has been working on, Contraband.
Contraband is a co-op smuggler’s paradise set in the fictional world of 1970s Bayan, and our most ambitious and spectacular game to date. We’re taking everything that we’ve learned from 18 years of being at the forefront of creating beautiful, vast open game worlds filled with stunning vistas and incredible emergent gameplay moments.
To fully deliver on our vision for Contraband, we have an amazing team at Avalanche Studios that are pushing the boundaries with the next generation of our Apex Engine, the technology behind all our games, including the Just Cause series. We built the engine to unlock the creativity of our developers and we’re excited to take full advantage of the unique capabilities of Xbox Series X and S."