Contraband for Xbox and PC: Gameplay, trailers, and everything we know

Contraband Logo Image
Contraband Logo Image (Image credit: Avalanche Studios | Xbox Game Studios)

Since the reveal of Contraband at E3 2021, previously known as Project Typhoon, we've set out to collect every bit of information we could find. The next game from Avalanche Studios is being made in collaboration with Xbox Game Studios, and it looks to combine a brand-new 1970's inspired open-world with an action-packed smuggler's sandbox. It's all made possible by Avalanche's experience on previous games, and we couldn't be more excited.

Here's everything we know about Contraband for Xbox and PC.

What is Contraband for Xbox and PC?


Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

A rumored game spawned from a partnership between Xbox Game Studios and Avalanche Studios was only known by the name "Project Typhoon" until its fateful reveal at the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase at E3 2021, where it was revealed to be called Contraband. The latest game from Just Cause creators Avalanche is an open-world, co-op-focused, action-packed heist 'em up set in the 1970s and aimed at Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and PC.

Despite only having a little bit of information about Contraband, it's hard not to get excited by the premise. Players will be able to use a variety of vehicles, gadgets, and more to successfully pull off epic heists, while overcoming obstacles and enemies to reach their goals. Even better, players will be able to work together in co-op to pull off bigger jobs. All of this is set in an ambitious open world powered by Avalanche's Apex Engine, is exclusive to current-gen consoles and PC, and launches on Xbox Game Pass day one.

When is the release date for Contraband?

Contraband E3 2021 Screenshot

Source: Avalanche Studios | YouTube (Image credit: Source: Avalanche Studios | YouTube)

We know that Contraband is heading exclusively to Xbox Series X|S and PC, and will launch day one onto Xbox Game Pass when it arrives. Unfortunately, it seems the project is still a long ways from being finished. Contraband's initial reveal trailer was CGI-only and didn't showcase any gameplay, and very little was revealed about Contraband beyond its name and vague premise. This also means we don't have a release window at this time.

All we can do is speculate. Most of the games shown off during the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase are releasing in 2022 at the latest, like Starfield and Redfall. It stands to reason that games like Contraband and The Outer Worlds 2, which was also revealed without a release window, are destined to be released in 2023 or later. Hopefully, we'll learn more about Contraband and when we can expect it soon.

Be sure to check back in regularly, as we'll constantly update this section when we obtain new information about Contraband.

Where can I watch the trailers for Contraband?

Instead of searching far and wide across the internet for every relevant Contraband trailer, just check back here for everything in one convenient place. Here are all the current trailers for Contraband.

Official announcement

What are the features & gameplay in Contraband?

Contraband E3 2021 Screenshot

Source: Avalanche Studios | YouTube (Image credit: Source: Avalanche Studios | YouTube)

When it comes to Contraband, we don't have a ton of "official" information. More specifically, we have this description: "A co-op smuggler's paradise set in the fictional world of 1970s Bayan." Beyond that, we know that Avalanche is using the latest version of its powerful Apex Engine to deliver its most ambitious open-world yet, similar to how the Just Cause series is infamous for pairing prettier-than-life worlds with larger-than-life action-packed moments.

That being said, we have seen some internal documentation from the game that gives us a good idea of what to expect from Contraband as far as gameplay and features are concerned. Keep in mind, all of this is subject to change throughout Contraband's development.

Open-world vehicular combat

While Contraband's focus is on co-op heists, the delivery method is the vehicles. Contraband is reportedly "vehicle-first," with your vehicle being a crucial and wildly customizable tool. Using vehicles, players will be able to maximize their defensive and offensive power as they explore Contraband's diverse open world. Of course, vehicles will also feature a wealth of different utilities, tools, and potential upgrades so that players can outfit them for their playstyle and specific heists.

Because of Contraband's central vehicular gameplay, combat is also most prominent on wheels rather than on foot. Most interestingly, it seems that Contraband considers guns to be a last resort for players rather than as the initial response to danger. Vehicular combat is more dynamic and fluid, as players and enemies both wish to avoid damaging smuggled goods and treasures at any cost. That means the end goal for both you and your enemies is to disable and stop vehicles rather than destroy them.

Vehicular combat is notoriously difficult to nail, but Avalanche's pedigree makes me confident they'll be able to pull it off. The focus on "non-lethal" combat is especially interesting, and ties into Contraband's overarching theme of heists and thievery over needless violence.

Co-op and game-as-a-service

Contraband is a co-op game, where up to four players work together to pull off crazy heists all over the fictional world of Bayan (inspired by the South Asian coast). Proper planning and management are crucial, and a team of collected members to pull off difficult heists ties into your chances of success. You'll be able to meet up with players through online social hubs, making it easier to team up and play.

Going hand-in-hand with Contraband's co-op focus and open-world heists is its designation as a "game-as-a-service," meaning Avalanche intends to evolve and add to Contraband constantly after it launches. Contraband's service ambitions align it closely with Sea of Thieves, a game that has enjoyed immense success due to its relentless content updates and post-launch support.

It's not clear how Contraband will grow after it releases, only that Avalanche aims to keep the gameplay loop fresh with new content and reasons for players to return. We'll likely continue to learn more about Contraband and its intentions to grow continuously as we get closer to release.

Single-player campaign

Most games that put their focus on co-op, online play, and continual post-launch support often neglect single-player or deign not to include a campaign at all. GTA V, for example, has enjoyed countless updates to its profitable GTA Online mode, while its single-player world has remained effectively unchanged for years. Contraband is, at least partially, shirking these "game-as-a-service" expectations by reportedly including a single-player campaign.

Not a lot is known about the single-player campaign (officially nothing) other than its planned inclusion and the basic premise. Contraband will pit players against a fictional corrupt dynasty known as The Vong that is terrorizing the area of Bayan. How long the campaign will be, gameplay mechanics, characters, story details, and whether or not Contraband's single-player campaign will also enjoy post-launch support all remain entirely unanswered questions at the moment.

What platforms will get Contraband?

Contraband E3 2021 Screenshot

Source: Avalanche Studios | YouTube (Image credit: Source: Avalanche Studios | YouTube)

Despite not having much in the way of official information for Contraband elsewhere, Microsoft wasn't shy about making sure everyone knew exactly what platforms Contraband is heading to. At the moment, Contraband has been confirmed to be exclusive to Xbox Series X|S and PC, and will launch day and date into Xbox Game Pass when it arrives. Avalanche intends to take full advantage of the power inside Microsoft's latest consoles, so older Xbox One consoles are left out.

There's no word on whether or not Contraband will ever appear on Xbox Cloud Gaming. This makes sense, as Xbox Cloud Gaming still uses older Xbox One hardware at its base (although an upgrade to more powerful Xbox Series X|S hardware is apparently planned). Contraband may head to Xbox Cloud Gaming in the future when this planned upgrade comes to fruition. Until then. Contraband is only releasing on Xbox Series X|S and PC.

As far as PC storefronts are concerned, we're not certain where Contraband will be offered. We know Contraband will be sold through the Microsoft Store, as it'll be available through Xbox Game Pass for PC, but availability on other storefronts like Steam and the Epic Games Store has not been announced, yet.

Contraband's premise and the pedigree of its creators make us excited for this co-op action-adventure game, which could end up as one of the best Xbox games when it releases. Stay tuned as we learn more and more about what makes Contraband special.

Zachary Boddy
Staff Writer

Zachary Boddy (They / Them) is a Staff Writer for Windows Central, primarily focused on covering the latest news in tech and gaming, the best Xbox and PC games, and the most interesting Windows and Xbox hardware. They have been gaming and writing for most of their life starting with the original Xbox, and started out as a freelancer for Windows Central and its sister sites in 2019. Now a full-fledged Staff Writer, Zachary has expanded from only writing about all things Minecraft to covering practically everything on which Windows Central is an expert, especially when it comes to Microsoft. You can find Zachary on Twitter @BoddyZachary.