Microsoft has a packed E3 this year, making announcement after announcement regarding things from hardware to games. Head of Xbox Phil Spencer kicked off the show by taking to the stage for a very big opening announcement.
Xbox One S
The first announcement by Spencer was that of the new Xbox One S, slimmer and sleeker than its predecessor, being 40% smaller. It will also feature up to 2TB of internal HDD and also integrated power supply including an IR blaster. The footage with the announcement promised HDR gaming, 4K Ultra HD video and Blu-Ray. A new wireless controller was announced alongside the console, having a textured grip, Xbox wireless and Bluetooth. Starting price for the Xbox One S was announced to be $299. For more on the new console, check out this article.
Xbox Play Anywhere
This new service was next to be announced and allowed players to download games to either Xbox One or Windows and immediately have access to it on the other platform. This also means that achievements carry over and that crossplay will be supported on certain games, allowing PC players to play with Xbox players.
Gears of War 4
Co-creator and Studio Head of The Coalition Rod Fergusson took to the stage next to announce that Gears of War 4 would be one of the first titles in this Xbox Play Anywhere initiative. He went on to show a gameplay demo that showcased many features of the game including improved visuals, combat and cover mechanics, as well as new weapons like the Buzzkill. This was all done in a story mission where Kait's mother is abducted by the enemy swarm and the team are trying to get her back.
Forza Horizon 3
Playground Games revealed Forza Horizon 3 at this year's Microsoft E3 press conference as well, also being part of the Xbox Play Anywhere programme. The game is set in Australia and boasts the largest open-world made by the studio. Another focal point was the fact that it has the largest car roster seen in Horizon, including the impressive Lamborghini Centenario. Other features of the game include four player co-op and extreme terrains to explore.
Final Fantasy XV
Final Fantasy XV was a bit of a strange one to appear at the Xbox conference, but we got to see a ton of new gameplay for the game, which is set to drop at the end of September. A short demo was showcased, where we saw Noctis and his band of misfits do battle against an absolutely massive Titan Boss. The game's beautiful graphics were put on display during the battle, which did a great job of showing off some of the abilities you'll be able to make use of when the full game launches. The boss fight culminated in you and your crew freezing the Titan's arm and shattering it, ending the fight. The gameplay demo only served to fuel our hype for FF XV, which will finally drop on September 30.
The Division: Underground
During the Xbox briefing it was also announced that the first DLC expansion for The Division, entitled Underground, will launch at the end of this month on Xbox One. As part of an exclusive deal with Microsoft, the Expansion will launch first on the console, and a little later on PS4. The DLC will put the player underneath New York City, offering a whole new playground in the vast maze of tunnels. There will also be randomly generated missions that give better rewards the more you play through them. The DLC will launch on Xbox One on June 28.
Not much was announced for Battlefield 1, but it made a showing at the Xbox conference anyway. The same trailer that was shown during yesterday's EA conference was shown off once again, and we were told that Battlefield 1 would be available to members of EA Access first, before any other console. Battlefield 1 is set to release on October 21.
Xbox Live Updates
A slew of new Xbox updates were announced, that are slated to drop as part of the Anniversary Update this October. First off, there were a few minor announcements; that you will be able to play music in the background of any game, regardless of what you are playing. Next, there was the announcement that you will be able to play any game in any language you like, followed by the announcement that the Cortana voice assistant will be headed to Xbox.
After these minor announcements, Clubs, Looking For Group, and Arena were all announced. Clubs lets you create and join a community of players that all share the same interests as you, for example a Minecraft creators community. Looking for Group essentially lets you post a 'wanted ad,' that will help you find people online to play with, or to give you a hand in a game. Finally, Arena lets you set up your own competitive tournament in any game from Microsoft Game Studios, and EA Sports games like FIFA will be coming to the platform eventually.
Minecraft got a big upgrade in the form of Realms; a system that lets you share your world across any platform, essentially allowing for cross platform play between Xbox, PC, Mobile, and VR editions (they even had an iPad on stage). The update has been dubbed 'The Friendly Update,' and dropped today as a bit of a surprise. It was also announced that later in the year the game will get support for mods and extensions on other versions, allowing for things such as new skins for zombies, that replaces them with aliens that shoot fire. More info will come at Minecon this September.
Microsoft showed off a bunch of new games via their ID@Xbox program at their conference. Most of the games shown including Cuphead, Ark Survival Evolved, and more will be available through the Play Anywhere program, meaning they will support cross-buy between Xbox and Windows 10. A big game shown off during the ID@Xbox segment was We Happy Few.
CD Projekt Red announced that Gwent, the popular card game from The Witcher 3, would be becoming a standalone game. This came with a new trailer and Lead Designer Damien Monnier described the game as a "passion project" for the studio. The CCG had been expanded and visuals changed for this title, but the basic concepts stay the same. A single-player campaign has also been added, it was announced, and a beta is also coming in September.
Dead Rising 4
Dead Rising 4 was announced during the conference, and is another game that will support cross-buy between both Xbox One and Windows 10 platforms. Frank West will be making a return, and we'll be able to kill zombies in all kinds of crazy and unique ways. Dead Rising 4 is slated for a Holiday 2016 release, so keep an eye out for some more news, including gameplay.
A good slice of Scalebound gameplay was shown off during the event, and we saw the game's protagonist take on a giant enemy crab (!), and attacking its weak point for massive damage. It also did a good job of showing off the co-operative gameplay and the unique combat system that lets players take on a range of wacky creatures. Scalebound is set to release on Xbox One and Windows 10 in 2017, once again as a part of the Play Anywhere program.
Sea of Thieves
During the latter part of the conference we got a glimpse of Rare's Sea of Thieves, a game which turns you and a group of friends into seafaring pirates, taking on the Seven Seas and both the dangers and treasures it brings. You may also come up against an enemy ship, run by another group of pirates (who are also humans controlling their own ship), and do battle against them until only one ship remains. The game is set to release some time this year (hopefully).
State of Decay 2
State of Decay 2 was given a cinematic trailer with snippets of gameplay and emphasised the necessity of teamwork for survival. The visually impressive trailer demonstrates both combat and exploration while also showcasing improved features like the lighting that impressed us so much. Currently State of Decay 2 is set for a 2017 release.
Halo Wars 2
The highly anticipated Halo Wars 2 was given a release date of February 21 2017. More details were also revealed about the game, including that a new enemy faction will be called 'the banished' and that there will be a new villain called Warlord Atreox. A cinematic trailer and a multiplayer trailer showed gameplay footage. Halo Wars 2 will also be part of the Xbox Play Anywhere programme. The beta for the game has just kicked off.
Microsoft ended their E3 press conference with a big announcement and this came in the form of Project Scorpio, a brand new console that will work alongside the Xbox One and Xbox One S. It is set to be the most powerful console ever made, with 6 teraflops of GPU (the most powerful graphics card ever put into a console, rendering at 60Hz), 4K gaming potential, 8 CPU cores, full VR support and 200GB per second of bandwidth. A montage of developers offering their thoughts on the console show that this was all received positively, with the console even getting referred to as "a monster"
Microsoft clearly had a lot to tell everyone and we're surprised that they managed to fit it all into their event. They have certainly made a good impression with their console announcements alone, raising interesting questions as to the future of gaming and Microsoft. Yes nearly every announcement was leaked ahead of time, and yes it was light on surprises, but Microsoft put on a decent show this year.