E3 2016 Round Up Part 3 – Microsoft

Microsoft had taken their usual position at the official opening of E3 to present their next round of offerings for the coming years and started off with the recently leaked Xbox One S console. It’s a surprising move as normally that would be something kept to the end of a presentation but it does help get it out of the way and quickly return focus back to the games.

Now 40% smaller with an integrated power supply, capability for HDR and support of 4K video via both streaming and UHD Blu-Rays. The new console also comes with a redesigned controller that’s been trimmed down and takes a few design tips from last year’s Elite Controller but a bonus appears to be Bluetooth support which might also tie into their future intentions towards mobile gaming.

Though games are 100% the primary driver for the Xbox team, it’s interesting to see that this new iteration of the console has turned out to be a much more capable media machine than the last. The console will be arriving on store shelves within the next couple of months.

Next up was Rod Fergusson from developer The Coalition. Gears of War 4 will debut Xbox’s new Xbox Play Anywhere program which means gamers can purchase the game once and play on either Windows 10 PCs or console, including cross-play and cross-save between the platforms. All modes in the game including multiplayer, co-op and a new Horde mode will support this feature. The game will arrive on October 11th of this year. A Gears of War 4 themed Elite Controller will also be released at that time too.

There are going to be a few people annoyed that Microsoft is tying their platforms more closely together but ultimately it is (hopefully) going to be good for Xbox by bringing in more new users and creating a lot of conveniences for existing ones. I suppose its success in the long term may ultimately decide if Xbox changes and becomes a software platform only.

Killer Instinct continues to be supported and is bringing in another character from Microsoft’s stable of franchises in the form of General Raam from the original Gears of War. The game is also now officially part of the play anywhere program too. I really should try downloading the Windows 10 version…

To say I was REALLY happy to see Forza Horizon 3 get announced is an understatement – I still think it is one of the best games on the platform and whose only drawback was a need for a larger land mass to drive around. And Australia definitely fits the bill for that – the rest of the lucky country now gets a crack at Xbox racing after Sydney made an appearance in Project Gotham Racing 2.

I’m actually looking forward to the chance to virtually barrel along some familiar locales and see how they shape up compared to the real thing. I’m also excited at the prospect of driving along The Great Ocean Road at night without the constant fear of death… the game ships on both Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs on September 27th.

ReCore made another appearance with a new trailer that doesn’t reveal anything new which was a shame. Square Enix then took to the stage to demonstrate the Xbox One version of Final Fantasy XV and an impressive battle sequence with a crazy sense of scale thanks to the massive enemy involved – the game ships on September 30th.

The next expansion for The Division called Underground is on its way soon too with a random mission generator and some hefty new content… hopefully bug free too. Battlefield 1 was on show here too but this time mention was made of the EA Access exclusive window for the game’s launch that gives Xbox One players a week’s head start on the game; October 13th to be precise.

Xbox’s Mike Ybarra took to the stage to talk about the advanced that have been made to the platform. Finally, background music will arrive to Xbox One after being a sorely missed feature from the 360 era. In additional language independence will mean gamers can use the console in their language of choice irrespective of region. Clubs allows communities to come together on Xbox Live while Looking for Group sounds similar to the 360’s beacons by allowing players to find others wanting to play the same games. Finally, Arena is a hub for competitive play on Xbox Live. All of these sound like a move to bring more of the social aspects of gaming back into the platform.

The Minecraft team introduced their latest features called the “Friendly Update” which now allows iOS, Android and Windows 10 users to now join games via Xbox Live. In addition, Minecraft Realms will soon become available to these versions meaning dedicated servers for even more platforms. These features will also be arriving on Xbox in the future.

A sneak peek at Playdead’s upcoming Inside also came with the bonus of their previous game Limbo currently being free on Xbox Live. Go get it. Ark: Survival Evolved is an indie title that’s had a lot of success in the preview program and once it officially launches will also become part of the play anywhere program too. We Happy Few will arrive on Xbox One as a console exclusive and will soon be entering the preview program itself.

CD Projekt RED revealed that the standalone Gwent card game is in fact a real thing too – this might just be the only digital card game I’d ever want to play after sinking plenty of time into it during The Witcher 3. You can sign up now for the beta here.

Bandai Namco revealed Tekken 7 will arrive on Xbox One next year and as a parting gift Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is free this week to Xbox Live Gold members. Dead Rising 4 brings Frank West back doing what he does best: smashing zombies in new and creative ways. And it’s arriving at the end of the year. Scalebound, coming next year for both Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs, showed off a massive co-op boss fight.

Rare’s very piratey Sea of Thieves has the makings of something that will appeal to gamers wanting to jump into a big group for judging by the challenges of simply steering a ship around and fighting others on the ocean. The art style has a bright and friendly feel to it that might help make this much more accessible than the usual hyper realistic designs of many games.

Extremely popular 360 zombie survival sim State of Decay returns with a sequel – it will interesting to see if they can address one of the original game’s complaints and introduce a multiplayer mode.

Halo Wars 2 is coming soon and to coincide with the announcements at E3, a beta of the game is available now on Xbox Live for players to check out the new game for themselves. Developed by the Total War creators at Creative Assembly, the game will launch in February 21st 2017.

Finally, Phil Spencer returned to the stage to give everyone a tease of Project Scorpio – the next generation Xbox One console that was rumoured to exist. Still more than a year away, the team at Xbox are pushing themselves to ensure the performance capabilities will not only greatly surpass the current systems but take a substantial leap over the upcoming PS4 Neo console too.

Making an announcement like this seems almost like Microsoft is drawing a line in the sand and daring Sony to step over it and reveal if their new console will be able to compare. For a company that’s been on the defensive since the Xbox One’s launch, this is a surprisingly aggressive move.

The whole Xbox One / Windows 10 content cross over is still going to be a contentious issue for many and some may even question the value of the console in the long term but providing these kinds of choice to players might just work out for them.

The full Microsoft conference is below via GameSpot – if you want to skip the pre-show chat, skip ahead to 39:15 . This one will take you around 90 minutes so be prepared for the long haul. 🙂

4 replies »

  1. I haven’t watched the Sony conference yet but Microsoft’s conference this year really impressed me. I am fully on board with the idea that they have different model consoles within the same family. Forza Horizon 3 also excites me greatly. 🙂


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