If Bethesda set a high bar last night for E3 press conferences, Microsoft may have one-upped them. Their presentation was awash with updates to hardware, console exclusive games, exciting indie projects, and actual gameplay footage.
The head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, kicked off the presser with the reveal of the Xbox One S console, a smaller version of the Xbox One. The new version of the console comes in white and is 40% smaller than its predecessor. Not only that, but the S boasts two terabytes of storage and supports 4K resolution streaming from Netflix and Amazon. Spencer promises that the updated Xbox One will be able to present even more vivid colors and play UHD Blu-rays. The S will be accompanied by a new, streamlined controller that looks slightly slicker than the original Xbox One controller.
The console will be available this coming August starting at $299 (for the 500Gb version).
To follow that bombshell up, Spencer welcomed Rod Fergusson to the stage to talk about Gears of War 4. Fergusson revealed that Gears 4 would be one of the first titles to support Xbox Play Anywhere. The new initiative from Microsoft means that any Play Anywhere title bought digitally is playable on Xbox One and Windows 10. Progress and achievements are saved online and shared across platforms. Every co-op mode in Gears of War 4 will support cross-play between PC and console. A new Gears of War-themed Xbox One Elite controller will be available, too.
Gameplay was shown depicting a mission in Gears of War 4 in which players are trapped in a storm as the new Swarm enemies collapse upon them. Also, there is a buzzsaw gun. A BUZZSAW GUN!
Killer Instinct's developers briefly appeared to toot their horn as the creators of the most-played fighting game on Xbox One. They then revealed that General Raam, the villain from the first Gears of War game, would be their next guest fighter. Armed with a serrated dagger and an intimidating amount of mass, the ugly brute aims to take the free-to-play fighter by storm right now! Players can get their mitts on him as of today for free for the remainder of the week.
The next trailer shown was full of majestic, sweeping environments and the roar of car engines. Forza Horizon 3 aims to awe with beautiful scenery into which you can just disappear. The racing title will be set in Australia and part of the Play Anywhere initiative, which they demonstrated live on stage between several different platforms cross-playing together. Forza Horizon 3 offers a four-player campaign co-op for the first time in the series' history. The title will be exclusive to Xbox One and Windows 10 on September 27.
A stylish collaboration between Keiji Inafune, the creator of Mega Man and the head of the still-in-development Mighty No. 9, and the developers behind the Metroid Prime series, ReCore made an impressive showing with the world premier of its gameplay. We meet the various characters that make up the friendly faces of ReCore and see them battling various enemies. Players take on the role of Joule Adams as she leads her crew of robotic companions on an adventure to save the isolated planet of Far Eden. Not many more details were shown, but ReCore looks like it is shaping up to be a title to keep an eye on going forward.
Square Enix took the stage to talk briefly about Final Fantasy XV. However, they quickly stepped aside to begin a live demonstration of Final Fantasy XV on Xbox One. The demonstration showcased a boss battle against a colossal creature with a heavy emphasis on dodging and movement to avoid attacks. It looked absolutely fantastic, to say the least.
Final Fantasy XV releases on September 30.
Also, do you like The Division? The Division: Underground expands the world of The Division by adding subway systems to explore and new enemies to fight. It's coming on June 28 to Xbox One. The expansion will come to PC and PlayStation 4 a month later.
Microsoft then played the trailer for Battlefield 1 that was shown at EA's Play event yesterday. It still looks great.
For those who were hoping for more UI and options for connecting with others on Xbox One, players will now be able to form clubs, private communities for players of all different kinds. There will also be an option called Looking for Group to connect players from all over the world of similar skill levels in multiplayer games. The Arena initiative that Microsoft is launching on Xbox One will be a competitive eSports platform going forward. Players will be able to sign up for tournament play on their Xbox One or the Arena app to play for prizes or for fun.
Oh, also you will be able to play your own background music on Xbox One.
Most significantly, Microsoft delved into how their cross-play would work. The initial lineup of games that support cross-play will be Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, Sea of Thieves, and Scalebound.
One of the biggest reveals for the casual community is definitely the announcement that Minecraft players will now be able to play cross platform with their friends from mobile, PC, and Xbox One. Starting today, players with Xbox Live accounts can try a Minecraft Realm for free across mobile and Windows 10 for an entire free month. Skins and texture packs will be making their way to mobile, too. However, even more exciting than any of that, John Carmack took the stage to demonstrate Gear VR in Minecraft live.
Of course, this was followed by the decidedly less kid-friendly, but still light-hearted, reveal of Dead Rising 4, which appears to be set during the holiday season and heralds the return of Frank West. Frank was pretty dearly missed. After all, he's covered wars, you know. The trailer shows Frank smacking down zombies, impaling the shufflers with candy canes, and driving a wide variety of vehicles. Players can expect new zombies and even mobile EXO suits.
A neat surprise came in the form of Microsoft offering customizable Xbox One controllers. Customers can choose what colors they want the various components of their controller to be and even have their name or Gamer Tag written on the controller itself. People can check out the premium controllers over on the Xbox Design Lab site.
Remember the follow up to LIMBO that was announced two years ago at E3? No? Well, that's okay, because it is back with a new trailer and a release date that is right around the corner. Even though the trailer doesn't show off any gameplay, Inside will release on June 28 for Xbox One and July 7 for PC.
Also, LIMBO will be free on Xbox One from June 13-20.
We Happy Few also made an impressive appearance. The stealth-adventure title revealed gameplay and interactions between characters. The demo effectively showed how twisted the city of We Happy Few has become under the effects of the mandatory drug known as Joy. The title comes to Xbox One and PC this summer. We Happy Few will also release on Xbox Preview (the Xbox version of Steam's Early Access) in July.
CD Projekt RED took the stage to talk about their upcoming game, Gwent. The standalone multiplayer card game will be coming to Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC this September when it enters beta. The closed beta for the Xbox One version launches on September 26.
Tekken 7 looks like it has absorbed Tekken X Street Fighter to create its E3 trailer that depicted Akuma and Heihachi engaging in fisticuffs. Tekken 7 will release sometime in 2017. As a way of generating some hype and buzz for Tekken, Xbox Live users will receive copies of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 for free.
Scalebound by Platinum Games looks as fantastic as ever, though I can't help but worry that the protagonist will become irritating over the course of a full game. Gameplay was shown, depicting a large-scale (pun intended) multiplayer encounter with four warriors facing down a colossal crab-spider-thing. It looks spectacular and the gameplay appears smooth, though the dragons seem to be less than agile. Take a look at the gameplay and let us know what you think! Scalebound is exclusive to Xbox One and Windows 10 and will release in 2017.
For the first time, Sea of Thieves gameplay was on display at Microsoft's press conference. After a brief cinematic, presser attendees were shown some pre-recorded and pre-cut footage of several normal people playing Sea of Thieves and cooperating together. It honestly looks like a blast if you can gather a group of friends who want to work together. The first-person pirate game really seems like it will be making waves.
For any who thought that zombies might be going away any time soon, Microsoft had not one, but two zombie titles in their presser lineup. State of Decay 2 made its debut with a strange trailer that alternated between lighthearted zombie killing and serious struggles for survival. Players can work together or alone to overcome challenges and survive in a world that has gone mad in the wake of a zombie apocalypse. However you choose to interact with the denizens of State of Decay 2, the world remembers the choices you make as a character.
State of Decay 2 releases for Xbox One and PC sometime in 2017.
The sequel to one of the most well-received console RTS games in history is on the way. Halo Wars 2 continues the story of the original Halo Wars as the Spirit of Fire and her crew find themselves locked in conflict with a brutal alien warlord named Atriox who leads an army known as The Banished. Players will need to lead their soldiers with all their cunning if they hope to survive the assaults of Atriox and his Banished.
Halo Wars 2 is slated for release on February 21, 2017.
After the trailer, a brief beta gameplay trailer was shown, depicting what players can expect to experience during the beta that goes from today until June 20.
Microsoft held it biggest bombshell for last. After the unveiling of Halo Wars 2, the tech giant revealed Project Scorpio, a second version of the Xbox One that the company claims is the most powerful console constructed to date with a GPU that clocks in at a whopping 6 teraflops, almost five times stronger than the current Xbox One. It will have one of the strongest GPUs ever put into a console. That power will be used to deliver 4K gaming and seamless VR experiences.
Despite that power, Phil Spencer emphasized that the guiding priority with Project Scorpio was, "no one gets left behind." All accessories that work with the base Xbox One will also work with Project Scorpio.
Project Scorpio is on track for a 2017 holiday release. No price has yet been announced.
Overall, I'd say Microsoft knocked their press conference out of the park. Tons of new, interesting games were shown with plenty of gameplay. In a brilliant PR move, they managed to edge away from console exclusivity and bridge the gap between Xbox One and Windows 10. Two new console versions revealed that both have really great selling points. This presentation was very meaty and will give people quite a bit to chew over for the next few days as more coverage rolls out.
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