Well, the rumors, and stories were true, even down the name of the project, but I’m getting ahead of myself here, considering the sheer amount of information Microsoft revealed at it’s E3 presser.
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Right out of the gate, Phil Spencer acknowledged the Xbox One S is being released this August. The newly designed console comes in at 40% smaller than the original, and as NeoGaf’s leak stated, will support 4K resolution, as well as HDR gaming. The updated controller sport blue tooth and wireless capabilities, as well as promise longer range connectivity for the controllers. Microsoft also introduced the Xbox Custom labs, a feature that allows gamers to custom build their own Xbox One controller by selecting colors for everything from the front plate, down to the buttons on the gamepad, gamers can finish off their custom build with their name or whatever (within reason I’d assume) can be thought up laser etched on the custom controller. You can give it a shot by clicking here.
Games wise, to say Microsoft came out swinging would be an understatement, starting things off with a bang was Gears of War 4 and its October release date. With Gears 4 Microsoft also introduced their “Play Anywhere” meaning, regardless of which platform players purchase the game for, they’ll be able to play it on both PC and the Xbox One. Fans were treated to a few minutes of Gears of War 4’s co-op mode, which showed brutal melee, (hunting knife anyone?) and of course chainsaw bayonet kills. Interestingly enough, this entry in the Gears franchise departs from the run and gun style of it’s predecessors, instead going for a moodier, borderline survival horror feel, albeit with big guns and a load of bullets, but the gameplay was not the only surprise Microsoft had in store for fans, as a grizzled greying Marcus looked down from the screen, and guess what, he’s still scowling, angrily, and in super HD, and of course, as with any new Gears release, there’s a Gears inspired Xbox One Elite controller, video below
Marcus wasn’t the only surprise cameo Microsoft had up its sleeve to reveal, a quick look into season 3 of Killer Instinct gave us a glimpse of KI’s newest combatant, General Raam. You can check out his reveal trailer below.
Microsoft’s press event also gave us glimpses of Forza Horizon 3, which of course looked beautiful, as Forza games usually do. Offering 4 player campaign co-op, Forza Horizon 3 takes players to Australia, where they can drive everything from scenic beach highways, or the ridiculousness of the Australian outback in buggys, or trophy trucks, all promised to seamlessly merge when entering into a co-op game with a friend.
New additions to Xbox Live were also revealed, increased server capacity closer to areas with a dense gamer population, as well as the removal of the language boundaries, players can now game in whatever language they choose, background music also was revealed as a coming feature, finally allowing gamers to create their own soundtrack to the games they are playing. Also mentioned was the addition of clubs, allowing gamers to form communities with like-minded fans, as well as a Looking For Group function, something any player of MMO’s will instantly be familiar with. Along with these community focused additions to Xbox Live, Microsoft has announced creation of Arena on Xbox Live, a place for competitive gamers to compete across many Microsoft studio and third party sport titles, such as Madden and Fifa. Lastly, Cortana is coming to the Xbox One, how exactly she’ll be integrated was not revealed, but I expect more will be released about Cortana, and all the other Xbox Live updates in the coming months.
A lot of Microsoft’s presser this year seemed to focus on gaming without boundaries, any chance it could be, cross platform play was stressed, and significantly so during Minecraft’s time in the spotlight. Players will now be able to interact with each other, regardless of what platform they are using, being it Xbox One, or an iOS device, players will be able to interact with each other through a new feature called Minecraft Realms, and the kicker, anyone with an Xbox Live account can try it out for free right now.
Speaking of indie titles, ID@Xbox stole the stage with a huge list of upcoming independently developed games, from Cuphead all the way down to the eagerly awaited Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night but when it came to indies, Compulsion Games stole the show with a look at their upcoming game We Happy Few and from the looks of it, this Clockwork Orangesque game will keep players in a slightly disturbed state. The game itself appears to focus around a main character who after he stops taking the medication Joy, starts to see the world around him is not quite what it seems. Check out the gameplay footage below.
Closing out the show fans were given a look at Scalebound , as well as Rare’s upcoming Sea of Thieves a co-op pirate game where players hunt for treasure, but also have to look out for other pirate crews, while working together sailing their ship.
Halo Wars 2 closed out the games portion of the press conference, with the bombshell that the beta is open and playable right now on Xbox One
Phil Spencer opened the show with the Xbox One S, and it seemed fitting that he close the show with something bigger, and that he did, by revealing Project Scorpio, the third member of the Xbox One family of consoles as it’s now being called. Promising gpu speeds up to 6 teraflops, 328GB per second memory bandwith and an 8core cpu, Project Scorpio is promising to truly bring next gen graphics to life allowing developers to render true 4k at 60hrz. Project Scorpio is slated for a 2017 release, with further details to come.
Overall Microsoft’s E3 press conference was everything fans expected of the gaming giant, and included a staggering amount of new IPs and exclusives that should keep fans happy down the road. Add in the announcement of the gaming console that Microsoft should of build 3 years ago, and it seems that the folks over at Microsoft finally remembered that the Xbox was and always will be a gaming console at it’s heart, no matter how many cable packages you add to it. For those of you that missed it you can check out the full hour and half conference here.
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