By Kyle Holmer. As expected, Microsoft kicked off their E3 Press Conference by announcing brand new Xbox (a “Slim” of sorts). Debuting in August at $299, this new Xbox One S (what an inspired name) will include a built-in power source and allow for 4K gaming and streaming. With these new features comes a complete redesign for both the controller and console, both of which are now outfitted in a new sexy white coat of paint.
Keep in mind, this is one of two new Xbox consoles that have been rumored in the months leading up E3, the other being a complete interior redesign which will make the console significantly more powerful (the One S is not that alleged 1.5 we’ve been hearing about).
Along with the announcement of a brand new console, Microsoft pushed their new “Play Anywhere” campaign, which will grant gamers a free PC port of their games along with its console version. So far, Gears of War 4 is the only game announced with this feature, but along with the dual versions of the game, some “Play Anywhere” games will support crossplay allowing users on both systems to play with each other in multiplayer and co-op.
Gears of War 4
Immediately following the Xbox One S reveal, Microsoft trotted out some brand new gameplay footage of Gears of War 4. The game’s all-too familiar pastiche of bulky dudes and ladies cutting fools down with chainsaws and screaming at the top of their lungs wasn’t the surprise we were looking for — and the not-so unexpected reveal of Marcus Phoenix at the tail end of the footage contributed to our casual shrugs.
As it stands, Phoenix was the only familiar face to be found in the live gameplay, so it’s safe to assume that, since they showed his beat-up mug, 4 will tie back into the original trilogy in some meaningful way. This was probably the least surprising announcement of the day, but it has been awhile since we’ve gotten our hands on a good Gears game. It’s safe to say the series back in all its active-reloading goodness.
Also, Microsoft couldn’t help but shoehorn some cross brand synergy, so they threw in a teaser for a Gears of War elite controller (the first branded elite controller).
After the brief and somber trailer at last years E3, we’re finally given some actual gameplay footage of Keiji Inafune’s latest game. I can safely say, from what I’ve seen today, this game is not quite the exploration game last years trailer led me to expect. ReCore instead looks to be some sort of multiclass action adventure game, though along with the brand new footage comes a firm release date of September 13th. Check out the footage below.
Apparently Microsoft loved Sony’s infamous independent game montage from 2014 so much that they finally decided to take the stage and create their own (it only took them two years to gather enough independent developers). Fortunately for Microsoft, the ID@Xbox program appears to be a smashing success and it looks like we’ll all be getting an opportunity to play a huge pile of independent games.
While a few of these are known quantities (like the gorgeous Cuphead or the mysterious Below), the majority of these titles are brand new announcements.
Forza Horizon 3
Another year, another Forza. With this latest installment, Forza is now set in Australia and will boast a four player cooperative campaign. Horizon 3 will be released on September 27th, with the option for Early Access on the 23rd if you preorder the game. Joining Gears of War, Horizon will also allow for cross platform play and be a part of the “Play Anywhere” initiative. All in all, there’s not much to say; it’s a beautiful racing game with a lot of cars I know nothing about. I’m sure fans of the series will love it and everyone else will forget it even exists.
Final Fantasy XV
Apparently Final Fantasy XV is actual going to come out at some point. After an insanely tumultuous development cycle (and a handful of name changes), XV will actually make it to store shelves on September 7. This game is by no means an exclusive (and from the looks of it, Xbox won’t be getting any unique content) but fortunately for us, members of the Square Enix development team took the stage to show off some insane gameplay footage.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably all but forgotten about this game. We were given a brief glimpse into Playdead’s latest last year, but since then there’s been very little information about this mysterious title and not much has changed this year. There’s a new short (and incredibly cryptic trailer) but there really isn’t much else to say. Fortunately for everyone, that mysterious veil will be lifted real soon — the game comes out in just a few weeks on June 28th. Along with the surprise release date, Playdead and Microsoft are offering their previous game (the incredible Limbo) for free for all Xbox Live Gold members starting today.
Another not-so exclusive stage presentation, Microsoft showed off some new gameplay footage from Dice’s latest entry in the acclaimed Battlefield series. The only real surprise is the confirmation of 64 player multiplayer and that Battlefield 1 will be playable on Xbox One a week early (October 13th instead of the wide release of October 21st), provided you’re one of the few who’ve actually signed up for unbelievably useless EA Access.
Oh Minecraft, you relentless bastard. This game’s tenacity knows no bounds, and what’s more, the teams at Mojang and Microsoft keep adding new and meaningful content. Minecraft had one of the most surprising stage demos if only for the fact that John “Mr. Doom” Carmack took the stage to show off the Oculus integration for the latest Minecraft update. How and when we’ll be able to use VR with this game remains to be seen, but along with the new peripheral options, both the console and PC versions of the game will be getting new dedicated servers and the ability to play cross-device. Along with that, the console version of the game will be getting a form of mod support with the addition of “realms,” allowing gamers to modify the gameplay and aesthetic of the base game.
This one is real treat for me, as my favorite part of The Witcher 3 was easily the Gwent card game. Developers from CD Projekt Red took the stage to show off their latest game (although if I’m being honest I’d have preferred an update on Cyberpunk 2077). Gwent: The Witcher Card Game will be released this fall and beyond the inclusion of multiplayer battles, the game will include a single player campaign. From the footage shown, the game appears to be an exact version of the Witcher 3 but seeing as the original was pretty much perfect, I don’t fault CD Projekt for refusing to overhaul the aesthetics. Regardless, fans of the game will get a chance to play before the December release date as they’re allowing gamers to sign up for a beta on the game’s website starting today.
I think I can safely say that no one was expecting this. It’s been nearly a decade since we’ve played the latest Tekken installment, and while that Tekken x Street Fighter never properly materialized, it appears that Tekken 7 will include Street Fighter’s Akuma. (So there’s that.) Other than the brief CGI trailer, there’s very few details regarding the game. As of now, it’s a console and PC exclusive (but I’d be surprised if it doesn’t eventually end up on Playstation) and will include an extensive and elaborate story mode. From Katsuhiro Harada:
“Not only will Tekken 7 evolve as a competitive fighting game, as you just saw, there’s an all-new story mode that transitions from epic narrative cinematics to action-filled gameplay.”
That’s about as vague as you can get, but I imagine will see much more footage at this year’s TGS. Along with the surprise announcement comes another; Tekken Tag Tournament will be free for all Xbox Live Gold Members starting today and lasting through the end of the week, so go download your copy now.
Dead Rising 4
The man is back, and by “the man,” I mean everyone’s favorite husky reporter Frank West. We’re given a brief glimpse at Capcom’s latest zombie slaughtering simulator Dead Rising 4, thus confirming the rumors that started last week, Frank West will again return to fold to mutilate hordes of the undead as only he can.
There’s next to no solid information about this game (specifically how many of the mechanics from 3 will return), but it’s launching at some point this holiday so stay tuned; I’m sure we’ll get plenty of new information regarding this game once the show floor opens tomorrow.
I think we can safely say that all of the hesitation and criticism surrounding this game can be put to rest. After two years of brief teasers, we’re finally given some honest to goodness gameplay footage (multiplayer in fact), and this game looks incredible. Although in recent years, Platinum has had a spotty track record (at least as far as their licensed games are concerned), they have a tendency to consistently hit it out of the park with their original properties.
Look at that. The gameplay is sincerely insane. And while there’s a little too much nu metal and “punk aesthetic” for my taste, the footage more than makes up for it. While the release information is still incredibly vague (2017?) my faith in both Platinum and Scalebound has been firmly restored.
Sea of Thieves
Up until 2015’s E3, I think most people had safely assumed Rare was done for. While we did get the wonderful Rare Replay, the company hadn’t made anything new since the launch of the 360 (it honestly seemed like Microsoft purchased them just to get access to their back catalogue). Last year however, we were finally given a glimpse at what they had been working on. And while the initial Sea of Thieves reveal trailer was pretty short, it showed great promise. Rare once again proves they aren’t completely dead by showing us some proper footage of their latest game in action.
Sea of Thieves looks to be some sort of clan-based MMO where you party with your friends, plunder forgotten treasure and wreak some havoc on opposing bands of pirates. The game is a real charmer, allowing us to live out our pirate fantasies (and apparently get properly pirate drunk).
Halo Wars 2
For the second year in a row, Microsoft has shown us that they’re willing to do literally anything to keep the Halo franchise alive. While the original Halo Wars may have been a sleeper hit (if I may be so generous), Microsoft will not be deterred by their Halo ambitions, giving us a brief cinematic teaser at their latest attempt at making a console realtime strategy game with the promise of more to come in the form of show floor demos and a beta. It’s possible they’ll actually hit it out of the park, but I think it’s much more likely that Halo Wars 2 will be mostly ignored when it launches in February of 2017.
The biggest surprise of the day was easily Project Scorpio. While the assumption that all the rumors regarding Microsoft’s next two iterations of the Xbox brand were in fact legitimate, I did not expect that they would announce both of them on the same day. Project Scorpio is still quite a ways off (Holiday 2017 in fact) and it looks as though Microsoft is merely laying the groundwork for developers (not to mention, letting fans begin to hoard their pennies). If you’ve been following the story over the past few weeks, it seems like all the technical specifications and leaks were absolutely true; Project Scorpio will support pure 4K resolution, will allow for full VR integration, and will boost an insanely powerful GPU (and will likely be obsolete two weeks after its launch thanks to the ever expanding power of the PC). Regardless, Microsoft promised a complete universal infrastructure, stating that all games will be completely playable on all platforms; no one, apparently, will be left behind.
Here are a few lose bits that got a little stage time:
Killer Instinct’s latest new character, again drawing from the not-so extensive Microsoft back catalogue is Gears of War. Microsoft apparently can’t stop convincing us that we love General Raam despite our general disinterest.
The Division will be getting some new DLC starting on June 28th. The appropriately titled Underground DLC pack will release first on Xbox One, and 30 days later on other consoles. The actual content details are pretty slim right now, but there will be elements of randomly generated missions, along with new gear and locations in which to fight.
Taking a cue from the failed Xbox 360 faceplate endeavor, Microsoft will be rolling out a program that allows users to custom design (apparently only the color layout) an Xbox One controller. Considering the success of the Elite controller, one would assume players would also be given the option to modify the stick/button/trigger options as well, but as it stands, the controller designs appear to be purely aesthetic.
Microsoft will be rolling out a brand new dashboard update, which will add a host of new features most fans have been clamoring for. In particular:
- There will be a new “looking for a group feature” that will allow people to find others to play with directly from their console
- The new Arena system will allow people to create and challenge each other within an individual game (think of it as custom achievements that you can challenge your friends with)
- Microsoft will finally be adding a community system which allow like minded gamers to join up a community page where they can party up or just post to a community wall.
Beyond the grouping options, Microsoft will also be adding the ability to play background music from the dashboard, the option to modify the language within a game (Language Region Independence) and perhaps the most useless of all, full “Cortana” integration throughout the entire Xbox dashboard.
Be sure to check out DoomRocket’s LOAD FILE coverage of E3 2016 throughout the week!