E3 2016, Video Games

E3 2016: Micosoft Conference

A lot of people felt that Microsoft would have a rather large challenge with E3, mostly because their big system reveals were leaked ahead of time. It’s not the best start to your conference, with major announcements blown. Yet it was a solid press conference overall.

The conference started with a brief look at the Xbox One S, their new slimer Xbox One. It will have 2 terabyte harddrive, 4k video, but 40% the size of the rather bulky Xbox One. Like past slim line consoles, it’s a more powerful, sleeker version, hoping to appeal to those that have not joined the world of that console.

From there they jumped right into Gears of War 4. They used Gears to announce a new program called Play Anywhere. Play Anywhere will allow gamers to buy one copy of a game and have it on both Xbox One and Windows 10. There are promises of seamless integration between the two, allowing someone to play a story on both depending on which they have access to. Gears of War 4 as an exclusive will be part of this program. They then had a co-op feature for Gears, which was interesting but a little big dead air. Neither person really took the time to explain what they were doing while playing, or attempted to sell the game at all.

Forza Horizon 3 will also be a Play Anywhere game, and will also be a cross platform gaming experience. Aside from showing off a great looking trailer they then showed four player co-op with people on PC and Xbox. Aside from the cross platform joining someone’s co-op game should be an instant experience. If this works as well as it did on stage, with just a one button confirmation meaning bam it’s done, then this is a huge thing for Forza and multiplayer in general.

On the note of cross platform, later in the show Minecraft Friendly Update was announced. Out already for Windows, iOS, and Android, it will be a cross platform update for the game. They also hope to throw Xbox One into the mix in the future, giving even more players a way to game together.

Recore was highlighted, it’s an interesting looking new IP in which your character uses various robots to traverse the world. It looks stylish and fun, and we can’t wait to try it out September 13th.

Probably most surprising was the choice to have a major gameplay demo for Final Fantasy XV. Many still mostly associate FF with PlayStation, so it was a great inclusion for Xbox to remind people that they have those games as well. The demo itself was not really all that mind blowing though, solid enough, but lacked a certain excitement.

Stepping away from gaming for a moment, and focusing on the system itself Xbox is getting a few new features. First Microsoft is planning to greatly expand their servers, in order to make multiplayer a faster more stable experience. Xbox consoles will also be getting background music, to allow gamers to pick their music and how the experience works with the system. Xbox will also be getting Clubs to allow you to build your own groups for certain games, a looking for group system with specific searches, and Arena. Arena will allow people to participate in tournaments with other gamers.

There will also be customizable controllers for the Xbox One, and it looks like the possibilities are pretty amazing.

Indie games received a lot of love from the conference. Inside from developers of Limbo had a short, almost trailer. It was disappointing it didn’t have more. What was not disappointing was the confirmation that it will be out later this month, and that Limbo is now free. We Happy Few was a super creepy looking game that we got an extended gameplay trailer for, it will be in the preview program later this year. Aside from that there was a mass up of many games to expect from the ID@Xbox program.

Scalebound was the last major game demo that was shown. Scalebound is an action RPG in which your character fights with dragons. The demo itself was a multiplayer demo, showing off multiple people using their dragons to battle a giant boss. It was impressive and was a great way to build hype.

The next Tekken game was announced, and gamers can get Tekken Tag for free. Tekken Tag is also backward compatible. Halo Wars 2 is now in Beta and will be launching early next year.

Sea of Thieves, a rather immersive pirate themed game, was shown off from Rare. State of Decay 2, a stand alone Gwent game, and Dead Rising 4 were also all announced.

The conference ended with a look at Project Scorpio the next Xbox console which will be out the end of next year. The details and the way it was pitched itself was amazing. It does seem like it will be an impressive piece of hardware, and is built to be tied with VR right out of the box. However, both Sony and Microsoft promised a much longer shelf life for the current generation of consoles, so it’s rather disappointing to see that next gen is coming so soon. That being said they took great effort to say that support for the Xbox One is going nowhere, and the new console will be designed to be cross platform with Xbox One. Not only that but most future accessories will be designed to work with both. This is a rather large promise to make, and one that I am not sure that Microsoft can keep. I am torn between being impressed with Project Scorpio, and feeling nervous that I will be cheated as a consumer. That being said a lot of details will be coming out soon, so it’s a little early to really decide yet.

Much like I said with Bethesda, I never felt like I had an “oh wow” moment with this conference. That being said from start to finish it was a solid showing. There is something to be said for something being consistently good, even if it never hits great, as long as it’s never bad. I like that Microsoft is seeing the value in indie games and hope they continue to push it. Cross platform gaming is great, and they were really pushing the exclusives. I feel my Xbox will be getting a lot of love in the coming months.

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