It’s been an uphill battle for Microsoft ever since the Xbox One’s disastrous reveal a few years back, but Phil Spencer and company have done an incredible job righting the ship ever since. The Xbox One we see today is a mere shell of its former self, and if their E3 presentation is any indication, the Xbox family of consoles will continue to evolve throughout its entire lifespan.
- Big Crackdown 3 gameplay demo showing off the campaign and multi-player
- Lengthy Gears of War 4 gameplay demo as their marquee title to close the show.
- Halo Wars 2 confirmed with beta starting… RIGHT NOW!
- New cameo fighters for Killer Instinct. My guess is Marcus from Gears of War and Joanna Dark from Perfect Dark. Joanna seems like a no-brainer, and Marcus using his Lancer as both a ranged and melee weapon would be fairly interesting.
- Xbox One Slim revealed, but no release date. I assume it’s this winter.
- Scalebound will be absent, saving it for Gamescom instead.
- Phantom Dust won’t be mentioned yet.
- ReCore gameplay will be shown and it’ll look pretty rough. Probably a 3D arcade-style shooter at a $20 price tag. Release window given, but no concrete date.
- Sea of Thieves live gameplay demo with release date. My guess is December with a beta later this summer.
- Backwards compatibility for original Xbox games, or something similar to what PS2 classics on PS4 is — upscaled in 1080p, $10 each, and Achievement support.
- Final Fantasy XIV finally coming to Xbox One.
- Extended partnership with Oculus Rift to make Xbox One fully compatible as a VR device, though only with the inevitable upgraded Project Scorpio model. This will end Xbox’s push for HoloLens as its AR/VR device.
- Project Scorpio will be vaguely discussed, “with more information coming next year.”
Phil Spencer began their presentation addressing the elephant in the room, saying a few heartfelt words about the tragedy in Orlando. He was understandably nervous, fumbling his words in the process (“tradegy” instead of tragedy, for instance), but nevertheless it was the right thing to do.
He was also wearing a t-shirt with the original Xbox logo, which lead me to believe my prediction of Xbox backwards compatibility would come to fruition. It didn’t.
Xbox One S is sleeker, slimmer, and coming this August.
The actual conference opened with a trailer revealing the remodeled Xbox One S console. The console and wireless controller are both white, and in addition to the console itself being 40% smaller than the current model, the controller will have increased range and a rubberized grip (similar to what’s found on their limited edition controllers for Halo and Forza 6).
The Xbox One S will finally have an integrated power supply, so no more external power brick, and will include at least two different sizes of internal storage — the trailer mentioned “up to” 2TB. For you 4KTV owners out there, the Xbox One S will support 4K bluray and video playback and HDR gaming.
Spencer confirmed the release window for the Xbox One S as later this summer in August, and it’ll start at $299.99. The current Xbox One model will drop to $279.99 as a result.
Gears of War 4 shows an explosive gameplay demo, supports cross-play with Windows 10.
The Coalition’s Rod Fergusson took the stage to provide additional details for Gears of War 4. Most importantly, he took the opportunity to introduce everyone to Xbox’s new cross-buy initiative, Xbox Play Anywhere.
Xbox Play Anywhere gives consumers access to any supported game on Xbox One and any Windows 10 device, carrying over all saves and achievements in the process. Playing Gears of War 4 on the Xbox One in the living room, and want to pick it up in the office on your PC? Xbox Play Anywhere is for you.
I don’t really game on PC, so this initiative is lost on me, but I love that Xbox has continued to evolve their product over the years.
Gears of War 4 will feature cross-play between Xbox One and Windows 10 users across all of its co-op modes. This announcement segued in to the confirmation of a new Horde Mode 3.0, which the crowd enjoyed.
The gameplay demo showed off some incredible graphics, lighting and weather effects, and lots of environment destruction at the hands of the player. At one point a crane holding large metal pipes was shot down, launching the pipes across the screen and making tiny wet chunks of anything in its path. Why they showed people getting chainsawed in half, but edited out all the curse words is beyond me though.
The demo ended with a surprise, as a shadowy figure’s face is revealed to be none other than Marcus. “Welcome home, James.”
A brand new Gears of War 4 themed Xbox One Elite Controller was shown. The price was revealed outside of the show as $199.99.
Killer Instinct adds more Raam.
That joke was fucking terrible, so let’s move on. Killer Instinct’s community manager Rukari Austin took the stage to thank the community for making the re-imagined fighter a huge success. Killer Instinct has been played by nearly 7 million people and remains the most played fighting game on the Xbox One.
Austin also revealed a new trailer for the original Gears of War’s General Raam, the newest cameo fighter. I had a feeling they were going to include someone from the Gears of War universe, but my god does Raam look all sorts of boring. Hopefully he’s fun to play, and knowing the folks at Iron Galaxy I’m sure he’s just fine.
General Raam is $4.99 for those of you who don’t own the Season 3 pass. However, he’s free to check out for the remainder of the week.
Forza Horizon 3 heads to Australia.
Xbox’s open-world racing series Forza Horizon was revealed in a new trailer, showing off its new Australian playground, along with new vehicle types (like off-road buggies).
During the presentation Xbox was very good about keeping their fans included while promoting the new Xbox One S and Project Scorpio. The Forza Horizon 3 demo showed off the game’s 4-player co-op mode with each person using a different device — one on the standard Xbox One, one on the Xbox One S, one on a high end Windows 10 PC, and another on a standard Windows 10 PC. All were playing together, confirming cross-play between PC and console owners.
Forza Horizon 3 is coming to Xbox One and Windows 10 via Xbox Play Anywhere on September 27th and promises a 4-player co-op campaign, along with the largest selection of vehicles in the series’ history (350+).
ReCore looks rough.
Keiji Inafune and Metroid Prime developers Armature Studio finally revealed footage for their upcoming Xbox One and Windows 10 exclusive ReCore, and I can’t help but feel skeptical.
The gameplay shown in ReCore looked pretty rough around the edges, both in terms of its 3D platforming and combat segments. Not only is it visually unimpressive, but the shooting mechanics and locomotion were equally disappointing. With less than three months until its confirmed September 13th release date, this leaves me a little hesitant.
ReCore is a budget title, priced at $39.99, and can be pre-ordered immediately on Xbox Live.
Final Fantasy XV gets its first (pointless) Xbox One demonstration.
The entire purpose of this demonstration was to show the game running on Xbox One hardware for the very first time, and that’s about all it accomplished.
The live demo showcased a battle with the colossal Titan, though the player did little more than fail at the game’s dodge roll and warp commands repeatedly. I’m sure he was just nervous, but if he’s having a problem with it, what about the general public?
The demo went on entirely too long and really didn’t add to the otherwise rock solid press conference. They didn’t announce any sort of exclusive content, so I assume this was just Xbox letting its fans know that it actually cares about Final Fantasy XV and Japanese games in general.
Final Fantasy XV releases on September 30th.
Play Battlefield 1 a week early with EA Access.
After a quick trailer for The Division’s Underground DLC (which comes to Xbox One a month ahead of its PS4 counterpart), the presentation turned its attention to the folks at EA and DICE for Battlefield 1.
The campaign trailer shown was done in-engine, and the dynamic environmental destruction looks really, really impressive. Side-note: I rarely care about the “big two” shooters, but I’m definitely interested in checking out the campaigns for Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. As a solo player, I love that both showed campaign trailers instead of focusing their full attention on multi-player.
Battlefield 1 will be available on October 21st, but EA Access subscribers on Xbox One not only save 10% on the digital edition — they also get access to the game a week early on October 13th.
Xbox Live continues to evolve.
Mike Ybarra took the stage to discuss the future of Xbox Live and how it’ll be improving in the near future.
This summer, Xbox will offer the option to play background music, allow users to choose their native language regardless of region (dubbed “language region independence”), along with improved and more in-depth voice controls by way of the Cortana app. Xbox Live will also be supported across iOS and Android devices.
The more interesting updates, however, are coming this fall.
Functioning similarly to PlayStation 4’s Communities, Clubs will allow Xbox Live users to create joinable groups for whatever they see fit. Want to start a group where people can share their Minecraft creation, or perhaps talk about scantly clad anime girls? Clubs is where it’s at.
And since Destiny won’t fucking do it themselves, Xbox Live will be adding their own Looking for Group tool. The LFG tool (as well call it in the MMO realm) allows you to post a public call-to-arms, so others looking to complete similar objectives can join up without relying on in-game matchmaking or online message boards. Need to fill a spot for a Destiny raid? Want to join a raid in Neverwinter? Call of Duty zombies, maybe? That’s where LFG comes in.
Arena, a tournament platform, is also coming this fall. I’m not sure whether or not users can create their own tournament brackets, which would be rad for things like friendly Killer Instinct matches, but Ybarra confirmed that Arena will be used by many of the console’s largest multi-player games, like World of Tanks, Smite, and FIFA.
Just like last year, Microsoft is doing a smart thing by showing their dedicated fanbase and future console owners that they’re always interested in improving their Xbox Live service. They want this to be the best place for multi-player gaming with dedicated and reliable servers, and they want to keep building upon it year after year.
That being said, as I become less interested in multi-player gaming I’m finding myself less interested in all of these new social features. Just because I won’t use any of this stuff doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate what Xbox is doing here.
Minecraft gets a cringeworthy live demo.
Last year Microsoft wowed the crowd with a live Minecraft demo using their HoloLens AR device. This year they brought out two people to yammer on about cross-play between mobile versions, dedicated realms, and brushed aside both Xbox console versions near the end of the presentation.
I get that Minecraft is the best selling game of all time, and that Microsoft’s new initiative is to present their brand as a singular unit across multiple platforms, but it’s already a boring game to watch others play. Watching these two yammer about like they’re reading off a teleprompter only made it that much worse.
Customize your own Xbox One controller with Design Lab.
After that Minecraft shit show we segued to the next segment with a new trailer for Xbox Design Lab. This neat new feature allows you customize your own Xbox One controller by choosing its color scheme (front, back, analog sticks, d-pad, etc.) and slapping your Xbox Live Gamertag across the bottom. This is a cool little announcement that I didn’t expect.
No price was given during the trailer (that I saw), but the Design Lab website shows them starting at $79.99.
I’m not in the market for a fifth Xbox One controller, but if I were, I’d happily spend an extra $20 (standard controllers are $59.99) for a black, orange, and white Baltimore Orioles themed layout.
ID@Xbox has a lot of great stuff going on.
ID@Xbox’s Chris Charla took the stage after a vague cinematic trailer for Playdead’s upcoming indie Inside. We may not have learned anything worth mentioned from the trailer, but Charla not only confirmed the game’s release date as July 26th, but announced that the studio’s first game, the critically acclaimed Limbo, will be free to download on Xbox One during the week of E3.
Ark: Survival Evolved will support the Xbox Play Anywhere initiative, granting access to both Xbox One and Windows 10 versions, should you buy one or the other.
An ID@Xbox sizzle reel trailer showed off a ton of new indies coming to Xbox One in the near future — namely Bloodstained, Below, Cuphead, Stardew Valley, Slime Rancher, Outlast 2, Flinthook, The Culling, and the upcoming Banjo-Kazooie spiritual successor Yooka-Laylee.
The ID@Xbox segment closed out with a gameplay demo of We Happy Few, which felt like a smaller budget BioShock on bath salts. You play as a guy living in what appears to be a vault or some sort of underground facility, only everyone else residing there is addicted to a drug called “joy.” You’re the only one not taking it, and once you’re identified as a “downer” it’s essentially you against them. Peer pressure is a bitch.
It has this really cool aesthetic and retro sound, and everybody is wearing these creepy masks… there’s just something exceptionally unexplainable about it. There’s an unsettling bit near the end where the main character stumbles in to a child’s birthday party right as they start whacking away at a pinata. Only there’s no candy inside, just a now dead, now very, very bloodied rat that they begin scarfing down like a delicious slice of cake.
We Happy Few comes to the Xbox Game Preview program on June 29th.
Fancy a game of Gwent?
Fans of The Witcher 3 became so obsessed with the open-world RPG’s card battle mini-game Gwent that they not only began creating their own physical decks, but their demand lead to CD Projekt Red creating its own standalone game for PC and home consoles.
They’ve completely redone the artwork for the cards, announced a robust single-player campaign, improved and refined the rules a bit, and confirmed cross-platform play regardless of platform.
If you don’t want to wait until Gwent’s official release in September, you can head over to playgwent.com and register for the beta — which comes first to Xbox One.
Gwent was fun and depending on the price I could see me picking this up at some point. Hearthstone, a similar game, is already free to play on PC and mobile devices, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Gwent goes the same route as well.
Tekken 7 makes a surprise appearance.
The Tekken series is one that I could see on the Sony stage, but not so much Xbox. And I think that’s what made this segment so interesting.
Harada, along with his translator, showed off Tekken 7’s improved story mode, which blends traditional fighter mechanics with interactive narrative cutscenes. The demo also showed off Street Fighter’s Akuma as a playable character, as he and series regular Heihachi Mishima battled it out.
To commemorate the reveal, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is free to download on Xbox 360 during the week of E3. Tekken 7 is scheduled to release in early 2017.
Dead Rising 4 announcement ruined by annoying camera work.
Through no fault of their own, or maybe it is, Xbox’s Dead Rising 4 reveal was marred by frustrating camera work that I assume was done to make the presentation seem more dramatic or epic. Rather than focusing on the trailer at hand, we were instead forced to squint as the camera zoomed out to the crowd and slowly panned around the arena. Why?
The Christmas-themed trailer showed off some neat weapons, like a crossbow firing off candy canes, and ended with a holiday 2016 release window. I vaguely remember someone talking about 4-player co-op as well, but I’m shocked that Xbox didn’t do a gameplay demo or briefing on a major holiday exclusive. Tekken 7 got one, Minecraft got one when they clearly didn’t need one, so why not a game Xbox invested in to obtain 1-year timed exclusive publishing rights?
The same reason Rise of the Tomb Raider released the same day as Fallout 4, I suppose.
There were rumors that Dead Rising 4 would be a remake of the original game, but there was no mention of that anywhere in the trailer.
Scalebound shows significant improvement and 3-player co-op.
Although Scalebound was the first of many, many delays out of 2016, it appears the extra time allotted to developer Platinum Games is paying off quite well. The last time we saw Scalebound in motion it ran like garbage and looked like a very, very early build with little to work with.
Now Scalebound looks like something I can’t wait to get my hands on.
Hideki Kamiya took the stage and looked about as unhappy as anyone I’ve ever seen in my entire life, but the gameplay demo that followed showed some really impressive footage of the game’s 3-player co-op feature during one of the game’s large-scale boss encounters.
Each of the characters wore different clothing, leading me to believe Scalebound has some form of equipment system. They also had different beasts from the host player, so I assume we’ll be able to evolve or mutate Drew’s large pal during our own solo adventure.
Some of the gameplay still looks a little weird, namely the bow and Drew’s Mega Man-style shooting mechanic not having any weight to them. They both look really weak and uninteresting. The swordplay looks fine though, especially when Drew morphs in to his own dragon armor or summons his beast to ride atop its back like Panzer Dragoon.
It’s kind of cheesy, but I like Scalebound’s “shit’s about to get real” moments when Drew pops on his headphones and fast-paced electronica pulses in the background. Music is extremely important to me in games, and it was a neat way to pick up the pace a bit, despite being a little campy.
Sea of Thieves looks impressive, but I have my doubts.
Rare hasn’t really shined since being acquired by Microsoft, and as much as I want to believe in their newest project, Sea of Thieves, I can’t help but be skeptical.
Sea of Thieves is a first-person multi-player game in which groups of players form pirate groups and explore the open world. Being a game about pirates, of course, you can attack other players and sink their ships using your own on-board cannons.
We were shown a pre-recorded demo where Rare allowed three teams of popular YouTubers to play the game for the first time without any tutorials. They genuinely seemed to have a great time, and despite not being a fan of watching loud people talk over video games, they sold the experience (the fun) very well.
Now here’s where I have my doubts. Sea of Thieves is a multi-player game that relies heavily on its community and on you having others to play with at all hours of the day. This seems like a game that’s going to be popular at the start, but as friends start to drift to other games, the domino effect will take place until nobody on my friend list wants to hop on around the same time.
The saving grace here would be the new Clubs or LFG tool coming this fall to Xbox Live, but I’ve never had the best luck relying on other people to enjoy a game. I hope Sea of Thieves succeeds, I really do, but I don’t see it having a long lasting appeal.
State of Decay 2 confirmed, alludes to co-op feature.
Xbox’s open-world zombie survival game State of Decay is finally getting a sequel. The reveal trailer showed a mix of cinematic and gameplay footage, confirmed a vague 2017 release window, and alludes to the addition of a much requested co-op feature — ending with the phrase “no one survives alone.”
Halo Wars 2 coming in 2017, beta available now.
Halo Wars fans can take the fight to Atriox and his Banished minions in the upcoming sequel, aptly titled Halo Wars 2.
I never got in to Halo Wars, not being an RTS fan and all, so I’m not sure which features are new. I do know that the game is scheduled to release on February 21st on Xbox One and Windows 10, and an open multi-player beta is available for download on Xbox One… RIGHT NOW!
Xbox looks toward the future with Project Scorpio.
After Phil Spencer took the stage to recap all of the discussed changes to Xbox One and Xbox Live, he gave the fans a glimpse in to what Xbox has in store for the future — a world without boundaries, without console generations.
Xbox has been working on what Spencer calls “the most powerful console ever built,” dubbed Project Scorpio. As a console guy, all of the hardware spec talk made no sense to me, but Scorpio will have 6 teraflops of GPU power to support true 4K gaming, 60hz of fully uncompressed pixels, 8 CPU cores, 320 gbps bandwidth, and aim to offer premiere VR experiences without sacrificing performance.
Phil Spencer was very smart in how he approached the upgraded Xbox One console, reassuring the fans that all of their Xbox One games and accessories will work on Scorpio — “no one gets left behind,” were his exact words. He presented it as an optional purchase, geared toward those who want to experience 4K gaming and VR.
Scorpio is scheduled to release during the holiday season next year in 2017.
So how was it?
Like I said earlier, I appreciate how the Xbox brand and Xbox Live has continued to improve under Phil Spencer’s lead. I may have little interest in additional social features, improved ways to play games with other people, or their reliance on exclusive games that focus heavily on multi-player, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate their constant evolution.
Gamewise, I was a little disappointed by the ReCore footage. I was initially excited by the thought of Inafune working with the developers of Metroid Prime, but so far the game looks a little generic (both in terms of combat and traversal). I hope it’s good, I really do, but the gameplay reveal turned my excitement in to hesitation.
I wish we were shown more of Dead Rising 4, and we very well may at Gamescom in a few months. Crackdown 3 was surprisingly absent as well.
Scalebound continues to improve with each showing, but the game that stole the show for me was We Happy Few. It’s weird and narrative-driven, and resonated with me more than anything else on stage. I’ll be skipping the Xbox Game Preview version in anticipation of the inevitable final release, but I can’t wait to sink my teeth in to it.
Gears of War 4 looks visually impressive, but gameplay-wise it looks like more Gears of War. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The series is clearly in good hands with The Coalition.
I’ve had my Xbox One since the month after launch and it still runs fine. I have little interest in the Xbox One S, but it’s clearly the better choice for brand new consumers — or those looking to free up some real estate on their TV stand.
Likewise, I don’t own a 4K TV and I doubt I will by next year’s holiday season, so Scorpio is relatively pointless for me.
Overall it was a very by-the-book presentation with a handful of surprises, but it was very, very well executed outside of that cringe-worthy Minecraft presentation. They got their message across concerning the future of Xbox, whether the community and long-term fans agree with Xbox One exclusive games releasing for PC or not.
What did you think of the Xbox presentation?