Microsoft kicked off E3 Monday with our third press conference of the week. With hype levels rising before the show and leaked hardware and strategy announcements galore, the stage was set for Microsoft to have a huge day today and that’s exactly what they did…
XBOX One S – New Model
The first of two major hardware announcements today was the XBOX One S. Starting at $299, the One S is nearly half the size of the original model while supporting HDR gaming, 4K Blu-Ray and Video and hard drives up to 2TB. It also includes an IR blaster, presumably to include more TV control without Kinect, an accessory this unit oddly doesn’t have a port for (although a USB adapter will be available for Kinect owners). It also includes a new XBOX One controller with increased range, bluetooth support, and a textured back panel. The XBOX One S releases in August.
Gears of War 4
Gears of War 4 was the first of many “Play Anywhere” titles we saw today, meaning a single digital purchase gets you the XBOX One and Windows 10 versions of the game. It will also be HDR compatible on the XBOX One S if you have a compatible TV.
After the tech-focused announcements, Laura Bailey came on stage to demo a co-op mission that looked amazing. We saw a new weapon that appears to shoot circular saw blades that ricochet off walls, the sense of weight that Gears is known for was present, and large-scale environmental destruction – while scripted – looked fantastic. We also saw some cool weather effects and even got a tease of an aged Marcus Fenix.
Gears of War 4 comes out on October 11, 2016 alongside a Gears-themed Elite Controller.
Killer Instinct has a small presence at the press conference, but we did get confirmation of Killer Instinct Season 3 with General Raam from Gears included this time around. Season 3 is also confirmed to be a Play Anywhere title.
Forza Horizon 3
Forza Horizon 3 was formally announced today, introducing us to a new playable country for the series…Australia. We saw footage of the typical cars you’d expect to see in a Forza Horizon game as well as buggy races and off-road vehicles with a focus on Australia’s tough terrain. The live demo made a point to highlight cross-play between PC and XBOX One, with two players on PC, one on XBOX One S, and one on the original XBOX One console.
Forza Horizon 3 comes out on September 27, 2016 as a Play Anywhere title.
Recore was shown off relatively quietly, with just a trailer and no developer commentary. We did learn a bit about each of the game’s character’s and see a bit of gameplay, though! The aesthetic of Recore continues to look fantastic and its cast of characters are definitely intriguing, but so much of the game is still left up to speculation. I imagine that we’ll be hearing more about this over the course of the week though.
Recore launches on September 13, 2016 as a Play Anywhere for $39.99.
Final Fantasy XV
Final Fantasy XV was shown off on the XBOX stage this year with a huge scale boss battle. Although some of the dialogue was a bit cheesy, the battle system looks pretty fluid and the scale of the boss on display was reminiscent of bosses from God of War.
Final Fantasy XV is out September 30th, 2016.
The Division – Underground Expansion
The Division had a very brief trailer showing off their upcoming Underground expansion. It launches on June 28th, first on XBOX.
For Battlefield 1, we saw the same trailer that EA showed at their press conference yesterday and it was announced that EA Access users on XBOX will start their free trials on October 13th, eight days before the October 21 release date.
XBOX Live Segment
This was the segment for Microsoft to talk about upcoming new features for the XBOX platform. They confirmed background music, language region independence, and Cortana for the upcoming summer update before previewing some new features for their fall update. XBOX Live Clubs is Microsoft’s answer to PS4 Communities, but they’re also introducing a competitive platform called Arena and Looking for Group – a feature that Destiny and The Division players are going to love.
Minecraft – The Friendly Update
Minecraft actually had a pretty big presence during this conference and it wasn’t really focused on the XBOX platform. Their biggest announcement was The Friendly Update which will allow iOS, Android, Windows 10, and XBOX players to play in each other’s realms. The demo even featured John Carmack playing on Samsung Gear VR. There will also be new texture packs coming for Minecraft Pocket Edition and Windows 10 coming Fall 2016.
New Wireless Controller
Microsoft is officially getting into the custom controller business with their new XBOX One S controller. The XBOX Design Lab launched today, allowing you to build a custom color controller for $79.99 and even engrave your gamertag into it for an extra $9.99.
Playdead’s newest game, Inside, was briefly shown off during the conference by ID @ XBOX head Chris Charla. While we didn’t get much new information, we did get a release date! Inside launches on June 29th, 2016 and, as a special promotion, Playdead’s first game, Limbo, will be free to all XBL Gold members today.
ID @ XBOX Segment
We got an incredibly busy highlight reel for ID @ XBOX. Rather than try to break things down individually, here’s a list of the games that were shown off…
- Deliver Us the Moon
- Flint Hook
- Slime Rancher
- Shadow Tactics
- The Culling
- For the King
- Stardew Valley
- Hand of Fate 2
- Ark Survival Evolved – XBOX Play Anywhere Game
We Happy Few
After the ID @ XBOX segment, we got a nice gameplay demo of We Happy Few. The game has a fantastic aesthetic and even a bit of a Bioshock vibe with a creepy society based around medically induced happiness. We Happy Few is making its console debut on XBOX One and will also be coming to the Game Preview program.
Next up, CD Projekt Red took the stage to announce their standalone version of the Gwent card game, promising a “monumental” campaign. There will be a closed beta this September on XBOX One and Windows 10.
Tekken 7 was shown off with an “early 2017” release date. The main focus of their demo was to show off an all new story mode that has seamless transitions between in-game cinematics and the fighting gameplay. If that’s not enough for you, they’ll also be giving away the backwards-compatible Tekken Tag Tournament 2 to XBL Gold members.
Dead Rising 4
While this leaked leading up to the press conference, Dead Rising 4 was one of the two biggest surprises during Microsoft’s conference. Armed with a candy cane gun during Christmas time, you’re pitted against a TON of zombies…because this is Dead Rising and it just looks like fun and crazy experience. Dead Rising 4 launches Holiday 2016.
XBOX Realising the promise of Vita w/ Play Anywhere on Win10 Laptops
As we headed into the final stretch of the conference, Hideki Kamiya took the stage to demo a boss battle in his upcoming project, Scalebound. Touted as the “biggest boss fight Platinum has ever made,” we were treated to a co-op demo against a huge boss. Kamiya was alternating between controlling the human character and controlling his beast as he picked apart the boss limb by limb. The game showed very well and looks really interesting. While we weren’t given an exact date, a 2017 release was confirmed. Scalebound will also be a Play Anywhere title.
Sea of Thieves
For the first time, Sea of Thieves gameplay was shown at this year’s conference. After a brief cinematic trailer, Rare’s studio head took the stage to hype up their goal of creating a “fantastic adventure with friends” with the “potential threat of other players” always around every corner. We then got a pre-recorded demo showing off a group of four players readying their ship to leave port before encountering enemy pirates at sea. The gameplay was exciting with each player taking a specific role like steering the ship or manning the cannons.
What surprised me most about Sea of Thieves is the first person perspective. I’m not sure if that was confirmed before today but I just assumed it was a third-person game for some reason. I also have some concerns about the game’s dependence on co-operative play. While it looks like a blast, it may be a hard sell if you have to round up a team of four every time you play. We’ll likely be seeing a lot more of this at upcoming shows as no release window was given today.
State of Decay 2
Up next was a quick world-building trailer for State of Decay 2 that appeared to be CG footage rather than in engine. State of Decay is slated for a 2017 release on XB1 and PC as a Play Anywhere title.
Halo Wars 2
The final game we saw at Microsoft’s presser was Halo Wars 2. After a long trailer, we were given the news that the game has been delayed out to February 21, 2017 for XB1 and PC Play Anywhere. There is, however, a beta that starts today and runs through the week of E3.
To close out the conference, Phil Spencer came out to put all of the Scorpio rumors to rest…by confirming them. Project Scorpio is real and was teased with a developer highlight reel of developers beaming with excitement for the additional power the Scorpio provides them. We got confirmation that the hardware is capable of 6 Teraflops, rending at 4K resolution and/or 60Hz. Todd Howard even teased Fallout 4 VR on the hardware. It was also confirmed that all games and accessories on the platform will work across XBOX One, XBOX One S, and Scorpio.
Project scorpio will launch Holiday 2017 and represents Microsoft’s vision for the future “beyond generations.”