Microsoft Press Conference at E3 2016: Play Anywhere

The recurring theme in Microsoft’s E3 press conference this year was “Play Anywhere.” Here's everything that happened at the event.


The recurring theme in Microsoft’s E3 press conference this year was “Play Anywhere.” In what seems to be the answer to PlayStation’s Cross-Buy, the announcement that big first party titles would be coming to both Xbox One and Windows 10 is a huge positive, particularly for PC gamers. Players could buy a game on one platform and would have access to their friends list, achievements and savegames on both their Windows 10 PC and Xbox One.

Xbox One S: Slim and svelte

The conference kicked off with the announcement of the Xbox One S, a smaller version of the presently-gigantic Xbox One (by a fraction of 40 percent, no less), in shimmering white. New features include 4K video playback capability, HDR gaming and a new, improved, customizable wireless controller which will be compatible with PC as well. The launch version of the console will feature a 2TB hard drive, and will be available in early August for $399. 500GB ($299) and 1TB ($349) versions of the console will be available at a later date.

Gears of War 4: Groovy

The Coalition’s Rod Fergusson then took the stage to demonstrate some Gears of War 4 gameplay. Among other things, Gears 4 will be a Play Anywhere title, featuring cross-platform campaign co-op, PvP multiplayer and co-op gameplay in its all-new Horde 3.0 mode. The footage showed the best looking Gears of War game to date, featuring some intense wind, dust and weather effects. However, the gameplay itself was not particularly compelling. The gunplay seemed fairly straightforward (although the inclusion of The Ripper weapon from Unreal Tournament was neat), while the banter between characters felt out of place.

Oh, then there’s the Gears of War limited edition Xbox Elite Controller with a D-Pad that actually looks pretty cool despite being an obvious cash-grab.

Killer Instinct: Killer

Killer Instinct was next. Apparently, there are “nearly 7 million” Killer Instinct players, and it’s the most-played fighting game on Xbox One. Gears of War antagonist, General Raam (do people even remember this guy?) is being added to the KI roster. If anything, Killer Instinct has been good at including characters from other franchises such as Battle Toads and Halo, but Raam was arguably the worst thing about the first Gears game.

Forza Horizon 3: To the horizon

Set to a cover version of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”, Forza Horizon 3 then transported the audience to an open world based on the Yarra Valley in Australia.

This is not the first time somebody’s tried to make an open world racing game; Test Drive Unlimited, The Crew, Burnout Paradise have done it before. Having said that, Forza Horizon 3 looks quite spectacular. Importantly, it seems like a game which will bring much joy even if you’re only aimless driving your Lamborghini on a beach. The game has a September 27th release date on Xbox One and Windows 10. It will feature a co-op campaign, open world and drop in/drop out co-op play.

ReCore

We then get a glimpse of some gameplay from ReCore. It certainly looks fun, but the gameplay failed to demonstrate any theme or mechanics. We did get to see some of the game’s robot companions, however. ReCore should appeal to Metroid Prime fans and players who like arcade-themed third person shooters.

Final Fantasy XV: For the fanatics

The demo of Final Fantasy XV was arguably the weakest game at Microsoft’s conference this year. A big battle was shown, where the player had run around a lot and press “Y”.  Perhaps hardcore series fans had more to take away from it, but it didn’t look like there was anything interesting going on. The game has a September 30th release date.

It was then announced that Xbox Live will feature some much-needed improvements. Players will be able to play background music as they’re playing games, while Cortana will make her Xbox One debut soon. Clubs on Xbox Live is another feature which is similar to groups/communities on PS4, while LFG (looking for group) is a great addition for players of The Division and Destiny. A tournament platform, “Arena” was also announced—this will be integrated at first into first party and a select other titles, with EA Sports FIFA integration coming soon.

Minecraft Realms: The next big thing

The game will now feature iOS, Android and Windows 10 cross platform play, with Xbox One being added early next year. It will also feature dedicated server support so your friends can remain connected to your realm even if you’re offline. Someone also decided that Minecraft needed a visual boost to stay contemporary, so texture packs for Windows 10 were also announced.

Inside: What's Inside?

A trailer for Inside was also shown.

The game is brought to you by the creators of Limbo (which was then announced to be free for all players on Xbox One).

We Happy Few: We be happy about somethin'

Perhaps the most interesting indie game demo this year was We Happy Few. Set in an alternate history version of mid-to-late 20th century England, its disturbing theme and visual style seemed to work brilliantly together. It’s great to see something ambitious from indie studio Compulsion Games.

Gwent: It's alive!

Yes, Witcher fans who spend more time playing cards in The Wild Hunt than doing main quests, the Gwent game is an actual thing now.

It will feature a single player campaign and cross play. There’s a closed beta planned in September. You can sign up on www.playgwent.com

Tekken 7: "Heihachi!" "Bless you"

Tekken 7 seemed to transition pretty well from cutscene to gameplay and back again. Heihachi seemed to have his hands full against Akuma, however.

The game is slated for an early 2017 release, and will feature a fully fleshed out story mode.

Dead Rising 4: What is dead may never die

Frank is back. Dead Rising 4 showed off both earthly and Star Wars weaponry. It will need to do something special to get people interested in the franchise again, however.

Scalebound: Scaley

Scalebound showed off something we didn’t know about before: co-op boss fights!  According to game director Hideki Kamiya, this is the biggest PlatinumGames has ever done.

Despite the jarringly unlikeable protagonist, the familiar-but-improved visual style, dragon companions and fighting system looked interesting. And damage numbers. Damage numbers make everything better.

Sea of Thieves: Avast! Ye thieving scum

Aside from the excessive screaming from players, Sea of Thieves showed that co-op multiplayer could work. The ship battles were clearly the most exciting part of the gameplay reveal. Exploration remains a question mark, however.

State of Decay 2: Status unknown

State of Decay 2 needs to improve on its predecessor in every possible way to make its mark on the oversaturated zombie-survival-open-world genre.

Halo Wars 2: To war, my brothers!

Strategy veterans Creative Assembly and 343 Industries are hard at work on Halo Wars 2. It would appear that they were just as hard at work to bring us this cinematic trailer featuring new enemies, The Banished.

It will be a challenge to balance PC and console control schemes as well (since this is a Play Anywhere title). I would imagine the game will feel more at home on PC, but Halo Wars played quite well on Xbox 360. The game has a Feb 21st 2017 release, with a multiplayer open beta on Xbox One between June 13th and 20th. First impressions? While the game looks good, but graphics look dated from what little was on show.

Project Scorpio: Powerrrrrr!

Perhaps the biggest reveal was Project Scorpio.

Set for release at the end of 2017, the new console looks like it could be a game changer, with 6 teraflops of computational capability (to put things into perspective, the Rs.40,000 GeForce GTX 1070 is a GPU capable of 6.5 teraflops) and a focus on 4K Gaming and virtual reality. I can’t recall the last time I saw developers being so kicked about the processing power at their disposal. Project Scorpio rounded off what was a pretty good press conference overall which covered lots of ground with some major announcements.


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