Over the past years, Microsoft has fallen behind Sony in the new generation of consoles. Lagging behind in console power and user base, the company needed a response at this year’s conference. Here’s what they had on offer!
Xbox S (Slim) Or Xbox “Sexy” as our admin referred to it as – Launching in August of this year at a base price of $299, this version of the console will be slimmer than the original, and will stand upright. All Xbox One features and peripherals will work on this console.
Xbox Play Anywhere – This initiative was a theme throughout the conference. In it, most first party Xbox games will also be compatible on Windows PCs, and once you buy the game on Xbox, the PC version is free to play. This initiative could go a long way in changing how the console and PC interact as a unified platform.
Gears of War 4 – One of Microsoft’s biggest titles is confirmed to be a part of the Play Anywhere initiative. It will also support PC and console co-op crossplay. The game is looking better than ever graphically, and its set piece moments clearly take advantage of the power of the new consoles. Also keep a look out for the limited edition Gears 4 controller. The game is available October 11th.
Killer Instinct – The widely successful Xbox exclusive rolls on with season 3, and adds Gears of War’s General Raam to the roster. He’s free to play this week.
Forza Horizon 3 – As an Xbox One and Windows 10 exclusive, the next installment in the Horizon series takes the player to Australia, where they will experience new terrain and vehicles in addition to drop in/out co-op. The game is available September 27th.
Recore – Coming September 19th as an Xbox One and Windows 10 exclusive, this year’s look featured a combat demonstration as well as some new game scenes. The combat looks a little more like a shooter than the original trailer, but it is still an intriguing game worth checking out.
Final Fantasy XV – Produced by Square Enix, the newest demo was made especially for the E3 conference, and highlighted the game’s fighting mechanics. While perhaps not their most impressive demo, it didn’t dampen fan’s anticipation for the September 30th release.
The Division – The June 28th Underground Expansion will come first to Xbox, and will feature new missions and dungeons.
Battlefield 1 – Featuring the 64 player multiplayer that has become a signature of the Battlefield series, gamers can play the newest installment first with EA access on October 13th, and the full version on October 21st.
Xbox One UI Improvements – The Xbox interface is always evolving, and this year’s changes include the ability to play background music over game audio, a choice to set native game language preference regardless of region, and the integration of the Cortana personal assistant on PC, IOS, Android, and console. Xbox Clubs allow players to discover and interact with others who have similar gaming and social preferences. Lastly Arena on Xbox Live is Microsoft’s esports initiative, which will allow players to compete in tournaments including games from Daybreak, Hi Rez, Wargaming, and EA Sports.
Minecraft – New to the one of the world’s most popular games is the ability to play cross platform with players on IOS, Android and Windows. In the Friendly update, console users finally gain the ability to host their own worlds and play remotely even when the host is offline with Minecraft Realms. Also coming are texture packs for the game’s pocket and Windows 10 additions. Newly announced add-ons that allow players to tweak enemy appearances and behaviors are coming this fall, and Minecraft VR is still a front facing part of the game’s future. Look for more information about the changes at Minecon this September, and download the friendly update now.
Xbox One Design Lab – Player now have the ability to design and customize their own controllers, including color and laser inscriptions. There are over 8 million possible customization combinations; find out more at designlab.xbox.com.
Inside – From the creators of Limbo, Inside has the saturated color style of its predecessor, and is also similar in that it is a side scrolling adventure game. Check it out on June 29th, and if you haven’t played Limbo, it’s free on Xbox One starting today.
ID @ Xbox – Microsoft’s indie initiative has several games on the horizon, including the much anticipated Cuphead. Other recognizable titles include Outlast 2, Deliver Us the Moon, Slime Rancher, The Culling, Stardew Valley, Hand of Fate, Below, Bloodstained, and Yooka Laylee.
Game Preview Program – After the success of Ark: Survival Evolved in the preview program, Microsoft announced that Slime Rancher and The Culling would be the next “early access” titles available.
We Happy Few – Set in a Bioshock-esque dystopian society, this indie game was a personal show stopper. The dark premise and psychological aspects, all set against a classic backdrop and unique art style have me anxious to get my hands on it when it come to the preview program on July 26th.
Gwent: The Witcher Card Game – A popular part of The Witcher universe, Gwent will feature the core mechanics of the CCG with redesigned visuals and a full single player campaign to accompany the multiplayer. Play as one of four factions including Skellige Warriors, Northern Realms, Scoia’tael, and monsters. Visit playgwent.com to sign up for the beta on Windows and Xbox One in September. No word on whether or not to expect a mobile release, but with the success of other CCGs in that form, I would expect to hear more about it in the future.
Tekken 7 – Slated for early 2017, we din’t get much of a look at the newest Tekken game. Hopefully more to come, as fans of the series are no doubt excited. On a related note, Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is available for free for Xbox Live Gold members.
Scalebound – Another look at the Xbox One and Windows 10 exclusive Scalebound did little to improve upon the lukewarm reception it received at its reveal last year. The game will feature a co-op mode, but the biggest issue was the combat, which appeared somewhat generic and repetitive, and seemed to struggle to make its big set piece moment pay off. The game is scheduled for a 2017 release.
Sea of Thieves – The Rare-developed Xbox One and Windows 10 exclusive is an adventure with friends on the high seas to find treasure and battle other players. The first person perspective and cartoon art style, seem to work well, and there is a lot of potential in multiplayer pirate battles. There was no timeframe given for the game’s release, but I look forward to seeing more of it.
State of Decay 2 – Coming to Xbox One and Windows 10 in 2017, the follow up to State of Decay looks to have improved significantly in the graphics department. Another interesting tidbit was the hint of some sort of in game co-op. Expect the game in 2017.
Halo Wars 2 – The RTS follow up to the original Halo Wars is making progress, and will hold a weeklong beta on Xbox One from June 13th-20th. Look for the full version on Windows 10 and Xbox One on February 21st, 2017.
Project Scorpio – Microsoft’s showstopper, this improved version the Xbox One boasts full resolution 4k gaming with high fidelity and VR support to go along with a processor that is four times more powerful than the current iteration. Scheduled for a holiday 2017 release, it was also revealed that all Xbox One and Xbox One S games and accessories will work on all three models of the console.
An outstanding effort from top to bottom. At this point in time, Microsoft realize that they are trailing Sony in most departments. This conference gave fans a detailed look at how they plan to not just catch their main competitor, but potentially alter the way in which the Xbox ecosystem fundamentally works. The dynamics of integrating the Windows 10 system was a theme that has only scratched the surface of its promise, and the line of Xbox consoles that will be available have the potential to alter the current method of console iteration. These are all topics worthy of their own discussions, and that’s before we even get to the games on show. We Happy Few is the dark horse game of the conference for me, and heavy hitters like Gears of War, Forza, and State of Decay give Microsoft a strong lineup moving forward. Add intriguing third party indie games like Sea of Thieves, Cuphead, and Inside to the mix, and it is easy to envision a scenario where the momentum from this conference helps jumpstart an Xbox recovery. It remains to be seen whether or not this strong showing can be taken advantage of, but Microsoft came out with an aggressive approach, and put the ball firmly in Sony’s court for tonight.