Microsoft at E3. It started with a very respectful note from Phil Spencer on the recent tragedy of the horrific mass shooting in Florida, which is probably the best way to start something like this after such a horrific event.
Then, with things being what they are, it delved straight into marketing mode, as the trailer for the new 40% smaller Xbox One and companion controller was officially announced.
Its powerbrick is now internal, its 4K capabilities are abundant, and it comes in a little cheaper than the current Xbox One. It’s also possibly the cheapest UltraHD disk player on the market depending on what storage size you get; with 500GB, 1TB and 2TB versions that will be available later this year. It seems like a good move for anyone wanting cheapish 4K streaming and Blu Ray but there are more options coming.
Quickly skipping forward to Microsoft’s final announcement; they announced that they are making a high-powered PC and making it into a console. Project Scorpio, as they’ve decided to call it for the moment, is a no holds barred console that they’re making with developers’ suggestions so that devs can “innovate”. Basically it’s going to be a high end PC that is an Xbox One and “definitely” won’t split the userbase. In theory it sounds good but they also announced that many of their games are now going to be on both Xbox One and Windows 10 (we’ll mark them with *), with you only needing to buy it once to play on both. As it’s going “all in” they are making it front-loaded with enough horsepower to be one of the best places to go for VR.
After the Slim, Gears of War 4* took to the stage, with Laura Bailey, one of the lead voice actors, to show off some gameplay that was rather tame to begin with, as it showed off all its lovely environmental effects and some scripted interactions with a catapult. It started to pick up a little with a few demonstrations of executions and gory weapon kills before wandering over to cinematics and muting swearwords(? possibly plot spoilers), only to end with showing a beardy Marcus Fenix and a new Gears of War Elite controller. They also mentioned Crossplay between Xbox One and Win 10, and Horde 3.0, but little else in the way of details.
Next up is Killer Instinct*, which carried on with the Gears of War theme by announcing General Raam as new character. This occurred after thanking the player base for being great and having played a lot across, and against each other on both Win 10 and Xbox One.
Kangaroos star in the next game, or not, as we were tricked into thinking it by the Forza Horizon 3* trailer. Taking place “Down Under”, they’re making a diverse world which includes a little of each of Australia’s biomes; desert, beaches, urban areas and forests. It really pushes the social side of things, with the ability to jump into another player’s game almost instantaneously, transporting you to wherever they are in-game and allowing you to compete or work together. Unsurprisingly – since it’s a car game – it does look pretty stunning.
Recore* is up next with a cross section of gameplay and cinematic trailer stuff. It still looks nice, your character will pet a robot dog thing at least once, there’s platforming and there’s shooting spiky bad guys – they’re spiky so that you know they’re bad. It doesn’t really show off all that much for all that long but what’s there looks interesting at least.
Next is Final Fantasy XV. It manages to make the game look really good briefly, but then looks like a really poor idea for an E3 demo. It’s a three way battle between the protagonists, an army and a Titan of fairly epic proportions. The player unfortunately gets knocked over by the Titan’s arm a few too many times, making it look hugely underwhelming, when it soon ends with the Titan’s arm being frozen and shattered after not actually doing all that much in the lead up.
The Division’s new DLC is next up on screen, talking about the enemy heading underground, which means subway tunnels and hopefully very few sewers. It’ll feature randomly generated missions, which hopefully means endless replayability, and it looks like it’ll feature traps of varying sorts as obstacles as you work your way through these “dungeons”. It’ll be out soon on the 28th of June and is also out first on Xbox One.
Battlefield 1 came on stage next with pretty much nothing new after EA’s conference. Though it will come to Xbox One early, by way of the EA Access thingummy starting October 13th.
Moving on. Xbox Live talk begins, fixating on the the social aspect of gaming and the betterment of the Xbox Live service. So this summer will bring background music of your choosing, the ability to choose whatever language you want for your console and Cortana integration. After those are out the door we’ll be getting three more social sections, starting with “Clubs on Xbox Live”, which is about making communities around specific games, kind of like a Microsoft Miiverse. Next is “Looking for Group” which is exactly what an MMO player will be particularly au fait with but boils down to finding players for your specific needs; whether that’s co-op buds or a group to go shooting with, it’s your prerogative. Lastly is “Arena”, a place to compete in all sorts of tournaments, across a variety of games either solo or with friends.
Minecraft makes an appearance with its friendly update. This update will allow iOS, Android and Windows 10 to all play together regardless of device. On top of that Minecraft Realms allows server based Minecraft fun, allowing a server to be online while you aren’t; so if a friend is enjoying their time in your painstakingly crafted recreation of Slough then you can let them enjoy it without your watchful eyes on them.
John Carmack made an appearance to show off a little Minecraft VR a la Oculus Rift. Lastly for Minecraft, and possibly most importantly, is the add-ons and texture packs. These will allow you to not only change the look of blocks, animals, enemies and allies completely but also change attributes to make them work or act differently. They proved how interesting it could be by showing a modern city under attack from alien invaders. It looks like they really are trying to make Minecraft a limitless playground. And it looks like they might succeed on it too.
Next up is a trailer for controller customisation which involves offering a plethora of garish colours to customise your controllers with.
Following up that is the trailer for Inside, which is from Limbo developers Playdead, and announcing its availability on June 29th. Limbo is also being made free on Xbox One now too.
ID@Xbox carries on with a trailer full of glimpses of too many great looking titles that’ll be out on Xbox One from Indie Developers.
We Happy Few makes a brief gameplay walkthrough of what seems to be the opening of the game. With the player character deciding not to take his “Joy” pill, he soon starts to notice all these insidious things going on around the office. After beating a rat that once looked like a Pinata to a pulp and being sprayed with blood, he’s soon seen as a not so happy “downer”. Shortly after we’re graced with seeing him getting kicked in by oh so happy police constables. It’s out July 26th and looks to be interesting if not dark in theme.
After the Witcher 3’s success what could come next but an electronic version of the card game Gwent*. It’s Crossplay compatible so you can play with pretty much whoever on whatever device. It’ll also have a fairly substantial singleplayer campaign to go alongside the inherent multiplayer. It has been slightly redesigned with a few additions but that’s all that was mentioned. It’s getting a beta and is due out in September.
Tekken 7 is next up with a showcase of cinematics seamlessly merging with gameplay, as it will flit between the two in the story mode upon its release. They’re keeping pretty schtum about it, so we’ve only got this info and the brief Akuma/Heihachi fight from the trailer/gameplay. However, they are making Tekken Tag Tournament 2 free for all Xbox Live Gold members, so that’s quite nice.
Dead Rising 4! A rather tongue in cheek video mostly showing off the ridiculous gore fest of Zombie mayhem – most importantly with Frank West making a return. It’s another round of ridiculous weapons like a Candy Cane Crossbow, fire breathing Triceratops skull, Electric Go-Kart and a tonne more. It also seems to have gone back to its roots after the more “realistic” Dead Rising 3, which will come as a relief for many.
Scalebound* comes next, with a Protagonist that would give DmC Dante a run for his money in a battle of who’s more obnoxious. Luckily Dragons and a Giant Enemy Crab make up for it with some explosive combat in a gigantic battle. It’s a four player co-op battle and it looks like there’s always something for someone to do as players get flung around by their Dragons mid-fight.
Sea of Thieves* is a unenlightening trailer followed by a demo gone horribly wrong, as they show their community players take on the game sans tutorials. It’s a video of people who don’t know how to fill a void with silence. Only banal thoughts and screaming. It’s possibly a great game but it really doesn’t show it from what they decided to put out. It’s the worst showing of the Microsoft conference so we hope it shows itself off better next time we see it.
State of Decay 2* is the sequel to the slightly janky but brilliant State of Decay. The trailer doesn’t give too much away but it looks like bigger home areas to protect and a larger emphasis on teamwork and protecting a base of operations.
Halo Wars 2* comes in with the slow music, slow motion battle scene that seems to be a thing for Halo. 343 Industries and Creatives Assembly’s new game sees the Humans fighting the Banished which is a Brute-led Covenant army on a distant planet. It looks like a spruced up Halo Wars and without playing it on both Xbox One and Win 10 there’s little way of telling just how well it plays or how it plays comparatively on both platforms. It’s due out February 21st 2017, but has a week-long Beta from the 13th-20th of June.
From there ol’ Phil Spencer gets on stage for the Scorpio bit mentioned earlier and then the final wind down. All in all it’s a solid show from Microsoft – even if the actual gameplay is fairly sparse in places.