Microsoft came out with all guns blazing this year, something they had to do considering that they are lagging behind Sony and the PlayStation 4 in terms of sales. Their media briefing was jam packed with games and announcements that they probably hope will get you to upgrade from your Xbox 360 to a shiny new Xbox One.
The media briefing isn’t the end for Microsoft though in terms of news. They have confirmed they’ll be making further information about unannounced titles and features for the Xbox One in the coming days throughout E3 and will also have details about other games at other events in the near future.
So let’s take a look at everything we learned from Microsoft this E3.
Play All Your Old Games
Although Microsoft have long since said that backwards compatibility was not something that was possible, Phil Spencer revealed that the Xbox team have managed to do just that. Starting from this holiday, gamers will be able to play Xbox 360 games on the new console. Digital titles that you own will begin to appear in your library as they become available while retail discs will also work.
All that it takes for a game to work is for the original developer or publisher to give Microsoft the go-ahead to approve it on the system. Then it can be played on the Xbox One and use features such as streaming and screenshots as well as allow you to play with those still using an Xbox 360. Spencer also pointed out that there would be no charge for the service, possibly in regards to Sony and their PlayStation Now service.
If you are a preview member, then over 100 titles are already available for you to try out as of now.
Elite Gaming With a New Controller
Microsoft also revealed a brand new controller for the Xbox One and PC that is an evolution over the current controller. It is described as the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller and features trigger locks, paddles to help with precision for driving games, remappable buttons, a new D-pad design that is unlike anything on a console controller, customizable sensitivity for the thumbsticks and triggers and the ability to swap out every component.
Battling Guardians in Halo 5
Microsoft once again tried to big up the fact that we don’t exactly know whether Master Chief has turned away from humanity and what role Spartan Locke will take. They also showed off single player gameplay for the first time, with those on stage taking on the role of Locke, Buck and the rest of his Spartan IV team as they attempt to locate Master Chief on a Covenant world. The gameplay showed off some new mechanics, including the Artemis system that works like the detective mode from Arkham series of Batman games.
It also showed off some of the new abilities that have come with the greater emphasis on co-op, such as the ability to heal teammates, which will apparently be Seamless drop-in drop-out co-operative play.
Very few story details were given away, other than the fact that the Chief is tracking down the Guardians for some unknown reason. The Arbiter was also shown to be reluctantly helping Locke and his crew, though it was unclear as to whether he will still help John-117.
The big reveal came in the form of a brand new game mode that had previously been teased by 343 Industries. Called WarZone, the new multiplayer experience will see up to 24 players battling it out on maps that are four times the size of any other that has ever appeared in the franchise before. There will be large-scale environments and AI-controlled adversaries.
Recore is a brand new franchise that will be exclusive to the Xbox One. It is being developed by Keiji Inafune and the makers of Metroid Prime. Features a female protagonist along with a robotic dog-like creature that can be upgraded. Not much else was revealed about the new IP other than what was shown in the above trailer. The game will release in Spring 2016.
Mod Away In Fallout 4
Bethesda began their brief presentation by showing off some new gameplay footage of Fallout 4 before going on to explain the happy relationship the company enjoys with Microsoft, something that goes back 15 years to The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind on the original Xbox. They also stated that throughout all that time they have been bugging Microsoft to allow a certain feature that PC gamers absolutely adore – modding. To that end, Fallout 4 will allow Xbox One players to download, share and play mods created for the game on the PC for free. Hopefully this is something Microsoft can implement in other games.
Forza 6 Sees The Return of the Ford GT
Forza 6 had a somewhat strange introduction, with the brand new Ford GT design lowered into the arena for everyone to see. The car will be one of the featured vehicles in the racing game and starred in a brand new gameplay trailer. Turn 10 described it as the biggest and most technically advanced game that they have ever created. It will release worldwide on September 15.
Praise the Sun for Dark Souls 3
A brief trailer also let the world know that Dark Souls 3 really is in development and will be arriving on the Xbox One in early 2016. Nothing was really revealed about the title other than the traditional death and despair that accompanies the series, with no gameplay shown in the footage.
EA Adds to the Vault
EA didn’t share too much information during their allocated time, probably because they have their very own media briefing, but Peter Moore talked at length about the advantages of EA Access. As is usual with the service, the upcoming Madden and Need for Speed releases will be playable first through EA Access but Moore also revealed that Dragon Age: Inquisition would be joining the Vault at the end of the summer while Titanfall is available to subscribers right now. Not only that, but EA Access is free to all Xbox Live Gold members for the rest of the week, allowing them to play 12 games at no cost.
The only other announcement the publisher made was that Plats vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2 is in development and will release in Spring 2016.
The Division and Rainbow Six Siege
Ubisoft only spoke about two games during their appearance. Most of the time was spent talking about their latest franchise, The Division. The accompanying trailer explained that The Division is actually a team of highly trained special operatives who have been activated as a las resort following the release of a weaponized virus that has all but destroyed society. It seems the game will be releasing with the tagline “When society falls, we rise.” A public beta will be available exclusive on the Xbox One from in December.
The rest of time was spent discussing Rainbow Six Siege. As well as showing off some interesting gameplay footage of the title, the announcer also stated that Ubisoft would be allowing Microsoft to make Rainbow Six: Vegas 1 & 2 available on the Xbox One. Anyone who purchases Rainbow Six Siege will also get the two earlier games free of charge.
Exclusive to Windows 10 and Xbox One. Colorful visuals. Variety of heroes with what looks like different abilities and powers, players can control the battlefield and use giant Guardians to help them in fighting. Free-to-play title. Beta in August, 2015.
So Many Indie Games
Indie games took a major part in the proceedings, with various developers given the spotlight to show off their upcoming releases. These included some previously announced titles as well as brand new games. Microsoft also revealed that more than 1,000 independent developers were now working with the ID@Xbox program to release their games on the console.
One of those highlighted was Tacome, which is being developed by the creators of Gone Home. It sees players attempt to explore the Tacoma space craft and find out what happened to the missing crew. Ashen was also shown during the montage. It puts the player in a harsh open world where every decision, whether it is to befriend a stranger or fight them, makes a difference to the outcome of the story and whether you survive. It is being developed by Aurora44 and will be a console exclusive.
Cuphead, the hugely interesting platformer that has been designed to look almost identical to old timey cartoons will be a console exclusive for the Xbox One. It combines the old-school look with precision gameplay and controls that were the norm in the 16-bit era of gaming. Tiger & Squid’s Beyond Eyes was also featured, it is a fairly unique concept that has a character who is blind and can only use her other senses to get around the world. It will arrive first on PC and Xbox One.
Another indie game that was highlighted was Gigantic. This colorful battler will see players vying for control of the battlefield while taking on the role of a variety of characters with different abilities and powers. They can also call on gigantic guardians who will assist against larger enemies. It will be a free-to-play title that supports cross-play between Windows 10 and Xbox one. A beta will be available from August.
Finally, the creator of DayZ came on stage to announce a brand new game called Ion. Other than the brief appearance in the trailer not much was revealed about the game but it appears to be a science-fiction inspired game. It will take advantage of a new program called the Xbox Game Preview.
Xbox Game Preview. A program that allows gamers to play a few select titles while they are still in development, like Steam Early Access. Will allow you to purchase a game and affect its development. Each title comes with a free trial to see if it is something you are interested in before committing. The Long Dark, Sheltered, Elite Dangerous, DayZ will be available first.
This program allows players to play a select few titles while they are still in development. It operates in a similar way to Steam Early Access by allowing gamers to get their hands on a game before its releases and help its development but it does have some minor differences. Most notable among them is a free trial that lets you try out a title before committing to purchasing it.
Other Microsoft Exclusive Games
Rise of the Tomb Raider received a lengthy trailer that showed Lara Croft’s dramatic climb up a snowy mountain and an ice wall. The visuals were pretty impressive, although the gameplay shown seemed to revolve around quick time events a bit too much. It is coming Holiday 2015.
A short trailer also introduced Fable Legends, with Microsoft revealing that the game will be exclusive to Xbox One and Windows 10 and will also support cross-play between the two platforms. It is also coming Holiday 2015.
Not So Rare
Two big bits of news regarding legendary developer Rare were also revealed during the media briefing. The first is that the studio is releasing 30 of their classic games in the form of Rare Replay. The bundle will cost $30 and includes nearly all of their greatest games that they own the IP to, including Perfect Dark, R.C. Pro-Am, Battletoads, , Banjo-Kazooie, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Viva Piñata and Blast Corps. It will also come with 10,000 gamerscore and will hit store shelves August 4.
The other announcement came in the form of a brand new franchise called Sea of Thieves. This pirate themed game will see players battle it out on the high seas in naval combat, explore islands for treasure and fight enemies that get in your way. It has a somewhat colorful and friendly graphical style and the trailer suggested it would come with an online mode. Rare said that the game is their most ambitious title to date.
Microsoft also dedicated a hefty amount of time to their projects involving virtual reality devices. Following on from last week’s news that they were partnering with Oculus Rift, the company also explained that every headset would come with an Xbox One controller. Additionally, thy also announced that they would be partnering with Valve VR but gave away little information about what that would mean.
By far the most significant part of this section though was the demonstration of HoloLens. The tech demo involved two players playing a newly developed version of Minecraft that has been designed especially for HoloLens. The demo showed how the game could be played on any surface like a traditional TV set but also create worlds on other surfaces, such as a table, and then manipulate the world and interact with it like never before. It’s pretty hard to explain so just watch the video to get an idea for how it works, but it looks incredible.
The Gears Are Turning
The first bit of Gears of War information that came out of the briefing confirmed a long running rumor that Microsoft were set to release a remastered version of the game for the Xbox One console. The package, known as Gears of War Ultimate will include the first game with upgraded visuals running at 1080p with a framerate of 60 frames-per-second. The developer has also made numerous improvements and refinements to the features and game modes to make the game a much more polished experienced. A beta for the game is available on Xbox Live right now.
Meanwhile, a gameplay reveal announced Gears of War 4. Little was shown about where the game takes place or who will be the main characters, but two new people were introduced during the footage. It also showed a collection of new enemies as well as the signature Lancer chainsaw. According to the trailer, it will be available in late 2016.