E3 2016 – Microsoft Press Conference

Microsoft were hot out of the traps and gunning for glory this year with huge news of new hardware and software improvements, touting news of both a new Xbox One S, customizable controllers, and the enigmatic “Project Scorpio” that’s been lined up for 2017.

With a roster of new Xbox One and Windows 10 exclusives, Phil Spencer has revealed the Xbox Play Anywhere program, which allows the purchase of games once and played across Xbox One and PC at no extra cost. That means booting the game up on an Xbox, saving it, and continuing on a Windows 10 supported PC, achievements and save games shared across the platforms. Not only that, but cross play in multi-player and co-op will be supported across Xbox One and Windows 10.

Play Anywhere games that are confirmed include Killer Instinct, Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, Halo Wars 2, Dead Rising 4 State of Decay 2, Scalebound and Sea of Thieves.

Xbox One S

Xbox One S is a much sleeker machine than its older brother; it’s 40% smaller, with an integrated power supply, HDR gaming, 4K Ultra HD Video and Blu-Ray, supports up to 2 TB storage, and on top of all that, comes with the new Xbox Wireless controller with increased range and textured grips. XB1 S is rumoured to be coming with a €300/$300 price tag, set for release in August.

Gears of War 4
Rod Fergusson, Studio Head of The Coalition, and Laura Bailey, voice of Kait in the Gears games came on stage to help promote the new GOW 4, followed by 6 minutes of exclusive gameplay in the co-op Campaign mode. Being one of the Play Anywhere titles, it will support crossplay on both Windows and Xbox One for all multiplayer modes in Gears 4.
Horde Mode has been brought back into the franchise, the third iteration – Horde Mode 3.0.
A new exclusive Xbox Elite controller with Gears 4 decals and designs is also now available for pre-order.
Release is slated for October 11th 2016.

Killer Instinct
Community Manager for KI, Rukari Austin started by thanking almost 7 million players of the game, revealing a special guest from Gears of War 4 – General Raam joins the fight this coming season. KI is available to play for free all this week.

Forza Horizon 3
Set in the scenic vistas of Australia, Forza Horizon 3 (Xbox Play Anywhere) Ralph Fulton from Playground Games showed the world gameplay premier of Horizon 3, which showcased several examples of the vehicles available in the game, from the beautiful supercars, to new buggies and trucks, as well as the various tracks, environments and terrain available to throttle through. Forza Horizon offers 4 player campaign co-op for the first time in the Horizon series, with a simple press of a button on the controller. Forza Horizon 3 will be available September 27 2016.

Originally seen at E3 last year in early development, Recore made a fleeting appearance between Forza and Final Fantasy XV – showing more gameplay and robots with awesome capabilities than before. A release date for September 13 of this year is expected.

Final Fantasy XV
Square Enix, in lieu of their usual press conference, released a Trial of Titan Demo for the supporting platforms, especially for E3, for the latest installment in the Final Fantasy series. Hajime Tabata and Mathew Kishimoto revealed the first gameplay demo on Xbox One, showing how fast and fluid the battle system is, never achieved in any of their previous titles until now. FFXV will be available on September 30th Xbox and PS4.

The Division: Underground
First release on Xbox One before all other platforms, The Division Underground Expansion Pack will be available starting June 28. More Information is available in the Ubisoft Press Conference available here.

Battlefield 1
Patrick Bach brought more information about Battlefield 1 onto the Xbox Conference, giving first preference to Xbox One players with EA Access starting on October 13th. Regular access begins on October 21st. Pre-order available now. Find more information about Battlefield 1 in EA’s Press Conference here.

New Features: Xbox One
Mike Ybarra, Head of Platform Engineering, brought more details about new servers for a faster and more reliable network for players. Backward Compatibility, New Xbox One Experience and Cross Network Compatibility were some of the things brought out during the year, and this year, Ybarra discusses Background Music, which players can have playing while in-game, Language Region Independence, which allows players to choose their language, no matter where they are in the world, and Cortana digital assistant makes her debut on Xbox One. Xbox Live is now available across all devices including Windows PC, Xbox One, iOS and Android.

Three new features of Xbox were introduced; Clubs on Xbox Live allows people to create communities to find players of similar game tastes and communities who share the same game interests.
Looking For Groups on Xbox Live makes finding players of specific stats with a shared goal/mission in mind easier, while Arena on Xbox Live allows players to compete in tournaments, both local and international.

Lydia Winters and Sax Persson returned to E3 this year with news of The Friendly Update, which allows players to play in each other’s worlds cross-device, which ranges from Windows 10, iOS, Android and Gear VR, through Xbox Live in Minecraft Realms. New texture packs were introduced, add-ons and packs to further customize your worlds. More news will be revealed at Minecon in September.

Xbox Custom Controllers
Xbox Design Lab make it possible for you to make up custom controllers with thousands of options for button, joystick and outer shell colours, along with an optional engraving at the base of the upper face plate. These controllers range from $69-79, laser engravings costing $10.

Chris Charla brought a miniature showcase of indie developers to the table, stating that over 1000 games are currently in development at this current time, for release on XBOX, including Cuphead, Deliver us the Moon, Far, Slime Rancher, Figment, The Culling, Stardew Valley, Raiders, Bloodstained, YookaLaylee and many more.


An ominous preview trailer from the creators of “Limbo” was released by the title of Inside, due for release on June 29.


ARK: Survival Evolved
Already on Steam, ARK will be releasing on Windows 10 and Xbox One through Xbox Live, which will benefit from the Play Anywhere treatment.

We Happy Few
Compulsion Games’ Guillaume Provost, Creative Director and Founder, gave the audience a taste of the eerie and enthralling We Happy Few, first to release on Xbox One. We get a first person view of a character in an office setting, who seems to be lapsing from medication called “Joy”. In the midst of the lapse, the player can choose to take it, or throw it away; the game seems to be based on a decision based outcome. Invited to a birthday party, we see the party guests beating a piñata, where the player is given an appendage to join in. However, things take a sinister turn when the lapse in medication returns to reveal all is not as it seems.

CD Projekt Red: Gwent
Damien Monnier introduces Gwent, a free- to-play multiplayer card game brought straight from The Witcher 3, with a huge single player campaign. Gwent is a card game based on skill, so that you, and not just the cards, are at play. 10 cards are handed to you at the start, for you to use to win the game; the game is based on a battle against two armies, and you must use these , and four factions can be chosen to create your deck. Beta is available in September on Xbox One and Windows 10.

Tekken 7
The latest iteration of Tekken has Heihachi and Akuma battling it out on the big screen, amid much fire and destruction on either side of the fantastic fight. Katsuhiro Harada, the director and chief producer of Fighting Games at Bandai-Namco, and Michael Murray, Game Designer, tell us more about it; not only will competitive multiplayer come with the game as standard, but there will be an in-depth storyline, that blends fighting with cinematic cut scenes together. More information will be available at a later date, and the game will be available early 2017. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is available to all members of Xbox Live all this week for free, via Backwards Compatibility.

Dead Rising 4
A lengthy and carnage filled trailer for Dead Rising 4 was well received by the auditorium, and the game will be made available on Xbox One and Windows 10 in Winter 2016.

Shannon Loftis, Head of Microsoft Studios Publishing came on stage to tell us more about Xbox’s upcoming folio of games; as well as introducing Hideki Kamiya, the creative director of Platinum Games, who are producing the much anticipated Scalebound, a preview of which was released last year. Initiating a co-op with two other players, a huge battle with a humungous spider played out on the big screen, along with the players corresponding dragons. Release is slated for 2017.

Sea of Thieves
Rare’s new and highly anticipated title “Sea of Thieves” was given it’s world gameplay premier at the conference, pitting 3 crews against each other in an epic ship battle. Sea of Thieves is an Xbox One and Windows 10 exclusive, benefitting from the Play Anywhere program, and Craig Duncan, head of Rare, showcased the depth of the world that will be available to players on playing the game. Search for hidden treasure with friends, fight against creatures and battle against other pirates on the high seas.

State of Decay 2
Yet another Xbox One and Windows 10 exclusive benefitting from the Play Anywhere program, the sequel in the critically acclaimed “State of Decay” franchise immerses you in an all-new, multiplayer zombie survival fantasy. Build a lasting community, working with other players or solo to overcome challenges while exploring your own unique story in a world that remembers the choices you make. Releases in 2017.

Halo Wars 2
343 Industries head Dan Ayoub explains the story of Halo Wars 2, which continues the story of the original real-time strategy from six years ago. The crew awake to find themselves orbiting an alien construct known as the Ark. They face an organisation known as the Banished, a menace the crew are entirely unprepared for. Xbox One and Windows 10 Exclusive, the game is set for release on Febrary 21st, 2017. The beta releases this week at E3 from June 13-20.

Project Scorpio
Phil Spencer announced new plans of the mysterious new machine that is currently in the works at Microsoft. News of the new bouncing baby brother to the Xbox One family was revealed at the end of Microsoft’s Press Conference, which promises true 4K gaming with a whopping six teraflops of GPU power, the most powerful graphics processor to be put into a game console to date, to support the visions that developers are hoping to take advantage of in development of new titles. It will have 8 CPU cores, true VR support, 320GB per second memory bandwidth and renders at 60Hz and uncompressed pixels are on the cards – powerful indeed.

Promises by Phil are made to be able to play across the consoles without boundaries, combined with the Play Anywhere program – so that even whenever Project Scorpio is released, Xbox One, Xbox One S and Project Scorpio peripherals, accessories and games will work across the platforms together.

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