The annual Electronic Entertainment Expo or E3 for short is finally here and, just like every year, is where the gaming industry’s biggest companies will be making their biggest announcements for the year. And one of the companies that always put on a big show at E3 every year is Microsoft and they definitely did not disappoint this year as they made some very big announcements at their press conference.
Xbox One S
The first and probably the biggest announcement Microsoft made during their conference is the unveiling of the Xbox One S, a “slim” version of the Xbox One that’s 40% smaller, features a “robot white” paint job, and can be positioned either vertically or horizontally. What’s more, you can say goodbye to the bulky power brick that Xbox consoles have been known for since the Xbox 360.
Aside from the aesthetic changes, Microsoft has also moved one of the console’s USB ports to the front for easier access and also added a new IR blaster as well as Bluetooth connectivity. Although, Kinect users might be disappointed to find that the new console no longer comes with a dedicated Kinect port and a to-be-released USB adapter will be required instead.
Lastly, the new Xbox One S also comes with 4K and HDR video playback support as well as a newly designed and upgraded controller that now features textured grips and Bluetooth connectivity. The Xbox One S will be available in early August for $399 for the 2TB version, $349 for the 1TB, and the 500GB will cost $299.
Microsoft isn’t just releasing a smaller version of its Xbox One, it’s also working on a version of the console that’s leagues more powerful than the original. According to Microsoft, the new console, currently only called Project Scorpio, is set to be released sometime in 2017 and will feature 8 cores, a memory bandwidth of 320Gb (yes, three-hundred twenty gigabits), and six teraflops of performance, all so it can run games at a true fully uncompressed 4K resolution.
Microsoft has said that Project Scorpio will be backwards compatible with the Xbox One and Xbox One S. You’ll also be able to use all the same peripherals and controllers with the new console as well. Other features like support for VR could also make their way into the upcoming console but Microsoft is currently not saying much else about Project Scorpio so we’ll just have to wait until later this year or early next year to really find out what Microsoft’s next console will look and perform like.
Design-Your-Own Xbox One Controller
The company’s last hardware announcement of the event was their new Design-Your-Own Xbox One Controller Program or simply called the Xbox Design Lab which will allow players to customize their own Xbox One controller to their liking. Almost every bit of the controller can be customized from the face buttons, analog sticks, D-Pad, and even the front and rear cases. Additionally, players may also even put their name or gamertag on the controller. According to Microsoft, there will be up to eight million different combinations available and the customized controller will sell for $80 once it’s available at xbox.com/xboxdesignlab.
Gears of War 4 and Xbox Play Anywhere
Right after unveiling their new hardware, Microsoft then stepped in to the software side of things with the announcement of Xbox Play Anywhere, a new initiative that lets those who purchase Xbox One games also play the title on PC. And one of the games that will fall under the new Xbox Play Anywhere program is the upcoming Gears of War 4, which Microsoft also announced will be coming to the PC as well as the Xbox One. Aside from being able to play the game on either platform, Xbox Play Anywhere for Gears of War 4 will allow players from both Xbox One and PC play together in the game’s cooperative multiplayer modes including the new Horde 3.0, the latest version of the franchise’s popular co-op mode.
Gears of War 4 will be released for both Xbox One and PC on Otcober 11, 2016, while other upcoming titles that are confirmed to fall under the Xbox Play Anywhere program include Dead Rising 4, Sea of Thieves, Forza Horizon 3, Scalebound, State of Decay 2, and Halo Wars 2.
Sea of Thieves
Aside from new consoles, Microsoft also unveiled the first gameplay footage of Sea of Thieves, finally revealing and giving us some insight on what the new title is all about. Originally announced last year, Sea of Thieves is a freeform multiplayer game from British game developer Rare that lets players take on the role of pirates as they work together to man their massive pirate ships and explore the high seas. Players will be able to unfurl sails, turn rudders, climb riggings, explore islands, and, if need be, fire cannons to blow up other pirate ships. Not much else was revealed about Sea of Thieves including a release date but with a gameplay trailer already released we should see the new title out pretty soon.
Scalebound was originally announced way back in E3 2014 as one of the Xbox One’s biggest exclusives and this week at E3 2016, developer Platinum Games finally unveiled some of the gameplay that we’ll be seeing for the new title revealing that alongside fighting with the help of dragons, players will also be fighting against massive monsters including what looked like a giant crab-scorpion hybrid. The company also unveiled that the title will feature a co-op mode and, in contrary to what Microsoft said last year, the new game will now be coming to PCs as part of the company’s new Xbox Play Anywhere program. While a release date has yet to be officially set for Scalebound, it’s now expected to come out sometime in 2017.
One of the most exciting new titles that Microsoft teased at last year’s E3 was ReCore, a new game from Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune and the folks behind Metroid Prime. And this year at E3 2016, the company finally showed us some of what the game is all about as well as an official release date for the new title. In ReCore, which combines third-person shooting and puzzle mechanics, players take on the role of a currently unknown lone human survivor as she explores a desert wasteland along with her companion which takes on the shape of a blue orb that is able to slot itself into various robots, each with its own set of unique abilities to help solve the game’s myriad of challenges. ReCore is set to release on both PC and Xbox One on September 13, 2016.
Dead Rising 4
The Dead Rising franchise has been one of the zombie game genre’s most popular titles as it takes a lighter and less serious spin on the popular game category. And at this year’s E3, Microsoft officially announced the franchise fourth major entry, Dead Rising 4. Crafting your own set of unique weapons to blow up and tear through zombies has always been the trademark of the franchise and it looks like Dead Rising 4 will feature even more of it. It also looks like players will even be able to take selfies in the game. Dead Rising 4 will be coming to both the Xbox One and PC and is set to release sometime during Holiday 2016 with some reports saying that it will released on December 6.
Forza Horizon 3
Ever since Microsoft unveiled the spin-off Horizon series of its massively popular Forza racing game franchise back in 2012, it’s become one of the company’s most popular titles and this year at E3 2016, Microsoft pulled back the veil on the next installment in the Horizon series, Forza Horizon 3. In this latest installment, players will be racing on the streets, plains, and deserts of Australia in both traditional racing cars and new vehicles such as off-road racing buggies. The game will also feature a new four-player “instant” campaign cooperative mode allowing up to four friends to quickly and easily join up and race with each other. Forza Horizon 3 is set to launch on September 27 for both Xbox One and PC under Microsoft’s new Xbox Play Anywhere initiative.
Halo Wars 2
The Halo franchise’s real-time strategy spin-off, Halo Wars, which was originally released way back in 2009 is finally making its return with Halo Wars 2. The sequel, announced by Microsoft last year at Gamescom, has finally received a release date at this year’s E3, set for February 21, 2017, alongside an open beta that will run from June 13 to June 20. The new game will feature a single-player campaign as well as several multiplayer modes. The game follows the story of UNSC leader Captain Cutter as he and his crew face off against a new threat, The Banished. Halo Wars 2 will be coming to both PC and Xbox One under the Xbox Play Anywhere program but will sadly not feature crossplay between the two platforms.