By Andrew Walsh
The Microsoft Press Conference was jammed packed with game announcements, updates to previously announced games, and new hardware, which all culminated into a fast paced, fan focused show. They did a fantastic job of pacing the reveals in a way that felt as though never spent too much time on individual topics. So far, this is the conference to beat, and it serves as a text book example of how the press should view corporate innovation. Without further a due, here are the highlights from the Microsoft press conference.
The conference started with the announcement of the Xbox One S, a sleek, white, slim version of the current console that will be launching in August 2016 for $299 USD.
Next up was one of the most anticipated games of the year, Gears of War 4. Live gameplay was shown and this was the first of many mentions of the Xbox play anywhere feature. This feature allows you to purchase a game on either Windows 10 or Xbox One, and play it on either device. They topped off the discussion with mentions of the new, sorely missed horde mode 3.0, campaign co-op and the special gears elite controller.
Next on the menu was Killer Instinct where a new character was announced, General RAAM from the gears series.
Following that, a beautiful Forza Horizon 3 was shown with a live 4 player co-op demo. Recore would then take the stage next with some pre-recorded gameplay and an unveiled release date of September 13th.
Square Enix was up next, and they showed off a special E3 titan fight for Final Fantasy 15.
A video for the upcoming Division Underground was shown, and it will be launching first for Xbox One this month.
The Battlefield One trailer was shown and sadly, if you watched the EA conference, it was already spoiled, but nonetheless, the game still looks great.
After the Battlefield trailer, Microsoft talked about Xbox Live and some of the new features that will be coming to the service, such as clubs, arena and the ability to look for groups.
Jumping back into games, two very happy and smiling members of the Minecraft team came on stage and talked about the upcoming friendly update and texture packs. Then a video about the ability to customise your own Xbox One controllers was shown, and it looks awesome.
Following this, they talked about the Xbox preview service, ID@Xbox and the continued support that Microsoft is giving to Indy developers. During this time slot they showed off We Happy Few, which looks like a very creepy and interesting Bioshock looking game, coming to preview program on July 26th.
Cd Project Red came out next and talked about the stand alone Gwent card game that they are making and that it is coming in September. This must have pleased the millions of people who spent hours in taverns playing the game in the Witcher 3.
Tekken 7 was also announced and will be coming out in early 2017.
Dead Rising 4 was announced with a gameplay trailer. Interestingly it does not appear to be an exclusive to Xbox and Windows and they said that it will be coming first, not only, to Xbox. The game will be releasing holiday 2016.
A gameplay demo of Scalebound that was running much better than last years was shown next, with a release window for 2017.
The upcoming pirate online multiplayer game was up next. Rare’s Sea of Thieves was shown off with teams of various players exploring and fighting in this cartoonish, fun, pirate online adventure.
One of my most anticipated games, State of Decay 2, coming out in 2017 on Xbox One and Windows 10, got an exciting gameplay trailer.
The final game to be shown off was Halo Wars 2, which is coming to fans on February 21st 2017 in full, and right now for those entering the beta that was announced live.
Lastly, Phil Spencer came on stage and gave a speech about the future of Xbox gaming. Following the speech, Microsoft took the bold action of showing off their new piece of hardware, the Scorpio. A video showcased the new powerful specs, and the future of console gaming, while challenging Sony and their new piece of hardware. This announcement ended the conference.
The games were numerous and the hardware looked exciting. The handling of the Scorpio, and the reassurance that the current Xbox One will not be left behind, was done eloquently. This conference, and the Scorpio announcement, was their acknowledgment that they lost the PS4/Xbox One battle, and they are willing and able to gear up for a new fight. It’s also interesting that no games are only Xbox One exclusive; all games announced will be available on Windows 10, a sign that Xbox and PC are moving ever closer together. Interestingly, there was no Hololens present during the conference and very little talk of VR. Also, no Crackdown gameplay, old or new, was shown, which is a little worrying. However, overall it was a great and entertaining conference. It will be exciting to see how Sony can keep up.