This morning was the Microsoft press event – the actual kick off for E3 week. Bethesda set the tone for the week last night, and Microsoft did a great job keeping that tone all morning/noon time. Let’s get going – there’s a lot to talk about.
Microsoft got the show started right away, pulling out the big guns at the outset of the show. Halo 5: Guardians was the first game that we got to see – and this was gameplay showing off some new stuff. We got to see what looked like four-player co-op, featuring Spartan Locke’s squad (including the return of Sgt. Buck/Nathan Fillion) tracking down Chief on a Covenant planet. It looks pretty standard Halo – lots of action, good set-pieces, and pretty incredible vistas. To me, the big news was the announcement of Warzone – the new multiplayer mode. It features 24 players split into two teams, as well as a third force made up of A.I. enemies. It reminded me of a sort of combined Firefight mode, with some PvP elements there too. It looks like it will end up being a great side mode to play when burnt out on PvP.
We then got a new exclusive announcement for a new franchise from Keiji Inafune and the team behind Metroid Prime called Recore. The game won’t be out until next year, but based around what we saw today, it looks pretty neat. The trailer did a good job of setting the world up, but left the gameplay in mystery. It was a solid start before we hit the hardware portion of the show – the only part that was, and was pretty quick. Microsoft learned from two years ago and has really focused on games way more since then.
The big news hardware-wise is that backwards compatibility is finally coming to the Xbox One. In fact, for preview members, it’s out today. The rest of us have to wait until the Holiday, but still – that’s a huge step forward, by stepping backward. It opens up a huge library of games – digital games will automatically show up, and retail discs work similarly (pop in the disc, and download and you’re good to go). The real cool part for this is that the Xbox One features will still work – snap, taking clips, screenshots and broadcasting all work with 360 games. This announcement ran right into the new Xbox One Elite controller coming this fall. It looks a lot like the third party controllers with lots of custom features, some that I think are silly, others kinda neat.
After some Xbox specific stuff, we got back to the games. Fresh off the killer Bethesda show from last night, Todd Howard popped back in to talk more Fallout 4. We got two big Xbox specific bits of news here – first is that Fallout 3 will be included with the new game this fall. The second one is the real kicker though – for the first time ever, mods will be playable on console. Fallout 4 mods made on PC will work fine on Xbox One as well. That’s a huge step forward, and depending on whether that’s an Xbox exclusive could really shape Fallout 4‘s profile.
We then got a little bit of EA news – Madden NFL 16 comes out August 25, and a few new games are coming to EA Access: Titanfall this week, and Dragon Age: Inquisition this summer. And to go along with that, EA Access’s vault will be available for all Xbox Live Gold members this week as well. We also got the announcement of Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 which will be out next spring. The trailer was actually pretty funny and cute – fitting right in with the PvZ style. I’m sure there’s more EA stuff in their own show.
We then got a few more trailers – Forza 6 along with a release date, 9/15/15; then the debut of the trailer for Dark Souls III, which comes out next year. Seeing Dark Souls announced at a Microsoft show was pretty cool – the series has tended to be mainly a SONY franchise so far, so this is potentially big.
That got us to The Division, a new trailer for the action RPG from Ubisoft. The Tom Clancy series is pretty stacked this year, as Ubisoft showed. The Division looks great, saying there’s a beta on the Xbox One this December. And continuing the trend, Rainbow Six: Siege comes out October 13, and will actually include the classic Xbox Rainbow Six games, Vegas, and Vegas 2. Ubisoft of course showed off more of these during their own show.
We then hit the indie section – Gigantic, which looked like a free-to-play MOBA style game with a beta coming out August; Tacoma will be a space mystery from the same team behind Gone Home; Ashen from Aurora 44 – an open world action shared world game; Beyond Eyes from Tiger and Squid, which honestly didn’t look like a game I will go for, just personally; and finally Cuphead – the Indie game from Studio MDHR that I’ve wanted since it was first shown off a while ago. It look so great. The ID@Xbox segued into the Xbox Game Preview program, a way to support games that are still in development – similar to Steam’s Early Access. They used this program to unveil Ion, the new game from DayZ creator Dean Hall.
We then got back to triple A games with Rise of the Tomb Raider – with a new gameplay video to show it. It showed Lara in all kinds of snowy trouble, scaling a cliff that should not humanly possible to scale. It definitely looked a lot like the reboot – which is a good thing. We will see more I’m sure, but the game launches this Holiday. This was also when we got to see what Rare studios has for us – a collection of 30 games, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the studio (complete with Battletoads). And a brand new IP – Sea of Thieves – a Pirate based MMO that looked pretty neat.
Microsoft then showed us some of their first party games – starting with Fable Legends, showing a new villain character, and restating it being free-to-play, cross platform with Windows 10 and coming out this Holiday. VR was shown – they had an actual stage demo of the Hololens and Minecraft that looked unreal with how futuristic it was. But at this point we had reached the end of our time – and Microsoft closed with a fan favorite. This August we’ll get Gears of War: Ultimate Edition – the first game, remastered for Xbox One, and with a public beta out today. Then they formally announced Gears of War 4, with a gameplay trailer that looked very much like Gears. We have a ways for this one though – not launching until Holiday 2016.