The madness of E3 is upon us once again, and that means conferences! I got the chance to check out Microsoft’s game and hardware packed show thanks to the miracle of in-flight WiFi, so here I am ready to write a whole bunch of words about it. I might even do the same with the other conferences. Try and still your beating heart, folks, because you’re on a rollercoaster now and this ride never ends.
Naturally there were plenty of games to check out throughout Microsoft’s conference. Highlights included Gears of War 4, a title that was already looking pretty sharp last year and continues to impress. Discussion of Gears 4 also included some talk about the new Play Anywhere initiative, essentially a focus on cross-platform play. I primarily play games on PC when the choice is available, which can be an irritation when friends pick up the same game on console and we’re unable to play together; Play Anywhere looks like it’s going to address this. Oh, and there’s a new Gears-themed Xbox Wireless Elite controller. It’s pretty.
Square-Enix’s Final Fantasy XV got a little screen time as well, though the demonstration didn’t seem to be the best the game has looked. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still pumped as anything for this game, but this preview was a little janky compared to the spic-and-span demos and trailers we’ve seen in the past. How much of this is attributable to the player and how much of it is up to the game is debatable, really, and it’s not like Final Fantasy fans are going to pass this one up one way or the other.
Dead Rising 4 came as a surprise…a few days ago when it “leaked,” (does anything actually leak these days?) showing images of a return to Willamette from the first Dead Rising. Still, it was great to catch some gameplay. Frank West’s return is much appreciated; while Dead Rising 3 wasn’t quite the splash one might have expected, bringing the fan favorite series hero back is a step in the right direction. 3’s Nick Ramos was a bit of a weenie, really. He hasn’t covered wars.
Scalebound from Platinum Games is looking…well, it’s looking like the kind of thing Platinum Games usually makes. Variety isn’t one of their strong points, really. We Happy Few, a game I checked out at The MIX party at last year’s E3, is also coming to Xbox One, which might explain why it’s still yet to be released. Tekken 7 is a thing, so is State of Decay 2, so is Halo Wars 2. None of those things are Gears of War 4, so…eh, who am I kidding? They all look pretty great.
There were plenty of smaller announcements as well, like Gears of War’s General RAAM showing up as a new fighter in Microsoft’s flagship fighter Killer Instinct, a bunch of new features for the Xbox One system interface and the Arena tournament mode. There was also an unexpected robot-focused game called Recore, an Xbox One/PC title from Comcept (of Mighty No. 9 “fame“) that’s all about a human teaming up with robot pals.
Obviously, though, games are nice but they aren’t what everyone was waiting for. We’re here to talk about hardware. In Microsoft’s case, that would be Project Scorpio, the upcoming “Xbox One Point Five”. It’s going to be a powerful box of gaming, featuring full backwards compatibility, 4K (media AND gaming) and VR support and all kinds of fancy numbers attached to it. It should be shipping in 2017. Doomsayers might call this an awful development and the beginning of a rise of iterative consoles, and they might even be right…but at this point it’s too early to say as all they showed was a fancy motherboard.
That’s not all on the hardware end, though, since we also got a look at the Xbox One S, the newer, slimmer version of the Xbox One that includes 4K Ultra HD video support and a few other goodies to entice you away from your clearly obsolete ‘not slim’ Xbox One console. With 40 percent of the old console’s size shaved off it’s a very pretty box, to say the least, in a lovely white style with accompanying white controller. I’d probably pick one up even if the promise of games with increased graphical fidelity weren’t there. Read more about the Xbox One S at Microsoft’s E3 page right HERE!
Much like last year’s effort I came away impressed with Microsoft’s show. The combination of solid-looking games, exciting hardware reveals and a little something unexpected here and there proved to work out in ol’ MS’s favor. Let’s hope Sony can keep up the pace, though indications have been that they might not be showing their hand with regards to a potential new console.
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