E3 2016 Microsoft Briefing

So the dust has finally settled on what was suppose to be the best Microsoft E3 Presentation since the announcement of the Xbox 360.  I am sorry Phil, it was good show but I would not say it was mind blowing.  There were a lot of games shown, new Xbox Live features and even some new hardware but nothing which made me scream out “I cannot believe they are launching that on the Xbox One!”.

The “Big” Games

It would not be E3 without games (unless it was the year the Xbox One was announced of course) and Microsoft did deliver.  On show this year were live demos of Forza Horizon 3, Gears of War 4, Final fantasy XV, Sea of Thieves and Scalebound along with multiple trailers for many upcoming games.  Personally I was very impressed with Scalebound and it looks like the delay was well worth it.  Last year it looked good but very rough around the edges but the co-op boss that was shown during this briefing was just perfect – I look forward to playing that when it fianlly lands on the Xbox One.

ID @ Xbox

The ID program has always been an issue for me.  Microsoft always talk big about it explaining they have over 1000 games in development but I feel that a lot of them very rarely see the light of day.  For example, Cities Skylines and Kerbal Space Program were announced last year but have not been released yet and not even talked about this year.  However though, Microsoft played a small real of clips that showed off upcoming games including the high anticipated Cup Head.  The highlight of this section for myself was the demo for “We Happy Few”, a game that has had my interest for a while and look forward to it when it releases in July on the preview program.

Live, Windows 10 & Play

The main theme of this year’s briefing was the idea of playing your games anywhere.  The scheme is called “Xbox Play” and starting with Forza Horizon 3, you can now buy the game once (digitally) on Xbox One you can they continue playing it on your Windows 10 PC at not extra cost.  It is a really good idea but the one thing that stood out for me is that they talked nothing of PC Specs.  It is great that you get it for free but if you are like my and own a laptop from 4 years ago, it is a pointless feature.  Another addition of the “Xbox Play” is that Xbox One and Windows 10 players can play together online!

As always, Microsoft did a quick section on Live.  Coming with this Summer’s update is the ability to listen to your own music whilst playing games, having control of what language you want to use (no mater where you are from) and integrated Cortana (hopefully meaning that the terrible Bing search will final return to the depths of hell!).

Three future features were announced too; Clubs, Looking For Group & Live Arena Tournement

Xbox-Play-Anywhere

Minecraft

If I spent a great deal of money on something I would sure to show it of each year even if it was for something rather simple.  The short segment for Minecraft this year introduced an update called the “Friendly Update” that introduces Realms.  This update brings cross platform play to Windows 10, iOS, Android & GearVR meaning that you can now play with all your Minecraft friends on what ever device they use.  Texture packs are coming soon along with “Mods” that will allow you to change the world in which you play in.  Realms and Mods are heading to the console versions at some point in 2017.

The Release Dates

No real big surprises this year for release dates as some were already know.  This is the full list from the briefing;

  • Gears of War – October 11th
  • Forza Horizon 3 – September 27th
  • ReCore – September 13th
  • Final Fantasy XV – September 30th
  • We Happy Few – July 26th
  • Halo Wars 2 – Feb 21st 2017 (BETA Avaliable NOW!)

Hardware

Well the leak was true – the Xbox One S is real and is 40% smaller, supports 4k Videos, HDR Gaming, 2TB HDD & the power supply is (finally) built into the unit.  Along with the smaller console is a new controller that has been tweaked a little in design.  I feel that this is the console that should have launched and not the humongous device that sits under my TV.  However though, in true Microsoft fashion, they have not told the truth entirely.  The starting price is $299 and this will get you the base model that comes with a 500gb HDD and NO controller!  This could be aimed at gamers who already have an Elite Controler but I feel that if you own one of those bad boys then you are probably a “Hardcore” gamer who will just laugh at 500gb of storage!

Finally, Phil Spencer took the stage to conform that Project Scorpio is real and will be “The Most Powerful Console Ever”.  This is a very bold statement but the specs are very impressive; 8 CPU cores, 320GB/s memory bandwidth & 6TFLOPS GPU.  Scorpio will support 4K Gaming and High-fidelity VR but the most important statement of the night is that the three consoles will all be compatibly – all Xbox software will work on all consoles in the “Xbox Family”.

Like I said, it was a good show but I come away thinking that the Xbox One S has to be the biggest waste of money to any gamer.  Why invest money in a smaller console now when a more power one is due out next year?  If you have the money then that is great but I feel that if you do not have a 4K TV yet then this maybe the time to invest.

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Des Mayer

Mad Scientist with a passion for gaming!
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