E3 2015 is finally underway, and both the console giants Microsoft and Sony are looking to up the ante and finally deliver on their promise of ‘next generation’ gaming. Both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have been out for about 2 years now, and developers have had time to fine tune and get the most out of both machines. Microsoft is the first one to hold their briefing, and we’ve gotta say, they’ve really come out guns blazing, bringing some really innovative stuff to the table. So here’s everything you need to know about the E3 2015 Microsoft Xbox briefing!
Of course Microsoft kicked off the proceedings by showing off their biggest first party property, the hotly anticipated Halo 5: Guardians, developed by 343 Industries. We’ve seen a lot of CG trailers over the past few months, but this was the first time gameplay was shown off in detail, and as promised, a brand new multiplayer mode was revealed as well. The gameplay demo featured Agent Locke and his team of Spartans on a Covenant planet in search of the Master Chief, and also marked the return of Buck from Halo 3: ODST, played by TV veteran Nathan Fillion (Castle, Firefly). The new multiplayer game mode is called Warzone, and will introduce massive 24 player and AI team based battles on maps as much as 4 times larger than regular ones. Halo 5: Guardians is set to release on October 27.
ReCore is a brand new exclusive IP from Kenji Inafune and the ex-creators of one of the best videogames of all time, Metroid Prime. The Mega Man co-creator’s surprise reveal was just a CG trailer as of now, but it’s a gorgeous and intriguing one at that. Recore follows a female protagonist in some sort of post apocalyptic desert wasteland, accompanied by a robot dog with a glowing blue core. After the dog heroically sacrifices itself, the protagonist uses the leftover and undamaged core to activate a much larger robot, which looks like a mechanic that will be implemented in the game. It looks very interesting, and we’re looking forward to a gameplay reveal soon. ReCore is set to release in Spring 2016.
Perhaps one of the biggest announcements in this briefing was the Xbox One getting backward compatibility. Both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 were famously announced not to feature native backward compatibility because of the vastly different hardware, so this announcement came as a pleasant surprise. Not all games will be compatible though, some 100 or so games are set to work, since the developers and Microsoft have to collaborate on some sort of undisclosed software trickery. You just need to pop in the disc and download the game to start playing, sometime this Fall. Xbox Preview Program members however, can try it out right now with a handful of games. This will work for both digital downloads and disc based games, so you should be able to see Xbox 360 games on the store pretty soon. A live gameplay demo of Mass Effect was shown off on the floor, and it looked pretty cool.
The Elite Controller
Another huge surprise was the announcement of a new ‘Elite’ controller, different from the standard controller’s minor upgrade. This new controller features four new paddles on the back to replicate the usual buttons, as well as swappable thumbsticks, paddles and D-Pad. Apart from the different styles and lengths of thumbsticks and paddles respectively, the new controller also features a brand new pressure sensitive D-Pad. You also get the ability to have custom configurations, quick swap between them, and set button and trigger sensitivity to your liking, among other things. It’s an absolutely staggering piece of hardware that nobody saw coming, and we can’t wait to try it out! The Elite controller is set to release this holiday season for 150$, and will be compatible with Windows 10 PCs.
Fallout 4 Mod Support
The third big announcement was regarding the highly anticipated and much hyped Fallout 4. The next installment in the long running and critically acclaimed RPG series is all set to launch by the end of this year for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4, but what no one could have imagined was mod support. That’s right, just like PCs, Fallout 4 will support mods on Xbox One, and PC mods can be shared and used on the Xbox One, for free! It’s a huge step in console evolution, since mods were always a PC thing. Honestly, it was one of the most exciting announcements of the briefing, and we really can’t wait to see how it all works out.
Forza Motorsport 6
Although announced earlier, Forza Motorsport 6 made another appearance, with a new trailer. The 2016 Ford GT40 featured heavily in it, and the actual car was brought onto the floor and introduced by none other than Henry Ford III. Forza Motorsport 6 looks suitably gorgeous and will feature over 450 cars, night racing and huge cities. It’s been pegged for a September 15 release.
Dark Souls 3, The Division and Rainbow Six Siege
While not exclusive to the Xbox One, Dark Souls III had its trailer world premiere at Microsoft’s briefing, with the CG trailer revealing an early 2016 release date. It’s supposed to be the last in the series, with Hidetaka Miyazaki returning to direct.
Ubisoft also showed off The Division, the oft delayed action RPG hybrid MMO shooter that promises to seamlessly blend single and multiplayer. The new trailer looked cool as always, and it was announced that Xbox One players would get an exclusive beta this December. Ubisoft also talked about Rainbow Six Siege, the next installment in the team based tactical shooter series. A trailer was accompanied by the announcement that it would release this holiday season along with Rainbow Six Vegas and Rainbow Six Vegas 2 for free. Both these games aren’t remasters however, they’ll simply be backward compatible, they’re the original Xbox 360 versions.
A new free to play Xbox One and Windows 10 cross platform game called Gigantic was also revealed, it features cel shaded and colorful heroes fighting against each other, using ‘guardians’, huge monsters they can command. No release date was announced, but the beta will begin this August.
Microsoft is betting big on indies, and revealed a whole load of games slated to hit the Xbox One in the coming months. Apart from what we already know, a lot of new and interesting games were revealed, like Tacoma, a lonely space adventure featuring a protagonist in a space station; Ashen, a bleak action RPG featuring players trying to find home; Beyond Eyes, a platformer featuring a blind protagonist who must rely on her other senses to navigate the amazing looking world, and Cuphead, a platformer made in the style of 1930 Disney cartoons.
Xbox Game Preview
Apart from mods, PC gamers have also enjoyed the ability to play games that are still work in progress and give feedback to shape the final product. Xbox One gamers will now have the same ability, with the Xbox Game Preview feature. Gamers will now be able to play work in progress games and provide feedback for select indie titles, with a free trial. As of now, the games available for testing are DayZ, Sheltered, The Long Dark and Elite Dangerous.
Rise Of The Tomb Raider
The console exclusive sequel to the amazing 2013 Tomb Raider reboot was also shown off with a gorgeous live gameplay demo that showed off Lara’s athletic skills. It also finally got a release date, and will be out November 10th.
Rare Replay and Sea Of Thieves
Rare is one of the most respected videogame developers in the world, responsible for classics such as Battletoads, Perfect Dark, Banjo-Kazooie and more. Today it was announced that 30 of their classic games would be bundled in one collection called the Rare Replay, in honor of the studio’s 30th anniversary. So whether you want a trip down memory lane or just want to experience the classics for the first time, this is the perfect deal!
Sea Of Thieves is Rare’s new exclusive IP, an open shared world adventure played in first person, with a pirate theme. Featuring ship battles, exploration and swashbuckling action, Rare is calling it the most ambitious game they’ve made, and honestly it looks really cool. No release date was announced, but in Rare we trust!
VR and HoloLens
Microsoft is investing in a VR and AR future quite heavily, and today we saw them bring that vision to gaming. Apart from the already big deal with Oculus (they’ll be bundling the Xbox One controller with all Oculus Rift headsets), they’re also working closely with Valve to make Windows 10 a viable VR gaming platform. With two giants like those onboard, the future looks quite promising.
But perhaps the most jaw dropping moments of the briefing happened when the HoloLens was brought out for a Minecraft session. Microsoft has been touting its workplace capabilities for a while, but this was the first time it was shown off in a strictly gaming setting. The live onstage demo showed how a version of Minecraft developed specifically for the HoloLens works, cross platform with the regular versions. Using just voice control and gestures, the Minecraft world was replicated and controlled on a tabletop, with amazing precision. In one part, the HoloLens wearer simply looked at an area and said ‘lightning strike’, and a bolt came down! The revolutionary HoloLens was really the star of the show, and you’ll have to see the demo to truly understand how awesome it was.
Gears Of War: Ultimate Edition and Gears 4
One of the Xbox’s most popular and acclaimed franchises is finally coming to the Xbox One, first in the form of a remastered version of the original Gears of War game, and then in the form of a totally new chapter in the series, simply called ‘Gears 4’. Although this announcement was expected, a live gameplay demo was not, and series hero Marcus Fenix was nowhere to be found in it. Fans will also notice that the baddies aren’t the Locust they’ve fought in all previous installments. Gears 4 is set to release in Holiday 2016.
And that’s all folks, everything you needed to know from the E3 2015 Microsoft Xbox briefing! Stay tuned for more E3 coverage, including the Sony PlayStation briefing, and do let us know what you think about the time ahead for the Xbox One!
Rahul Gondane is a technophile and gamer, who has been obsessed with everything tech ever since he started dabbling in it in early 2000. He also enjoys reading books, listening to music and watching movies. Rahul is the Chief Operating Officer of Pyrite Technologies Pvt. Ltd.