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E3 2016: Xbox Briefing Recap

"Both Xbox One S & Project Scropio! Plus Gears 4, Halo Wars 2, Minecraft and more."

Despite arguably the leakiest E3 yet, E3 2016 is still going on strong as Microsoft kicked today off with their Xbox Briefing. More of their 2016/2017 lineup was shown off to be expected, but we also got official words on a slimmer version of the Xbox One and the future with Project Scropio. Their big push for Xbox One and Windows 10 versions of their exclusive games was also pushed heavily as you can cross buy/play them. Let’s recap to see what Microsoft got this year and next from their press conference today.

First up was the confirmation of the Xbox One S, a slimmer Xbox One out this August for $299. The console itself is 40% smaller than the normal version and packed with HDR tech. It comes with the new wireless controller that has the grips as the standard, which do feel nice.

Phil Spencer then came out on stage to talk about the the new version as well as Microsoft’s message for E3 this year promising more ways to play their games on all these platforms with no boundaries. The “Play Anywhere” program lets their big exclusives be out on Xbox One and Windows 10 on the same day with crossplatform functionalities.

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Gears of War 4 is one of those big exclusives out on October 11th that has cross play, save and buy between both Xbox One and Windows 10 versions. Horde 3.0 was announced but a new gameplay section from the campaign that can be played cooperatively was shown off instead. It still looks and plays like a Gears game with new weapons and graphical effects. The gameplay demo ended with a look at old Marcus Fenix, so I’m now curious what his role is gonna be in the story.

That wasn’t the only Gears of War appearance at Microsoft’s presser this year a Gears 4 version of the Xbox Elite Controller is coming out the same day as the game is out as General RAAM is making his fighting game debut in Killer Instinct Season 3 for free this week.

Next up was Forza Horizon 3 by Playground Games to no surprise for both Xbox One and Windows 10. The sequel is out on September 27th taking place in Australia where you’re now in charge of the Horizon Festival. A gameplay demo happened showing off the cross play between the two versions, different types of vehicles, the Lamborghini Centenario cover car and drop in/drop out co-op campaign. I loved the last game and can’t wait to play this as my racing fix for the holiday season.

ReCore then came up, which was announced as an exclusive at last year’s E3 conference. We see more gameplay this time around featuring Joule Adams and her Corebot companions in the world of Far Eden. Some shooter and platforming elements were also in the trailer above. ReCore is out on September 13th for Xbox One and Windows 10.

Among the third party appearances, Final Fantasy XV was first with an underwhelming gameplay demo where Noctis and crew are fighting a giant monster. Square-Enix will probably have more to show on their latest Active Time Report this week, but at the Microsoft press conference it didn’t really impress me. The first paid DLC for Tom Clancy’s The Division¬†had a trailer for the Underground expansion out on June 28th first on Xbox One where the fight at New York City continues. Lastly, Battlefield 1 made a return appearance from yesterday’s EA conference re-airing the same trailer from there with a plug for EA Access owners playing it days before it’s October 21st release.

Microsoft came back to the stage to talk about their next firmware updates for the Xbox One such as Cortana support and background music in the summer. Their new announcements on that front for the fall update are clubs, looking for groups and tournament support to improve accessibility for friends to join up to play and talk about specific games as well as esports events online. If only that group feature was out when The Division and Destiny came out.

Minecraft was next with a demonstration of cross platform play on multiple devices as well as VR headed by Oculus’s John Carmack, who surprisingly didn’t ramble for long as he normally does in past conferences. Minecraft Realms can be tried out for free on Xbox One and Windows 10 this week.

It was then ID@Xbox’s turn for the indie game segment of the press conference. A trailer for Inside from the folks behind Limbo (now free on Xbox One) was shown first as that game is out on June 29th. Cuphead, Outlast II, Below, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night were the some of the games shown in the montage above they premiered next. More games are coming to Xbox Game Preview in the coming months such as We Happy Few on July 26th, which had a lengthy trailer that reminded me of Dishonored and BioShock Infinite. Lastly on the indie front confirming the ads at Hotel Figueroa, CD Projekt Red is working on a standalone Gwent game for release in early 2017 with a beta on Xbox One and PCs this September with cross play.

In a surprise appearance at Microsoft’s presser, we finally have a release window for the console and PC versions of Tekken 7, which is early 2017. Based on the current arcade version Fated Retribution, Street Fighter’s Akuma and Heihachi face off in the latest trailer with cinematic cuts between the action because of the addition of story mode. Harada and Michael Murray from Bandai Namco Games were there to also announce that Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is free for Xbox Live Gold owners this week.

Even though it was leaked heavily in the past week, Dead Rising 4 is official for Xbox One and Windows 10 starring the original protagonist Frank West in a Christmas-like setting for this holiday season. The trailer below showcases more of the wacky toolset Frank has capable of using to mow down hundreds of zombies.

Platinum Games’ Scalebound was next with Hideki Kamiya demoing the game’s co-op play where a max of four players with their dragons can take on the opposition like giant enemy crabs. I was surprisingly not impressed with this demo just like the Final Fantasy XV gameplay earlier and wished both of those games had gameplay with normal encounters instead of having big scale boss battles for the sake of being at a press conference. Scalebound is still slated for 2017 release and I’m still excited for it but it could of had a better appearance at this year’s E3.

Another Xbox One exclusive I’m excited to play is Rare’s Sea of Thieves and we got a gameplay demonstration for the first time featuring cringey YouTubers playing multiplayer. With the freedoms of pirate life comes the threat of other players wanting what you got. From preparing your ship to explore the seas, experiencing ship battles against other crews and recovering lost resources this is definitely the pirate game I’m been waiting for.

A trailer for State of Decay 2 was next as the sequel is out next year for Xbox One and Windows 10. The first game was very ambitious and fans loved what it brought to the table, so I’m happy those fans have the chance to play more in this new entry.

Finally we got a Halo Wars 2 trailer by 343 Industries and Creative Assembly. The sequel has new faction called the Banished led by the brute Atriox. They also announced a beta for Xbox One folks that will be only up this week till June 20th, which I’m curious to try out for myself.

Phil Spencer did have one more announcement to close out the show. Also rumored but finally official, Project Scorpio is coming out next holiday season. The current specs are six teraflops, eight cores, 320 GBs of memory and support for VR/4K gaming. Microsoft is saying this will be the most powerful console yet, but Phil did promise that Xbox One games and accessories can carry over to the Scorpio going along with their message of playing with no boundaries. After Sony saying they won’t talk about the “PS4 Neo” console later today, Microsoft setting the tone for what’s next on the enhanced console front is a great move for them and maybe Sony has to come up with something tonight as a response.

That is it for the Microsoft press conference at E3 2016. I’m excited to play the Xbox One exclusives for the next year from Forza Horizon 3 and Gears of War 4 and hopeful for the future with Project Scorpio. Games like Final Fantasy XV and Scalebound unfortunately didn’t make a solid impression, but it was nice to see Tekken 7 and Dead Rising 4 there as well. Microsoft has a solid lineup of games with strong support for Windows 10, but I hope those versions pan out okay considering how Quantum Break launched earlier this year. What stood out most for you guys from Microsoft at this year’s E3? State your thoughts in the comments below.

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