Monday morning, Microsoft led off the press conference for E3 2015. The general consensus appeared favorable. Microsoft themselves claimed multiple times that this is their strongest lineup in Xbox history. Let’s take a look!
To no one’s surprise, Halo 5: Guardians kicked off the show with single player gameplay, but the bigger announcements were the capability of 24-player modes through Warzone and an increase in multiplayer scale (including larger maps and AI controlled adversaries). What was more surprising was following Halo 5 immediately with the new, exclusive IP, ReCore. You’ll play as a female protagonist among the last humans on Earth, building and befriending a collection of robots in your journeys. Perhaps simply due to its freshness, it was one of my favorite games from the presser.
Other heavy hitters included Forza Motorsport 6 (9/15/2015), which showed off a gorgeous Ford GT dropped from the ceiling for whatever reason; Rise of the Tomb Raider (11/10/2015), the holiday exclusive that showed off some beautiful and exciting gameplay; Fallout 4 (11/10/2015), which will (for now) exclusively offer Xbox One gamers access to custom PC mods; Dark Souls III (2016); EA titles; Tom Clancy titles, including The Division (2016); Fable Legends (Holiday 2015); and Gears of War 4 (2016), which offers incredibly low-lit gameplay and will see beta access offered through Gears of War: Ultimate Edition (8/25/2015), fully remastered at 1080p running at 60 FPS that currently has its own beta available. While Microsoft certainly showed its size and strength in existing franchises, it showed a good focus on new IPs and its indie programming with ID@Xbox.
Among those headliners included Rare, who showed off the pirate-themed Sea of Thieves (Holiday 2016) in addition to announcing Rare RePlay (8/4/2015), a collection of 30 classic Rare games for a mere $30. One of my other favorite games shown was Cuphead, an exclusive that looks like it came straight from 1930s Disney film. Other major announcements included Tacoma, a planetary exploration game out first on Xbox and PC; free-to-play exclusive MOBA Gigantic; and Beyond Eyes, which will be out first on Xbox and PC.
So what received some of the biggest applause? Backwards Compatibility. Yes, the company who once employed a man who basically told gamers to eat it if they wanted to play Xbox 360 games on Xbox One announced that Xbox 360 games will run natively on the Xbox One this holiday for free. Mass Effect was the big one shown off and there is a good set of games that will be available at launch. Digital games will be automatically added to your Xbox One library. Microsoft is also offering up the ability to submit feedback on which games gamers would like to see added to the growing list.
PC interconnectivity was a fairly large part of the announcements, with bigger titles such as Fable Legends and Gigantic offering cross-device multiplayer and saving.
EA’s Peter Moore was also on hand to push EA Access hard. That was no surprise, as when EA Access was announced, Xbox was getting some cushy offerings. Their biggest offering was Titanfall being added to their vault, which may be exciting for those still playing Titanfall. So the service may certainly have its benefits, but if you’re looking forward to one of the bigger EA releases this holiday season like that little game called Star Wars Battlefront, don’t expect huge EA Access opportunities.
Remember how the past few years, Kinect was all the rage from Microsoft? Hand movements! Motion control! Microsoft may have decided that holograms are cooler and, well, it could very well be. That would be HoloLens and was shown off using Minecraft. Admittedly, it looked fairly incredible and crowd (via the live stream) looked to be in awe. What we saw was a fully realized 3D world coming out of the HoloDeck table through the HoloLens set – though I will say that if you’re simply looking at the interaction without a headset, it looks like a sociopath interacting with an empty table. If you thought dancing in front of a Kinect looked funny, this should be amazingly entertaining. Other virtual reality offerings will be seen through Microsoft’s partnerships with Oculus Rift and Valve.
For the Elite Gamers, the new Elite Controller was shown off. It’s literally for Elite Gamers; that’s what the ad says. I can’t be considered an Elite Gamer myself, the controller was fairly impressive. The buttons are remappable, the triggers can be repositioned to the player’s liking and the frame has stainless steel support. It can be used for both Xbox One and PC gaming. After the press conference, a somewhat astounding price of $150 was announced.
In all, Microsoft did in fact have a fairly strong outing. Most of the game presentations were fairly exciting, which the exception perhaps being Gears 4, which immediately sparked Twitter jokes of straight blank panels being considered screenshots (seriously, though, turn on a light). But what are your thoughts? What excited you most from the Microsoft presser? Sound off in the comments or on our social pages! Stay tuned to SmashPad on Twitter for live-tweeting and right back here at SmashPad.com for recaps of the other major press conferences.