E3 2016: Microsoft Press Conference Recap

They actually unveiled Project Scorpio today... Well, sort of.

They actually unveiled Project Scorpio today… Well, sort of.

The 2016 Electronic Entertainment Expo technically begins tomorrow, but things really kicked off yesterday with EA and Bethesda holding their annual pressers.  As per usual, Microsoft was first in line with the “Big Three” press conferences, and they went over quite a bit of stuff.

It’s no secret that Microsoft is heavily trailing Sony in the console market, but it’s not because of a lack of exclusive content.  Since the Xbox One’s launch, Microsoft Games Studio has had 13 original IP’s to go along with follow-ups to popular names like Gears of War 4, Dead Rising 4, and Forza Horizon 3 coming in the future.

Perhaps the biggest push Microsoft made with this year’s press conference is Xbox’s “Play Anywhere” capability, giving players the option to save their games on Xbox One and continue them anywhere on Windows 10, eliminating the necessity to buy two versions of the same game.  GameStop probably cringed every time they heard it, and Microsoft buzzed with every opportunity they had.

There it is. The smaller Xbox. The Xbox One S.

There it is. The smaller Xbox. The Xbox One S.

Though it was leaked a few days ago, Microsoft also confirmed the existence of the Xbox One S, a slim and smaller version of the Xbox One with support for HDR gaming and 4K video support starting at $299 for a 500GB model.  Those that want more space should opt for the 1TB or 2TB models for $349 and $399 respectively.  Also unveiled was a new Xbox One controller, one that presumably feels better as it’s held with its PS4-like gripped bottom.

Microsoft’s final show-stealer was the formal announcement of Project Scorpio, a souped up version of the Xbox One which promises 4K gaming and VR at the best possible output, confirming 6 TFlops of power.  The new console is scheduled for release next year, but no release window or pricing was confirmed.

Microsoft made sure to clarify that Project Scorpio and the Xbox One S are not intended to replace the Xbox One players may already have, as everything is cross-compatible.  Even at at that, some of our staff still feels a bit alienated.  Check out our impressions towards the bottom of the recap for more on that.

For now, here’s the good and bad of Microsoft’s E3 2016 Press Conference:

The Good

  • Games, games, and more games.
    We can’t even count all the trailers that were unveiled during this morning’s press conference, and hardly anything was stuff that was leaked.  Aside from the Xbox One S stuff, Microsoft did a good job keeping their lips sealed and letting the trailers speak for themselves.
  • Dead Rising 4 (Holiday 2016)
    It was quite refreshing to hear “Jingle Bell Rock” in the middle of June, but it was even more awesome to see #FrankIsBack.  The sequel to the Xbox One’s best launch game puts Frank in a mall on Christmas with more weapons and zombies.  This game is going to be crazy fun.
  • ReCore (September 2016)
    It’s been a while since we heard anything about ReCore, and it looks as fun as it looks unique.  Featuring a bunch of different characters with different abilities, the action in the game reminded people of a modern Jet Force Gemini with some Overwatch mixed in.
  • Scalebound (2017)
    The game already looked badass, and now Hideki Kamiya just confirmed that it has co-op and you can jump on dragons to shoot the crap out of other monsters?  We want this game now more than ever.
  • ID@Xbox
    Indies getting well-deserved attention is always a good thing.  A sizzle reel was shown featuring some great looking games like Outlast 2, Yooka Laylee, Stardew Valley, and others really bring out some excitement for Xbox owners that aren’t always trying to shoot everything in sight.  The announcement of Limbo being free as well as Compulsion Games’ trailer for We Happy Few also turned some heads.

The Bad

  • 2017
    Dammit, Microsoft. It’s E3 2016.  One of the goals of E3 is for developers and publishers to be excited for projects we can experience in the NEAR future.  By that, we don’t mean next year.  There were way too many games announced with a 2017 release date, and it shouldn’t bode well with people that invested in the platform early.
  • Final Fantasy XV (September 30, 2016)
    Yes, we’ve been on Square’s ass ever since the announcement of FFXV, but it’s hard to even understand what this demo was all about.  Sure, we had a cool boss fight against this big golem thing with a giant hand, but so what?  We’ve had a few demos of this game already, so nothing was really new here.
  • Forza Horizon 3 (September 27, 2016)
    The game is probably gonna be good.  It’s probably going to be great.  But don’t show us kangaroos and get us all excited only so we can see some cars.  Come on.  Still looks fun though.
  • The Minecraft Presenters
    It’s awesome that Microsoft is trying to merge the entire community of Minecraft players on every platform.  You know what wasn’t awesome?  The people demoing the game not named John Carmack.  Whenever Microsoft brings out somebody for casual gaming, the presentation is always awkward, and the two people on the tablets were probably the most awkward yet.
  • Sea of Thieves 
    It’s great to see some new stuff on Rare’s latest game, and it looks fun, but come on.  Check out the social interaction between these players on their headsets.  Ain’t nobody gonna be talking to each other like that.

Staff Impressions

“We can say what we want as far as our interests in gaming go, but what can’t go unnoticed about Microsoft’s presser is the fact that they showed game after game after game. My main concern is that it doesn’t seem like Microsoft is really making an effort to push Xbox One units with all this “Play Anywhere” stuff they’re doing, though it’s a really cool feature. Can I have Scalebound now?” — Danreb Victorio, Managing Editor

“If you’ve listened to the Day 0 Update, then you have heard me say that this generation is not going to be like others. Microsoft is pushing revisions to their hardware, but also pushing a strong library of software. Overall, I think they’re onto something with their Play Anywhere and Beyond Generations strategy.” — Filippo Dinolfo, Senior Editor

“We Happy Few looked amazing… and Project Scorpio looks expensive.” — Josh Schwartzman, Staff Writer

“The Microsoft show was about what I expected, an update on last year’s big titles with a few others (none earth-shattering) sprinkled in for next year. I can’t hide my disappointment that Playground isn’t being repurposed as a new Project Gotham Racing developer, either, as this really seemed to be the year for that. I’m rather surprised they talked about Scorpio already, but everything seems to be fitting the “tick tock” model we discussed on the Day 0 Update, which is generally a healthy direction for the industry to take.” — Pat Mifflin, Senior Editor

“This press conference might as well have been a launch conference for Scorpio because half the games said “2017” anyway.  All this really says to me and to consumers is “Don’t bother buying the Xbox One now, we’re going to deliver the box we should have next Christmas,” or “Why own an Xbox One if you have a PC? We can’t think of a reason either.”  I’ll have my full thoughts on Day 0 Update.” — Leigh Lamb, Commentary

“Microsoft had a good show with the new slim Xbox One and an improved controller, though this was the show where they completed the Xbox One/Windows 10 merger so that there is little distinguishing either platform besides cost and functionality. Despite the lack of new titles and Crackdown 3, I am eagerly anticipating Forza Horizon 3, Inside, and ReCore as they were the highlights for me. Project Scorpio was the necessary step towards iterative consoles that seems to also include VR on the Xbox One and it’ll be interesting to see how their fans take to the idea over the next 18 months.” — Chris Selogy, Managing Editor


Xbox One S Unveiling

Dead Rising 4


Sea of Thieves

Halo Wars 2