E3 meets PC
As expected, the Xbox One gaming console took center stage at Microsoft's big E3 press event—but beyond new games and new hardware, Microsoft took pains to stress the tighter bond between its console and Windows 10 PCs. From Fallout to Halo, from PC mods on the Xbox to a brand new platform-spanning controller, here's all the news you need to know from Microsoft's big E3 event.
Microsoft pulled out the big guns right up front, leading off with a new trailer (and game footage) for Halo 5: Guardians. We'd heard rumors prior to the show that Halo 5 might be coming to PC—a.k.a. the same rumors we hear with every Halo. And like with every Halo for ten years, it was seemingly a lie. No PC release here.
The biggest news though is that Halo 5 multiplayer will focus on 24-player combat a.k.a. that thing your PC did circa twenty years ago.
Next up was Recore, a Microsoft Studios exclusive helmed by Keiji Inafune. We don't know much about this one except it takes place on some sort of desert-y planet and you've got a robot companion. Other than that and the name-dropping, it's just a pretty CGI trailer.
Xbox 360 backward-compatibility for Xbox One
I don’t know how they did it, and I don’t know how it runs yet, but Microsoft announced it’s added Xbox 360-era backward-compatibility to the Xbox One. Xbox 360 games will run natively on the Xbox One, according to Microsoft.
However, Microsoft then posted a (very short) list of “Available Games,” which seems to indicate an Xbox 360/original Xbox-style emulation profile for each game—a program that left multiple games half-broken and never made the entire library backward-compatible. Or it means they’re recompiling games from scratch. Either way, it seemingly indicates only a limited slice of the Xbox 360 library will ever make it over. Fingers crossed I can finally play Red Dead Redemption again.
Xbox Elite wireless controller
Also announced: A new controller, dubbed "Elite," with swappable parts—interchangeable analog stick nubs, paddle controls on the back, et cetera. It'll work with both the Xbox One and Windows 10. The downside? It's going to cost $150. Yes, a hundred and fifty dollars.
For that price, I'm personally hoping I can swap all the parts with pieces that feel more like the Xbox 360.
Fallout 4, with PC mod compatibility
Fallout 4 made an appearance at Microsoft's presser—and surprise, Bethesda announced PC mods will now work on the Xbox One. I don't know if that includes graphics mods and the like, or whether Bethesda will (presumably through last night's announced mod network Bethesda.net) curate content that's guaranteed to work. Still, it's an interesting coup for Microsoft.
Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2
I heard good things about EA's kid-friendly Battlefield-esque shooter Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, but never really got deep into it. It must've done well though, because they're making another! And "Danger Zone" played in the background, which is a damn solid choice for trailer music.
Not only did Microsoft bring a car onstage (the new Ford GT) to prep us for Forza 6, it also brought out Henry Ford III. Video games are weird. Also, Forza 6 sure looks like a Forza-game-that-is-not-Forza-Horizon. Drive in circles! Pretty-looking cars! (Disclaimer: I am not a racing sim fan.)
We got a cinematic story-trailer for The Division which focused on the game's post-apocalyptic nature and…well, it looks a lot like the stuff we've seen for the last two years. Snowy. Guns. People running. We also saw a Rainbow Six: Siege trailer that focused on the plane level shown in the alpha last month. And that's basically it.
And to be honest, I expected nothing more from Microsoft's conference. We'll undoubtedly see more about The Division and Rainbow Six: Siege during Ubisoft's conference later today.
Dark Souls 3
We got a very gloomy trailer for Dark Souls 3, which basically…confirmed it exists. And there were your standard Dark Souls trappings, like "Some guy with a big sword" and "Very spikey buildings" and "Sickly yellow lighting."
Some have said it's "too soon" because of Bloodborne this year, but Bloodborne was a PS4-exclusive I didn't play so I think it's just about time for Dark Souls 3.
Now this is interesting—a game dubbed a "Windows 10 and Xbox exclusive" right on the E3 stage. PC gaming finally getting its due at an E3 press conference!
Gigantic is a free-to-play MOBA shooter, with an ultra-smooth and cartoony art style similar to Sunset Overdrive. It's releasing this fall.
ID@Xbox indie games
Then it was time for everyone's favorite part of E3 press conferences, the "EXTREME INDIE MONTAGE." Superhot, Goat Simulator, Below, et cetera. Most (if not all) of these games are also coming to the PC—our favorite "Console Exclusive" phrase indicates that much.
Four games were called out in particular: Tacoma (from the Gone Home crew at Fullbright, pictured), Beyond Eyes, Cuphead, and Ashen. Tacoma and Ashen look dark and moody, with the latter in particular having a pseudo-Last Guardian vibe.
Beyond Eyes is extremely colorful, and (as the title implies) focuses on a blind girl. The world seems to spring into place around her as she nears items, implying that she's relying on her non-visual senses to perceive her environment.
And then there's Cuphead, which has an art style modeled after 1920s/30s Max Fleischer cartoons. It looks awesome.
Dean Hall (of DayZ fame) came out to show off his new game Ion. There was a bit of a 2001: A Space Odyssey vibe to it, as long as you realize that by "2001: A Space Odyssey vibe," I mean "The extremely brief trailer showed an astronaut and a fetus."
Also announced: Early Access is coming to Xbox One. And who better to talk about it than created-a-game-that's-perpetually-in-early-access Dean Hall?
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Tomb. Raideeeeeeeer. It still rankles me that one of my most-anticipated games is exclusive to the Xbox One for some nonspecific amount of time, but holy moly I am excited for more Lara Croft in the vein of 2013's reboot.
The newest trailer showed Lara literally sprinting through an avalanche, which is just as visually impressive as it is super dumb. And I love it. As far as I'm concerned, Tomb Raider is doing Uncharted with even more aplomb than Uncharted itself these days.
Hey, remember how Microsoft owns Rare?
For Rare's 30th Anniversary, Microsoft is bringing a collection of Rare games to the Xbox One, including Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark, Viva Pinata, Battletoads, and more.
Sea of Thieves
Also on the docket: A brand new game from Rare. Like, a real one. Like, way more interesting than the dumb garbage Microsoft's had Rare working on for the last ten years. It looks like…a pirate MMO? Or some sort of pirate-y survival game?
I hope it is amazing. I hope Rare gets to be Rare again.
Microsoft showed us a Minecraft Hololens demo but uh… Listen, companies: I know it's hard to understand. I know trailers are how you do things. But VR/AR demos are just not super-impressive on a 2D screen.
Keep it Other than that, Microsoft confirmed its VR strategy is "Team up with anyone who wants to team up" by announcing a partnership with Valve's SteamVR alongside last week's Oculus deal. That's (in my opinion) a much smarter approach than Sony's proprietary Morpheus headset.
Gears of War 4
We finally got a look at the new Gears of War game—officially dubbed Gears 4. And while it's weird to see a Gears game with absolutely none of the faces we've come to know and love over the course of the last three games, I've got to say Gears 4 looks gorgeous. Just imagine: All those beautiful Unreal 4 lighting effects glinting off high-resolution chainsaw guns.
Also officially discussed was Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, a remake of the original Gears of War running at 1080p, 60 frames per second—and with a public beta kicking off today.