Microsoft finally broke down the walls between PCs and Xbox at this E3: Virtually every game revealed during the show is coming to both Windows 10 and Xbox One. Xbox One? Sorry, I meant Xbox Ones—as Microsoft's blockbuster E3 event both began and ended with the announcement of new consoles. Yes, more than one.
Let's dig in!
Xbox One S
The leaks were true. The Xbox One S is not the rumored Xbox power-bump. This is the standard Xbox One hardware crammed into a smaller chassis. But that doesn’t make it any less sexy—the box is apparently 40 percent smaller, and includes a vertical stand and 2TB hard drive.
Also notable: A new controller, with Bluetooth included. That’s a huge change for Microsoft, which has always relied on proprietary connections for its wireless controllers. In theory, this means the new Xbox One controller is the last you’ll ever need to buy. You can also personalize it with all sorts of colors, through Xbox.com and the “Xbox Design Lab.”
Xbox Play Anywhere
The next step in Microsoft’s quest to unite the PC and Xbox platforms? “Xbox Play Anywhere.” Basically, it’s the cross-buy experiment we saw with Quantum Break, a.k.a. buy-on-Xbox-get-PC-free, but fleshed out to an official initiative across all of Microsoft’s first-party titles.
Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, Recore, and more. Still no mention of Halo though...
Gears of War 4
After that bombshell came a bunch of Gears of War 4 gameplay footage. Unsurprising but still welcome: The game is coming to both the Xbox and Windows 10, and buying it on one platform unlocks it for the other as well. Even more welcome: It's coming with cross-play between console and PC players in all co-op modes. You're getting the good end of that deal, mouse and keyboard players.
We also got a lengthy look at the game itself. Chainsaw gun? Pfah. How about a gun that shoots saw blades? You'll get your hands on it October 11.
Killer Instinct gets RAAMed
Apparently Killer Instinct is the most-played fighting game on the Xbox One? That sounds like a big deal.
Microsoft didn't have much to show at its conference, but did confirm that Season 3 is on its way with new characters, like General Raam from Gears of War.
Forza Horizon 3
Those who know me, know Forza Horizon is my favorite racing game series these days. It's spectacular, both as an arcade racer and as virtual tourism.
So news of Forza Horizon 3 is incredibly welcome—especially because, for the first time, the game is coming to PC. Microsoft demoed the game onstage with one person playing on the Xbox and one person playing on Windows 10, at full 4K resolution. I bet Forza Horizon 3's Australia looks pretty damn great with that many pixels. Look for it to land on September 27.
ReCore pretty much dropped off the radar after last year's E3, so here's your reminder that hey, that game exists. If you've forgotten, it's a third-person action game and platformer that involves putting power supplies into robot pets and then being psyched about how awesome your pet robot-dog is.
I don't know. I still don't really know what this game is, except that it looks cool.
The Division: Underground
Did you know the PC playerbase for The Division has shrunk by 93 percent since launch? Well, if you're one of the lucky 7 percent still playing, good news: There's an expansion incoming on June 28, called The Division: Underground.
We'll hear more at Ubisoft's E3 press conference later today, I'm sure.
If you’ve ever wanted to make a guild on Xbox Live, you can do that now. “Xbox Live Clubs” are coming later this year, and allow you to build out social groups based around various interests like “Division Agents in LA.” You'll also be able to search for groups when you want to get in on some multiplayer action, but your usual group of buddies aren't around.
Microsoft keeps saying its goal is to “Unite all Minecraft players on all platforms,” but I can’t say they’re making a compelling argument for people for PC players yet. The big news during the E3 press conference was...dedicated servers. Which is cool for Xbox and mobile players, but is something the PC has had for years.
Still, if you bounce between platforms a lot it could be cool to access your server during your commute, get home, and seamlessly jump on the PC.
"From the creators of Limbo." That's pretty much all Microsoft needed to say to pique my interest, which is good because that's also pretty much the sum total of the details given about Inside, aside from a release date: June 29. At least we won't have to wait long to figure this one out.
Token indie reel
Microsoft's been working hard to counter its "Bad for Indies" reputation that it garnered at the beginning of this console generation, and it's doing a pretty good job turning things around. This year's indie reel featured everything from The Culling to Bloodstained to Everspace to Cuphead (again).
It's a solid lineup—and you can bet all of them are coming to PC.
We Happy Few
It's weird, but the more I see of We Happy Few the more it just looks like a strange BioShock sequel. The Art Deco architecture, the weird masks, the fancy sans-serif typeface, the "People are all crazy murderers in a collapsing society" vibe.
I wasn't too excited about the game's survival mechanics when I played it last year, but the aesthetic looks incredible.
I'd kind of hoped CD Projekt's secret E3 announcement would be a surprise "Oh, we're actually doing another Witcher 3 add-on." But no, we're not that lucky.
Still, Gwent: The Witcher Card Game will undoubtedly go over well with a certain crowd. CD Projekt has basically broken out the card-based minigame from The Witcher 3 (and the books) into its own Hearthstone-esque standalone, complete with a singleplayer campaign.
The award for "Craziest Hair of E3" goes to Tekken 7. No surprise at all.
Bandai Namco spent most of its stage demo showing off the way singleplayer melds story with fights—which, in so many words, looks to be an exact clone of the way the modern Mortal Kombat games handle it. Two people enter, they get mad, they hit each other, and then the fight is on.
Dead Rising 4
Another entry from the “Leaked before the show” column is Dead Rising 4, but I’m not complaining. This new iteration brings back Frank West, the star of the first game—and, apparently, brings back the shopping mall setting from the original, at least for part of the game. It looks like somewhere between a reboot, a remaster, and a true sequel.
I’ll bite. That first Dead Rising is still the best one anyway. Not complaining about them revisiting it with Dead Rising 3’s tech.
Okay, Platinum’s new game Scalebound seems like it actually deserves the term “Epic.” Game footage shown at the press conference featured a boss fight against a monster that’s like, three hundred feet tall—from the back of a damn dragon.
But can we talk about the protagonist for a second? A whiny, wise-ass kid wearing a pair of Beats by Dre-looking headphones around his neck? Ugh.
Sea of Thieves
Oh hey, that multiplayer Rare pirate game is back! A brief CG trailer at the start of the presentation did confirm that, yes, Sea of Thieves is still heavy on pirates and piratey things. And a kraken.
But the highlight was a highlight reel of actual game footage, played by some people who yell too much. There was some exploration, some sailing, and a big ol' naval battle with first-person cannon shooting. Pretty cool, provided you turn your speakers down.
State of Decay 2
Dead Rising 4 not enough zombies for you? Okay, here's State of Decay 2. I dig the vibe of the trailer, with its jangly guitars and classic cars and don't-give-a-damn characters, but there's not much to parse as far as the actual game goes here.
Halo Wars 2
Microsoft's making Halo Wars 2. I can't say I was a fan of the first one—it made for a pretty mediocre real-time strategy game, despite Microsoft's best efforts. But maybe a new one will finally realize the dreams of a console-based real-time strategy game?
That's a big maybe. You can try it for yourself right now if you own an Xbox One, though—Microsoft launched a beta that runs from now until June 20.
The big bombshell at the end of the press conference? Project Scorpio—the next iteration of the Xbox One. Which...is a bit less of a bombshell after six months of rumors and leaks. But hey! Another console!
Of course, it’s still a ways off. Project Scorpio won’t launch until Holiday 2017, so don’t expect to hear much more about it until next E3. This was probably just Microsoft’s way of trying to counter the other console refresh apparently coming from Sony—though I have to wonder who’s going to buy an original Xbox One now knowing there’s new hardware just over the horizon.
Microsoft’s buzzwords: “No boundaries,” 4K, 8 CPU cores, 6 teraflops of graphics compute power, the “most powerful GPU in a console today,” and “best framerate.” Beyond that, details were scarce.