E3 2016: Microsoft Press Conference Wrap-Up and Thoughts

With baited breath we have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of this year’s edition of E3’s video game extravaganza. Though we have had glimpses of publisher’s newest offerings sprinkled throughout the 2 weeks leading up to this most anticipated show, as well as third party press events showcasing some amazing new titles from EA and Bethesda, the main event began in earnest today when Microsoft kicked off their 2016 E3 press conference with style and pizzazz.

With his engaging charisma Phil Spencer introduced us to the Xbox One S, a svelte and trimmed down version of the current Xbox One with 4K streaming and HDR compatibility. But the real showcase began with the impressive array of games coming for the Xbox One…and Windows 10! Microsoft has shrewdly decided to incorporate a Windows 10 version of EVERY Xbox One title they release. On top of this all Xbox LIVE account information and game data will be shared across both platforms for seamless transitions between them.

Oh, and those games!  Let me summarize as quickly as I can.

Gears of War 4 was looking pretty damn good, definitely on my radar. Killer Instinct seems to be keeping relevant with the addition of Gears of War character General Raam. And then I was floored by Forza Horizon 3, finally incorporating a co-op campaign mode which they showed with 2 PC players racing against 2 Xbox One players. I cannot stress enough how impressive and forward-thinking Microsoft’s crossplay feature looks to be. Recore illustrated it’s impressively unique gameplay: color me intrigued. Square Enix showcased Final Fantasy XV in an amazing battle with a mammoth enemy. Ubisoft previewed The Division’s upcoming DLC. EA/DICE gave us a very convincing reason to revisit WWI with Battlefield 1. Namco had a crossover of their own with Capcom’s Street Fighter series by incorporating Akuma into their forthcoming Tekken 7. Dead Rising 4 showed our “hero” lighting a zombie Christmas tree aflame. Nice. And then there was Scalebound! In the midst of this parade of awesome Microsoft Studios and Platinum dropped arguably the biggest game-bomb of their show by demonstrating the 4 player co-op of what I’m sure many will see as a challenger to the epic Monster Hunter series. Scalebound showed incredible levels of detail and looked to be very engaging indeed. And still more titles were rolled out. Rare assembled a group of players and recorded them taking to the high seas in Sea of Thieves where teams of pirates waged epic warfare against one another. Halo Wars 2 looks to focus more directly at strategic gameplay.

Not to end on a boring note, Microsoft closed out their already memorable E3 2016 conference with the biggest announcement of all: Project Scorpio. This upgrade to the beleaguered Xbox One will indeed be as amazingly powerful as rumored, boasting  6 teraflops of GPU processing power, which is a crap-ton for the uninitiated. To help clarify: the current Xbox One is capable of 1.31 teraflops and the PS4 can output 1.84 teraflops. This beast of a machine has been given a “holiday 2017” release date and Microsoft has called it “the most powerful console ever”, for good reason.

What an amazing way to start this year’s E3. I can honestly say that there were very few times during this conference I felt as though it dragged out, became sluggish or got boring in any way. Obviously, tying consoles and PC’s together as Microsoft has decided to do is a big move and one I am completely on board with. They have displayed  a desire to appeal to PC users by incorporating them into the existing Xbox LIVE community and have given gamers from all walks a chance to compete in the same sphere. So how do Microsoft’s announcements affect their main competitors: Sony and Nintendo? At their press event Sony showed it’s resolve by taking a much more serious approach and focused on more “cinematic” experiences then Microsoft. They definitely held their own but Sony’s much rumored PS4 “Neo” was nowhere to be found. Microsoft’s move towards PC-levels of graphics power with cross play and their Project Scorpio does place a burden on their competition to respond. Nintendo in particular is in a precarious position. Arriving at E3 with little more than the Wii U’s likely last hurrah, the “to-be-titled-tomorrow” Zelda U, Nintendo isn’t instilling much confidence in their ardent fan base. With the codenamed “NX” console still undisclosed as to what it even is 9 months from release, the wizards at Nintendo need to be concocting something extraordinarily spectacular to recapture not only the hearts and minds of non-Nintendo game enthusiasts but loyal fans as well. That isn’t to say Zelda U won’t be an amazing game, but it could be said that it is unnecessarily shouldering this burden on it’s own!

In all an excellent presentation by Microsoft, and heading into tomorrow I am looking forward to one of most anticipated games in years.

Game on users!

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