Microsoft Corporation's E3 press briefing this past Monday morning featured a wide range of exclusive Xbox One game announcements, new hardware, and innovative services that pay tribute to the Xbox platform's acclaimed history.
The briefing began with the announcement of an all-new multiplayer mode for the upcoming Halo 5: Guardians. This new Halo adventure (built from the ground up for the Microsoft Xbox One) was shown on stage by a four-player team who demonstrated the explosive multiplayer action coming to players on October 27. Developer 343 Industries introduced a new 24-player game mode called Warzone, which drops combatants onto massive maps that are three-to-four times larger than any existing Halo maps and pits players against both human and A.I. opponents.
After the big Halo 5 announcement, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer introduced ReCore, a robot-oriented action-adventure due in spring 2016. This first-party franchise is in development by Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune in collaboration with Armature Studio, a team composed of many Metroid Prime veterans.
Spencer revealed some of the biggest news of the conference and one of the Xbox One audience's most-requested features: backward compatibility. The new service will offer 100 Xbox 360 games at launch, letting gamers play their favorite classic titles while accessing unique Xbox One features like screenshots, broadcasting and game DVR. This library-expanding service starts now for Xbox Preview Members; all other Xbox One owners can access it this holiday season.
While the new backward compatibility service pays tribute to the games of Xbox's past, the new Xbox Elite wireless controller forecasts its future. This new pro-precision controller comes with hair trigger locks, swappable components, button and paddle mapping, and the option to set minimum and maximum trigger values. Coming for the Xbox One and Windows 10-powered PCs, the Xbox Elite controller promises to up everyone's game.
This is especially good news for Fallout fans, who will need every advantage to survive Bethesda's new open-world role-playing game, Fallout 4. Bethesda Game Director Todd Howard showed a snippet of the game, which once again has players navigating a hostile, post-nuclear world. Freedom is the number one goal for this sequel, which takes players to a dense urban environment, lets them have canine companions, and provides them with cool new weapons like the crank-activated laser musket. Players who buy Fallout 4 when it hits stores on November 10 will receive a free copy of Fallout 3--and Fallout 4 mods created on PC will be playable and shareable on the Xbox One.
For gamers who enjoy friendly competition more than worldwide cataclysm, Microsoft is teaming up with Electronic Arts to bring players Madden NFL 16 and Need for Speed, via EA Access. This digital service offers members the opportunity to play their favorite games before anyone else--and at a 10 percent discount. Even better: The EA Access Vault contains a library of critically acclaimed titles like Titanfall and Dragon Age: Inquisition. During E3, access to the Vault is free to all Xbox Live Gold members. EA wrapped up its presentation by revealing the wacky pandemonium of the upcoming team-based shooter Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, which is set for a spring 2016 release.
The competition continued with Turn 10 Studios' Forza Motorsport 6. Calling it the most beautiful, technically advanced [Forza] yet, Creative Director Dan Greenwalt--accompanied by Henry Ford III--celebrated the Ford GT's 50th anniversary by lowering a real Ford GT onto the stage. When Forza 6 debuts September 15, the Ford GT will roll through the game's 26 destinations alongside 450 cars, in white-knuckled 24-player races.
Next, dark fantasy enveloped the stage with Bandai Namco Games America's Dark Souls III and Ubisoft's action-role-playing game, Tom Clancy's The Division. Dark Souls III promises to deliver the same brand of gritty, hardcore action as its acclaimed predecessors when it arrives in early 2016. Meanwhile, The Division gives players a taste of life after society is ravaged by a global virus. The Division currently has no release date, but Xbox One players will be first to try it during this December's exclusive beta. Until then, action fans can jump into Ubisoft's Rainbow Six: Siege, which arrives October 13. Gamers who buy this electric squad-based shooter will also receive Rainbow Six: Vegas and Rainbow Six: Vegas 2.
After showing off Motiga's humorous free-to-play online game Gigantic--which goes into beta this August--Microsoft highlighted its dedication to independent developers via its ongoing ID@Xbox program. After a montage of great-looking indie games, including space adventure Tacoma (from Gone Home creator Fullbright), third-person fantasy adventure Ashen, and 1930s cartoon-styled run-and-gun game Cuphead, Microsoft announced the new Xbox Game Preview service, which gives Xbox owners early access to select still-in-development games. Every title on Xbox Game Preview will include a free trial. Some of the first games on the service will include The Long Dark, Sheltered, Elite: Dangerous, DayZ, and Ion.
While Xbox Game Preview will give gamers an early peek at games, Rare Replay lets them relive legendary developer Rare's beloved library of games. Due out on August 4, Rare Replay offers 30 games for $30, including classics like Perfect Dark Zero and Conker's Bad Fur Day. Rare is not just focusing on the past: Studio Head Craig Duncan announced the company's newest project, a pirate-themed, shared-world adventure called Sea of Thieves.
The presentation took a technical turn when Microsoft's Kudo Tsunoda introduced a new version of Minecraft, built specifically for the upcoming Microsoft HoloLens augmented reality (AR) platform. With HoloLens, the world-building phenomenon is set to reach new levels of immersion as players use the device to project their creations onto any surface. Worlds seem to come alive in eye-popping 3D, and players can share and explore their creations together.
After the trip into augmented reality, Microsoft dove back into action as Crystal Dynamics Creative Director Brian Horton demoed Lara Croft's latest adventure, Rise of the Tomb Raider. If Lara's perilous, snow-packed trek is any indication, gamers are in store for some hair-raising experiences when Rise of the Tomb Raider makes its entrance on November 10. For even more team-oriented adventurers, this holiday season brings Lionhead Studios' free-to-play action-RPG Fable Legends for Xbox One and PC.
The impressive parade of brand-new titles culminated in a pair of massive announcements for the Gears of War third-person shooter franchise. First: The one-week public beta for Gears of War: Ultimate Edition (an HD remaster of the original Gears) begins immediately for Xbox Live subscribers. Gamers who purchase the Ultimate Edition will also get access to the upcoming beta for Gears of War 4, which is due out during the 2016 holiday season. Based on the Gears of War 4 presentation, this latest entry will feature more of the forceful, fast-moving action gamers have come to expect.
Microsoft's media briefing not only gave gamers reason to be excited--it clearly conveyed the company's determination to honor its history, support creativity, embrace new technology, and reward gamer loyalty.