Monday, June 13, 2016

E3 2016: Microsoft

Well kiss my grits, Microsoft had a great conference this year!

You know, I've always hoped that Microsoft could recover from it's Xbox One reveal three years ago. Don't get me wrong, when they announced an always online console for $500, everyone had every right to protest and get angry about it. That practice was ridiculous, but the Microsoft of 2016 is a differentbeast. Now firmly the #2 to Sony's PS4, Microsoft is honestly trying to win back gamers. They're trying their damndest to win back gamer support, and this press conference might have just done it.

To get the huge news out of the way, Microsoft announced not one, but two new consoles today. The Xbox One Slim is a smaller version of the current Xbox One for $300, while they also revealed their 4K console, Project Scorpio. Scorpio will have 8 core processors, 6 terraflops, and will apparently be the strongest video game console ever and will release Holiday 2017. What was actually good news though was Microsoft confirming that Xbox One games will be playable on all three consoles and there will be no Scorpio only games. If you have a game, you can play it on the XBone, XBone Slim, or Scorpio, which is greatly appreciated news.

In smaller news, Microsoft announced a whole new initiative for Xbox Live, including a tournament bracket mode called Arena, group chats that can be as specific as you want called Clubs, and a sort of Help Wanted ad system called Looking For Group. Not only that, but now most Xbox One games coming out for the rest of the year will be playable on Windows 10 for anyone that's interested in that. Personally I'm not, but the fact that the cross-play is there is a nice thought.

And then you got to the games. My God, Microsoft brought a metric ton of exclusives to try and win back gamers. They announced State of Decay 2, Dead Rising 4 (!!!), Halo Wars 2, Forza Horizon 3, and even a standalone Gwent game for Witcher 3 fans. We even got gameplay demos of Tekken 7, Gears 4, Sea of Thieves, Final Fantasy XV, Scalebound, and We Happy Few. Personally, Scalebound looked like a solid game from Platinum Games, albeit it a little bit clunky, while We Happy Few blew me away and makes me want to play it right this instance.

The only complaint that I had towards the conference was the some games just seemed to be shoved out there with barely any information other than to show people that they still exist. The two games that fell prey to this were Inside, a generally mysterious looking game from the same developers of Limbo, and Keiji Inafune's ReCore. Both games are releasing fairly soon, with the former releasing at the end of the month and the latter releasing mid September, but I know next to nothing about these games. What's the story? Hell, what's the gameplay even like? What genre of game are we dealing with here? If I don't even know what kind of a game I'm going to buy before it releases, that's a bad idea.

Still, those two games aside, Microsoft did a fantastic job of showing off the future of the Xbox One family. Granted, I'm still not going to get a system, but I can still look at it and respect the effort and exclusive games coming out for the system. Kudos Microsoft.


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