Going into E3 2016, I had no idea what to expect. So little information had come out prior to Day 1 on June 13 from any major company. But the expo was absolutely incredible this year – from advances in community and technology to reveals of extremely impressive new games, a lot has come to the surface. Just about every company has brought interesting stuff to bear, so let’s break it down by presentation, starting with Microsoft!
A lot of what Microsoft turned heads with was the information it gave about its future plans during its press conference.
For one thing, it announced the implementation of Xbox Play Anywhere, which promises seamless integration of saves and data, not to mention more cross-play, between Xbox One and Windows 10 PC. Paying for an Xbox One digital game gives access to the PC platform. This feels like a massive step forward for Microsoft in a market where more people are tending toward PC play than ever before, and it should put games in the hands of fans more often for no extra cost. This is an idea I completely approve of, provided it doesn’t get bogged down to be more complicated than it has to be.
But Xbox also came out swinging in terms of hardware – it announced a new design program for custom controller color palettes as well as the Xbox One Slim. But the big news was the first official announcement of Project Scorpio, the next console generation for Microsoft, which promises no-compromise 60 frames-per-second gameplay in 4K resolution. How they will deliver on that promise without making the thing the size of a portable generator I don’t know, but we’ll see!
As far as games go, the press conference felt to me like most other Microsoft conferences: there was a lot of stuff that got me excited and a lot I don’t care about one bit, like Forza Horizon 3 and Dead Rising 4. Other games like State of Decay 2, ReCore, and Tekken 7 all have me really intrigued – they look like they could be bringing a lot of beauty, innovation, and variety to a console that, for a long time now, hasn’t sparked my interest that much.
If I had to pick my favorite games on display at the conference, they would have to be Sea of Thieves, Inside, and Scalebound. As someone who loves a good pirate battle in a video game, Sea of Thieves for me carries the promise of creating a unique online experience, and I hope it becomes the game to bring my boys at Rare back into the light. Inside, the spiritual successor to Limbo, promises to do what its predecessor did – use the interactive medium to pose interesting questions and offer interesting yet simplistic gameplay. Scalebound, meanwhile, just looks like PlatinumGames (the team behind Bayonetta, Wonderful 101, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and Star Fox Zero) is doing what it does best: creating some over-the-top, intense, awe-inspiring boss fight carnage. It looks like it has a ton of personality and I hope to get some time with it soon enough.
In all, I think Microsoft put on a great presentation and looks to be offering a lot of variety and opportunity to its fans that we haven’t seen in previous years. Now feels like a better time than ever to keep an eye on these guys, especially if the Scorpio breaks the current bounds of gaming technology.