Ninety minutes. That’s precisely how long it took Microsoft to showcase more than 20 titles coming to the Xbox One and Windows 10 platforms in the upcoming year. The company’s annual press conference at the 2015 Electronic Entertainment Expo, the first briefing of the event aside from Bethesda’s inaugural appearance, was rooted as much in nostalgia as it was in the future of the Xbox console. The Redmond-based tech giant used the opportunity to talk about forthcoming indie offerings and blockbuster titles such Halo 5 and Rise of the Tomb Raider, simultaneously peppering its conference with announcements pertaining to backwards comparability, customizable controllers, and an AR headset poised to place the block-imbued world of Minecraft before your very eyes.
As expected, Microsoft placed much of its emphasis on exclusivity, emphasizing titles set to launch first — or only — on the Xbox One in the upcoming months. It began with campaign footage from Halo: Guardians and a look at a previously-announced, first-party title before burning through a host of game trailers and finishing with a long-awaited bookend from developer Black Tusk Studios. Check out our recap below for a closer look at the game trailers, real-time footage, and all the announcements.
Halo 5: Guardians
The Halo franchise has long been considered the selling point for the Xbox — and the fifth installment will only further sales. As such, Microsoft opened its briefing with the upcoming title, offering a more in-depth glimpse than what it previously showed at this time last year. A representative of 343 Industries took the stage to run audiences through a bit of the campaign, showing off gorgeous sci-fi environments and cinematic effects as a squad of four players traversed a familiar, crumbling landscape. A new multiplayer mode known as Warzone was also briefly shown, which sets the stage for 24-player matches and sprawling arenas that are nearly four times as large as any Halo map on record. The new mode will supposedly pit teams of 12 against one another, along with encroaching waves of AI-controlled Covenant and Promethean enemies.
Halo 5: Guardians launches exclusively for Xbox One on October 27.
Megaman producer Keija Inafune is a legend, one recently charged with task of heading ReCore alongside a host of ex-Metroid Prime developers at Armature Studio. Microsoft debuted a sole cinematic for the upcoming exclusive during its briefing, which sees a masked woman and her mechanical canine wandering a wasteland before encountering a swath of robotic enemies outside a vault of sorts. When the dog is destroyed — SPOILER ALERT — she inserts the dog’s glowing core into another, unnamed companion who rests outside the door. The lone trailer doesn’t provide much to cull from, sure, but we can likely expect a third-person or first-person game in the action-platforming genre given the developers’ previous catalog of titles.
ReCore launches exclusively for Xbox One in Spring 2016.
Yes, backward compatibility is coming to the Xbox One. Microsoft announced the feature just minutes into its press conference, noting that customers will have two ways to load last-gen Xbox 360 games onto the Xbox One. According to the company, users will merely need to re-download titles purchased on an Xbox 360 through Xbox Live, or simply copy a physical disc to the Xbox One hard drive before firing up the game. Developers also won’t need to port their Xbox 360 titles since the process is automatic, and moreover, last-gen games will still be able to utilize standout Xbox One features such as the ability to capture in-game screenshots on the fly. Microsoft will release backward-compatible titles in waves, with the first touting landmark titles Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, Mass Effect, and Perfect Dark Zero. Other games, such as Borderlands and God of War, will be resurface in later waves.
Xbox 360 backwards compatibility is available for Xbox Preview users today, with a general launch slated for later this year.
Xbox One Elite controller
The Xbox One has never really reveled in customization of any sort, but that’s about to change. Microsoft announced a new controller aimed at the hardcore gamer during its E3 press conference, one outfitted with with customizable components designed for better precision throughout various gaming styles. Gamers will be able to remap input across the entirety of the controller, and furthermore, swap out facets such as the directional pad and analogue sticks to better suite their personal preferences. The updated controller also boasts a built-in locking system for the triggers and four paddles on the backside of the device, the latter of which serve as an extra set of inputs for those looking to use more than simply their thumb and forefingers. Too bad the added paddles will will likely be restricted to player-created mappings given standard Xbox One controllers will continue to omit the feature for the time being.
No word on pricing or a tentative release window as of yet, but we’ll likely know more before the end of E3.
Director of Bethesda Game Studios, Todd Howard, had quite a bit to say when he stepped on stage during Microsoft’s press briefing despite Bethesda’s own briefing last night. On-screen text during the conference confirmed Fallout 3 will come packaged with the Xbox One version of Fallout 4, and in addition, the next-gen title will support free mods made for the game on PC. Howard also took the time to showcase some new gameplay footage of the post-apocalyptic RPG, which highlighted the game’s new dialogue system, “signature” laser musket, and a burly battle between a familiar foe — aka an enormous deathclaw — and a player decked out with mechanized power armor. “Ambitious” is one way to put it.
Fallout 4 launches for Xbox One on November 2016.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare was, surprisingly, a good third-person shooter. Electronic Arts was on hand at Microsoft’s briefing to announce the second installment in the series, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, alongside its debut trailer at E3 2015. The new game will feature a cast of familiar characters and game modes, as well as a new 24-player Herbal Assault mode which will find players going on the offensive against the zombies. Moreover, the second title in the series will also introduce a total of six new character classes, which helps culminate in a total of 100 playable variants. A four-player co-op mode entitled Graveyard Ops is also in the making, not to mention split-screen co-op and a unique solo adventure that will pit players against AI-controlled opponents. Best of all, EA announced those who played the original Garden Warfare will be able to transfer their unlockables into Garden Warfare 2. The forthcoming title seems as goofy as its predecessor — and its cinematic trailer can attest to that.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 launches on the Xbox One in Spring 2016.
EA Access is different approach to gaming. It essentially functions as a subscription service that provides members with free access to a limited selection of games, as well as discounts on a swath of digital content and early access to new releases. It’s currently only available on the Xbox One, and as such, EA exec Peter Moore used E3 as opportunity to announce that all Xbox Live Gold Members will be able to play EA Access Vault games for the entirety of the week free of charge. Moore also revealed both Titanfall and Dragon Age: Inquisition will soon be added to the Vault, though, the latter won’t be out until later this summer. Other titles currently available through the service include popular offerings such as FIFA 15 and Need for Speed Rivals, along with Battlefield 4 and the aforementioned Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare.
Forza Motorsport 6
Forza is a stalwart when it comes to racing titles. Although previously announced during the North American International Auto Show, creative director Dan Greenawalt took the stage during Microsoft’s press conference to announce a September 15 release date for the upcoming racing sim, which he the accompanied with a short video presentation of what to expect when the game hits shelves this fall. He also reiterated that the game will feature dynamic weather conditions spanning both day and night, a 24-car multiplayer mode, and more than 26 racing destinations from around the globe. Additionally, the title will feature more than 450 different cars to choose from — including the stunning Ford GT showcased on stage during the press conference — and a bounty of bonus content for those who pre-order the title. It’s developer Turn 10’s second major project, and from the looks of the gameplay trailer, the studio’s best work to date.
Forza Motorsport 6 will launch on the Xbox One on September 15.
Dark Souls III
The brooding world of Dark Souls has always been dark and iconic, so much so it didn’t take fans of the series long to recognize Dark Souls III when Microsoft revealed the upcoming title via a brief cinematic trailer during the latter half of its conference. The announcement trailer opens with scorched earth and mutilated bodies before quickly giving way to candles, a crown, and an enormous enemy that towers above all else with a cleaver about the size of a small skyscraper. Bandai Namco later confirmed fabled mastermind Hidetaka Miyazaki — of Dark Souls and Bloodborne fame — will be spearheading the project, which could be the last in the series and quite possibly the most challenging iteration of the title yet.
Dark Souls III will launch on the Xbox One in early 2016.
Motiga’s forthcoming Gigantic really is a concoction of sorts. It’s part action-RPG, part shooter, with enough quirkiness to give titles in the Borderlands series a run for their money. Microsoft used E3 as opportunity to announce that the closed beta for the cross-platform offering will be available this August, exclusively to those with Windows 10 or an Xbox One and Xbox Live Gold subscription. Microsoft also unveiled a new trailer for the title, which pits two teams of five against one another in an arena as they fight to topple a massive Guardian creature on each team. Different heroes will showcase different gameplay mechanics, though, various rewards and unlockables will also factor into each playing style. The cell-shaded visuals and over-the-top aesthetics further separate it from the pack, rendering the MOBA a welcome alternative to the onslaught of titles lining the Call of Duty series.
Gigantic will launch on the Xbox One and Windows 10 in 2016.
Gears of War 4
The Coalition announced Gears of War 4 during Microsoft’s big E3 press conference Monday, officially unveiling its plans for the next chapter in the popular franchise. Though Gears 4 is the first game in the series not to be developed by Epic Games, a nearly seven minute gameplay trailer displayed The Coalition’s knack for nailing the game’s iconic atmosphere. While the trailer showed off much of what’s made the franchise as popular as it is, there was one thing noticeably missing: series protagonist Marcus Fenix was nowhere to be seen. Nevertheless, the gameplay looked frenetic and fast paced as usual, and certainly appears a lock to be one of the best Xbox One exclusives when it releases during Holiday 2016.
Gears of War 4 will launch on the Xbox One during Holiday 2016.
Gears of War Ultimate Edition
Fans of the original Gears of War got quite the treat during Microsoft’s pressers as the tech company announced Gears of War Ultimate Edition, a fully remastered edition of the Xbox 360 classic. Capable of a stunning 1080p resolution — along with astounding 60 fps gameplay — Gears of War Ultimate Edition brings back everything great about the original, albeit with much smoother and more gorgeous playback. Little else is known about the remake — i.e. different campaign, additional multiplayer levels, etc. — but Microsoft did announce the game plans to ship to stores on August 25th, meaning gamers won’t have to wait long to find out. Gears of War remains one of the most revolutionary titles on any console, and its re-release on Xbox One guarantees it won’t just fade away.
Gears of War Ultimate Edition will launch on the Xbox One on August 25.
Valve VR and Microsoft HoloLens
One of Microsoft’s biggest themes at this year’s E3 conference was its dedication to virtual reality gaming. After announcing a partnership with Oculus Rift just last week, Microsoft revealed a new collaboration with Valve to make its new virtual reality headset, the Vive, compatible with the Xbox One. The tech company also unveiled a new version of the popular sandbox game Minecraft, which takes advantage of Microsoft’s already-announced “mixed-reality” headset, the HoloLens. An on-stage demo showed the perspective of someone wearing the HoloLens, and interacting with a Minecraft world directly on a table. The person wearing the HoloLens also had the ability to interact with someone playing the game via a tablet, and showed off the HoloLens’ intuitive controls. VR gaming is right on the horizon, and it seems Microsoft is at the forefront of the technology.
Microsoft’s upcoming free-to-play title Fable Legends lets players experience the colorful world of Fable yet again, only this time gamers take on the role of the villain. The game also touts Windows 10 compatibility meaning no matter if it’s played on an Xbox One, or on a Windows 10-based PC, players’ items and stats carry over to either version. Microsoft showed off little of what the main character’s strengths might be, though it does appear players have the ability to deploy an army of assistance at a moment’s notice. With a tentative release date of Holiday 2015, fans of the franchise likely won’t have to wait long to have the opportunity to jump back into the world of Fable.
Fable Legends will launch on the Xbox One and Windows 10 during Holiday 2015.
Dean Hall, the creator behind DayZ, teamed up with the tech company Improbable to bring the Xbox One a unique new video game property called Ion. This self-described emergent narrative massively-multiplayer online game tasks players with building, and surviving in, gigantic galactic empires across the universe. Hall turned to Improbable to help create the incredibly interconnected galaxy which features completely physically-simulated environments. Though no specific gameplay appeared during the unveiling of Ion, it’s said to take its inspiration from the cult favorite multiplayer game, Space Station 13.
Ion does not have a known release date yet.
Sea of Thieves
Sea of Thieves, Rare’s ambitious pirate sim announced during Microsoft’s E3 conference, puts players in the shoes of a swashbuckling hero in search of hidden riches. The brief trailer — which features real, in-game footage — shows a character exploring a lush jungle before taking to the sea aboard a massive pirate ship. Players have the ability to engage in full-blow sea warfare, send someone to walk the plank, and explore dank caves in hopes of scoring some hidden gold. The world of Sea of Thieves isn’t all treasure chests and booty, but rather the living world features slews of rival gangs intent on making sure your ship sinks, and theirs sails free. Microsoft didn’t announce a release date, so it’s unknown when players have the opportunity to take to the high seas.
Sea of Thieves does not have a known release date yet.
To celebrate legendary developer Rare’s 30th anniversary, the company announced plans to release a 30-game compilation for the Xbox One on August 4th. Featuring games like Battletoads, Perfect Dark, and Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Rare Replay also touts an astounding 10,000 Gamerscore points for players to earn. Microsoft didn’t mention if any of the rehashed titles would get improved visuals or any new features, but with a release date just right around the corner, gamers won’t have to wait long to explore Rare’s large, and incredibly diverse, catalog. Rare also announced it plans to sell this massive collection of games for just $30, making a return trip to Banjo Kazooie’s Spiral Mountain that much more appealing.
Rare Replay will launch on the Xbox One on August 4.
Rainbow 6: Siege
Not only did Microsoft debut a new trailer for Rainbow Six: Siege, it also announced that the game will release for the Xbox One — and others — on October 13. Similar in style to previous Rainbow Six titles, Siege features unique five-on-five gameplay, pitting a group of “good guy” agents against a team of “bad guy” terrorists. Whether it’s the defusing of a bomb, or the rescuing of a hostage, Siege’s features a host of dynamic locales and objectives, with the name of the game being teamwork. Microsoft also announced that Siege comes with download codes for previous generation titles Rainbow Six: Vegas and Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 completely free of charge — a nice addition to the news Xbox One will now feature Xbox 360 backwards compatibility.
Rainbow Six: Siege will launch on the Xbox One on October 13.
Xbox One Early Access
Perhaps one of the most interesting announcements during Microsoft’s E3 event was Xbox One Early Access. With Early Access, gamers have the ability to test drive and buy games still currently in-development — a la Steam Early Access. If a game doesn’t particularly strike your fancy during a trial, Early Access grants you the ability to make an “educated decision” to either buy the game while it’s in its infancy, or to simply wait for the completed, polished version to release. This provides a great way for developers to hear feedback from gamers, while also giving gamers the freedom of trying before they buy.
Tom Clancy’s The Division
Tom Clancy’s The Division made yet another E3 appearance in 2015, though this time it brought with it loads of new information and an actual release date. Currently scheduled to debut on next-generation consoles on March 8 2016, The Division continues the Tom Clancy franchise’s commitment to teamwork and communication. This time around, the living, breathing world of Manhattan features a host of hostile and friendly agents, both capable of changing allegiances at the drop of a hat. In the E3 trailer, a group of three work their way through snowy Manhattan, methodically taking out hostiles in their way en route to an extraction point. Once they reach the desired point, one of the teammates betrays the others, gunning them down in their tracks. Whether this will be incredibly frustrating, or an incredibly strategic wrinkle, is yet to be seen, though a playable demo plans to make an appearance at Ubisoft’s booth on June 16.
Tom Clancy’s The Division will launch on Xbox One on March 8, 2016.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
The sequel to the critically acclaimed Tomb Raider reboot from 2013, Rise of the Tomb Raider is the continuation of Lara Croft’s story, who seems to be dealing with the mental aftermath of what she witnessed in Tomb Raider. The footage began with a harrowing climb up a sheer vertical face of ice that doesn’t go exactly as planned. Controlling Lara as she leaps, slides, rappels, and clambers along the cliffside looks to be as tense as it is cinematic. A montage towards the end of the demo gave snippets of the game’s platforming, crafting, and exploration through jungle ruins and dark caverns. Rise of the Tomb Raider will be be a timed exclusive for the Xbox One this holiday, though it’s likely to be the only place to play the game for some time. Regardless of where we play it, we’re excited to see where Lara’s next adventure takes her.
Rise of the Tomb Raider will launch on Xbox One in December, 2015.
Xbox had a massive indie game showing at this year’s E3 press conference. Through their ID@Xbox program, Microsoft is bringing a plethora of new indie titles to the console, including Cuphead, a 2D platformer inspired by classic Disney and Warner Bros cartoons; time-bending first person shooter/puzzle game Superhot; and Tacoma, the exploration/adventure game set in a lonely lunar space station, from Gone Home developers Fullbright. That’s just a small taste of the titles shown at the press conference. Here’s a full list of the upcoming Xbox indie titles:
Ark: Survival Evolved
Rise and Shine
Goat Simulator: Mmore Goatz
The Flame in The Flood
The Solus Project