E3 2016 is in full swing, and Microsoft just delivered one of the most exciting, feature-laden showcases in recent memory. Microsoft’s dedication to cross-platform play via the new Xbox Play Anywhere initiative stood out among a veritable smorgasbord of trailers and gameplay demos, and the announcement of two powerful new Xbox One console versions reinforced the company’s support for the game development community.
Meanwhile, we were treated to extended looks at a slew of Xbox/Windows exclusives, from pirate adventure Sea of Thieves to zombie survival games State of Decay 2 and Dead Rising 4. Below, we’ve put together a brief overview of everything you might have missed from Microsoft’s E3 press conference.
Hardware and software
Microsoft opened its conference with a bang, as Xbox head Phil Spencer took to the stage and revealed the Xbox One S. Clad largely in white, the console boasts an integrated power supply and up to 2TB of hard-drive storage while taking up a fraction of the space occupied by the original Xbox One. The S supports HDR gaming and 4K ultra-HD video streaming capabilities, and the updated controller features a textured grip and Bluetooth connectivity. Just $299 will net you one of these babies upon release in August, though it appears there will be multiple models of the S available for purchase.
If Microsoft opened its showcase with style (the Xbox One S), it most certainly closed with power. Project Scorpio, the code name for next year’s Xbox console, boasts some pretty incredible specifications — in fact, were it to be released today, it would ostensibly be the most powerful gaming console ever created. Powered by a six-teraflop GPU that enables the system to run games in 4K resolution at 60 frames per second, the console will launch with native VR compatibility.
Spencer and company were adamant about the idea of “gaming beyond generations,” a tagline that seems to imply that the future of gaming lies in semi-annual hardware updates rather than traditional six-to-eight year console life spans. In layman’s terms, we’re likely to see a future where Microsoft introduces a new Xbox just as often as Apple rolls out a new iPhone. Gamers should be happy, then, that their libraries won’t become instantly obsolete with the release of a new console — though, with a vague “Holiday 2017” release window, we’re not sure exactly when Project Scorpio will actually see daylight.
Xbox Design Lab
Starting from $80, gamers can now build their own officially licensed Xbox One controllers. Customizable from the top down, each part of the controller — the joysticks, the triggers, the face buttons — can be a different color, selected from dozens of different hues. Players can even choose to have a short message (or, more likely, their Gamertag) laser engraved on the face of the controller.
Xbox One Software Updates
Along with the forthcoming console updates, the Xbox team announced a few new features that will be added to Xbox Live in the coming months. Microsoft’s Cortana AI will take the place of Xbox’s native voice control system and link with any other Microsoft devices you may have.
Looking For Group is a feature that many gamers should appreciate, giving players an in-house method of finding like-minded teammates for cooperative play.
Xbox Live Clubs allows players to come together and celebrate their mutual interests, and can function as a tool to find friends online as well.
Finally, Xbox Live Arena is a tournament platform that Microsoft and third-party developers will be using to create large-scale gaming competitions and find out who truly is the best of the best. EA Sports was announced to have a partnership with Xbox Live Arena beginning in the fall. We expect many rabid FIFA players to sign up, only to immediately fake an injury and withdraw from the match.