E3 is just around the corner, and gamers everywhere are waiting with bated breath to find out what’s in store for the near future. This year’s showcase promises to be a busy one for many of the industry’s top names, as Nintendo gears up for an all-out Legend of Zelda-fest and Bethesda preps presentations for a Dishonored sequel. With the upcoming Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2, it’s probably safe to expect a shooter-centric conference from EA, and Ubisoft looks to get everyone’s hopes up again with Watch Dogs 2 before inevitably bringing them crashing down again upon release — just kidding, kind of.
At the center of all this madness lie Sony and Microsoft, rumored to be unveiling new versions of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, among other things. Though we can’t be too sure what to expect — mum’s currently the word for many of these companies — we’ve put together a comprehensive viewing guide for Microsoft’s presentation at E3. Now, just keep your fingers crossed for a new Battletoads.
How (and when) to watch
Microsoft’s main presentation is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. PT on Monday, June 13. Various news outlets — IGN, for example — will provide live coverage of each major press conference, so you’ll have myriad options for streaming the presentations live from your TV (or your work computer). Microsoft plans to live-stream the conference from the company’s official Xbox Twitch channel as well, so you should have no excuse to miss out on all the fun. The conference typically lasts for about two hours, and we have some educated guesses about what Xbox head Phil Spencer & Co. may have cooked up for the big day.
What to expect
As is tradition, Microsoft will be the first of the “big three” — Sony and Nintendo are the other two — to officially present. With rumors flying around regarding the possibility of a PlayStation 4k reveal, expect the Xbox team to step up in a big way and follow the opening bell with some hay-makers. Here’s what (we think) might be on tap for Microsoft at E3 2016.
Xbox One S
With the collective internet going nuts over Sony’s confirmation of the PlayStation Neo, speculation is high regarding Microsoft’s plans to compete with a more powerful model of the Xbox One. Several outlets and a linked image that was posted to the NeoGAF forums yesterday seem to have all but confirmed the existence of the new console, aka the Xbox One S, which will supposedly include a 2TB hard drive, 4K Ultra HD (UHD) video capacity, and High Dynamic Range (HDR) support. The forthcoming console is also said to be 40 percent smaller than the current model, and will ship with a vertical stand and “streamlined controller.” Microsoft has yet to weigh in on the matter, but if the rumors prove true, the One S will represent a notable upgrade for the console.
Gears of War 4
If there’s anything that we’re pretty much certain will appear in Microsoft’s E3 conference this year, it’s Gears 4. Microsoft debuted the game’s first trailer at last year’s E3, and since then, the company and developing studio The Coalition have released a wealth of new information regarding the title. Starring the son of OG Gears protagonist Marcus Fenix, the fifth entry in the series will — to the surprise of absolutely no one — mark the beginning of the IP’s second trilogy. The game is scheduled for an October release, so don’t expect much outside the realm of some gameplay footage and new story information.
Halo Wars 2
The long-awaited sequel to 2009’s Halo Wars is set to make an appearance at this year’s E3. Scheduled for release in the fall, developer Creative Assembly (of the Total War series) enlisted the help of 343 Industries to help create a real-time strategy game with an original story set in the Halo universe. The game is an expected release for both the Xbox One and Windows 10.
Dead Rising 4
It’s unclear what Microsoft has planned for the fourth installation in the Dead Rising series. Dead Rising 3 performed well as a launch title for the Xbox One, and the IP has spawned some truly average action-horror movies. Nonetheless, it’s clear that there is still money to be made on the zombie-killing front, and it appears Microsoft is looking to cash out. Leaked images of what appears to be Dead Rising 4 recently appeared on ThisGenGaming, and it looks like it may be a remake (or something similar) of the first game in the series. NeoGaf and Kotaku have also backed up the leak, which lends some credence to the idea that Microsoft may be planning a big reveal for E3.
Sea of Thieves
Sea of Thieves, an upcoming pirate-themed multiplayer adventure from Rare and Microsoft, made its debut at E3 2015. A year later, we still don’t know very much about the game — is it closer to a swashbuckling Destiny or a scallywag’s version of No Man’s Sky? — but it certainly appears to have a generous helping of the goofy, cartoonish charm that Rare is known for. Either way, Spencer’s response to a fan’s tweet in February suggests that we’ll know a lot more about Thieves come Monday.
Another adventure game introduced at E3 2015, ReCore, from Comcept and Armature Studios, follows a girl and her robot companion as they fight to survive in a desert wasteland. The game features dynamic landscapes that change as vicious sandstorms roll through, and a companion system that allows Jewel (the main character) to retrieve her companion’s power core and fit it into different robots. Studio head Keiji Inafune says that he “wanted to make a game that explores … how humanity will end.” We’re hoping that, come Monday, we’ll have a clearer picture of the game and its timetable.
State of Decay 2
In the unlikely event that a new Dead Rising just wasn’t enough zombie-slaughtering action for you, rumor has it that Microsoft may be preparing to announce a sequel to 2013 survival-horror thriller. State of Decay. Kotaku’s Jason Schreier tweeted about it, and the general consensus seems to be that Decay‘s follow-up will add an online component to the game, allowing for cooperative or competitive multiplayer.
If you’ve ever wanted to play as some unholy combination of Superman and The Punisher, Crackdown 3 might be the perfect game for you. We don’t know exactly when the game will come out, but Gamescom 2015 brought an extended look at the massive, explode-everything power that creative director Dave Jones & Co. have imbued the series with. The game draws its computing power directly from multiple cloud servers at once, allowing for bigger, more destructible environments than in the series’ past. Microsoft promised a multiplayer beta for the summer, and we can’t wait to see how it turns out.
Microsoft’s newest gadget, the aptly-titled HoloLens, blends virtual and augmented reality in such a way that the user can interact with their environment through the use of holograms. From games that bring robots to your living room to real-world holographic applications — i.e. 3D modeling for architects — Microsoft hopes the HoloLens will revolutionize the way we see and interact with our surroundings. The company’s demonstration at last year’s E3 showed how the HoloLens could work with games like Minecraft, and we hope Microsoft brings us another example of the mixed reality this year. At this point, however, the return of holographic 2Pac might be in bad taste.