E3 2016 Day 2 - Xbox Software

One of the 3 biggest press conferences at E3 every year, Xbox had their showcase around 12:30 this afternoon. Being one of the three titans, Microsoft's conference was very long but I'll do my best to touch on what I believe to be the most important things. To make things easiest, I'll be separating our summary of Xbox's conference into software and hardware. With plenty to say about both, I'll start with software!

To start off Microsoft gave us a look at their up and coming gritty third person shooter, Gears of War 4. Gears of War is a staple to Xbox and has always been a well-received series and Gears of War 4 is looking to continue the trend. Gears of War 4 had an open beta last month and the world got a taste of the brutal multiplayer and today Microsoft gave us a dose of it's campaign mode with a live stage demo. Obviously, running on current generation consoles the game looks incredible. Check out the E3 2016 stage demo below! I think Gears 4 will definitely have a big place here in the LAN center, it certainly did in it's very short Beta. It's one of those titles that has such a devoted fan base thanks to it's incredible earlier entries in the series.

We got a pretty good look at the long awaited real time strategy game, Halo Wars 2, with a very special surprise of learning that an open beta is going live for the next week! Microsoft is offering players free Req packs in Halo 5: Guardians as an incentive to try out Halo Wars 2. I think this was a really great idea by Microsoft because some Halo fans may be hesitant to dive into a completely different style of game despite being in a universe they are familiar with. Halo Wars 2 won't be released until February 2017 but the game is looking incredibly polished. Launching with a solid campaign mode taking place directly after the events of Halo 5, players will be able to actively control some of the "largest battles the Halo universe has seen". The game will also release with at least 5 multiplayer modes utilizing different strategies to succeed. On one end of the spectrum is Deathmatch, which simply has the goal of being the last army remaining, and Domination on the other side of the spectrum, offering gameplay to the original strategy themed Halo Wars. It sounds like Halo Wars 2 will be pretty accessible to all sorts of players and bridge the gap between fast paced FPS players and RTS players alike.

Microsoft also touched on Forza Horizon 3 which is visually stunning. Launching in September, FH3 will have the largest car roster to ever grace a Forza Horizon title and will take place in Australia. With a 4 player co-op campaign and the largest open world ever built by PG, this Microsoft exclusive looks pretty solid already! Dead Rising 4 was also officially announced, but the exclusive title leaked in full before E3 unfortunately, so it wasn't really news. One of the high points in the conference for me personally was the gameplay demo of Sea of Thieves. An incredibly hard game to describe, Rare's pirate title is more or less a light hearted pirate simulator. Without a ton of gameplay to go off of, the pirate ship vs pirate ship combat looks hectic and funny and looks like a total blast to play with your mates (haha get it?). There is no current release date but I'm incredibly happy to see Microsoft show an original exclusive. Definitely a game to watch out for, check out the incredibly...unique...demo below!

There were a few presentations that really surprised me at the Xbox conference. The first to talk about is Final Fantasy XV. Not only is it funny to see a non-exclusive Final Fantasy game being showcased at the Mirosoft Conference, but for the most part the demo was very weak compared to the demos available to the public. The on stage demo certainly showcased how beautiful the game is looking but I think they didn't have the right person showcasing FFXV's high octane combat during a boss fight. The player kind of stumbled all over himself and made combat look a little sloppy as he got slapped around for 5 minutes. The game still looks great, it just didn't really have an impactful demo at this year's E3. The next surprise which was awesome to see was Platinum Games' Scalebound back on stage this year with a gameplay reveal. Showcasing a multiplayer that I had no idea existed, and a monster hunter style combat system, Scalebound looks pretty good! Check out some of the gameplay below! A huge surprise to see at the conference was a reveal trailer for Tekken 7, with Akuma from SF and Heihachi duking it out. Tekken 7 is expected to release in 2017, but little other news was given.

The Microsoft conference showed us bits of some indie titles coming up, which in my opinion, has always been an incredible strength on Xbox going all the way back to Xbox 360.We got to see a small compilation of upcoming games like Below, Cuphead and Flinthook, followed by an announcement that "Limbo", one of the strongest Xbox 360 indie games, is now free on the Xbox One. The developers of Limbo, Play Dead, also showcase their new title, "Inside". We didn't get to see too much content but Inside is already being called "super limbo" by the internet and I suppose that's a decent summary. I think the strongest indie title showcased at the conference was "We Happy Few". Developed by the team behind 2015's "Contrast", We Happy Few is best described as a mixture of Bioshock and A Clockwork Orange. Just trying to describe the trailer to you makes me feel weird, so just watch it and uhhh...yeah. Don't get me wrong, I think what Compulsion Games has here is special, but it's really creepy.

Wrapping up Microsoft's Software for the year was a look at a very great looking Xbox and PC exclusive titled "ReCore". Releasing in September, ReCore looks like a lively action adventure game starring a young girl named Joule and her band of robotic allies. The concept of ReCore looks incredible, and the environments really stand out, but as today's conference showed us, ReCore's character animations are incredibly stiff. Maybe by the time the game releases in September they will be cleaned up, but take a look for yourself below. A random unexpected surprise was some information on Microsoft's exclusive reboot of the classic fighter "Killer Instinct" going into Season 3 of play. Along this news was the awesome announcement of General Raam of Epic's Gears of War franchise being a playable fighter in Season 3. As a fighting game player and as a Gears fan it was a pleasant and very unexpected surprise. The last title I'm going to touch on in the software portion of Xbox's presentation is a game I have personally said "This should be it's own game!". CD Projekt Red, the developers of my favorite game of 2015, The Witcher 3, showcased their newest title, Gwent! Gwent is a playable card game within the world of The Witcher, being played in pubs and gambling dens alike and a personal addiction of mine. In a world of up and coming video game card games following the success of Hearthstone, I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised by the reveal of Gwent, but I am, and pleasantly so. Gwent in Witcher 3 carries a lot of very unique gameplay mechanics and mind games and I think it will make the hop to an actual full game well. 

I think Microsoft had a much better year compared to last year. Showing us some cool exclusives and software Microsoft is on the right track, but they really hit a high note with the Hardware improvements and announcements. Check back for more updates!

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