Xbox One X and So Much More: Microsoft's E3 Conference Recapped
Microsoft and Xbox were the first of the Big Three console developers to present at this year's E3, and the company came prepared with a swath of new things to show off. With 42 different games shown at its conference, Microsoft put a lot on the table this time around.
The conference kicked off with a flashy neon showcase, with multicolor wireframes slowly becoming characters from some of Microsoft's biggest properties, like Gears of War and Halo. This graphic eventually segued into a visual reveal of the Microsoft's new console -- known until now only as Project Scorpio. Phil Spencer walked onstage shortly after the showcase ended to confirm the console's official name -- The Xbox One X.
Xbox One X
Taking the stage after Spencer was Kareem Choudry, who talked about the specs and capabilities of this new console, breaking it down into three different categories: Power, Compatibility, and Craftsmanship. In the Power portion, Choudry mentioned that the One X has a 6 teraflop GPU, 12 GB of GDDR5 memory, and 326 GB of memory bandwidth. Under Compatibility, Choudry confirmed that all prior Xbox One games would not only be backwards-compatible on the new system, but improved with faster load times and more. Finally, for Craftmanship, he talked about the console's unique liquid-cooled vapor chamber, its new power management system, and that it's the smallest Xbox system to date.
The Xbox One X will be available on November 7, 2017 for $499.
And what about Backwards Compatibility?
Microsoft had a pretty big announcement to make about its catalog of backwards compatible games. A fair number of original Xbox games are being made backwards compatible in an update coming later this year -- including 2003's Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge.
Forza Motorsport 7
With specs done, Microsoft wasted no time diving right into the game reveal. It kicked things off with Forza Motorsport 7, debuting the game with an incredible reveal trailer showing off its visual chops, including dynamic weather and incredible environments on display. Also, in a world first, a new Porsche car made its debut onstage, the Porsche 2018 911 GT2RS. Driver customization was also mentioned briefly, with more details to come later on. Last but not least, its released date was revealed for October 7th, 2017.
Following Forza was a new title by 4A Games -- Metro Exodus. The trailer showed off a gas-mask-wearing protagonist exploring the ruins of a post-apocalyptic civilization, fighting bat-like humanoid monsters as they made their way through a ruined tunnel filled with destroyed cars and human corpses.
After sneaking around and sniping some hostile wolf-like enemies, a creature resembling a bear-crocodile cross bursts through a wooden wall. The protag runs for it after taking a hit from the beast, and eventually manages close enough to a cliffside that they can blast it down into the ravine below. Finally, the protagonist takes a quick zipline trip before hitching a ride on an old-timey train, which sets off into the distance.
Metro Exodus is coming in 2018, with more information on the way later this week.
Assassin's Creed Origins
Assassin's Creed Origins was up next -- and despite it being one of E3's worst-kept secrets, the game still wowed with its full gameplay reveal. As is well known by now, Origins takes place in Egypt and stars Bayek, the last magi (or protector) of his community.
It is said that Bayek will eventually become the founder of the Assassin's Brotherhood, and that Origins will tell that story. The reveal trailer shows off numerous aspects of the game -- with scenes showing off Bayek sliding down the side of one of the pyramids, horseback archery, coliseum-like arenas for fighting, different weapon types, and a gargantuan basilisk-like snake dwarfing Bayek.
The gameplay footage that followed shows Bayek returning to his hometown to assassinate a false oracle. He uses an eagle named Senu to do reconnaissance on the oracle's temple, before infiltrating it himself. The gameplay showed off some of the game's mechanics, such as slowed-down time when firing arrows midair, weapon looting from enemy corpses, and chain assassinations. Origins launches on October 27.
PUBG, Deep Rock Galactic, and State of Decay 2
Next up was Playerunknown's Battlegrounds, which was announced to be exclusively coming later this year to the Xbox One in 4K, with even more improvements coming on the One X.
A new title called Deep Rock Galactic came afterwards, showing off voxel-y dwarves exploring seemingly endless cave systems, mining valuables and fighting against huge hordes of insectoid enemies.
State of Decay 2 followed, showing off the game's co-op play. Aside from surviving the zombie apocalypse with vehicles, melee weapons and guns, players can also build safe haven communities, dictating where everything goes in their new homes. Different special zombie types were showcased as players raided houses for supplies, with some exploding, some clinging to vehicles, and an armless variant spitting blood.
New IP: The Darwin Project
A new IP, The Darwin Project, made its debut next, clearly taking a page from The Hunger Games' playbook. With an art style very similar to Team Fortress 2, the game appears to be a multiplayer survival game where the characters are on an in-universe entertainment program, killing each other in a snowy environment with all kinds of implements and weapons -- all narrated by a floating robot head. Different abilities for the characters were also shown off -- one had a protection forcefield, while another could go invisible for a short time. More information on that should be coming soon.
Minecraft With Cross Play and 4K
Minecraft took the stage next, and revealed that it had a big update on the way. A community marketplace is in the pipes, allowing for user-created skins and servers to be created and shared online with all. Llamas, recently introduced in the PC version of the game, are also on their way -- alongside a gaggle of new block types and a new lighting update.
The biggest announcement however, was cross-play across almost all of the different systems Minecraft calls home. PS4, Switch, Xbox One, VR, and mobile devices were all confirmed to have cross-play functionality. This new update for Minecraft goes live later this year.
Dragon Ball Fighter Z
After being announced with screenshots a few days prior, the Arcsys-developed Dragon Ball Fighter Z made its gameplay debut on Xbox's stage, and its over-the-top nature shows hopes to keep Dragon Ball's legacy intact. The game has a 3v3 team/assist system much like Marvel vs. Capcom, with a 2.5D artstyle much like that of Guilty Gear -- but adjusted to match the visuals of Dragon Ball. Characters shown off include Goku, Vegeta, Gohan, Frieza, Cell, and Majin Buu, with more no doubt on the way when the game launches in Early 2018.
Black Desert Online
Black Desert Online took the stage next. An MMORPG with anime-styled visuals, Black Desert looks to have a large variety of different playstyles based on what class and character is chosen -- but the combat shown in the trailer makes it clear that no matter whether you choose a magic or melee class, fighting will be quite the spectacle.
Artful Escape & CodeVein
Up next was The Artful Escape, which appears to be a kind of rhythm-based infinite runner or platformer game. The game's paper-like art style lent itself well to the insane and surreal scenes shown off in the trailer, and it's rock-and-roll motif will certainly add to the game's charm.
CodeVein came next. This seems to be an RPG of sorts, with an interesting twist to it. The trailer showed off a handful of characters who appear to be party members fighting in a ruined city -- but what really set CodeVein apart was a system in which characters could apparently spawn metal limbs that doubled as weapons with which they could fight enemies infesting the city.
Sea of Thieves
We also finally got a more in-depth look at Sea of Thieves, and it did not disappoint. The trailer showed off a treasure trove of things that players could do -- like raiding sunken ships, following riddles and treasure maps to hidden booty on islands, exploring puzzle-filled caves, and fighting skeletons rising from their graves to defend their loot. Ship vs. ship battles were also showcased, and the player we were following put themselves into a cannon and blasted aboard the enemy ship, where they were able to take down the opposing crew.
After making a failed desperate leap back to their ship, the trailer ends with a shark eating the playable character, with the promise of there being more footage later, before it's final release in Early 2018.
Cuphead and Crackdown 3
Cuphead also had a quick reel, showing off its gorgeous old-timey cartoon look and finally giving us a long-awaited release date. Cuphead launches September 29, 2017...hopefully for real this time.
Terry Crews made a surprise appearance during the presentation. In a spot clearly reminiscent of his Old Spice commercials, Crews yelled and exploded his way to introducing Crackdown 3, which has fully destructible environments, a ton of different weapon types, mechs, and more. Crackdown 3 hits stores on November 7, 2017.
Lots of Indies & A Few AA Games
Tacoma also made an appearance. The spiritual sequel to popular walking simulator Gone Home, Tacoma follows a faceless player character after they wake up on an empty space station and try to piece together what happened while they were asleep. Tacoma releases on August 2, 2017.
Super Lucky's Tale made its debut onstage as well, charming many with its cute visuals and fun-looking characters. The playable character, likely the titular Lucky, is a cute little fox who runs, jumps, and digs his way through a bunch of colorful worlds -- collecting coins and more. The game appears to be a 3D collectathon akin to games like Banjo-Kazooie and the more recent Yooka-Laylee.
We also got a look at Ashen, a very stylized game with a melancholy tone. The trailer showed inhuman grey beasts attacking and killing seemingly helpless and almost featureless humans -- who we were told by the narration are simply trying to find their way to "the light". Hopefully more details on this game come soon.
Before moving into its series of highly anticipated sequels and a brand new IP, an impressive line-up of indie games was showcased in a quickfire reel which included: Osiris New Dawn, Raiders of the Broken Planet, Unruly Heroes, Path of Exile, Battlerite, Surviving Mars, Fable Fortune, Observer, Robocraft Infinity, Dunk Lords, Minion Masters, Brawlout, Ooblets, Dark and Light, Strange Brigade, Riverbond, Hello Neighbor, Shift, and Conan Exiles.
Middle Earth and Ori Sequels, Plus a Life is Strange Prequel
Life is Strange also got its prequel revealed, titled Life is Strange: Before the Storm. Attending school, getting into barfights, lighting fires, and throwing tantrums in junkyards all seem to be involved in what is set to be the first of three episodic installments.
Middle Earth: Shadow of War took the stage next, showing off its expanded Nemesis System. Enemies that are defeated can now be recruited to your army via a new mechanic, and the amount of dialogue in the game looks to be massive -- as each orc appears to have unique dialogue all to themselves. Players can even set what orcs they want to be in what positions in their army before engaging in battle. The showcase ends with the player's prepared army launching an attack on an enemy fortress, with all of their recruited orcs in tow.
Ori made a surprise appearance at Xbox's conference with the reveal of her new game, Ori and the Will of the Wisps. The trailer showed off much of the gorgeous art that contributed to the original Ori and the Blind Forest being such a hit -- and ends with Ori comforting a small, sad owl looking upon its dead family. Could the cute little owl maybe be a second playable character? We'll have to wait and see.
Closing out the show was EA and BioWare's momentous new IP, Anthem. Taking place in a futuristic city walled off from the rest of the world, Anthem is a cooperative third-person shooter with a massive open world.
Freelancers, the defenders of the walled city and the player characters, climb into flight-capable mechsuits (knowns as Javelins) to explore the wild overgrown world around their isolated city. These javelins can be equipped with all kinds of different weapons and gear, which can be looted from robotic enemies known as Scars. These items also appear to have varying rarity, as the demo shows a character collecting a "legendary" gun.
The world's events and weather are dynamic and unique, and include something called a "shaper storm" -- a storm with high winds and lightning, with a glowing ball of energy at its center. As the Freelancers fly towards the center of the shaper storm, the screen goes white, and the logo for Anthem fades back in, with it's release date listed as "Coming 2018".
The conference ended with a highlight reel set to music of all the games revealed and more, capping off a seriously long showcase for Microsoft.
So what did you think? Did you think Xbox's E3 briefing was a hit? Or was your favorite title missing from their lineup? Let us know down below, and we'll continue to keep you posted on E3 news as it happens for the rest of the week.