E3 2016: Microsoft Press Conference Overall Review: 8/10 The first 14 talking points were all 2016 announcements with gameplay showcased. I’ve been asking for a shorter news cycle for years and Microsoft nailed it with a steady stream of gameplay footage and relatively close announcements. They bookended the conference with hardware announcement (one which is needed and the other questionable) and managed to include some interesting software enhancements to Xbox Live. Not everything shown was stellar for everyone, but there was something for everybody present. The pace was perfect and this is how a conference should be structured. For better or worse, MS is doubling down on Windows 10 gaming. Every game mentioned is playable on Windows 10 meaning the Xbox One has no true exclusives going forward. Freebies announced during the conference include – Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Limbo, Halo Wars 2 Beta and Killer Instinct General Raam. Xbox One S Skip – Slim version of the Xbox One with 2TB hard drive, HDR graphics, and no Kinect port available this August for $299. This is the best version of the Xbox One you can purchase – and you shouldn’t. Project Scorpio is coming Holiday 2017 and if you’ve waited this long, you should wait another year. Gears of War 4 Buy – Solid gameplay trailer showcases that this is Gears of War gameplay from beginning to end. Don’t expect to be won over if you aren’t a fan of the franchise but if you enjoy the others you will fit right at home. New weapons include a buzz-saw gun where projectiles bounce around the environment. Killer Instinct Skip – General Raam from Gears of War joins Season 3. Forza Horizon 3 Skip – Cross-play between Windows 10 and Xbox One with jump in co-op. Graphics are spectacular with real-world weather effects. ReCore Buy – Charming platformer we saw last year. Gameplay trailer reveals this game is a mid-tier title with a mixture of exploration, combat and traversal. Doesn’t look to promise anything groundbreaking but a solid understanding of gameplay fundamentals. This is a solid exclusive for Xbox One and Windows 10. Final Fantasy XV Skip – The boy band gathers together to fight Titan in this gameplay demo and the combat looks slow. The character spends as much time walking around as actually engaging in the battle. The scale is epic, but the execution looks uninteresting. The Division DLC N/A – More Division for you to enjoy. Microsoft wisely showed the trailer and didn’t spend much time discussing what it meant or the impact on the community. Battlefield 1 Skip – Literally the same trailer as shown during the EA conference. This is sloppy. Xbox Live Updates N/A – Background music can be selected. Players can choose their language and region separately now (which sounds like something that should have always been there). Clubs allow grouping and communities on Xbox Live. LFG features will be enabled for all games. Arena mode will help organize tournaments. Minecraft Skip – New ad-on texture packs will update the environment and NPC characters. Turn the zombies into aliens. Turn the villagers into MBI-style agents. Microsoft’s cash cow will now produce even more revenue. Continuing the theme of cross-play you can now interact with all platforms in the same Minecraft world – Xbox, PC and mobile specifically called out…though “all platforms” should include PSN systems. Xbox Controllers Skip – Customizable buttons, color pallets, dpads – basically anything in the controller can be modified and crafted by MS specifically for you…for the low, low price of $80. Or $90 if you want engraving. Not the Elite controller – just the basic. Inside Skip – From the creator of Limbo comes a CGI trailer that tells the player absolutely nothing. We Happy Few Skip – First on Xbox, will arrive on PS4 eventually. This indie title appears heavily story driven and scripted as you control a character losing their mind (finding their mind) in this dystopian society. Game instantly looks like the indie version of BioShock. Gwent Skip – The Witcher 3 minigame which everyone fell in love with will be a standalone title. If you enjoyed Gwent, this will be a game you should pick up. Tekken 7 Skip – Akuma from Street Fighter joins the Tekken universe. Cutscenes will transition directly into battle segments for the next installment of this franchise. Dead Rising 4 Skip – Dead Rising 3 electric bugaboo. Gameplay trailer showcases wacky weapons and mass zombie destruction set against the backdrop of Christmas. Scalebound Rent – This trailer goes head to head with FFXV and wins. Both feature a giant boss-battle with a co-op team but the interaction and epicness of Scalebound set it as the victor. Scalebound is developed by Platinum Games who have been in a slump lately, but they have had years to turn this title into greatness. Sea of Thieves Skip – First they show a CGI trailer that means nothing. Then they follow-up with actual gameplay but decide to include a Let’s Play style perspective and commentary that lessen the impact of the game. Looks like you need to play cooperatively to pirate a ship across the seven seas – but I typically prefer to play alone. Finding groups is a pain. State of Decay 2 Skip – CGI trailer of zombie destruction. Halo Wars 2 Rent – RTS title set in the Halo universe. Beta is available now through June 20 so give it a shot for yourself to see if this is a title you will enjoy. Project Scorpio N/A – Holiday 2017. 6 Teraflops. The most beautiful pixels on a console ever. Microsoft is trying to adjust the course after PS4 trounced the Xbox One. Will it work? I don’t know – Phil specifically said that people wouldn’t be left behind who bought an Xbox One but that doesn’t instill me with lots of confidence. The ½ step generation is coming, whether we like or not. 2 Buys, 2 Rents and 14 Skips not to shabby for a scattershot of games. What do you think about the conference? Will you pick up an Xbox One S? Were you upset that Crackdown wasn’t there? Level Up, Friends!