Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Xbox @ E3

Sorry for the delay, internet trouble delayed our articles. Microsoft had a solid e3 this year and there was a certain confidence in the presentation. lets break down the news.

Integration Everywhere
There was a defiantly different tone to this years E3, Microsoft trailing behind their rival seems to of made them look in and change things up. The first thing that hit us was there new initiative "play anywhere" which isn't game streaming, instead it's cross buy, cross play, and cross save initiative between Xbox One and Windows 10. It appears that all of Microsoft's upcoming exclusives will be part of the initiative. If you buy the digital version of any of these titles from either the Windows Store or Xbox Store you get it for the other store for free. Your saves and achievements freely flow between the two platforms. Even the new controller with the Xbox One S (more on that in a moment) features wireless and Bluetooth tech, which allows it to be used across devices.

Even Minecraft is enjoying an greater integration with all the mobile versions (Win 10, Android, iOS and Gear VR) are now enabled with cross play via Xbox Live, achievements and compatibility with Minecraft Realms (dedicated servers so your friends can access your world even if your offline).

This integration focus was an important set up to this next bit.

Hardware for All

First up was the Xbox One S, A slimmed down version of the Xbox One The 40% smaller size isn't the only change. First the S will feature 4k video support for those who have lovely 4k TVs, HDR game support which is basically bringing contrast and colours closer to the human eye. (More Details on HDR HERE), The new pad can be customised on their website (which isn't active yet) and as mentioned before isn't limited to the Xbox.

Some additional information that hit later, The S features an IR blaster (so your Xbox acts as a remote) because the S dose not have the Kinect port but the there will be a USB adapter for upgrading users.

The Xbox One S have a staggered launch of its three flavours 500GB - £249,  1TB £299 and 2TB £349 (for comparison fat Xbox One is £229 for the 500GB and £256 for 1TB on Amazon) with the 2TB launching in August. The others should filter in by Christmas.

The Xbox Scropio was their final announcement that we'll talk about early. As you can see third party devs are excited for the prospect of console this powerful featuring a 6 Teraflop GPU (I'll post a graph shortly for easy comparisons) and an 8 core CPU. In realistic terms you're looking at 5 to 6 time the power of an Xbox One.

As you can you see the Xbox Scorpio is an entire PS4's worth more powerful than the leaked specs, of cause there is nothing stopping Sony from pushing more power before either system launches next year.

In terms of features Microsoft wants the Scorpio to handle games at 4k without up-scaling and run VR without stripping down the graphics or functionality matching the PC VR experience. MS didn't reveal if they will be launching their own headset or will be stepping up their partnership with Oculus. There is an interesting counter point regarding VR, during the video Tod Howard mentions bringing Fallout VR to it but its currently being said that its Vive exclusive.

Bringing the first part of the article back again. Microsoft has confirmed the Xbox One, Xbox One S, And Xbox Scorpio will share the same game library and accessories. After the event confirmed that non-Scorpio optimised games will run on the new machine games should also benefit from the extra grunt especially games that use unlocked frame rates and/or dynamic resolution such as Witcher 3 and Halo 5, these games on Scorpio will run at their maximum FPS and/or resolution. [NOTE: Currently Sony is saying that games without a "Neo"mode will not run on their machine BUT this could easily change

There are some concerns though. Obviously price comes screaming to mind the specs alone will push it in the £500- £700 bracket (£500 being an extremely generous estimation assume AMD Polaris tech) and that's assuming there isn't an VR (headset/motion control) component included in the box. I also worry about competitive play with original X1's and the S. 4k players would effectively have longer/clearer line of sight than their... lesser siblings. Lastly Microsoft's language suggests that there will be more "families" beyond the Xbox One suggesting they are shifting to a similar launch pattern as iPhone and Galaxy phones, hopefully they create clear cut off points for the systems.

Anyway on to the games

Gears 4

Gears showed of some campaign co-op on stage, the level in question show cased some pretty extreme weather that makes us question why people ever settled on that world. Microsoft confirmed that PC and Xbox players will be be able to play co-op modes together including the all new Horde 3.0, sadly we did not see horde in action. Microsoft also announced Gears 4 will support HDR on Xbox One S and showed off a bloody Gears edition of the Elite pad. It's since been confirmed pre-ordering Gears 4 nets you the 4 360 games

Sea of Thieves

Easily my highlight of the show, Rares first "real" game since Nutz 'n' Boltz impressed us no end. The games highly stylized graphics defy the tutorial free multiplayer. Its shaping up to be an fantstic multiplayer experience. Honestly its hard to discus it with out showing you, so check out the gameplay footage below.


Scalebound also impressed with a co-op (yes the game features 4 player dragon rider co-op) boss fight featuring Platinum games largest ever boss fight, which will certain make Bayonetta 2 fans pay attention. It's till unclear how much of the game is actually co-op, it appears to be limited to boss fights but that seems awkward to set up if everyone is doing something else in game.

Interestingly Scalebound was previously confirmed as Xbox exclusive is coming to the Play Anywhere imitative. Now it's possible that the game could come to Steam but I suspect it will be exclusive to the Windows Store.

Forza Horizon 3

Forza made its traditional appearance, however it wasn't the usual show and tell. Microsoft used Forza Horizon 3 to show case the Play Anywhere imitative. You had four players each playing FH3 on a different set up; Xbox One, Xbox One S, a mid-range PC (using an X1S pad) and a top of the range 4k PC with a steering wheel. Each player was doing their own stuff in their own worlds before the X1 player sent out an invite for the game's co-op enabled campaign. The invite was answered by the other three stage players. It was pretty cool to see them all play together.

FH3 is set in Australia and looks absolutely glorious even on the old rickety Xbox One (I jest), they seem to be using the setting to its fullest with players racing through cities, deserts and jungles. Which combined with co-op gave us all at GK-UK Top Gear flashes.

Dead Rising 4

Dead Rising 4 is a true sequel and not a remake as previously rumoured, though both Dead Rising 1's star (the surprisingly young looking 54 year old) Frank West and and setting Willamette do return. This new entry sees Frank "I've covered wars you know" West return to Willamette mall in a fresh outbreak around Black Friday (hey that's familiar) so there is plenty of Christmas zombie joy to be had. The new game world isn't just the old one jazzed up, DR4's world is described as 60% mall and 40% city. DR4 will feature even more crazy weapons (including an exosuit) but to counter this there are more zombie types, well 3. The Horde: The classic Dead Rising shambling corpses. The fresh: these are only recently turned zombies and as such they are faster and can follow Frank up and over obstacles. Finally the EVO: which appear to be human/zombie hybrids which are being likened to Jurassic Park's Raptors, with them being able to work together and with the horde, letting the masses wear you down and strike when your weakened. Another addition is Frank's ability to take selfies which according to the press at E3 is an hilarious edition. Dead Rising 4 will launch this year... at Christmas ins't that lucky!

State of Decay

State of Decay was one of my favourite games on X1, you may remember us mentioning it.... several times. Microsoft treated us with a trailer for the sequel with the tagline: Nobody survives alone. Which got our hopes up for co-op the only clearing omission from the original game.

Undead Labs quickly confirmed SoD 2 will feature 4 player co-op, with "guests" playing as survivors from their own game saves and get to take a share of the rewards back. I can't explain how much I am want to play this game, to share the inky viscus dread with three others will be the best bounding/torment.

Halo Wars 2

Creative Assembly (Total War) and 343i's follow up is shaping up pretty well, MS is saying that fan demand is the main reason for the spin off's resurrection. There is a public beta live right now and the game will launch properly February 21st (FYI Feb '17 is going be crazy busy)

Its being reported that those who pre-order will get Halo Wars: Definitive Edition for Xbox One and PC suggesting that this isn't a bundled 360 game but an remaster.

Xbox Live Update

MS announced a trio of new features coming to Xbox Live: Clubs: kinda like Facebook groups, used as an area for you to find like minded Gamer., Looking for Group: seems to exist as an dig at Destiny's lack of Raid matchmaking. You'll be able to post "adverts" saying exactly what your looking for in a group and people can "sign up" if they feel they meet your requirements. Finally there is Arena which is fairly self explanatory Tournament system but importantly these wont be limited to just publishers as Gamers themselves can set up and run their own tournaments

Assorted other stuff
Here we are at the end of our round up and heres a splattering of stuff not covered above

  • Tekken 7 IS coming to X1 in 2017, Tekken Tag 2 is currently free for Gold members.
  • Playdead's new game Inside will launch June 29th, Their first game Limbo is free on Xbox One
  • Witcher's Gwent is getting it's own game! 
  • Final Fantasy XV has a gameplay footage to show off the games new combat... it went badly.
  • Recore will launch this September and looks... good but slightly indie. 
  • Whilst Phantom Dust reboot is dead Microsoft is remastering the orginal for Xbox One
And thats about it really, here lets end on the new controller's multiple looks

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