E3

Xbox E3 2016 Preview and Predictions

E3 is always one of my favourite times of the year. Aptly put by Ryan McCaffrey of IGN, E3 is the Christmas of video game news. A mecca for the industry to show off what their extremely talented teams have been working so hard on. An opportunity to show the marketplace, fans, and the media what your brand is and why it is important (and more importantly, why you need it). I had some predictions from last year that actually came true, which is awesome. If you so choose, do a quick recap on what happened last year (You can read my full pre and post-E3 synopsis here and here respectively). That will give you a good idea of what is to come this year and next year, software wise.

 

Games:

I think that this list will be relatively in order of appearance, but that is not the point. Xbox has a ton of games up their sleeve this year. Expect games, games, and games for a full 2 hours, with only 1 hour dedicated to other announcements and hardware announcements.

Sea of Thieves – Rare

Sea of Thieves is still slated to be a 2016 release – I anticipate a full-blown gameplay reveal full of pirates, booze, and planks above sharks. This game will have a full open-beta that will release… RIGHT NOW (when they announce it). And the full-game will come out December 2016. Always-online, persistent world that players can explore with friends or alone. Treasures to find, ships to blast cannonballs through…

Scalebound – Platinum Games

Scalebound is slated for 2017, but we will see a more refined gameplay clip than what we saw last year. The game will look great, run smoothly, and will get a firm March 2017 release date. The public eye will be much more confident in Scalebound than they were last year.

Re-Core – Armature and Comcept

Re-Core will be pushed back to 2017. On that note, they will also show the first gameplay footage that is unique, stylized, and will look to be coming along very well. Honestly, I have no idea what this game even is still. This presentation will be very telling as to the quality of this game. The makers of the Metroid Prime series is on this game, so I have extremely high hopes for this.

Halo 5: Guardians Future Content – 343i

Bonnie Ross from 343i will come to the stage and talk about all of the content that Halo 5: Guardians has added since launch. We will get a full-blown reveal of what the Warzone Firefight addition will include, as well as a content schedule for the next 6 months to close out the content schedule for Halo 5.

Halo 3 Anniversary Edition – Saber Interactive, Certain Affinity, Blur Studio

Halo 3 is coming up on 10 years next September. In honour of that, it will be given the Anniversary treatment just like Halo CE and Halo 2 was given. It will be fully, completely redone just like Halo 2 and will be made by the same teams. The kicker is, that it will be DLC for Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Players can purchase the remaster for $20, and includes a fully redone campaign, multiplayer maps, and more. It will launch April 2016 in preparation for it.

Halo Wars 2 – The Creative Assembly and 343i

Halo Wars 2 is already confirmed by 343i to be shown and playable at E3. There will be a massive campaign reveal, as well as a glimpse of an epic 4vs4 multiplayer  match that uses the power of the cloud! to allow for more units on screen than ever before. We get a solid September 2016 release date.

Halo 6: Reclamation – 343i

Similar to the Poncho Chief teaser for Halo 5, we will get something eerily similar for Halo 6, and they will call it Reclamation since it will signal the end of the Reclaimer trilogy. Immediately, we see humanity once again on its heels as Cortana and this new forerunner Guardian army marches effortlessly towards Earth. Oh yeah, and the halo rings? Cortana found the rest of them and they are lit. Halo 6 will launch in 2017.

Gears of War 4 – The Coalition

The Gears 4 beta was excellent, and I anticipate instead of focusing on multiplayer they will focus entirely on a massive campaign reveal, showing off the impressive graphical fidelity, framerate, art style, colour, and depth of the game. We already know Gears 4 will come out in October this year.

Dead Rising 4 – Capcom

This one is already being rumoured, but it makes sense for Dead Rising 4 to show up this year and make a big splash. Dead Rising 3 was good (especially among the mediocre launch lineup of both the PS4 and XB1), but Dead Rising 4 goes back to its roots and puts players in a more confined, intimate space. No release date will be given.

Indie Game Showcase – Various

We will see the likes of Below, Cuphead, and more and many will be given firm release dates, some even coming out this summer.

RYSE 2 – Crytek

RYSE, despite its problems, remains a very solid game with a lot of potential for future entries. Crytek has been quiet of late since their scandal, and I could see a RYSE 2 coming to life, especially after RYSE’s great sales for a new original IP. RYSE 2 will launch in February 2017.

Forza Horizon 3 – Playground Games and Turn 10 Studios

We know Forza is going to be there. If the cyclical clock of the series remains true, then this year is Forza Horizon’s turn for a new entry. September 2016 release date. 1080p, 60fps, persistent open world mode where players interact with each other. Largest map to date.

Star Wars – Visceral Games

We see the first reveal of Star Wars 1313 (or whatever it will be called). It will end off the part where Peter Moore comes out on stage and talks about EA Access for 10 minutes.

Crackdown 3 – Reagent Games

Crackdown 3 is slated to begin Summer 2016 if we are to listen to the trailer from last year’s E3 and Gamescon. Crackdown 3 will launch a multiplayer Beta in July and it will run until August on both PC and Xbox One, allowing for cross-play between the two games and cross-buy as well. The full game will launch in November this year.

Battletoads – Rare

A brief teaser trailer for a Battletoads reboot will be shown, nothing major. The crowd goes wild. Marty Sliva from IGN will then proceed to jump off the nearest balcony.

Red Dead – Rockstar  San Diego

Room goes black. Western music cues. Horses running. Shots fired. Logo appears on screen. Crowd goes insane. October 2016.

Battlefield 1 – DICE

Call of Duty has a deal with PlayStation, so Battlefield (whom is already aligned with Xbox) will be shown at Xbox’s conference. Actual 64 player multiplayer footage will be shown, as well as a very personal, intimate campaign.

New Intellectual Property (Exclusive Game)

It is always so hard to predict what new games will be announced that have never had an entry before. Xbox is sure to announce something brand spankin’ new just like they did last year with Scalebound and Re-Core. The real question is, who is developing it? Is it a newly acquired 1st party studio? Maybe a dedicated external developer who is ok developing on one platform kind of like Remedy Games? Only time will tell.

Sunset Overdrive 2 – Insomniac

Last but certainly not least, we hear a can of pop opening. The stage turns bright orange. We hear a terrible attempt at an epic introduction. And then the main character busts through the screen and breaks the fourth wall and flat out says this is Sunset Overdrive 2, all while the video is still playing in the background. We get a 2017 release date, as well as a cringe-worthy trailer that everyone loves. New city, open world for multiple players to explore, and more weapons. And OD.

Hardware

Current Xbox One Price Drop – $249

Along with this, they will ensure that all past, present, and future Xbox One games will continue to run as expected and designed on the original hardware.

Xbox Slim – $299

This is as sure as a sure thing as apples make apple juice. Regardless of the countless of credible rumours swirling around about this, it makes sense for Xbox to re-launch their platform with a slim console. New look, apparently 40% smaller, possibly no disc tray (but I don’t believe that), much more standard storage (rumoured 2TB), and likely a faster and smoother overall performance. Also, it will come in a standard White with Green accents colour scheme. It will come out the next week!

The New Xbox – $499

This is also very likely, but not necessarily for this year’s E3 conference. However, with Sony primed to reveal their PS4K console, Microsoft is forced to respond with their own upgraded hardware. The key factor here is that Microsoft goes first at E3 every  year, and instead of Microsoft responding to the initial PS4 launch a few months after the announcement, Microsoft has the opportunity to strike first with their new hardware. That plays a very key part in the consumers mind, all of a sudden Microsoft has the chance to announce more powerful hardware, better features, and an overall better console capable of 4K gaming and content, and then Sony has to respond. If Sony doesn’t have specs at least on par with what Microsoft says, they will be in a similar position that the Xbox One was at launch with the general consumer knowing that one system in inferior. This system will launch in Fall 2017, it will play all former, current, and future Xbox One games, and the OG Xbox One will be able to play every game coming out this generation at the intended framerate. All the 4K console does is speed up load times and upscale to 4k.

Also, the new Xbox One will integrate some kind of Virtual Reality. Many sources claim that Oculus Rift will partner with Xbox and that the new more powerful Xbox will be capable of running Oculus. Why develop your own VR headset when you can partner with one of the most powerful VR headsets out there? There is an existing partnership between Xbox and Oculus, as every Oculus Rift comes packaged with an Xbox One wireless controller. It makes a lot of sense to me.

Xbox Stream – $99, $199

This has also been heavily rumoured, and I think it is a safe bet. Xbox wants to get into everyone’s living room, but not everyone is a gamer and needs a $300+ Xbox. Enter the Xbox Stream. These devices, one more like a Google Chromecast and the other more like an Apple TV, will allow people to begin to play Xbox Games on their TV, stream their favourite content, and generally replace any kind of set-top box currently in the living room. The Stream Stick option will be able too play any UWP app, stream some basic games off of your internet connection, and most importantly, stream directly from an Xbox One on the same internet connection to a different HDMI device. The more expensive Xbox Stream will be able to stream full games off of your internet connection. These devices will launch in the fall.

New Standard Xbox Controller

I think that along with the new colour scheme on the Xbox Slim, there will be a new standard controller launching and it will feature the grips that are currently on the back of the Lunar White Xbox One controller, a white and green accent finish, and will feature a rechargeable battery back and cord standard, just like the PS4 controller does.

Other  Announcements

Backwards Compatible Xbox 360 Games

It makes sense to announce a new launch of some backwards compatible games. I’m thinking Skate 3 finally gets the nod, as well as the rest of the Mass Effect trilogy now that they have multiple disc games figured out, Fable Anniversary, and more.

Backwards Compatible Xbox (original) Games

This will launch with the Windows Anniversary Update that is coming out in July. Users will be able to download their OG Xbox games from the games store, as well as install the game from a disc if they still have it.

Universal Window Platform (UWP)

Speaking of the Windows Anniversary Update, Xbox will surely talk about some of the great apps coming to Xbox One because of this. VLC, mouse and keyboard support, and generally full-PC functionality should all be expected.

Xbox One Shares Exclusive Library with PC

Lastly, to show their commitment to PC gaming, Phil Spencer will  come on stage and announce that all future Xbox One exclusive games will also be on the Windows store on PC. Cross-buy and cross-play will be up to the developer to decide.

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