With less than a week until the gaming industry's premiere trade show – the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3 for short – speculation among fans and journalists across the internet has grown to insurmountable heights. This period of time each year has sort of become the unofficial holiday season for gamers in which anything and everything is possible, and we all secretly fill out our respective wish lists and cross our fingers for games and products that we hope to see.
Expectations tend to get a bit out of hand this time of year, so I thought it may be helpful to produce an in-depth guide of what to expect at E3's various press conferences. Beginning with Microsoft, this article will be discussing all of the games and potential new Xbox hardware that we are likely to see; some of the titles and consoles which may make an appearance, and even a handful of rumored products you probably shouldn't hold your breath for. Don't worry Nintendo and Sony Playstation fans, your guides are on their way and will be available in the next couple of days, but today is dedicated to everything Microsoft and Xbox.
Here is your Preview to Microsoft's E3 Press Conference for 2016!
When, Where, and How to Watch
When: Monday, June 13th at 9:30 AM PDT
Where/How: Microsoft's E3 Press Conference will be available for streaming live on these various platforms: live on Spike TV and streaming on both IGN and GameSpot's respective websites, the Xbox Live Events Player on the Xbox One as well as the Xbox 360, in addition to Microsoft's Twitch Channel.
What to Expect: Sure Bets
Virtual Reality (VR): One theme that will most certainly be prevalent at this year's E3 conference is the integration of virtual reality as a medium for gaming. Hailed by many in the industry as "the next big thing," VR for home use looks to receive a large push during various press briefings, and expect Microsoft's presentation to be no different. It has been rumored that the relationship between Oculus and Microsoft could take another big step forward by integrating the two together in the highly rumored Xbox console, codenamed "Scorpio," but we will talk more about that later in this article.
Xbox Slim: One of the two all but confirmed Microsoft consoles, and the one we are most likely to see at this year's E3, is the Xbox Slim. The Xbox Slim is reportedly a sleeker version of the Xbox One – about 40% smaller according to most rumors – and could potentially ship with 2 TB of internal storage. The price drops of the current Xbox One models serve to corroborate this speculation and has some believing that the Slim could in fact see a release as early as this month. Whether or not all of that is factual remains to be seen, but with that said, you should most certainly expect an announcement concerning a slimmer Xbox One during Microsoft's E3 press conference.
New First Party Games: Microsoft's press conferences in the past have been known to be game centric, and while that may sound extremely obvious, the company's competitors have been known to veer off topic from time to time. Still, even with talk of new consoles on the horizon in the very near future, fans should still prepare themselves for a number of new titles to be shown. In addition to obvious third party games – Battlefield 1, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Titanfall 2, Watch Dogs 2, Red Dead Redemption 2, etc. – Xbox faithful should expect at least a mention of the following exclusives: Halo Wars 2, ReCore, Gears of War 4, Crackdown 3, Sea of Thieves, and Forza Horizon 3.
Halo Wars 2 has recently become a sure bet with the numerous reports stating that this title will be available to demo on both Xbox and PC on the E3 show floor. One of the most mysterious, and equally, one of the most intriguing games on this list of Xbox exclusives is ReCore. This title fascinated fans with its announcement last year, and has since gone on to serve as nothing more than a giant question mark. Expect to here some details concerning the new IP at E3 2016.
Also, expect Microsoft to heavily rely on Gears of War 4. Gears of War is one of Xbox's biggest flagship franchises not named "Halo." With a release date slated for October of 2016, it is a safe bet to assume a major presence from this title at Microsoft's E3 presentation next week. The recent trailer for Crackdown 3 basically confirmed its attendance at E3 2016. With a multiplayer beta coming this summer, there is absolutely no way Microsoft is letting this game stay home.
It has been almost a year now since we heard anything about Sea of Thieves, so its high time to get some more information. Gamers are hungry for another game from Rare, and Sea of Thieves looks like it could certainly satisfy. Forza Horizon 3 might be the least likely bet on this list of Xbox exclusives, but that said, there is still an extremely high probability that we will see some information on the next entry into the Forza franchise. With reports stating that Microsoft will be holding a special Forza event at this year's E3, fans should definitely expect to hear some news about the series' latest racing title.
What to Expect: It Could Happen
Xbox Scorpio: The latest Xbox console, codenamed "Scorpio," has been speculated like crazy since its reported leak more than a month ago. Claiming to contain four times the internal power of the current console, 4K capabilities, and of course VR support, the Scorpio is just about the only thing Xbox fans have been able to talk about the last few weeks – other than Overwatch that is. Honestly, I have a real hard time trying to figure out whether or not I think that Microsoft is going to take this opportunity to reveal this latest version of their Xbox console. On one hand, it seems unwise to announce a massively upgraded console at this time for fear of hurting sales for the current iteration of the Xbox One, or potentially even the Slim version which is almost certainly a bullet point for their upcoming presentation. Still, it is hard to believe that Microsoft will idly stand by as their biggest competitor, Sony, announces their next project, especially considering how far behind they already are in the ongoing console race in terms of units sold.
Project Helix: Project Helix refers to Microsoft's plan to more or less unify their PC and Xbox gaming markets. By releasing titles – Halo 5's Forge and Forza 6 – on the Windows Store, integrating Windows 10 into the Xbox One, and the announcement that both Sea of Thieves and Halo Wars 2 will be coming to both PC and home consoles, many believe that the first steps have already been taken. Not much is actually known about Project Helix at this point in time, but some in the industry speculate that future games will be playable on both PC and home consoles, and that the Xbox will soon become an ever expanding piece of hardware that sees regular updates and upgrades rather than a completely new gaming box every five to seven years.
This seems like a big transition for console gamers, so right now might not be the best time to break the news. A gradual approach may be the best way for Microsoft to go about easing the consumer into this transitory phase. The slow integration seems to be working well so far. Referring to Project Helix in a round about way does seem to be the most likely scenario, rather than a more bold reveal. That said, with rumors concerning the Scorpio already circulating rather rapidly across the web, perhaps it is time to just rip the band-aid off already.
Microsoft/Sony Partnership: With cross-platform play fairing relatively well with Rocket League, it is certainly possible that we could see more titles opt for this cooperative, multi-console brand of play. Neither Microsoft nor Sony wants to appear as the bad guy so this game of chicken might end in both companies combining their relative networks and allowing cross-platform play for more future games such as Blizzard's latest hit Overwatch.
What to Expect: Don't Hold Your Breath
Xbox One-Two: The name alone is pretty ridiculous, but labels aside, it simply does not make sense to abandon a generation of Xbox gamers. Scorpio should be looked at as an upgrade and probably not a whole new console. Microsoft would most likely not dare alienate their faithful audience by announcing a brand new gaming system this early into the life cycle of their current hardware. Xbox may be getting walloped by Sony's Playstation in terms of sales thus far, but is still performing relatively well regardless of its competition.
That just about wraps up the preview for Microsoft's E3 2016 press conference. What games, hardware, and announcements do you hope finally get revealed? Make sure to let me know all of your thoughts and predictions in the comments section and stay tuned here for more E3 previews and news.