At its 2016 E3 press conference this year, Microsoft had hardware announcements, software announcements, game announcements, and even announcements about announcements. Whew. Good thing there were lots of shiny trailers. We've rounded up the best of the best of those announcements and trailers right here for you.
Xbox One S
It wouldn't be E3 without another console announcement. The next-generation Xbox One S is 40% smaller than the current Xbox One and comes with a 2TB hard drive as well as Ultra HD video output (a.k.a., 4K). The newly redesigned controller can be custom designed into one of over eight million combinations through the new Xbox Design Lab. The price starts as low as $299, and it's available starting as soon as this August.
Microsoft dropped a surprise announcement for 2017's holiday season in the form of a 4k-enabled, VR-ready Xbox Scorpio console. This beast is for cutting-edge gamers who are ready to not only pay top dollar for a top-end box but also a 4K TV (not cheap) and a VR headset (likey Oculus Rift). That's going to be a rather large chunk of change. We're not even sure yet which games will take advantage of these beefy specs other than Fallout 4 VR. Expect a lot of announcements surrounding this console and related titles at E3 2017.
Not to be outdone by all the hardware announcements, the software side of Xbox had quite a few new features to roll out as well. First Microsoft announced Clubs, which are like clans or guilds, for later this year. You can invite players into Clubs, and they persist outside of any individual game. You can manage who joins and who can get kicked as well as assign moderators.
Also planned for later this year is the new Looking-for-Group functionality. This allows the player to use the Xbox One (or an app) to post a "looking for a group" ad to encourage other players to group together in a particular game. You can add parameters to filter the kinds of players you want in your group (have a mic, be at a certain rank, no trash talking, etc.) and then pick among those that apply. Posts can be created on Game Hub or in Clubs.
Xbox Live is also making a push into eSports with its new Arena initiative. This online tournament platform will help you find, register, and compete in eSports as well as report on results and award prizes. Games that it will work with initially include Killer Instinct, Gears of War 4, Halo Wars 2, World of Tanks, Smite, and H1Z1: King of the Kill with FIFA in the works as well.
Whew, now that we got all that out of the way let's talk about some of the games Microsoft announced at its press conference. This won't be all of them but the ones that caught our eyes as the most exciting.
'Halo Wars 2'
A new multiplayer trailer rolled out showing massive battles that Halo players have come to know and love. And though the game doesn't come out until next year, you can play in the beta from now until June 20th.
Halo Wars 2 is set to release February 21, 2017.
'Sea of Thieves'
This naval battle game stole the show at the press conference with its adorable graphics and its fun live gameplay demo. Who knew co-op plundering on the high seas would be so much fun? Now we do. Due later this year.
'Dead Rising 4'
Dead Rising is back and this time with some holiday cheer. Well, if your idea of holiday cheer is candy-cane crossbows and fire-breathing dino heads. It is for Frank West, and that's why we love him. Check out his trailer and see what Santa has left you under the tree for the latest installment in this zombie-killing franchise, due to be out later this year.
'We Happy Few'
This British-themed world of totalitarianism and creepiness makes for one compelling trailer. In a world where the populace is kept perpetually happy and docile with drugs, you stop taking yours and see the truth. Now you're on the run and, as you might guess, it's all downhill from there. We can't wait to see more. No release date yet, but an Xbox preview is coming soon.
The Witcher 3 had a few things going for it, but who knew the breakout would be a side card game meant to keep players busy? Now it's going to be a standalone TCG a la Hearthstone. It will have both a single-player campaign mode and a multiplayer mode that will work between Xbox and PC. Closed beta starts in September and players can sign up for it on the playgwent.com site.
The procedural behemoth had quite a few surprises for the crowd. The game has been connected across all platforms, so now players can group with their friends no matter what device they are playing on — it's all part of what the developers are calling, "The Friendly Update." Developers are also introducing dedicated servers called "Minecraft Realms" for players to host their worlds on so that the creator of the world doesn't need to be online for their friends to log in and play in that world.
Add-ons which let you change mobs and animals into something different are coming to Minecraft Pocket and Windows 10 this fall as well. In an alien-invasion-themed texture pack demo, the Minecraft team showed zombies reskinned as aliens.
This game looked great at last year's E3 and only looks better this year. Joule and her robotic canine companion Mack are joined by even more robots in this mash-up of Destiny, Halo, and Star Wars. ReCore will be released on September 13th for both Xbox One and Windows 10.
'Gears of War 4'
This Xbox One exclusive will also run on Windows 10 machines in a new initiative from Microsoft. It comes with lots of goodies for fans of the franchise, including a themed Xbox Elite Wireless Controller and General Raam as a playable character. Gears of War 4 will be released on October 11th.