Microsoft’s E3 Conference Review

Microsoft kicked off last Monday’s marathon of press conferences with what I feel was a solid showing that reminded me that the Xbox One is a system worth owning because of the interesting games, both AAA and indie. In the weeks leading up to E3 there were reports of a more powerful Xbox One, codenamed “Scorpio,” and a slimmed down version of the Xbox One. We were waiting for E3 to see if Microsoft would acknowledge these rumors at their press conference.

Unsurprisingly, Microsoft showed many of their biggest titles set to release both this fall and beyond. Gears of War 4 saw a more impressive demo than ones in the past with the classic Lancer and cover-based combat. We saw JD Fenix and his crew fighting The Swarm in the middle of a vicious windstorm. The team survive the horrid weather and make for shelter. For me, it looks like more of the same, but bigger Gears of War fans will certainly be excited. The game looks great and it was cool seeing an older Marcus Fenix at the end of the showcase. How much he’ll play a role in the game is unclear, but nostalgia may be something Microsoft is going for. The new disc-like gun also looked fun as it looks to slice through enemies like a hot knife in butter and I appreciate seeing new weapons to help break the monotony.

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One of my most anticipated Xbox One titles is Sea of Thieves and I was curious not only if it would be shown, but what we would see from Rare and if it was worth getting excited for. The answer is yes! Sea of Thieves has a cartoony art style to fit the silliness of adventuring on the open waters with your crew mates. Minus the three separate teams that were shown in the trailer, I love how everyone has a role when preparing your ship to sail or manning the defenses while under attack. It seems like communication is key and I believe it’ll be effective, whether you’re playing with friends or random people. It also has ship combat similar to Assassin’s Creed IV and I hope that plays a large part in the full game. I feel people should be excited for Sea of Thieves because it’s Rare using their creativity again.

Forza Horizon 3 was shown off like we see each year now as the series shifts between its Motorsport and Horizon series’. Although I prefer the Motorsport, non-open Forza games, I enjoyed Forza Horizon 2 and 3’s locale immediately grabbed my attention. Horizon 3 shows a beautiful landscape with lush forests, pristine waters and hot deserts. I doubt we’ll see wildlife running around but it’s a nice touch. I’m guessing the game takes place in Australia based on the scenery and that alone is enticing enough for me to buy Horizon 3, just so I can take a quiet drive and embrace a beautiful setting as the backdrop to my nightly cruise.

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My favorite part of the Xbox conference was the plethora of amazing looking indies shown off. We Happy Few looks like Bioshock with its dystopian and creepy atmosphere. It’ll surely be memorable based on the trailer we saw. Inside looks similar to Limbo in its vagueness and I want to explore that world. Recore, although I still don’t know what genre it is, looks quite fun with the ability to constantly switch out different robots for various uses. Smaller titles like Below, Cuphead and Deliver Us the Moon all look like promising games that deliver excellent gameplay and memorable vistas. Indie games have grown on me significantly over the last few years and Microsoft is doing an amazing job delivering plenty of interesting looking games.

Microsoft highlighted their show by announcing the Xbox One S which is 40 percent smaller than the current Xbox One. Its white design is beautiful. This news wasn’t as surprising because it was leaked prior to E3. Though the company claims all three models of the Xbox One will coexist with one another, I’m curious to see how they handle several consoles available for consumers. But most importantly, Phil Spencer acknowledged and introduced us to the newest, most powerful console, “Project Scorpio.” This announcement was complemented with a short video of numerous developers talking about how gamers will be excited with the system’s ability to produce 4K visuals, a consistent framerate and how it’s going to be a system worth owning. The Xbox Scorpio sounds like a great idea and hopefully it’s easy for developers to work with so they can make their games the best they can be on consoles. It seems to be a big step forward for consoles and hopefully things work out for Microsoft with this risk. For me, it all comes down to pricing and accessibility, otherwise the Xbox Scorpio is a huge deal for console gamers. It’s supposed to release in holiday 2017.

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Overall, I thought Microsoft had an excellent conference that reassured me about owning the system. We’ll be receiving awesome titles like Tekken 7, Gears of War 4 and Scalebound, and great indies in Cuphead and We Happy Few. Phil Spencer and his team have done a tremendous job of selling the Xbox One thanks to its great library that is improving with each conference. They’re a creative group and I’ll gladly support them.


Brett Woodmansee is an editor for The Game Bolt and he loves RPGs, Chipotle and his beard. For tweets about video games, sports and more, follow him on Twitter.