Heading into this year’s E3, the Microsoft conference was arguably the most anticipated of them all.
The general consensus was that Project Scorpio, the super-powered 4K Xbox that was first teased at last year’s show, would be getting a release date, as well as that all-important price reveal. We already know that this thing is packing some serious tech (six teraflops, if you want to pretend you understand what that means), so all eyes were on what games the computing giant had planned for their next console.
Well, we can tell you that Microsoft showed off 42 titles, 22 of which were in some way exclusive to the Xbox brand. That’s a lot of video games. Rather than reel off every single announcement, we’ve pulled together a list of everything that really caught our eye. Starting with the shiny new machine itself...
Say goodbye to Project Scorpio, and hello to the Xbox One X
The most stonkingly powerful games console of all time (don’t expect Microsoft to tire of telling us that any time soon) is officially named the Xbox One X, which replaces the Scorpio codename the company has been using since they first unveiled it. The XOX – truly the first games console that sounds like an overly gushy text message sign-off.
After kicking off the conference with a snazzy trailer that showcased the console’s innards, we were treated to a brief rundown of some tech specs (only at E3 would you hear a crowd of people whooping like crazy at the words “liquid cooled vapor chamber”) before Xbox head Phil Spencer announced that the X would launch worldwide on November 7. It’ll cost £449.99, which is a good £100 more than the PS4 Pro. If you want the best, you’re going to have to fork out for it, but you only need one look at the games running on this thing to make it a very tempting proposition indeed.
And talking of games, here’s what got us the most excited.
Forza Motorsport 7
Forza games are always graphical showcases, so it’s no shock that Microsoft led with Forza Motorsport 7, which looks absolutely breathtaking. Running in native 4K at 60 frames per second, this is the game you want to show off your new Xbox One X’s immense processing grunt.
Forza Horizon 3 – with its superlative blend of arcade and simulation gameplay – was the best racing game of last year, but the mainline Motorsport series is what draws in the serious petrol-heads. That said, you don’t need to know the first thing about gearsticks to appreciate those jaw-dropping weather effects.
It launches on Xbox One X and its predecessor on October 3.
It wouldn’t be a video games show without some post-apocalyptic shooting, and Microsoft didn’t wait long before revealing Metro: Exodus, a sequel to 2013’s Metro: Last Light.
A lengthy and extremely pretty 4K gameplay trailer featured interesting environments, hideous mutants and some crowd-pleasing crossbow action.
Assassin’s Creed: Origins
A prequel to the now veteran stealth-action series, Assassin’s Creed: Origins bases itself in Ancient Egypt, confirming weeks of rumours.
You play as Ba Yek, who will somehow need to resist the urge to spend all his time sliding down pyramids and get to work on sneakily knocking off bad guys. In a pleasingly meaty gameplay reveal we saw the new protagonist send out his (playable) eagle to scope out the situation (who needs drones anyway), before getting a look at the game’s combat and assassinations. Right at the end, your boy Yek takes out a bad guy with what appears to be a homing arrow. Who knew the Egyptians were that technologically advanced?
State of Decay 2
Zombies! You’ve slaughtered so many in your gaming life that it’s now just instinctive.
That’s not to say State of Decay 2 looks like a run-of-the-mill take on an undead invasion; it looks bloody (literally) brilliant. In yet another hefty gameplay trailer it was very clear that you’re going to face every kind of zombie in the game: the useless crawling bullet sponges, the ones that sprint at you on four legs, the fat ones that explode into a cloud of gloriously disgusting pus when you hit the right spot. Base-building and game-changing moral dilemmas are also big features of a very appealing package.
The Last Night
We’ve watched the trailer for this at least five times now. It’s a timed Xbox exclusive that basically looks like Blade Runner in 16-bit, but sort of 3D as well. You’re already sold, aren’t you?
Sea of Thieves
We’ve had our eye on Rare’s open world multiplayer pirate-em-up for ages now, and it had by far its best showing to date at this year’s E3.
The cartoony ship battles still look great, but this year’s walkthrough saw the crew (you’re going to want to round up some mates for this one) explore underwater shipwrecks and head to the mainland – with appropriately cryptic map in hand – to search for hidden treasure. The emergent shared world gameplay means you should have a genuinely different experience every time you load it up, and this particular video concludes with our hapless buccaneer jumping straight into the slipstream of a hungry shark. Yo Ho.
Cuphead, the stunning retro platformer that looks like a 30’s cartoon has been in development for what feels like forever now, but we finally got a release date: September 29. Bring it on.
Another game a lot of people were hoping to see, and Terry Crews was on board to remind everyone it’s coming (November 7, exclusively to Xbox One) and it looks brilliant.
Stylish cel-shaded graphics, colourful explosions and hopping over entire buildings with a rocket launcher propped under your arm – Crackdown 3 has everything you expect from a series that’s been away for way too long.
Microsoft closed their breathlessly busy show with a first look at Anthem, the brand new game from Mass Effect creators BioWare.
And you can definitely see that series in the game, as well as dashings of Horizon Zero Dawn and Destiny. Not a bad combo. It’s a stupidly beautiful third-person shooter that looks even more fun with friends. Every player has a heavily-customisable exo suit which can be used to get the upper hand in combat while exploring the enormous and dynamic open world.
Honestly, watching the character in the demo soar through a stunningly-rendered tropical forest with a jetpack was probably the highlight of the show. We’ll probably have to wait ages for this one to come out, but that gives you plenty of time to upgrade to a 4K TV. This game is practically crying out for it.
Oh, and one more thing...
The mic drop moment right at the end of the conference (which we’re pretty sure drew the most emphatic cheer of the night) was the announcement that original Xbox games would be added to the Xbox One’s backwards compatibility arsenal later this year, and Phil Spencer promised that the old games would look better on the new consoles.
We’ll be covering every major press conference throughout the week. For a lot more E3 content, head over to http://e3.game.co.uk/