Last week, Microsoft invited journalists to San Francisco for a sneak peek at some of the latest titles coming to the Xbox One and Windows platforms. In addition to the company’s first-party titles, there were a handful of games available from various publishers, and even Oculus was present at the event. If you missed our recent coverage of the Xbox Spring Showcase, here’s a quick recap of what we saw.
Microsoft’s PC Gaming Plans
Mike Ybarra, Xbox’s director of program management, provided further insight into the company’s strategy to attract PC gamers. At its center is the Windows Store, and every game on the digital storefront uses Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform (UWP) in the development process. According to Ybarra, the UWP makes game development easier and allows another avenue for creators to sell their games. On the user side, the platform apparently makes it easier to add or remove games from your PC, as all the files are located in one area as opposed to multiple directories.
However, the Windows Store will need more time and improvements if Microsoft wants it to be the next GOG or Steam. The company continues to hear feedback on requested features such as an overlay system and mod support, but no concrete plans were revealed for the Windows Store.
First Looks And Updates
As part of Microsoft’s ongoing plans to bring more content to PC gamers, Turn 10 Studios showed up to reveal Forza Motorsport 6: Apex, the first PC title for the popular racing franchise. The game will display up to 4K resolution, use DirectX 12 and feature 60 cars at launch. As an added bonus, the game will be a free purchase on the Windows Store when it comes out sometime this spring. However, some fans might want to hold off on playing it at launch, as Turn 10 Studios mentioned that wheel support won’t be available in the beginning, but it could come later as an update.
Remedy Entertainment’s Quantum Break was also available to play. The short demo showed off the time-stopping powers of Jack Joyce as well as portions of the game’s overall narrative. In addition to the traditional in-game cutscenes, Quantum Break will also use live-action clips, and players will be able to make crucial choices throughout the game that determines Joyce’s path to avenge the death of his brother.
Capybara Games continues to add content to its rogue-like exploration game called Below, but it hopes to have the game out at some point this year. You’ll have to make your way through a series of underground levels and fight off hunger, thirst and mysterious enemies along the way. If you die, you have to start over from a checkpoint. However, all of the levels are procedurally generated, so each run is a different experience. In a way, it almost feels like a Dark Souls game when you die and start the journey anew.
Speaking of Dark Souls, we were finally able to play some of Dark Souls III at the event. The land of Lothric is full of terrifying monsters, and if you’re a veteran of the series, most of the game should be familiar to you. However, one of the most notable is your overall movement speed. Attack animations, rolling sideways and even drinking Estus Flasks all seem faster. However, enemies have faster animations as well, so you’ll have to anticipate their movements in order to survive each encounter.
With only weeks to go before the launch of the Oculus Rift, the VR company was present to show off the the VR device along with Minecraft. However, my experience in the game was uncomfortable due to the nausea. The constant head-turning, combined with your character’s overall movement, creates a ride that turns what should be a fun and creative game into a nauseating experience. The developers will have to work with Oculus to ensure that the issue is fixed before it becomes available to the masses at the end of the month.
A Taste Of 2016
E3 is only three months away, and as always, Microsoft will have its annual press conference in Los Angeles before the start of the show. The Xbox Spring Showcase provided a small glimpse into Microsoft’s plans for 2016, but it’s enough to get fans excited for the next wave of incoming titles.