At Europe's biggest gaming show, Gamescom, Microsoft's gaming division held another press event showcasing its latest titles for the upcoming year.
Microsoft Germany's Gregor Bieler kicked off the event by introducing Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox. Fresh off the release of the new Windows 10 operating system, Spencer touted Microsoft's ever-growing presence both on the PC and console gaming fronts. Additionally, Rare Replay, which was shown at E3, is out today. The collection of 30 classic titles from Rare brings a wave of nostalgia to those who grew up with the famed company's games.
Old And New Faces
Quantum Break was a game that we haven't seen in quite a while from developer Remedy. Shown initially at E3 2013, we're finally getting a chance to see gameplay. Featuring a celebrity cast of Shawn Ashmore, Aidan Gillen, and Dominic Monaghan, the game involves two brothers, both with the ability to stop and travel through time. The player uses cover-based shooting and time-based abilities as a means of subverting the enemy. However, enemy forces also have technology to wade through the environment, even though the time has stopped.
There was also a short live-action trailer for the title, finally revealing the game's release date of April 5, 2016.
Next up was a gameplay trailer for Crackdown 3. Touted as the "ultimate sandbox," players take on the role of a character in the middle of a city overridden by crime. However, the big focus of this showing was the game's multiplayer, which apparently features a 100 percent destructible environment. Players will have a chance to try out the multiplayer experience in the summer of 2016.
Platinum Games followed up with Scalebound, a fantasy-based game. Taking on the role of Drew, players must fight an empire in the pursuit of a powerful artifact. The world of Draconis is lush with forests and dragons, as its namesake suggests. Unlike the Earth homeworld of Drew, Draconis is still based on sword and sorcery. Drew whacks around a few enemies, all while commanding his large dragon to help out in the fight.
However, humans aren't the only enemies. You must also battle enemy dragons. In this regard, the player has a few more tricks up his sleeve, such as being able to summon dragon armor and utilizing an array of bombs to aid your dragon in combat. In addition, there's also four-player co-op included, which should help when fighting tougher enemies. The game will be out in the holiday season of 2016.
Xbox TV and Accessories
Xbox also took some time to talk about its other features, specifically TV. The company introduced DVR features in its OneGuide app. With Windows 10 on your other devices, you can also view recorded shows, download episodes, and set recording times from any other device. The service is subscription-based and will be coming in 2016.
There was another accessory shown for the Xbox controller in the form of a new chat pad, a keyboard that attaches to the bottom of the controller. The new keyboard will include audio controls, as well as a stereo jack for a headset. In addition, it has two programmable keys flanking the space bar so you can easily program it to take screenshots or record gameplay. Players can pre-order it now, and it will be available in November.
Windows 10 And Backwards Compatibility
At E3, Phil Spencer introduced the Backwards Compatibility feature for Xbox One, allowing fans to play their Xbox 360 games on the current console. This includes the popular Gears of War franchise, which yesterday announced that players who buy the Gears of War Ultimate Edition will be able to play all of the games in the series from the one disc, thanks to the feature.
To further entice players to try it out, the company also announced that all future Xbox 360 games designated as "Games With Gold" will work on the Xbox One, introducing a whole new slab of free games each month. In addition, a few developers and publishers have already committed to providing their titles for backwards compatibility including Microsoft Studios, Electronic Arts, 2K, Ubisoft and Bethesda.
We also finally have a release window for Backwards Compatibility. It will be coming in November, and players can use it for free. This coincides with Windows 10 arriving on the console in the same month. However, we're not yet sure if the Windows 10 update will come before Backwards compatibility, or vice versa.
The arcade fighting game Killer Instinct also made an appearance. Microsoft Studios general manager Shannon Loftis showed the latest news from the game, which will be coming in March 2016 on PC and Xbox One. The game will also support cross-play so you can play with friends whether you're on your PC or Xbox One. Additionally, there will be some guest characters, including Rash from the classic game Battletoads.
Indie Games Get More Exposure
There was also some time for independent games, starting with Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night from former Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi, who said that it will support cross-play between Xbox and Windows 10. The game will also feature a new character, an unnamed demon hunter using spells and his katana to fight the dark foes that litter the world.
Other titles, such as Cities: Skylines, Dovetail Games' Train Simulator 2015, Worms W.M.D., ARK: Survival Evolved, Thimbleweed Park and We Happy Few will also make their console debuts on Xbox One in the near future. As of next month, the number of indie games on Xbox One comes to 150, thanks to the ID@Xbox program.
Windows 10 Galore
As if you didn't hear enough about Windows 10, there was a short segment dedicated to the new OS, specifically with DirectX 12. To display the new software, the team at Square Enix showed off a tech demo that we initially saw at Microsoft Build earlier this year. Once again, we were shown the Xbox features on Windows 10 such as Game DVR, cross-buy and cross-play titles.
Minecraft also made an appearance to remind everyone about the beta version of the Windows 10 edition. Lead developer Jens Bergensten announced that its third-party game, Cobalt, will be making its way to the Xbox One. The side-scrolling, space-based platform game has been in alpha for some time for PC and Mac users, but development seems to be full steam ahead for the console version, as well.
From Fantasy To Reality
From Software is back again to show off a trailer for Dark Souls III. Featuring another medieval-based world, the player once again fights through tough enemies ranging from hordes of skeletons to fast-moving giants, making the next installation in the series only harder for players. The game is expected to come out in 2016.
Up next was Homefront: The Revolution. The cinematic trailer showed a boy on stage thanking the new overlords of the United States for their hard work and sacrifice. However, all is not as it seems. Set against a backdrop of tyranny and oppression, foreign soldiers begin their control of the population, but there is a rebel uprising that will combat the enemy through sabotage and fast strikes.
Gameplay will be open-world and will feature multiplayer in the form of co-op sorties. A brief gameplay trailer showed players using an ATV and then utilizing RC toys to deploy portable explosives against the enemy. Players will also be able to switch weapon attachments in the middle of combat. By hacking enemy networks, you can discover more strongholds holding large stockpiles of weapons and intel. The game will arrive in 2016.
FIFA 16 Exclusives
Electronic Arts also came out on stage to talk about FIFA 16. As an exclusive, Xbox players will add more Legends players to the Ultimate Team mode, which includes players like Ryan Giggs, Javier Zanetti and Gennaro Gattuso. Chemistry within your squad is crucial to success, as a new feature in the mode includes the ability for teammates to bond based purely on nationality. Two defensive players from the same country will bond together better than two players from foreign nations.
Additionally, the development team talked about EA Access, which would allow Xbox players to play the game early, before its September 17 release date. Spencer also came back on stage to show a new FIFA 16 Xbox One bundle that would include the game as well as multiple Legends available for loan.
A New Map For Halo 5 Multiplayer
It wouldn't be an Xbox briefing without Halo. A new trailer showed off more multiplayer gameplay. A new map was revealed called Coliseum, a sprawling area filled with two tall buildings and lots of open space, which should be a paradise for snipers. However, buildings ensure that players can easily hide from enemies for a short time. We got to see how the map works with some gameplay between two eSports teams, Epsilon Sports and OpTic Gaming, in a short Capture the Flag game. Aside from the usual chaotic gameplay, we also saw new abilities such as the Spartan Charge, which will allow the player to tackle enemies thanks to the jetpack on each player's back. The jetpack can also be used to make quick dodging moves in the air.
Obviously, there is a new limited edition Halo 5 Xbox One 1 TB console that will be available for pre-order after the briefing. To further the game's eSports front, Halo 5: Guardians will also hold the first Halo World Championships with a prize pool of one million dollars.
Updates On Upcoming Titles
Just Cause 3 also made an appearance, showing the game's trademark grappling gun alongside the usual explosions from tanks, jeeps, and airplanes. The game, which is coming out on December 1, will also include Just Cause 2.
Forza is another staple in the Xbox console, and Turn 10 Studios showed up to tease more of the game before it comes out on September 15. We got to see more of the 450-car roster as well as glimpses of the tracks, ranging from the Nurburgring to Rio de Janeiro. Part of the game's appeal is its realism, and Forza Motorsport 6 will make the game even more realistic, specifically as it pertains to rain. Depending on the terrain, racers have to deal with wet surfaces and hydroplaning at fast speeds and tight corners.
Ubisoft also showed off more footage from Rainbow Six: Siege. Additionally, the game will come with two of the series' past games, Rainbow Six: Vegas and Rainbow Six: Vegas 2.
Crystal Dynamics showed up to present more from Rise of the Tomb Raider. Once again, Lara is in the wilderness. Just like in the previous game, Lara can craft and upgrade her skills in fireplaces, called Basecamps. This time around, she's battling a group called Trinity, and she must fight her way through hordes of enemies to reach the treasure before they do. The vast number of soldiers means she has to sneak around to avoid a full assault. By using a variety of objects, she can throw things to distract guards and take them out with her trusty bow and arrow or knife.
When she does have to go into full combat, she has a larger arsenal consisting of assault rifles or a shotgun. The amount of explosive objects around means she can easily take out groups of enemies if they're not careful. The trailer ends with her confronting a fully-armored soldier wielding a flamethrower. The game is out on Xbox One on November 13.
The Return of Halo Wars
Phil Spencer closed out the show with one more showing from the console's trademark franchise. Bonnie Ross, head of 343 Industries, introduced another chapter in the Halo universe. Fall of 2016 will bring Xbox One and Windows 10 players back for Halo Wars 2, the sequel to the real-time strategy game initially released in 2009. This time around, the developer will enlist the help of Creative Assembly, the team behind the popular Total War games. Instead of a traditional first-person shooter, Halo Wars 2 is bound to feature strategic, large scale battles between humanity and the Covenant.
More To Come
With a new operating system in place, Microsoft is pushing hard to bring Windows 10 not only to PC, mobile and tablets, but also to the Xbox One. A significant portion of the titles shown will also have a presence on your Windows 10 computer either through Steam or a cross-play title with friends on both Xbox One and PC.
For those purely sticking to the console, the latter half of 2015 is full of popular titles such as Forza Motorsport 6, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Halo 5: Guardians. The following year also holds its own lineup of blockbuster titles, such as Killer Instinct, Quantum Break, Crackdown 3 and Gears of War 4. We'll be keeping an eye on these games in the coming months, and we'll also be on the ground in Cologne this week as Tom's Hardware continues its coverage of Gamescom 2015.