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E3 2018: The 10 best bits of Microsoft’s briefing

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What a show Microsoft managed to pull out of the bag; 50 games with 18 exclusives and a heap of what look like timed exclusive games, you cannot deny the commitment they have shown this year. Giving the gamer what they want now seems to be at the forefront of the Xbox divisions agenda.

There were so many great announcements at the show, but here are 10 of the best bits from Microsoft’s E3 2018 briefing.

10. Fallout 76

Fallout 76 had been announced before E3 had even begun but at Microsoft’s press briefing we got the first look and details at what’s to come.

A beautiful trailer introduced us to what looks to be a much more vivid and detailed world this time around. Bethesda have clearly made some big strides with their engine work and it shows with lush foliage and heavily dense details making the wasteland look far less barren than in previous titles.

The world is around four times larger than that of Fallout 4 – this means a whole heap load more gameplay and probably another hundred hours or so more to sink in!

The trailer appears to show the game being set quite early after the bombs have dropped and it looks like Fallout 76 will be a much more narrative focused game this time around.

9. Dying Light 2

2015’s Dying Light is an unusual case in gaming. Originally it had been planned to give the game a year’s worth of DLC and move on, but it became such a huge hit that now three years later we see it still receiving updates, not only to patch the game but to also add new content.

Clearly Techland feel the time is right to finally unleash a sequel and boy does it look good. We were given a trailer followed by a quick mission scenario run through, all running in-engine and it looks gorgeous; beautiful lighting and texture work really shine here.

From the way the city looks by being reclaimed by nature it would appear that Dying Light 2 is set quite a bit further along the timeline than the original.

We see the new parkour and melee systems in action, both of which look to be much more varied and fluid than the original game.

The big seller here is the way the game adjusts to your choices – choose to kill the guys hoarding water and you’ll see the city looking better off with other survivors gaining access to the water you have freed up. It’s a small example but it is promised that every mission will have consequences meaning that game will have hundreds of outcomes depending on the choices you make.

8. Game Pass News

Game Pass got a small segment within the briefing but it brought with it some big news.

First of all, from today Game Pass members have access to The Elder Scrolls Online, Fallout 4 and The Division. All great games and all worth playing.

We then find out that from June certain titles in the library will come equipped with “fast loading”. No real specifics were given but it appears that with a certain machine learning algorithm games can be downloaded in specific chunks that will allow you to play almost as soon as you begin the download. This algorithm learns and improves over time meaning more games will begin to be ready to play almost instantly as time moves forward.

And finally we got the news that certain big third party titles will be added to Game Pass on day one of their release alongside the first party titles Microsoft are already making available on day one.

7. Ori and the Will of the Wisps

Announced at least years E3, Ori and the Will of the Wisps continues the journey from the original with all new characters and a brand new look that is absolutely beautiful to behold.

The original Ori and the Blind Forest is a big favourite of mine and one of the few games that can genuinely bring a tear to your eye so it isn’t hard to see that the sequel looks to be tugging on those same heart strings.

No details were given beyond a 2019 release but the gameplay shown had some new moves and a beautifully fluid graphics engine that looks amazing.

6. Battletoads

Ever since Rash was added as a character in the 2013 reboot of Killer Instinct, fans have been hammering on Phil Spencer’s Twitter door asking for a new game in the series.

At the briefing he delivered.

No gameplay was shown but a short trailer promised and I quote “Body morphing genre mashups”, “3 Player couch co-op”, “4k hand drawn 2.5d graphics” and “Broad non-specific feature decelerations”.

It’s coming in 2019 and frankly it really has been long enough since the toads took to our screens.

5. New first party studios

There has been a lot of talk over the last few years about Microsoft’s apparent lack of willingness to invest in new studios and games and until now that was very true. In fact they even closed down a couple of big name developers to save some money.

Once again however Phil heard the cries of the fans and set about reinvesting that money now that he has pretty much free reign of the gaming division.

He announced that Microsoft have acquired Forza Horizon developer Playground Games, Undead Labs, the studio behind State of Decay, Compulsion Games and their upcoming game We Happy Few and in what can only be described as a bit of a coup, they have also bought Ninja Theory – the developer behind the incredible Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.

On top of all that they have also set up a brand new first party studio called The Initiative headed up by former Crystal Dynamics lead Darrell Gallagher.

4. Gears 5

After trolling the audience with the announcement of Gears of War Pop!, Rod Fergusson took to the stage to announce two new Gears of War games. The first – Gears Tactics – looks like a pretty decent take on the XCOM formula set before the first Gears of War.

Then the big one dropped and the world was introduced to Gears 5. We got a quick look at a mission taking place at some point in the game and it looks gorgeous with some beautiful lighting effects and richly detailed character models. From what we can glean from the trailer everyone is looking a fair bit older including Marcus Fenix (yeah he’s still kicking about). JD now sports a bald head and comes complete with probably the most realistic looking beard I’ve ever seen in a game.

It looks like The Coalition are taking the Gears 2 approach here and trying to blend the gunplay with an emotionally charged and engaging plot. I like this approach and that made Gears 2 an absolutely excellent game. There is no reason to expect Gear 5 to be any different.

No announcement on a release date, but expect it next year.

3. Game streaming is coming!

Right at the end of the show Phil gave us all a little chat about the future. We heard that the research teams at Microsoft are working on AI for games and that the hardware team is indeed working on the next Xbox – but the big feature here was streaming.

Coming very soon you will be able to stream Xbox games to a whole host of devices. Tablets, Phones, PC, Android TV sticks and devices and possibly even to iOS.

No specifics were given but if it means I can play Forza on my phone in bed then I’m excited!

2. Halo Infinite

Microsoft opened up the show with one hell of a short sharp bang, a trailer showcasing an absolutely gorgeous world with a familiar theme playing in the background. We are shown detailed wildlife and trees, then a radio in a tent, we then see some awfully familiar looking soldiers popping a smoke grenade before the camera pans out.

Yes it’s that helmet. It’s Halo Infinite and the crowd goes wild.

1. Forza Horizon 4

How do you top Halo? Honestly short of a 4K 120FPS console announcement I didn’t believe you could. Then the trailer for Forza Horizon 4 happened and it tugged on a wish I have had for so very long.

I have always wanted an open world game set in good old Great Britain and not only is it finally happening, but it’s happening with my favourite racing series.

After the absolutely gorgeous trailer we are shown a demo of the game being played by a multitude of different players. Playground Games could have kept it safe and just given us Forza in the UK but instead they have decided to mix things up a little.

This time round we will all be sharing one persistent online world – no more drivatars getting in your way, every racer you see will be a real player. This in turn gives us global Forzathon events which are Burnout Paradise style multiple player objectives to earn rewards and unlocks.

All of this in a world with dynamic weather and a season system that can dramatically alter the world depending on the time of year. The trailer also showed some motorbikes being ridden alongside cars bit no detail was given as to whether these are player controlled or not.

Oh and it’ll be running at 4K 60FPS on the One X!

 

So the there we have it, 10 of absolute best bits from Microsoft’s E3 briefing and what a briefing it was… featuring 50 games and some great news on exclusives it was certainly the showing Microsoft needed.

What did you think of the show? What were your favourite bits? Let us know in the comments below.

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