Microsoft E3 2015 round-up: Halo 5, Rise of The Tomb Raider and more – Wired.co.uk
The news included announcements on Halo 5: Guardians, Lara Croft’s next adventure Rise of the Tomb Raider and a new game in the ultra-violent Gears of War franchise.
Microsoft also unveiled a new “Elite” wireless controller for the console, and delighted gamers by announcing Xbox 360 games would now be playable on the machine, with an initial list of 100 titles crossing the boundary to next-gen “this holiday”.
WIRED was on hand to watch the announcement live. Here are the key announcements from the show:
Hololens And Virtual Reality
Earlier in June Microsoft announced a partnership with Oculus Rift, in which it will bundle its Xbox One controller with each Oculus headset. At E3 Microsoft went further by announcing a partnership with Valve to make sure its HTC Vive VR headset works natively on Windows 10.
Microsoft also showed off a new live demo of its Hololens augmented reality headset running Minecraft. The astonishing-looking demo showed a scaled-down version of Minecraft running on a table-top, projected as if a physical object. It looks exactly like a giant, extremely complex Lego set, letting players peer around the model in real time, manipulate it with their hands and even peer “into” houses and caverns by physically moving closer or further from the model.
Though it remains unclear to what extent the demo reflects the reality of wearing Hololens — or when the headset will be released — it was a hugely impressive demo that electrified the audience in attendance. More details will follow at Minecon on 4 July, Microsoft said.
In perhaps the best-received announcement of the press conference, Xbox chief Phil Spencer said that an initial roster of 100 Xbox 360 games would now be playable on Xbox One via download, starting “immediately” for some users on the Xbox Preview programme, with the full update coming “this holiday”.
You’ll be able to play online with players on Xbox 360 and use the Xbox One features like game streaming and the Xbox One controller. Developers will not have to touch their code to make the games run — it appears that Microsoft has simply solved whatever technical issues stopped the feature being available at launch (or perhaps has experienced a change of heart amidst lower-than-hoped hardware sales).
Xbox Elite Wireless Controller
Microsoft announced that a new wireless gamepad featuring customisable controls, additional weights and balancing features and triggers with enhanced precision will be available at the end of 2015. “Get pro-level precision with the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller, featuring an arsenal of swappable components, Hair Trigger Locks, and limitless customisation,” the company said. “Choose from a variety of thumbsticks, D-pads, and paddles for a tailored feel that provides game-changing accuracy and speed.”
Halo 5: Guardians
Microsoft revealed fresh details about its hugely-anticipated next-generation Halo title. In a lengthy new gameplay trailer it was revealed that the game will have intrinsic online co-op as a core part of the single-player campaign. The game will see two squads — one led by Master Chief, the other by the mysterious new character Spartan Locke — completing simultaneous missions as part of the story in two squads.
Bonnie Ross of 343 Industries said the game was the first in the series “built from the ground up” for Xbox One. Josh Holmes, also from 343, said it was a “giant leap” for Halo and the most ambitious single player campaign in the series’ history. The game will be playable at the conference and WIRED.co.uk will publish its extensive hands-on impressions as soon as we’ve taken a look.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
In a world gameplay premiere, Microsoft unveiled a full look at the Xbox One exclusive Rise of the Tomb Raider. The game features the blend of exploration and combat players of 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot will expect, but set in a freezing, treacherous mountain range. The demo saw Lara Croft being thrown around on her climbing rig like a rag doll, with the help of Jonah, her companion and sole returning cast member from the reboot, smashing through ice caves, making impossible leaps onto cliffs and running on falling boulders like Legolas, before finding herself lost in a forest and forced to turn her hand again to crafting, hunting and… archaeology to survive. It’s fair to say Lara is going to have a rough old time in this game.
The first gameplay video from the upcoming, until-now unannounced but widely-expected Gears of War sequel was a departure for the series, featuring a classic male military character running through a set of tunnels and caverns with a female companion. The game, though, is still incredibly violent and brutal, and is a long way from release, not coming until “Holiday 2016″. There is also an “Ultimate Edition” of the original game coming in August, ironically perhaps considering Microsoft also announced Xbox 360 backwards compatibility at the same show.
Rare Replay and Sea of Thieves
A classic games collection featuring 30 titles like Perfect Dark and Banjo Kazooie will give gamers the chance to wallow in their nostalgia, but it was Rare’s new multiplayer pirating title Sea of Thieves that impressed WIRED.co.uk most. The game gives players the chance to form crews, explore the oceans and fight other pirates in a blend of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and MMORPG mechanics.
Microsoft’s first new exclusive game revealed at the conference was ReCore from Armature Studios. Introduced with a non-gameplay trailer, the title will feature a female protagonist in a wasteland environment, fighting enemies with the help of robot companions. Little is known about the game as of yet, but it will be released in Spring 2016, Microsoft said.
Forza Motorsport 6
The next game in Microsoft’s extremely detailed and accurate racing series will correct many of the previous installment’s perceived flaws, including expanding the track line-up to 26 locations, adding night races and weather back into the game, and enhancing the graphical fidelity of races even further.
Unveiled at the conference with an actual Ford GT lifting up from the show floor to the rafters, the game will be released 15 September 2015.
Dark Souls 3
The beloved ultra-difficult combat series gets a new entry with Dark Souls 3, coming in Spring 2016. No real details about the game were announced at Microsoft’s show but more details will be coming elsewhere at E3.
Elsewhere Microsoft and its studio partners announced:
- Tom Clancy’s The Division will be previewed with an exclusive beta on Xbox One at the end of 2015.
- “Gigantic”, a new team-based multiplayer game for Xbox One and Windows 10. “Gigantic is a visually-stunning evolution in team action gaming, where freedom of movement, play-style choice, and towering Guardians makes 5×5 competition more accessible and fun than ever.”
- Xbox Game Preview is a new programme that allows gamers early access in a manner familiar to PC (or more accurately Steam) gamers, before the titles are finished. The system will give players the option to download a free preview too, so you won’t have to leap in blind. Elite: Dangerous and Shelter are among the games being launched with the programme, with the former available immediately.
- Both Rainbow Six: Vegas and Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 will be free to anyone who buys Rainbow 6: Siege, presumably by download using the Xbox 360 backwards compatibility system.
- Interesting new ID@Xbox indie games announced at the show include Ashen and Tacoma.
- EA announced Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 for Xbox One coming in Spring 2015.