There’s no denying that E3 is often the most anticipated event in the calendar of pretty much every gaming enthusiast out there. We get to see what’s coming over the coming months and the following year in some cases. But Yesterday’s display of jaw-dropping goodness wasn’t just isolated to pixels and polygons, we also got to see some forthcoming hardware as well.
But first the games.
Forza Horizon 3
Many of us here, despite not being hardcore racing enthusiasts, love the Forza Horizon series. It blends the sheer beauty of Turn 10s stunningly crafted cars with the freedom of the open road, resulting in some truly breathtaking vistas and love-tap related racing that works superbly with friends and strangers alike. Forza Horizon 3 leaves Europe behind and heads to vastness of Australia. And I do mean vastness. The map for it looks enormous compared to the previous iterations, and the game also features more than 350 cars, all of which can be viewed via ForzaVista.
Forza Horizon 3 also features the ability to choose your driver character, create custom paint jobs, vanity license plates and add new body kits. You can also create a custom music station or keep with the eight radio stations that will be available with the game.
The Showcase events are back as well. In FH2 we had a train and planes to take on, here you’ll get to race powerboats and even a zeppelin.
Forza Horizon 3 is due for early release on September 23rd and general release on September 27th.
Halo Wars 2
At long last, the follow up to Halo Wars is inbound. Featuring the somewhat unfortunate Spirit of Fire, Halo Wars 2 introduces a Covenant-based faction called The Banished, led by a fairly nasty looking Brute called Atriox. Instead of this iteration taking place on a Shield World, much like the previous game, this time we get to stomp around on the Ark – the giant construct engineered by the Forerunners – where the Halos were built.
Obviously, there’ll be a lot of questions for any hardcore Halo fan, such as when this takes place and will it have any bearing on the main and current halo trilogy featuring the Master Chief. The good news for those unaware is this iteration is being developed by RTS masters Creative Assembly, the studio responsible for the Total War series. According to 343i it’ll feature larger battlefields, and a new kind of strategy, utilising a “hybrid of action-orientated and classic tactical gameplay modes”.
The definitive Version will also feature an enhanced version of the original halo Wars that runs natively on Xbox One and Windows 10.
Halo Wars 2 is due for release February 21st, 2017.
Sea of Thieves
If you’re a fan of taking to open water with a ship, a crew of friends and cannons strapped to your trusty wooden water bus, Sea of Thieves might be just the title you’re looking for. Developed by Rare – who made classics like Banjo-Kazooie and Perfect dark – Sea of Thieves presents a shared world adventure game filled with pirates and loot galore. Essentially, you get to jump in a ship with a crew of your friends and sail the seven seas in search of treasure. But so is everyone else. I can just imagine the encounters online: “who are they? Shall we shoot?” It’s certainly a recipe for larking about and creating and escaping from chaos.
Sea of Thieves is stated to have a rich fantastical world, filled with other players, riches and mythical creatures but is designed around working with other players with a shared goal. Of course, I can imagine large clans with fleets of ships, dominating the seas, or small, opportunistic pirates. I can’t wait.
Sea of thieves is due for release later this year on Xbox One and Windows 10.
And now for the hardware.
XBOX Design Lab
Xbox have created the new Design Lab where players/fans can create their own, bespoke Xbox Wireless Controllers ($79.99) from a plethora of colour variations (more than 8 million), which includes the controller body, D-pad, thumbsticks, buttons and can also feature laser engraving for an extra $9.99. For those in the UK you’re looking at around £65.00 in total, including the laser engraving.
Xbox One S
Microsoft have also decided to release a slim version of the Xbox One, much like they did with the Xbox 360. It’ll be sleeker, smaller and probably quieter as well. Being 40% smaller than the original Xbox One it’s a significant size reduction, and also sports an internal power supply and supports 4K Ultra HD for Blu-ray and content streamed from Netflix and Amazon Video. It’s also currently only available in white, though I suspect that’ll change.
In Microsoft’s own words: “The next step-change for gamers and developers must deliver true 4K gaming and high-fidelity VR experiences to the console. To that end, we were happy to announce the next addition to the Xbox One family: Project Scorpio.
“When it ships next year, Project Scorpio will be our most powerful console ever built, specifically to lead the industry into a future in which true 4K gaming and high-fidelity VR are the standard, not an exception.
“Project Scorpio will be the first console with 6 teraflops of power, which will empower the world’s greatest game creators to fully embrace true 4K gaming without sacrificing quality, generate premier VR experiences, without sacrificing performance, and putting greater graphic fidelity in the hands of the world’s best game creators.
“Best of all, Xbox One, Xbox One S and Project Scorpio will all be compatible. All Xbox One games and accessories will play on each device. It’s very important to us that no one gets left behind, which is a big part of why we view Project Scorpio as a new way of thinking about consoles and generations.”
Was that it?
Of course not. The Xbox conference also brought us Dead Rising 4, Final Fantasy XV, Ark: Survival Evolved, Battlefield 1, a Minecraft add on, Gears of War 4, Inside, Gwent, and a host of other titles. But the ones mentioned above really piqued our interest. The main theme of their conference revolved around cross play (Xbox Play Anywhere), meaning that what you buy for the Xbox will also be available for you on Windows 10, for no additional cost. So now you don’t need to buy certain titles on two formats, you just need to splash out on one.
Flugel Meister (Dave) is a longtime video gaming fan, who's love for all things pixelated began way back in 1980, when he ventured onto his brother's Grandstand console before progressing to a Dragon 32 and then a Spectrum 48K. That's right. he's old. When he's not gaming, he can be found swimming in the country's reserves of cheesecake.
Follow him on Twitter: @DavidPMcDougall