This is a big E3 for Microsoft, and with their Xbox One having managed to actually best sales of the PS4 for a number of months, many are predicting that this year’s expo will mark a huge turning point for the console that will see them finally ridding the public of the memory of its shaky start to life.
While I do believe that Microsoft will put on a good show at E3, I am unfortunately not of the opinion that it will be filled with the kind of earth-shattering announcements that will see them usurp Sony. I hope that I’m wrong, as Microsoft pulling out all the stops would lead to healthy competition in the industry that would in turn force Sony to up its game, but I think that the company is set to showcase too few games and too much of an emphasis upon a potential Xbox One UI redesign for them to really make the necessary impact.
Here are my predictions for Microsoft’s E3 2015, and be sure to vote on your predictions in the survey below.
A huge emphasis on Windows 10’s Xbox One integration.
The launch of Windows 10 is set to shake things up for Microsoft, with the company looking to create an Apple-esque ecosystem of all of their products, which will include the Xbox One.
Their plans for Xbox One and Windows 10 sound exciting, with them having announced that the Xbox One’s integration of the operating system will allow for cross-play between console and PC games, along with a whole host of other advantages the OS will afford it. Microsoft has also revealed that players “can play games on their PC, streamed directly from their Xbox One console to their Windows 10 tablets or PCs.” That’s a big deal, but I’m of the impression that Microsoft may spend too much time focusing upon Windows 10, falling back into their old habit of failing to focus upon games in the largest gaming event in the world.
While it will be great to see how Microsoft plans to utilize Windows 10 with their console, given their past history of presenting their games almost as an afterthought following their presentations regarding in-house hardware and software, it’s not difficult to imagine that being the case this year. The launch of Windows 10 is a big deal for the company and they will be looking to sell it with vigor, though I can imagine them doing so will be detrimental to their overall presentation.
A big showing for Rise of the Tomb Raider
Microsoft have secured Rise of the Tomb Raider as a timed exclusive, and while that’s more than a little frustrating for those who don’t own an Xbox One or Xbox 360, it’s nonetheless a big coup for the company. As such, I’d expect to see a sizable portion of their presentation devoted to highlighting gameplay footage of the game.
While the sequel to the 2013 reboot will eventually make its way to the PS4 and PC at some point in the future, Microsoft managed to throw enough cash in Square Enix’s direction in order to have it land on the Xbox consoles first. It’s inevitably going to be positioned as Microsoft’s answer to Uncharted 4, and with that major Sony exclusive being pushed back into 2016, Rise of the Tomb Raider has a head start on its competitor. Expect Microsoft to really push its timed exclusivity (though they’ll probably miss the “timed” bit out) during their presentation.
A Gears of War 4 teaser
Though the announcement of a Gears of War Xbox One remake seems like a no-brainer at this point thanks to leaked gameplay footage having made its way onto the ‘net, we should also expect to see a teaser for a potential Gears of War 4. With Black Tusk Studios having acquired the rights to the franchise from Epic Games, the unveiling of a fourth entry in the mainline series would undoubtedly prove to be a major talking point from the event.
If the Gears of War remake is indeed underway then it isn’t likely that Gears of War 4 will be in our hands any time soon, but considering that it’s Microsoft’s second most successful franchise, even a teaser trailer alluding to its eventual release would increase the heart rate of fans of the series. I’m not a big fan of superfluous E3 teasers, but when it’s a series as big as GoW, it’s understandable that Microsoft would use the event in order to reveal that, yes, they have more blockbuster games under their belt than Halo 5.
A look at HoloLens and its gaming uses
Virtual reality is officially a big thing now, and Microsoft are looking to compete with the Oculus Rift and Sony’s Project Morpheus with their HoloLens, an interesting augmented reality headset that looks almost too good to be true due.
During the video released by Microsoft unveiling the HoloLens, alongside its multiple real-world applications we also saw it allowing a user to recreate a Minecraft world in their living room. Since then Microsoft hasn’t really had much to say in regards to how the HoloLens will be used in the gaming space, though I expect this to change during E3.
Virtual reality has had a presence at E3 before, but it’s never really taken center stage. Project Morpheus and Oculus Rift demos have been available on the show floor, but they have yet to infiltrate a major presentation during the event. I’m expecting that will change during Microsoft’s E3 2015 showing, and we’ll see brand new video footage revealing how Project Morpheus can be employed in order to enhance the world of video games.
Unfortunately, I’m not anticipating any sort of onstage demo like we saw in Microsoft’s BUILD 2015 conference. Applying the HoloLens tech to video games and showing off the results on the E3 stage would be a great deal more difficult than showing a guy browsing the web using the headset, and honestly, I don’t think the Minecraft demo shown in the aforementioned video reveal could become a reality until some way into the future.
Halo 5: Guardians gameplay
If Microsoft doesn’t close the show with my predicted Gears of War 4 teaser, then the easy guess would be for them to provide us with a look at some Halo 5: Guardians gameplay. Expect it to feature a mix of both the game’s single-player and multiplayer modes, and also expect the level of anticipation for the release to have been dampened somewhat by the woeful launch of Halo: The Master Chief Collection.
I should imagine Microsoft and 343 will address The Master Chief Collection’s problems somewhere during Halo 5‘s E3 2015 showing, with it being an elephant in the room that would be almost impossible to ignore. Expect them to talk up the game’s use of dedicated servers, with 343 having abandoned peer-to-peer connections, and to make a commitment to the series’ fans about how they won’t be left with a broken game months after release this time around.
343 haven’t exactly filled me with confidence with their handling of the Halo series thus far, but regardless of whether or not they’re up to the task to give Master Chief his proper Xbox One debut, with this being Microsoft’s biggest game of the year it will certainly see a chunk of the company’s presentation devoted to it.
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