It’s my job to be a cynical journalist, but Microsoft’s Xbox E3 keynote last night had me hyped up like a 12-year-old with a crush on Phil Spencer.
The biggest news was the revelation of the existence of not one, but two new Xboxes – a smaller one called the Xbox One S that’ll be available later this year, and a brand new Xbox that’s being pumped full of tech steroids so that it’s powerful enough to handle gaming graphics at four times the resolution of 1080p (also known as 4K).
The second machine doesn’t have an official name yet, and is being referred to as “Project Scorpio”.
The Project Scorpio Xbox will also only be available in time for Christmas 2017, but the mere sound of what is going into it and what it’ll be able to do has my PC gamer heart pumping. No longer will the Xbox feel like a crippled PC; instead is sounds it will be as powerful as a mid-to-high-spec gaming machine, bringing with it all of the graphical refinements and high frame rates to a console that I’ve been enjoying on PC for years.
Xbox boss Phil Spencer made sure gamers got the message that the original Xbox One won’t be sidelined. During the Scorpio announcement, he said “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.”
Microsoft didn’t show Project Scorpio off, but they did release a video starring the Xbox One S, which costs $299 for the entry-level model, going up to $349 for a 1TB mdoel and $399 for 2TB of storage:
South African costs and availability are unknown at this point, but then I didn’t expect to hear anything on that front so I’m not surprised.
The second-biggest news of the night for me was the announcement of a new programme Microsoft calls “Xbox Play Anywhere”, which lets gamers play certain titles they’ve bought digitally for their Xbox Ones on Windows 10 as well.
Not all titles qualify, of course, but a lot of the new games the company showed off do… and what’s more, some of them even support cross-platform play. That means if you’re jamming the new Forza on Windows 10, you’ll be able to join the co-op campaign of a friend playing on Xbox One, and vice versa.
Microsoft also revealed a huge list of exclusives – some new, some that were revealed last year – including Gears of War 4, a standalone version of the Gwent card game from The Witcher 3, a new Dead Rising and Tekken 7, among others. Here’s list:
- Playdead’s follow up to Limbo, Inside (and as a bonus, Limbo is now available for free on Xbox One)
- Windows 10 gamers who own ARK: Survival Evolved on Xbox One can play it on Windows 10 from September or so this year (the US’s “fall”)
- Indie games Cuphead, Outlast 2, Flint Hook, Slime Rancher, Shadow Tactics and Figment are coming to the Xbox One
- July sees the release of We Happy Few, first to Xbox One, a creepy, atmospheric game about a dystopian society that harks back to BioShock Infinite’s blend of storytelling and fascism.
- Forza Horizon 3 – September 27 – Xbox Play Anywhere compatible
- Tekken 7 coming “early 2017”
- Dead Rising 4 will be with us during “Holiday 2016”. So around Christmas time
- The fourth Gears of War game will be out on October 11
- State of Decay 2 releases in 2017 – Xbox Play Anywhere compatible
- Halo Wars 2, 2017 – Xbox Play Anywhere compatible
- ReCore, September 13 – Xbox Play Anywhere compatible
- Scalebound, Platinum Games’s hack ‘n slash with dragons will be available in 2017
I’m most excited about Dead Rising 4, because I’m a sucker for zombie games that don’t take themselves too seriously. Check it out:
Throughout these announcements, it struck me that finally, the gaming present is starting to resemble the future I’ve been hoping for all along. I look forward to finding out first-hand what the coming year will bring.