E3 2017: 16 highlights from Microsoft’s Xbox conference

Microsoft names and prices its new Xbox console refresh and, refreshingly, has a whole lot of games to show off.

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E3 2017: 16 highlights from Microsoft’s Xbox conference
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Microsoft clearly took one of its biggest criticisms to heart when planning its E3 2017 conference. Unsurprisingly, it wanted to talk a lot about its Project Scorpio console (officially called Xbox One X, priced at $649 in Australia), and it also had a whole lot of games to talk about. While the word “exclusive” was thrown around quite a bit, a bunch of titles seemed more of the ‘timed exclusive’ variety. Not that that’s a bad thing. Head of Xbox Phil Spencer reckons Microsoft had 42 games to show off during its conference, and here are 16 highlights from those announcements.

True 4K gaming has true multiplatform potential
For PC gamers. The beauty about the power of the Xbox One X is that it means devs are incentivised to put in the extra yards to create pristine 4K products that will shine on Xbox One X, and soar on ridiculously high-end PC builds. If you want 4K gaming in your lounge on a budget, the $649 Xbox One X price tag will score you a 6 teraflop GPU clocked at 1.172GHz, 12GB of GDDR5, 325GB memory bandwidth, as well as a whole lot of 4K potential. HDR. 8+ million pixels. Wide colour gamut. Premium Dolby Atmos and 4K UHD Blu-ray support.

You can expect all of your Xbox One games and, just as importantly, accessories to work with the Xbox One X, too. The pledge is those existing games will play better and have faster load times, too, and there’ll be performance gains for Xbox One X owners who don’t own a 4K screen. Somehow, those Microsoft hardware engineers have shunned the Xbox trend of creating bulky boxes with external power supplies, too; the Xbox One X is apparently the smallest Xbox ever.

Rev your engines for Forza Motorsport 7
I’m not big on racing games, but even I can appreciate the eye candy on offer in Forza Motorsport 7. While, in fairness, most of these realistic racing games look the same for me, the attention to detail and the impressive weather effects are sure to delight the kinds of racing fans who play these types of games and crave that insane level of detail. It’s racing onto shelves in October and will have 700 cars to speed around a variety of raceways.

The tastiest irradiated subway
Metro is back in a new game called Metro Exodus. Microsoft showed off a 4K in-engine trailer for the new Metro game that started off underground, before heading above ground and into a surprisingly green world. The fact that nature has started to take back over should be scary for anyone who’s played a Metro game, because the mutated animals are bigger and meaner than their pre-irradiated siblings. The 28 Days Later theme was a pitch-perfect backing track for the gorgeous proceedings, and the teased gameplay looks engaging, too. Definitely one to watch.

Microsoft snatched Ubi’s reveal
I can only assume that Ubisoft let Microsoft take the Assassin’s Creed Origin reveal to show off what the latest game in the long-running series looks like in 4K. In fairness, Origins wasn’t as visually impressive as some of the other 4K games on offer, but it still looks great. Gameplay looks very much of the Assassin’s Creed ilk, but the scale looks bigger. Ubi’s also borrowed its bird-drone mechanic from Far Cry Primal for spotting/tagging prey, the Egyptian setting looks like a welcome change of scenery, and the tease of the return of ship combat is a welcome one. There’ll doubtlessly be more Assassin’s Creed Origins to dissect tomorrow during the Ubisoft conference, and in the lead-up to its 27 October release date.

PUBG is coming to Xbox One
And apparently it’s exclusive (for consoles), too, though this one reeks of timed exclusivity because Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds had been previously announced for release on PlayStation 4. Unless I imagine that (which is entirely possible). Playerunknown himself, Brendan Greene, was brought out to half promote the Xbox One release of PUBG, and to half spruik Microsoft’s new streaming service, Mixer. They played a trailer, but I swear it’s the same one that was used for the PC release.

Space dwarves rock
Deep Rock Galactic might not be the most compelling title in the history of game names, but the gameplay looks fun. Though details were scarce, the gameplay trailer for the Ghost Ship Games title looks like a four-player co-op space romp with plenty of exploration and combat, to boot. Oh, you also happen to play as dwarves, so there’s that, too.

State of Decay 2 is a better-looking version of State of Decay
At least, as far as the gameplay trailer is concerned.  I was a fan of the flawed original zombie-slaying character-hopping permadeath action game, and the first look at sequel gameplay was more of the same. The biggest inclusion is four-player co-op, and if that’s of the drop-in/drop-out variety, I reckon I’ll spend a lot of time in this world. State of Decay 2 is due for release in 2018, which is a shame, because Microsoft really needs more first-party releases for 2017.

The Darwin Project is more Hunger Games than PUBG
Okay, so battle royale games are obviously derived from the Battle Royale movie, and so too is the popular Hunger Games books/movies. But one area that Hunger Games and newly announced The Darwin Project differs from being a straight Battle Royale clone is in audience participation. It’s not entirely clear how it works from the little that was shown, but someone watching the stream (on Mixer, of course) granted one of the combatants a particular ability that allowed them to have an edge in this fight-to-the-death game that looks more cartoony than realistic. I’m not sold at this stage, but I am curious to see more.

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