After EA and Bethesda last night, Microsoft was the first big player to hold its E3 conference today. It was difficult to know what to expect: with new Xbox models on the horizon, would Microsoft announce them, or would it just concentrate on upcoming games?
Microsoft was looking pretty leaky before the show. Both a new slim Xbox One model and Dead Rising 4 had leaked - but the press conference filled out our understanding of both. Here's everything that happened.
-We open with a lovely video montage of a new Xbox model: the Xbox One S (which was leaked a little before the show). It's 40% smaller, with an integrated power supply, HDR gaming, 4K video and Blu-Ray, a new controller, and a 2TB hard drive. It's $299 in the US and will launch in August.
-Phil Spencer is here to talk up the actual games, starting with Gears of War 4. Unsurprisingly, Rod Fergusson announced that it will be cross-playable on both Windows 10 and Xbox One (a policy for all Xbox games going forward, we've heard). It won't cost you extra to own both versions, either. There was a substantial co-op gameplay demo, set during a dramatic storm and featuring lots of buzzsaws and an aged Marcus Fenix.
-Oh, there's a Gears of War 4-themed controller out soon too.
-Some quick news on Killer Instinct: the next special character is General Raam, from Gears.
-The next Forza will be Forza Horizon 3 - also cross-playable on Windows 10 and Xbox. Developed by Playground Games, it's set in Australia and looks extremely pretty. A dude in a special racing chair with a special racing wheel smiles awkwardly on-stage to demonstrate 4-player campaign co-op with some people using controllers and keyboards. It's out September 27th. Take a wee look:
-Aha, ReCore! This third-person action game from Keiji Inafune still looks colourful and interesting, but we don't get anything further than a new trailer.
-Square Enix's Hajime Tabata is here to talk about Final Fantasy XV, the game upon which Squeenix has spent all of the money in the world. The E3 demo is a massive titan battle scene.
-If the hours of Battlefield 1 footage that EA streamed last night was not enough for you, you're in luck! Patrick Bach from DICE is here to talk about it some more. Xbox players who are EA Access members will get early access to the game on October 13th, he says. There was a re-run of yesterday's trailer.
-The Division is getting randomly-generated dungeons in the new DLC. Didn't know they had dungeons in New York, but hey!
-Xbox's Mike Ybarra announces that Xbox Live is improving its network with new servers. (Some people in the audience gamely clapped.) There are also some new features coming to Xbox One in summer: background music, Cortana functionality, and the ability to choose your language independently of where you live. In autumn, Xbox Live will introduce Clubs, online communities centred around particular games and locations. A wee bit like an Xbox Miiverse, eh? A 'Looking for Group' feature will also make it easier to find people to play with. And lastly, there's Arena: a new Xbox tournament platform.
-Minecraft will now be playable across iOS, Android and Windows 10 - so you can play with friends (or your kids can play with their friends) whatever they're using. Dedicated servers are also on the way: they'll be called Minecraft Realms. Then John Carmack turns up to play Minecraft with the people on-stage, for some reason, making me thing that something Oculus-related was about to happen... but it didn't. There's another new thing: Minecraft Add-Ons, which will let you change the look and behaviour of the Minecraft's mobs and creatures. It's sort of like mods for the mobile and console editions. But not quite as good.
-You can now order customised Xbox controllers from the Xbox Design Lab. C'mon, Microsoft, you're losing me... OH WAIT.
-YES, it's Inside, the long-awaited new game from Playdead, developers of LIMBO. We've seen so little of it thus far that any new info is very exciting, if you're me. Unfortunately we didn't actually get any new info, but we did get a release date: June 29th. Excellent.
-To celebrate, LIMBO is now available for free to all Xbox players starting today. (Some eagle-eyed Internet people had already spotted that earlier, but it's nice to know why!)
-An independent games showreel provides a little bit of variety. I'm still thinking about Inside, though. One game gets picked out for a bit of extra attention: Compulsion Games' intriguing, disturbing We Happy Few, which is coming to Xbox via the Xbox Game Preview programme.
-CD Projekt Red demonstrated its standalone version of Gwent, the smash-hit card game that was part of The Witcher 3 (and which the designer came up with in the bath). It'll be out on PC and console, with both single- and multiplayer modes. It's out September.
-I mean, I like Gwent and all, but I'm a bit bored now. I hope something dramatic happens soon.
-Tekken 7 is the second fighting game to grace the stage. It's out early next year. As a pleasant bonus, it was announced that all Xbox Live Gold members will get Tekken Tag Tournament 2 for free via backwards compatibility.
-Aha, here's the new Dead Rising game that was leaked ahead of time. Dead Rising 4 is also cross-playable on Windows 10 and Xbox One. Here's the announcement trailer:
-Eyyy, Hideki Kamiya is here to talk about Scalebound. We're about to see "the biggest boss fight that Platinum Games has ever made", which really is quite the claim. It turns out to be a giant crab-spider! Scalebound's disappointingly irritating protagonist fights it from dragon-back and on-foot in co-op. For ages. Here is a more digestible trailer:
-Another Windows 10 and Xbox exclusive (do I need to keep saying this or can we just assume from now on that all Microsoft games are going to be cross-playable?): Rare's Sea of Thieves, which I was very much hoping to see more of. (How is it that we still only have one really good pirate game in the world?) Craig Duncan from Rare is here to tell us more about living the pirate life: it's all about treasure, monsters, and fighting other players with your friends, he says. We watch a bunch of Rare fans try to sail a pirate ship together whilst getting drunk on rum - then there's a ship battle at sea when another crew turns up. To be fair, this looks really fun. Definitely the best thing I've seen so far today.
-Here's another game that was widely rumoured: State of Decay 2. It's coming 2017 and here's the trailer:
-Oh, we're straight onto something else: Halo Wars 2. 343 and Creative Assembly are working together on it - it'll be out February 21st, 2017. There will also be a week-long beta on Xbox One starting... right now!
-Xbox boss Phil Spencer sums up Microsoft's general direction right now: you should be able to play games on any device with the people you want to play with. But wait, there's more: he's about to announce a 4K and VR-capable console. (Knew it!) A developer actually says the words "these are the highest-quality pixels that anyone has ever seen". The new Xbox will co-exist with the Xbox One: games and accessories will work on both. It's still only known as Project Scorpion for now, the codename we previously reported.
And that's that! Hot take: Scorpio saved what was otherwise a rather dull conference there. Join us later for Ubisoft, the PC Gaming Show, and Sony. Until then!
Catch up on E3 2016: