All the best bits of Microsoft’s Xbox announcements at Gamescom

Gamescom kicked off today in Cologne with Xbox and some serious dubstep backing music

Xbox One started off the 2015 Gamescom in Cologne today with their press conference, featuring plenty of gameplay footage, a few interesting announcements, and usual wub wub of dubstep in the background of every segue.

Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, was first on stage to start the conference. He stated that at Xbox, their ‘community of gamers is [their] motivation and inspiration’, going on to push the connection between PC and console with Microsoft and Xbox, claiming he remains committed to growing exclusive franchises on Xbox One and Windows 10.

The first footage presented was from TV star-studded Quantum Break, set to be released on April 5th 2016. We were provided a more detailed account of the game’s story, which is apparently one story told from multiple perspectives, revolving around actor Shawn Ashmore (Jack Joyce) trying to reverse a time travel experiment by Aidan Gillen (Littlefinger from Game of Thrones!) that’s gone very wrong. The game looks like your standard good third person shooter with special powers thrown in, slightly like a cross between Infamous Second Son and Watch Dogs.

Next up was Crackdown 3. Described as the ultimate sandbox game with a brand new multiplayer, the trailer was mostly used to showcase the 100% destructible environments, using an admirable amount of variations of the word destruction to make sure we got it. Destroy everything.

Image: Xbox

The footage shown from Scalebound looked fairly impressive. I was irritated by the protagonist’s nonchalant attitude towards having a super cool dragon sidekick but that’s just my envy speaking. Otherwise the game appeared solid with good visuals, although it didn’t leave a lasting ‘I will preorder you if it’s the last thing I do’ feeling.

Mike Ybarra also came on stage to announce a few exciting new features for Xbox One. This year Microsoft will be adding a fully functional DVR to Xbox One, as well as an attachable chatpad/keyboard that will work with the console and Windows 10, allowing users to type efficiently and take screenshots.

Bigger news was the announcement relating to backwards compatibility. At E3, Xbox 360 backwards compatibility was announced. This time they revealed that in the future all Xbox360 games with gold titles will be backwards compatible meaning more games will be available for gold members each month. In addition, from November, backwards compatibility will be free for everyone and November will also see the update of the Xbox One to incorporate Windows 10 with a new and improved dashboard.

A neat blast-from-the-past announcement came from Ron Gilbert, creator of Monkey Island. After the success of his Kickstarter, point and click adventure Thimbleweed Park will be coming to Windows 10 and xbox one with ‘pixels so sharp they could poke your eye out.’ The game looks great and true to the style of the genre; definitely an exciting announcement.

Image: Kickstarter

As you would expect, Windows 10 was given its own segment. Touting new levels of performance for PC games through its support of Directx 12, Microsoft presented us with an art and tech demo showing the visual possibilities and they are impressive. If the framerate of your PC can keep up, that is. All gaming accessories were revealed to be designed for both Xbox One and Windows 10, featuring PC-to-PC and PC-to-console gameplay, in addition to digital cloud saves, which will allow you to start playing on one device and finish playing on another.

Dark Souls III premiered its trailer next. The trailer looked excellent and atmospheric. However, the combat looked oddly fast. Fluid to the point of liquidity. Prepare to die. A lot. I can hardly wait.

Fifa 16 presented their new in-game training system and women’s national teams alongside some Xbox exclusive features. Fifa 16 players on Xbox One will apparently get Fifa ultimate team legends, with 60 new legends to choose from. Further to this, EA Access members will get to ‘play first, more, and for less’, saving 10% on Fifa Ultimate Team Points and getting the game up to a week earlier than the release date.

Halo 5: Guardians introduced new multiplayer modes, Arena and Warzone. We were shown some competitive gameplay with commentary that frankly went on for far too long. eSports were given an extra boost, however, with the announcement of the Halo World Championship beginning this winter, with a prize pool of over 1 million dollars.

One I was personally excited for, Rise of the Tomb Raider, featured a gameplay trailer. Promising environments 3 times larger than any of the previous games and hours of possible side gameplay the game looks impressive and huge. Then came the water assassinations. Cool. And the air assassination. Alright, still cool. But you couldn’t help but feel like it had all gone a bit Uncharted meets Assassin’s Creed, feeling less about survival and more about stealthy effective murder. That doesn’t ring as particularly Lara Croft to me. Despite these reservations, I can’t deny that the trailer made the gameplay look engaging and fun. Thankfully, in the final scene of the trailer, Lara was seen to be raiding an actual tomb.

The conference finished on more Halo, with the unexpected announcement of Halo Wars 2 revealed to be coming in Autumn 2016 from developers Creative Assembly.

Other games featured in the conference included: Forza Motorsport 6, Just Cause 3, the excellently creepy-looking We Happy Few, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night revealed to have cross play features, and Homefront 2 which I’m not sure anyone particularly wanted but we’re getting it anyway. Yay…!


Main image © iStockphoto/LoooZaaa