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e3 2016

E3 2016 Predictions: Microsoft

by Game Informer Editorial on Jun 05, 2016 at 11:00 AM

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As a part of our countdown to E3 2016, we're making some predictions for the platform holders. Yesterday, we shared our predictions for Sony's big stage show, and today we're turning our gaze to its biggest competitor: Microsoft. Here's what we think Microsoft and the Xbox brand might be bringing to the big show in Los Angeles.

Microsoft Reveals Two New Xbox One Models
At this year's Spring Showcase, Xbox head Phil Spencer spoke about the possibility of seeing new hardware capabilities within the console generation, but then said modular console upgrades weren't in the plans. He later went on record as saying he's not a big fan of an "Xbox One and a Half" style console. Still, as rumors and leaks surrounding an upgraded PS4 swirl, similar rumors have begun to circulate out of Xbox's camp. The prevailing notion is that we'll see two different models – a slimmer Xbox One featuring performance on par with that of the current Xbox One model, and a more powerful model that supports higher resolution gaming. While nothing is set in stone, it wouldn't be surprising to see Xbox hop on-board with this idea as Sony's announcement appears to be more and more imminent.

Xbox Dives Deeper Into Virtual Reality
At that same Spring Showcase event, Xbox head Phil Spencer indicated that despite having a good relationship with Oculus, the current plans did not include supporting full virtual reality on Xbox One. To this point, Xbox One has limited capabilities with the Rift; you can view games in a theater-type mode, but no announcement of full VR experiences on Xbox One has been made. With E3 right around the corner, some believe that Xbox could be implementing VR support of some kind for its console revision. With a strong relationship with Oculus in tow, it would make sense that Microsoft would expand the functionality its console has with the Rift. One of the big reasons given for the rumored PS4 upgrade is to further support PlayStation VR, so if there is in fact a more powerful Xbox One on the horizon, VR could be another reason for that system to exist as well. This move would benefit both Microsoft and Oculus as the Xbox One would add virtual reality capabilities without the burdensome process of creating its own headset, while Oculus would secure a needed boost to its installed user-base.

Gears Of War 4 Takes Center Stage
Last year, Halo 5: Guardians played a major role in the Xbox One media briefing. With no mainline entry in the Halo franchise yet announced, we expect the spotlight to shift to Xbox's other flagship franchise: Gears of War. We got our first look at Gears of War 4 at last year's E3, and learned much more through our cover story a few months back, but we anticipate seeing ample new footage at E3 2016. With no word on 343's next Halo title, expect Gears of War 4 to be the centerpiece of Xbox's media briefing.

A Continued Emphasis On The Universal Windows Platform
Ever since the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft has been pushing for further integration into all pillars of its business – PC, Xbox, and mobile – through the Universal Windows Platform. This platform is heralded by Microsoft as a developer-friendly platform that allows for easier implementation of cross-network play, cross-platform saves, and cross-buys. While we've seen some of those benefits already get rolled out to Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs, we're still waiting to see the UWP's full potential. We expect Microsoft will continue its push for better UWP integration at E3 2016.

A Major Xbox One Game Comes To PC
Another part of Microsoft's Windows 10 initiative is that several exclusive Xbox One titles have begun launching simultaneously on Windows 10 PCs. We most recently saw that with Quantum Break, and according to Xbox head Phil Spencer, it's not going to be something Microsoft abandons any time soon. Look out for a big first-party or third-party exclusive game to be announced as coming to Windows 10 PCs as well.

The Dead Rises Once Again
One of the biggest launch titles for Xbox One was Capcom's Dead Rising 3. The zombie-slayer was well-received, but it's been nearly three years since that title launched. It wouldn't be surprising if Microsoft and Capcom renewed that mutually beneficial partnership to release a follow-up to that bloody adventure.

Click over to the next page to read more of our predictions for Microsoft's E3 2016.

Microsoft Secures A Big Third-Party Exclusive
As we've seen with Dead Rising 3, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Scalebound, one of Microsoft's key strategies seems to be investing in third-party exclusive titles. Look for another big third-party developer to announce that it's working with Microsoft to release exclusively on Xbox One.

Crackdown 3 Misses The Party
Though we've been hearing about Crackdown 3 for nearly two years now, the release plan for the game has been murky at best. It was announced that Crackdown 3's multiplayer component would launch this summer on its own, but with so little news as of late, the only news we hear out of E3 could be that it's delayed.

Rare Steps Into The Spotlight
Ever since Phil Spencer walked on-stage donning a Battletoads t-shirt under his sport coat at a Windows 10 event, fans have been wondering if Rare (which is owned by Microsoft) is returning to its classic, long-dormant franchise. Since then, we've seen the Toads appear in games like Killer Instinct and Shovel Knight through cameos. But with the celebration of Rare's past releasing last year in Rare Replay, it could be the perfect time for the studio to reveal work on a game like this. In addition, we expect that Sea of Thieves will get some stage time as we learn more about this swashbuckling adventure. 

A First Significant Look At Halo Wars 2 Ends With Halo 6 Teaser
Halo Wars 2 is one of Xbox's biggest releases this fall/holiday season, so we expect to learn some new information about the strategy title. Everybody expects Halo Wars 2, but we'll likely get a teaser for whatever follow-up to Halo 5 developer 343 Industries is working on. We're not thinking it'll be anything significant (think the Halo 5 teaser of Master Chief wandering through the desert), but it'll be enough to whet the appetites of the franchise's fans.

Microsoft Touts Backward Compatibility Numbers And Shows Off Upcoming Additions
One of the biggest announcements to come out of Microsoft's E3 2015 press conference was the addition of backward compatibility with select Xbox 360 titles. Xbox head Phil Spencer says backward compatibility is a long-term vision for the brand, and we bet Microsoft and Xbox will continue to tout this advantage it holds over its rival system by giving us the full number of BC titles to date, and then announcing the next slate of games coming to the feature through a sizzle reel or wall of games graphic. This would be the perfect time to announce some of the more highly-requested titles that have yet to appear.

The Witness Jumps To Xbox One
One of the more lauded titles on the PS4 and PC this year has been The Witness from Jonathan Blow and the team at Thekla, Inc. It's a game Microsoft likely wants to reach its player-base, so it would be a big win to bring Blow out on stage to announce an Xbox One port and release date.

Playdead's Inside Comes Out To Play
The developers behind Limbo have been working on Inside for several years now. Originally slated for launch in early 2015, a late delay last year was the last piece of significant news we've received. We don't know much about Playdead's follow-up title, but we're hoping the developer rectifies that with some more gameplay and perhaps a release window. 

Platinum Delivers More Scalebound
The anticipated Xbox-exclusive action game from Platinum may have been delayed into 2017, but it's likely that we'll get new footage as well as an appearance from Kamiya himself on stage at Microsoft's media briefing. Look for Scalebound's stylish, dragon-wielding action to take up some time on the stage.