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E3 2017 Predictions: Microsoft

by Game Informer Staff on Jun 04, 2017 at 04:00 PM

Microsoft has a lot riding on its 2017 E3 press conference. The promise of a powerful new console, the questions surrounding a lagging first-party game library, and the specter of a virtual/augmented/mixed-reality headset are all swirling around the Xbox brand, so head honcho Phil Spencer and his team have a lot on their plates right now. Here are our best educated guesses on what Xbox fans can expect to see at this year’s show. 

Project Scorpio Gets Official Name, Price, Release Date
This one’s a no-brainer. We’ve seen the chipset. We’ve read about the unrivaled power. Now it’s time for Microsoft to make the final push with an official name reveal (watch us guess some names here), first glimpse at the industrial design (we bet it's black!), release date (probably fall), and price (we pray it stays under $500). This feels like an E3 inevitability, so the real question is, will Phil Spencer lead or close with the details everyone’s dying to know?

Probability: Sure bet

Forza 7 Headlines Scorpio Lineup
The Scorpio is all about increased resolutions and high-dynamic range color and contrast. What better game to showcase this bump in horsepower than Microsoft’s speedy racing franchise? We expect a heavy dose of silky smooth framerates, jaw-dropping locations, and impossibly gorgeous sports cars. In classic Microsoft fashion, this showcase will be accompanied by the reveal of a new car manufacturer coming to the series, and one of their flagship cars receiving prominent positioning on the stage. We also expect Microsoft to lean heavily on third-party titles like Star Wars: Battlefront II and Middle-earth: Shadow of War to show off the console's capabilities. 

Probability: Sure bet

Crackdown 3, Sea of Thieves Get 2017 Release Dates
With no Halo or Gears of War on the immediate horizon, Microsoft needs some games to step up and take the mantle for the 2017 holiday season. The two most likely candidates are Crackdown 3 and Sea of Thieves. 

Originally revealed back in 2014, Crackdown 3 has faded in and out of the public spotlight the past three years. We’ve seen the impressive cloud-powered destructible environments in the zany multiplayer mode, but we still don’t know much about the campaign. We expect Microsoft to fill in that blank while also revealing the release date. 

Last year Microsoft intimated that Rare’s bawdy pirate multiplayer experience, Sea of Thieves, is expected to release in 2017 as well. We'll bet a sack of doubloons that seafaring gamers will be raising their pirate flags and pilfering booty in one form or another by the end of the year. We wouldn’t be surprised if a public beta released under the Game Preview banner.

Probability: Sure bet

Microsoft Pushes Mixer Hard
As the Zune and Windows Phone demonstrate, Microsoft has never been shy about showing up late to the party. As the Xbox platform proved, you can still find success even if you are a tardy entrant in a highly competitive market. Twitch and YouTube may be the dominant players in the live streaming realm, but Microsoft has big plans for its Mixer service (formerly known as Beam). After recently announcing the name change and some interesting innovations like co-streaming technology, we expect Microsoft to give the platform some stage time at E3, and maybe even trot out a popular streamer it convinced to switch to its platform. 

Probability: Sure bet

Microsoft Continues To Mine Steam Early Access For Game Preview Titles
Steam early access has proven a fertile recruiting ground for Microsoft. Many intriguing concepts like The Long Dark, We Happy Few, and Ark: Survival Evolved have made the jump to the Xbox Game Preview platform, and we expect the announcements to continue at E3 2017. The most likely candidates? We like the chances of Dead Cells and the red-hot battle royal game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds making the leap. 

Probability: 50/50

Continue to the next page to read about our other Microsoft predictions.

State of Decay 2 Gets Triple-A Treatment
The original State of Decay was rough around the edges, but the emergent narratives that unfolded as you tried to survive the zombie apocalypse were remarkable. Microsoft understands the sequel has a ton of potential, and desperately needs another flagship game to emerge from its first-party offerings. That’s why we expect the publisher to treat Undead Labs’ next game just as it would any other triple-A offering, with ample stage time to showcase why this next entry could be special. In addition to a lengthy demo, we expect them to announce a 2018 release date.

Probability: 50/50

The Master Chief Collection Heads To PC
Both Phil Spencer and 343 Industries shot down rumblings that the next major entry in the Halo series would make an appearance at E3 this year, so unless they are lying to us, we likely won’t get the short cinematic teaser the company is so fond of using during Halo off-years. That said, 343’s community manager Brian Jarrard said that “we’ll have a little something at E3.” Our best guess is Halo: The Master Chief Collection coming to PC will have full Play Anywhere support. 

Probability: 50/50

Updated Elite Controller Ships With Scorpio
Microsoft has already shipped more than one million Xbox One Elite controllers, so we know a market exists for these high-end gamepads. The Scorpio reveal is the perfect time to unveil a new version. We’d love to see it include Bluetooth functionality this time around, and take advantage of the Design Lab interface so users can personalize their controller.  

Probability: 50/50

Microsoft Reveals Virtual-Reality Plans
Up to this point, Microsoft has approached the emerging virtual-reality market with caution. While Sony rushed out the PSVR, Redmond seemed content waiting to see how many early adopters would embrace the technology. That said, we’ve always expected they have some version of a proprietary headset in development, and the reveal of some headsets at GDC this year seemed to confirm it. We also saw Bethesda's Todd Howard speculate about how the power of the Scorpio could be leveraged to deliver a VR version of Fallout 4, a game expected to come out this year, so we wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft uses the E3 stage to tease a new Xbox and PC-compatible headset.

Probability: Long Shot

The Coalition Resurrects Canceled New IP
We saw a brief glimpse of Black Tusk’s stealth infiltration game back in 2013, but once the Gears license became available the studio understandably shut it down and rebranded as The Coalition. With Gears of War 4 out the door and Microsoft hurting for new IP, we wonder if the publisher would entertain letting the studio resume this intriguing project. While a good game, Gears 4 didn’t reignite the passion for the franchise to the degree that Microsoft probably hoped, so this could be a good opportunity for MS to use one of its most talented studios to build a new gaming brand for the platform.

Probability: Long Shot