With a fairly successful E3 2015 that showed off HoloLens, Gears of War 4, Halo 5, and one of the most expensive (yet surprisingly well received) controllers to ever grace consoles, it is clear that Microsoft is aiming for a more well rounded approach with their Xbox One console. This year, between Virtual Reality finally hitting consumer markets and Sony having no foreseeable flood of major game releases, Microsoft is in a prime position to show what their Xbox One console can offer in the years to come.
The Obvious- It would be more surprising if these didn’t show up
Gears of War 4
It’s Gears of War, it’s on current gen consoles, and it’s a flagship franchise for Xbox. It doesn’t take a fortune teller to anticipate that Microsoft will show off some kind of Gears of War 4 trailer or gameplay at E3 2016, even if only to get people talking about it. Besides, what better way to advertise your upcoming product than to show it off at the most high profile gaming event of the year?
Very few things can attract attention faster than massive environmental destruction, especially if there’s a chance to partake in said destruction with your friends in an open world shooter that offers all kinds of enhanced movement options and vehicles. Plus it does give Microsoft a chance to boast about the power of the Xbox One and cloud computing.
Halo Wars 2
Realistically speaking, Halo 6 is not going to be released any time soon. At best, there might be a teaser at E3 2016, but it is hardly much of a secret that there will be a Halo 6. That being said, that won’t stop Microsoft from dedicating a chunk of their presentation to something Halo related, and Halo Wars 2 gives them the perfect opportunity to do so. Showing off gameplay will more or less be a given, but it would not be surprising if Microsoft also took the time to remind people of their commitment to supporting both Xbox One and Windows 10.
Remember this little game? You know, the one where there was a minute long teaser at E3 2015 that showed some desert and some robots and stuff? Chances are that if Microsoft is going to keep most of their presentation’s focus on games, then ReCore will have some kind of mention. Unfortunately, the game has apparently been delayed. Fortunately, this opens up an opportunity for Microsoft to not only tease what kind of games they have lined up for 2017, but to also boast about how they support new IPs and games that aren’t part of huge, pre-existing franchises.
The Maybes- High risk, potentially high reward
After everyone saw the price of the Oculus Rift, not to mention the cost of the hardware that is required to support modern VR technology, it would be safe to say that enthusiasm for VR tapered off fairly quickly. While HoloLens might sport a similar price tag, Microsoft can potentially convince consumers that their price tag is justified with a demo of what separates HoloLens from all the other competing VR platforms out there. If done correctly, this can even cause enough people to talk about HoloLens that Sony’s VR project will simply be drowned out in all the chatter.
However, there is an equal possibility that Microsoft does not want to unveil HoloLens until they are absolutely sure that consumers will purchase the product, especially given their experiences with the Kinect. As amazing as the Kinect was from a technological standpoint, not a lot of people were willing to spend money on it, fueling a vicious cycle where no one would develop anything with Kinect support in mind due to low consumer interest, and there’s no interest because there’s not much that you can do with it.
Xbox One hardware updates
It is no surprise that a well built PC can outperform any console, regardless of whether it’s an Xbox or PlayStation. Needless to say, this means that PCs are currently the only things that can support modern VR technology, but it does severely limit the potential audience of VR. For both Sony and Microsoft to enter such a market and potentially make VR/HoloLens a commercially viable product, it would require either completely new consoles or gradual hardware improvements to existing consoles. Of the two choices, gradual hardware upgrades are much more friendly to the traditional benefits of consoles in that it would be relatively simple, inexpensive, and completely optional, and it would certainly cause less outrage compared to having to replace your console every year.
The Don’t Hold Your Breaths- Better get your good luck charm
Sunset Overdrive 2
It is not often that a well-received AAA launch title with one of the most memorable aesthetics and gameplay mechanics of this generation is offered as a free game as part of the Games with Gold program, and it seems much too coincidental that it just so happened to be offered as a free game just a couple of months before E3 2016. Plus, a Sunset Overdrive 2 would help diversify Microsoft’s 2017 lineup of games by offering something that isn’t super realistic, has super nitty gritty graphics, takes place in space, or is a loot based shooter.
On the other hand, just because Sunset Overdrive was a popular game when it was free doesn’t necessarily mean that Microsoft would be willing to invest in such a project (if they didn’t already do so). After all, interest doesn’t always translate to actual purchases (i.e. Batttleborn).
At this point, it’s more or less common knowledge that everyone is investing into VR in some fashion. Sony has their first party VR peripheral, there’s already at least two competing VR headsets, and it would surprise no one if there is at least one mention of VR at every major E3 conference. So far, the only major party that has been keeping rather quiet on the subject of VR is Microsoft. However, it should be kept in mind that the Oculus Rift comes with Xbox One controllers for a reason, and it never hurts to have your bases covered.
That being said, it’s far more likely that Microsoft is going all in with their HoloLens product, as it could very well be a part of a new wave of home electronics that don’t necessarily only pertain to gaming. Plus it’s much easier for their marketing if they can compare HoloLens to Iron Man, Star Wars, Star Trek, and pretty much anything that has holograms in it.