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E3: Microsoft announces backwards compatibility, new games

Jun 15, 2015

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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E3: Microsoft PresentationHalo. Tomb Raider. Gears of War.

Microsoft pulled out the big guns at E3 2015, focusing on games, games, more games and some special surprise announcements.

Perhaps the one that will be most applauded by gamers is that backwards compatibility is coming to Xbox One.

"Your Xbox 360 games, the games you've invested your time and money in and the games you want to continue playing will be available natively on your Xbox One ," said Phill Spencer, head of Xbox. "Our goal is to deliver the largest game catalogue ever on Xbox and Xbox One backwards compatibility allows us to do just that."

Microsoft announced that over 100 titles will be available this holiday season with hundreds more being added in the months following. The game will show up automatically in a player's games library on Xbox One or players will be able to insert their original retail disk and the game will be downloaded, updated. Multiplayer in those 360 games will be available cross platform.

E3: Microsoft PresentationMicrosoft showed off the backwards compatibility feature spotlighting the original 360 edition of Mass Effect being played on an Xbox One.

"With Xbox backwards compatibility, we will not charge you for the games you already own," said Mike Ybarra, head of platforming engineering for Microsoft.

There was no shortage of new titles either as Microsoft showcased some of their biggest and most popular franchises.

In exclusive footage from Halo 5: Guardians, Microsoft detailed the storyline even further. Master Chief has gone rogue with his journey taking him to the Covenant stronghold. Spartan Locke is assigned to command a team to hunt down Master Chief and discover whether he is a hero or turned traitor. Footage showed Locke's team – Osiris - traversing through a Covenant palace or city, fighting off Prometheans, including new warriors with morphing armour. The co-op will be entitled WarZone and is exactly that, massive maps with teams and all sorts of A.I. aliens and robot enemies, armored battle suits. Microsoft claims the maps themselves are four times larger than previous Halo maps and will host 24 players at any given time.

E3: Microsoft PresentationHalo 5: Guardians will hit stores October 27th.

To be released on November 10th, Rise of the Tomb Raider seemed to be taking its rightful place as Microsoft's version of Uncharted. In the trailer, we saw Lara Croft emerging into a Siberian blizzard from a cave in her search for a lost city. In a hectic action sequence, Croft climbed an ice wall, dodged a lighting strike from a raging storm and outran an avalanche by leaping, zip-lining and sliding down ice walls. It was an impressive sequence to be sure.

Also on display was a teaser trailer for the next chapter in the Gears of War saga. Simply entitled Gears 4, the short scene had two COG soldiers pursuing an alien creature through an abandoned town under the cover of darkness. Using a chainsaw bayonet to slice through a gate, the soldiers are swarmed by what appears to be amphibian crab-like creatures. Gears 4 will be in the hands of gamers holiday 2016. A remastered Gears of War (The Ultimate Edition) will have 1080p resolution with 60-frames-per-second gameplay is also in the works. A beta version is available on Xbox One today and available in stores August 25.

E3: Microsoft PresentationA must-have bundle for all Xbox One owners is the Rare Replay which will be available on August 4th. It will contain 30 games including Battletoads, Perfect Dark, Conker, Viva Piñata, Banjo-Kazooie and a host of other titles for just $30. The release contains a 10,000 game score. Rare also announced a new title Sea of Thieves, which appeared to be a promising multiplayer pirate adventure featuring ship battles and sword fights.

Some other highlights include:

Forza Motorsport 6 . Race over 450 Forzavista cars in 26 destinations. Available September 15, 2015.

Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege. Inspired by the reality of counterterrorist operatives across the world, "Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege" invites players to master the art of destruction. Intense close-quarter confrontations, high lethality, tactics, team play, and tension are at the center of the experience. Available Oct. 13, 2015.

E3: Microsoft PresentationPlants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2. The battle for suburbia grows to crazy new heights in "Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2". For the first time in franchise history, zombies have taken over and plants are on the attack. Available 2016.

Fallout 4. Under development at Bethesda Game Studios. Every second is a fight for survival, and every choice is yours. All purchases of "Fallout 4" on Xbox One will include a token for "Fallout 3" through the first 90 days after "Fallout 4's" release. "Fallout 4" is available Nov.10, 2015.

ReCore. From legendary creator Keiji Inafune and the makers of "Metroid Prime" comes "ReCore," a classic action-adventure reimagined for a new generation. As one of the last remaining humans, forge friendships with an eclectic cast of robots and lead them on an epic adventure across a mysterious, ever-changing world. Available spring 2016.

Ashen. This action RPG is about a wanderer in search of a place to call home. There is no sun, and the only natural light comes from eruptions that cover the land in ash. This is a world where nothing lasts, no matter how tightly you cling to it. At its core, "Ashen" is about forging relationships. Players can guide those they trust to their camp — together, you might just stand a chance.

E3: Microsoft PresentationBeyond Eyes. In this modern fairy tale about finding courage and friendship, step by step you'll uncover an incredible world, carefully guiding Rae, a young blind girl, on a life-changing journey. Available 2015.

Cuphead. This single-player or co-op run-and-gun platformer is heavily focused on boss battles. Inspired by 1930s cartoons, the visuals are hand drawn and inked and the music is all original jazz recordings. Cuphead and Mugman traverse strange worlds, acquire new weapons, learn powerful supermoves and uncover hidden secrets.

Gigantic. A new free-to-play shooter MOBA where heroes battle alongside a massive guardian. "Gigantic" tests teamwork, tactics and timing as you confront a five-story foe and conquer a fantasy battlefield.

Tacoma. Discovery. Exploration. Isolation. What is life like 200,000 miles from Earth? You uncover the mysteries held by Lunar Transfer Station Tacoma and its crew, living at the edge of humanity's reach.

E3: Microsoft PresentationAnother announcement which stunned the crowd was the application of HoloLens with a new version of Minecraft specifically made for the device. Hololens, Microsoft's version of augmented-reality gaming, looked and worked like something out of a science fiction blockbuster. Putting a HoloLens on a regular camera allowed the audience to exactly see what the Minecraft player was. While wearing the HoloLens headset, the player projected their screen on a blank wall but more fantastically, rendered a 3-D model of their world on an empty table. Using voice and their hands, the player could rotate their world, zoom in, raise it up to look underneath, and peer inside buildings and other structures.

Microsoft also showed off its new Elite Wireless Controller which has paddles from driving games, trigger locks, swappable sticks, pads and a new D-pad. The controller's button mapping, thumbstick sensitivity, triggers can all be customized. The Elite Wireless Controller will be available this fall but Microsoft didn't disclose a price tag.

You can view the entire press conference here:

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