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E3 2015: What to Expect from Microsoft

It's that time of the year! We're taking a look at a few E3 press conference holders and what they might have in store for us. Microsoft begins the Monday frenzy with plans to show off Halo 5, Forza Motorsport 6, Windows 10, and more. Check out our full E3 Press Conference Schedule for dates and times. We've also compiled a Where to Watch Press Conferences list with a few alternatives for each.

The Games

Microsoft has been playing catch-up with Sony ever since both companies launched their newest systems. Since then, MS has been adjusting their initial plans to stay competitive in multiple ways. The console is cheaper, they've made hardware upgrades, the indie parity clause is essentially gone, and now with Sony themselves claiming their 2015 lineup as "sparse" it's time for MS to strike.

The four core franchises of the Xbox will all be readily available at E3: Gears, Forza, Fable, and Halo. The Coalition, formerly known as Black Tusk Studios, recently updated the Gears of War homepage and on top of that sheer amount of images, videos, and leaked ratings all but guarantee that Gears of War will be present in some form or another at this years press conference.

Forza Motorsport 6 and Halo 5 are the latest in the long standing Xbox franchises respectively. Forza will feature a new partnership with Ford while boasting stunning visuals and a multitude of cars. Halo 5 follows Locke as he hunts down the last hope for humanity: Master Chief. Halo 5 will be the first in the series to run at 60 frames-per-second and fans got a little taste with the 2014 beta which lasted for roughly two weeks. Expect to see more campaign gameplay at E3.

Windows 10 and Beyond

The last of the core franchises is Fable Legends. Compared to the previous three, Fable might seem like the most unimportant. But there is reason to believe that Fable just might get more attention than the other three: Windows 10. MS has already announced that Windows 10 will be publicly available starting July 29th. This close to release, MS will likely be showing off the new platform in a variety of ways. But Fable Legends proves to be a unique game in that regard. Not only is Fable Legends being developed for Windows 10, but it will also use the new DirectX 12 (the saving grace for Xbox graphics). Legends will also have cross-platform multiplayer between the Xbox One and Windows 10 users. A rare feature for PC games.

The new features that Windows 10 enables for games isn't all MS will be showing off. Recently, the Xbox One was updated to "prepare for the future". That future could very well be June 15. The Xbox One user interface was designed with the idea that everyone would be using a Kinect to navigate through its menus. Not only did Kinect owners use their controllers instead, but it was also eventually removed as a mandatory accessory from consoles. It's time for MS to get rid of the current UI and replace it with a new Windows 10 layout.

Windows 10 isn't the only thing MS have cooking up their sleeves. Just this week they revealed a partnership with Oculus Rift. The new partnership means that Xbox One games will be able to be streamed to the Oculus thanks to new Windows 10 features and that every Oculus will come with an Xbox One controller. But don't forget about HoloLens! The other virtual headset that MS was touting prior to the Oculus announcement. It's unclear which headset MS will focus on for the near future, but expect at least one to be included during the press conference.

The Rest

As fans, we want to be surprised. The core franchises and new platforms are great, but we want to see something new. Something that will "wow" us. Unfortunately a few of those games have been announced to be held back this year and instead shown off at Gamescom. The three being Crackdown, Scalebound, and Quantum Break. Yet there is still hope. The removal of those three games leaves the door open for brand new IP's to take the spotlight. Microsoft's new take on indie games will also likely be front and center.

The Microsoft and Xbox brands have a lot to offer. We can expect the core franchises as well as a few newcomers. Windows 10 and Oculus Rift are sure to be present, and I wouldn't be surprised to see a 'Games with Gold' announcement as well. With Sony lacking in the exclusive department and Nintendo sticking with a pseudo-conference format, E3 2015 is Microsoft's to lose. It all goes down Monday, June 15th.
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