Today is the first official day of the Electronic Entertainment Expo, otherwise known as E3, and the Xbox team was on-stage to deliver plenty of news surrounding Xbox. It would be fair to say that in the past the Xbox team focused too much on the non-gaming aspects of the Xbox One, but today’s media briefing was all about gaming. There was quite a bit announced today, so let’s go over the highlights.

Likely the biggest news of the day was the announcement that Xbox 360 games will be playable on the Xbox One. Microsoft has built an Xbox 360 software emulator which can be launched in order to play titles from their older console. This is not vaporware either; the emulator is available starting today for people in the Xbox preview program. Currently the selection of titles is limited and more will be converted before launch, with the Xbox team targeting a holiday release for this feature. The feature will work with games that have been purchased digitally or on disc, and if you have the disc, you have to insert it, and the system will download the files to the Xbox One. I assume the disc will need to be in the device in order to play as well. So although this is an emulator, clearly Microsoft is doing a lot of work on converting the code to run quickly on the much different hardware in the Xbox One, which is x86 based, as compared to the Xbox 360’s PowerPC architecture. Fans can vote on Xbox Feedback which games they want to see converted first, and more will be added over time.

In addition, the Microsoft has created the Xbox Elite Controller, which offers up a lot more options and customizations than the current Xbox Controller. Players can choose among six thumbsticks, with different shapes, sizes, and heights, to tailor the controller to your own gaming style. The D-Pad is also new, with a unique faceted face which should help in some games, or you can switch to the traditional D-Pad if the title prefers the accuracy of that pad.

There are four slots on the back for interchangeable paddles, giving you access to more commands with more fingers. There are also hair trigger locks which reduce the movement necessary to activate the triggers, which are valuable in a game where the full range of trigger motion is not necessary. It can quickly be deactivated to get the full range back.

There will be an Xbox Accessories App on both the Xbox One and Windows 10 to let you customize the experience and map buttons, and you can save up to 255 controller profiles for custom settings on many games. You can even load two profiles and switch between them on the fly.

The thumbsticks are stainless steel, and there are low-friction reinforced rings around the thumbsticks for a long life. The new controller will retail for $149.99 and has availability in October.

Moving on from the new controller (which it appears I need to get) Microsoft also reiterated its new partnership with Oculus for the Rift launch, but in addition they are also partnering with Valve VR. This is very interesting since Valve seems to have had a cool relationship with Microsoft over the last couple of years, and it is great to see them working together on Virtual Reality. Microsoft also showed off their own Augmented Reality device, the Hololens, with a custom version of Minecraft which players can explore and build with using Microsoft’s own headset.

There was also plenty of software talk today as well, since any piece of hardware needs quality software. Microsoft is adding a new feature to allow players to try out games while they are being developed with the launch of the Xbox Game Preview pilot program. This is a lot like Steam’s Early Access. Microsoft was keen to point out that they have a lot of indie developers on-board.

Last, but certainly not least, is the list of upcoming Xbox titles, some of which are exclusive to Xbox and some of which will have a limited exclusivity window. Exclusive games to Xbox include Ashen, Cuphead, Fable Legends, Forza Motorsport 6, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Gears of War 4, Gigantic, Halo 5: Guardians,  Rare Replay (a collection of old Rare games), ReCore, and Sea Thieves, with Beyond Eyes, Tacoma, and the much anticipated Rise of the Tomb Raider being timed exclusives on the platform.

Microsoft has not had the success with the Xbox One, compared in relative terms at least, to the Xbox 360, and with this briefing being exclusively focused on gaming, and the introduction of a special controller for the enthusiast crowd, Microsoft is trying to win back some mindshare. Only time will tell if they are successful.

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  • damianrobertjones - Tuesday, June 16, 2015 - link

    Most consumers cannot tell the difference between 720p and 1080p let alone, all those years back, dvd and vhs.
  • nikon133 - Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - link

    I'll agree with you on this one. I run my PS4 on 720p TV at present. My wife uses main 1080p TV for her reality and other TV, so I'd rather play on lesser TV whenever I have time, than compromise with her TV schedule.

    I can see the difference, but it doesn't really change game perception in important enough way. Still same gameplay and visuals, save for output resolution.

    But. Next Unreal, CryTek, iD engine... might push this hardware over the limit. PS4 can fall back to 720p in order to keep eye-candy and frame-rate at reasonable levels. Where can XBO fall back? At some point, multiplatform games will start looking better on PS4 - I expect - beyond just an output resolution.
  • Hrel - Thursday, June 18, 2015 - link

    Uh, the difference between 720p and 1080p is night and day. A color blind autistic dwarf with partially detached retina's could tell them apart.
  • tipoo - Monday, June 29, 2015 - link

    All depends on panel size and distance. 720p to 1080p on my 50" at around 5 feet, yeah I can tell. 900p (where many XBO games are) to 1080p, not so much, 720 to 900, yes.
  • JeffFlanagan - Tuesday, June 16, 2015 - link

    It seems that Morawka is one of the people who fills the comment sections at game sites with derp knocking the console they either couldn't afford or were brainwashed into hating. Of course the PS4 fans will have their own VR system and lots of great games. Fortunately I can afford all consoles and a nice gaming PC to enjoy all the fantastic games that have been and will be released.
  • nikon133 - Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - link

    Lucky you. I could afford all platforms, but not the time... so it is PC and PS4 for me...
  • Morawka - Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - link

    yet my comment incited a lot of discussion. As for the VR argument, lets have that discussion.

    Say you got $500 saved back for AR or VR. you wanna try this new bleeding edge tech out but aren't willing to go crazy with the $$ until you see it's value first-hand.

    Are you gonna go with a Sony VR headset that can only be used on a PS4. or are you gonna try the Oculus VR that can be used on PC, Linux, and Xbox One.

    Now a person might say "well i'm gonna buy the VR for the system i own." But then i say, what if your a PC Gamer too? are you still gonna choose propriety PS4 VR over Oculus?

    And then you might not want VR at all. You might want AR.. Which is holo lens and HTC and Steam's version.. But those are both for PC (aka Microsoft PC).

    And a lot of people dont realize, the Xbox One is a Windows 10 PC. with the same kernal as windows 10 on the desktop. It's x86, has 8GB RAM, HDD, Network, PCH, etc.. Just like the PS4.. However Sony doesn't have a Desktop or mobile OS. naturally the advantage goes to Microsoft.
  • nikon133 - Thursday, June 18, 2015 - link

    I don't care about Linux gaming, I don't think it will catch up with Windows gaming any time soon - especially with DX12 promise on Windows side.

    I also don't have XBO... nor do I think that GPU in XBO can successfully run VR on average. That MS sided with OR and SteamVR is just their PR response to Morpheus - I'm not convinced they will really be pushing VR on console developers and games, since they really have no investment in this tech... so I'm choosing between PS4 VR and PC VR.

    Eventually, I will wait to see what games come out to take advantage of VR on either platform. While PC does have technological edge - hardware limitations are easily solvable with some money injection - it also suffers from decentralization. Morpheus is 1st party solution and Sony can push requirements for Morpheus support on pretty much any developer who wants to create PS4 game. OR is 3rd party solution and each developer can decide to support it or not, but no one will be in position to force this decision on devs, and I fear that scenario will be such as this - devs will wait for OR to sell enough before they start spending their development budget on VR support development and optimization, and people would wait for good games to appear before investing... in short, I think that Morpheus is safer, being a part of walled garden and having direct support from platform holder.

    XBO will be Win 10 PC when every game released for either works on both. I don't think we'll see this. The hypervisor (core OS) is basically Windows OS, to my knowledge, but gaming OS which runs on top of it is quite a different beast.
  • Morawka - Thursday, June 18, 2015 - link

    a VR headset is nothing more than a monitor with head tracking.. Weather it's native or not just decides what API your using.

    That's like saying you bought a sony monitor because you have a sony computer, and you hope the tech will work more seamlessly.

    On the game engine api side they are both gonna use amd's VR api since both consoles use a amd gpu. The oculus will be treated as a monitor with a few special api calls just the same as Morpheus.
  • DesktopMan - Monday, June 29, 2015 - link

    Ref Oculus Rift on Linux and Xbox One: Linux support has officially been put on hold, while Xbox One support for actual games VR has not been announced.

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