E3: Microsoft Unveils ‘Halo 5’ to Tout Xbox One

Microsoft had one message at its E3 press conference this year: The Xbox is the place for exclusive games.

The company showcased over a dozen AAA titles that will only be playable on the Xbox One this holiday season and in 2016. From showcase flagships such as “Halo 5: Guardians” and “Rise of the Tomb Raider” to new titles from well-respected developers, the company that stumbled so badly at the beginning of this generation of consoles offered its strongest case yet for players to buy its system.

“These games make up what I believe is the greatest lineup in Xbox history,” said Phil Spencer, head of the Xbox division a Microsoft. “If you have been waiting to move from your Xbox 360 to Xbox One, now is the time.”

To make that move more attractive for people who have yet to buy a next-generation console, Microsoft also announced that starting this holiday, the Xbox One would be able to play all Xbox 360 games – a feature the system was missing at launch, which was roundly criticized by gamers.

Ultimately, though, Microsoft is counting on its games to bring players into the fold – and it kicked off the event by showcasing “Halo 5: Guardians,” which will hit store shelves on Oct. 27.

Rather than focusing the demo on the Master Chief, the game’s iconic hero, Microsoft instead opted to showcase the game’s four-player cooperative mode, which will feature at least one Hollywood talent. One of the Spartans shown in the demo was voiced by and had the same face as actor (and outspoken Halo fan) Nathan Fillion.

Throughout the 90-minute event at the Galen Auditorium, Microsoft showcased new installments in popular franchises, new games from well-respected developers and new technology.

Among existing game series, the company will release a 30-title collection from inhouse Rare Studios (including “Perfect Dark” and “Battletoads,” both classics), “Fable Legends” (the latest in that long-running series) and “Rise of the Tomb Raider”; next year it will launch the next iteration of the “Gears of War” franchise.

Notably, though, Activision’s “Call of Duty” franchise was not shown at Microsoft’s event – the first time in at least five years that the game has not been present – raising questions on whether Xbox players will continue to receive early access to downloadable content for the game.

Several respected developers are making Xbox exclusive games, including Keiji Infume, former producer of the “Mega-Man” series. His “Recore,” made in conjunction with Austin’s Armature Studios, will debut next year.

And, on the heels of last week’s announcement of Microsoft’s collaboration with Oculus, the company unveiled a similar relationship with Valve and HTC for the Vive VR headset, which is scheduled to be released this year. As with Oculus, Xbox One games streamed through Windows 10 will be compatible with the Vive headset.

And, not to be outshone in the virtual world space, Microsoft showcased its Hololens technology with “Minecraft,” demonstrating how players will be able to move the game from the screen to tabletops or other objects, zooming in on the game and discovering hidden areas with gesture and voice commands.

Several of the games and technologies shown at the event will be on display starting tomorrow when E3, the video game industry’s annual confab, begins.

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