Xbox talks up big games and backwards compatibility at E3

Most of the time, we’re talking gadgets, but this week our eyes are fixed on screens, watching trailers and demos that showcase why late 2015 and early 2016 will rock for games on Xbox One.

So let’s talk some of these games that will be appearing, because there are quite a few, especially if you’re an Xbox One owner.

For instance, the action adventure blockbuster “Halo” continues the story this year with an October release date set for “Halo 5: Guardians”, set to bring in a big single-player game, and yet provide plenty of gameplay in multiplayer spanning cooperative missions and 24-player person-versus-person gaming. Halo 5 is set to arrive in October of this year.

Halo 5
Halo 5

The Cliffy Bleszinski-designed “Gears of War” games are also getting a look in on the Xbox One this year, and not just in one game, but technically two. The first of these is a sequel, or a sequel upon sequel upon sequel, with “Gears of War 4” announced and set to arrive in 2016.

Before that happens, however, you’ll get to reload your machine gun and chainsaw combo for a look at a remastered and remade edition of the original title, coming in “Gears of War: Ultimate Edition”, which has been remastered and made modern for the Xbox One instead of the Xbox 360 the game originally came out on, with new content and extra campaigns, not to mention graphics that have been tightened up and made to look clearer for the XB1 console. The remastered Gears of War is scheduled for a late August release in 2015.

Here's what "Gears of War" looks like on the Xbox 360...
Here’s what “Gears of War” looks like on the Xbox 360…
...and here's what it looks like on the Xbox One. Remastered is almost always better.
…and here’s what it looks like on the Xbox One. Remastered is almost always better.

And if saving a planet from weird aliens hell bent on killing you isn’t quite your cup of chainsaw-filled tea, perhaps something a little closer to home with “Fallout 4”, the latest iteration of the post-apocalyptic action adventure series that has been running since the late 90s. This one lands closer to the end of the year, with the 2015 holiday season being suggested for release.


If that doesn’t suit, perhaps a new take on Tomb Raider will (above), with “Rise of the Tomb Raider” set to provide Indiana Jones-like antics in what is being described as a “cinematic survival action adventure”. November will see more tombs being raided on the Xbox One console.

Forza Motorsport 6
Forza Motorsport 6

There are, truth be told, a whole ton of games we’re not even mentioning, because there is just too much to list, but we’re excited for the console release of the massively multiplayer space action game “Elite: Dangerous”, the next Disney Infinity title (yes, we’re kids at heart), a game based on the Mad Max title, lots of car racing in “Forza Motorsport 6”, and the next “Star Wars: Battlefront” title that will let you be either the good guys (Rebels) or the bad guys (the Empire) and play out scenes like that opening attack on the Rebel Base on Hoth in “The Empire Strikes Back”.

Space action for the win in "Elite: Dangerous"
Space action for the win in “Elite: Dangerous”

New games aren’t the only thing being talked up at E3, with Microsoft also mentioning something about backwards compatibility.

For those who aren’t quite aware of this issue, owners of both the Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 can’t actually grab their older Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 titles and just load them up on the new consoles, as the hardware is so different, compatibility was never written in.

That means if you have a huge library of older games, you could only load them on the older console, which is why many of us have kept our older console lying around. Sometimes you just want to play an older game that the new console doesn’t have. This writer occasionally loads up a “Mass Effect” game, for instance.

In fact, backwards compatibility has been one of the issues plaguing consoles for some time now. Even on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, there wasn’t much offered for either, with the first generation of PlayStation 3 supporting some games of the PlayStation 2, though quite poorly, while the Xbox 360 never really did much for the older original Xbox games and instead had developers remake them for the Xbox 360.

But Microsoft appears to want people to know that it still cares about compatibility, and has announced a degree of backwards compatibility for the Xbox One.


That “degree” stems from games that were digital purchases on the Xbox 360, with 100 Xbox 360 titles being supported to play on the Xbox One, with some of the confirmed titles including the first “Mass Effect”, “Perfect Dark Zero”, “Alan Wake”, as well as a couple of the “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six” games, too.

Interestingly, Microsoft is also saying that you should be able to play Xbox 360 games that you haven’t bought online, such as those found on the Xbox 360 optical media, with the company telling journalists that you merely need to “put the disc in the drive, install the game and start playing”.

It’s not going to be as simple as that for your entire collection, at least in the beginning, because there aren’t a lot of titles being activated at first, with merely 100 to begin with.


More will be added later, and Microsoft is saying it will be something closer to “hundreds more” following the release of the first 100, but it isn’t saying how well the games will run. We’re hoping the conversion from Xbox 360 to Xbox One is clear, because it would be nice not to have to keep plugging in the old Xbox 360 when we want to play an old game.

Microsoft is also talking up hardware at the Electronic Entertainment Expo this week, and while it already sent out an alert last week about a bigger Xbox One coming — well, bigger with more hard drive space, anyway — this week is about a new controller and more about Microsoft’s exciting augmented reality HoloLens concept it showed off last year.


First the controller, and this will be the Xbox Elite Controller, a specialty game pad that uses stainless steel in its design and allows gamers to customise the controller for specific setups, while lasting longer than a regular controller.

You can change what buttons do and modify trigger sensitivity, with software for Windows 10 able to change how the controller responds in Windows games, too.

We’re not sure this will be for everyone, but big gamers who spend lots of time on their consoles will no doubt find this an interesting little gadget to look at, and Microsoft appears to be interested in competing in the competitive gaming sector that Razer currently looks at right now.


A new interface will be rolled out for the regular Xbox One experience, with Microsoft bringing its Siri-like virtual assistant “Cortana” to the Xbox, which should link up your information across Windows computers to the Xbox One, as well as other devices, with the platform coming to Android and iOS too.

Xbox Avatars will also return, and the home screen will change, too, as Microsoft brings elements of Windows 10 to the Xbox platform.

Finally, Microsoft is talking HoloLens and showing what its headset-based computing experience will do for games.

Previously, we’ve seen some neat demos of what the concept could do from a productivity environment, bringing a Windows environment to a workspace that only you can see, and that concept will now extend to gaming.

Not much is known here, but Microsoft’s “Minecraft” title will be one of the first to work with the HoloLens hardware, with the company showing off a 3D version that someone could interact with in their own home, providing a more immersive and almost digital-Lego like version of the gaming title.


Microsoft’s HoloLens still has no release date, however, and no price, either, and it’s doubtful it will make the Windows 10 release date of July 29. That said, the virtual reality technologies are really spinning up, and Microsoft’s take on augmented reality could definitely make HoloLens a force to be reckoned with, especially given that the company is now working with Valve VR to make Windows 10 better for VR styles of gaming.