As expected, Microsoft will make its upcoming Xbox One console available to purchase in time for the holiday shopping season. The console won't come cheap, however, as the Blu-ray equipped gaming device will command $499 when it ships in 21 countries this November, Microsoft revealed on the eve of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). Setting the stage for a showdown with Sony and its competing PlayStation 4 console, Microsoft's pre-E3 event was mostly about showing off exclusive launch titles.
Too pricey for your blood? Don't worry if you have plans to stick with the Xbox 360 for the foreseeable future, Microsoft promises it hasn't forgotten about its current generation console. In fact, it even debuted a slimmer, sleeker version of the 360 today that's been updated with the look and feel of the Xbox One. Games will still release to the 360, including World of Tanks, which features 15-on-15 team warfare.
On the topic of Xbox Live Gold, members will now receive two free game downloads per month. This begins right away with Halo 3 and Assassin's Creed 2. Also, Gold members will carry over to the Xbox One, with anyone in your home being able to access "most" Gold member benefits at no additional cost, Microsoft said.
Moving on to the Xbox One exclusives, Microsoft brought several studio heads on stage to show off their upcoming games.
"Microsoft Studios is committed to making Xbox One the best place to play games, with more titles in development and more exclusives coming than at any time in the history of Xbox," said Phil Spencer, corporate vice president, Microsoft Studios. "With amazing games such as ‘Forza Motorsport 5,’ ‘Ryse: Son of Rome,’ ‘Dead Rising 3,’ ‘Halo Xbox One,’ ‘Kinect Sports Rivals,’ ‘Project Spark’ and ‘Quantum Break,’ Xbox will continue to lead the industry with the biggest exclusives, new IP and blockbuster franchises that will delight gamers for the next decade and beyond."
Several of the games looked promising, such as Dead Rising 3 with its endless hordes of zombies. It features open-world gameplay, SmartGlass and Kinect integration, and hundreds of weapons that can be combined, such as taping a flashlight to a pistol for fighting in the dark.
Another neat thing Microsoft showcased is the integration of Twitch into Xbox One. With Game DVR and Upload Studio 3, gamers can capture their epic moments, edit them, and then share their videos with friends. Using Twich, a single voice command starts the live broadcasting.
Forza Motorsport 5, launching in November alongside the Xbox One, is another title that holds a lot of promise. It will lean heavily on the cloud, not only for polygons and other graphics goodies, but for a specialized AI. Your "drivatar," as it's called, will learn how you like to drive as you play the game. It knows when you like to break, how fast to take corners, and much more. With that information, your drivatar will compete with other racers while you're away at school or work, and you'll get credit for how it performs.