2014 was kinder to Microsoft’s Xbox One entertainment console. That being said, it wasn’t until 2015 that Microsoft broke free of the shackles stilling keeping the Xbox One on solid ground. The company continued to push the cost of owning an Xbox One down with a new price cut. It added more hardware accessories to the mix too, bringing back old add-ons that people loved and scrapping ideas that just didn’t work out.
In 2015 Microsoft finally delivered an Xbox One ChatPad instead of forcing users to connect a physical keyboard or use their smartphone with the Xbox One SmartGlass app installed. Launched in November, the New Xbox One Experience delivered a more modern take on what a gaming console’s interface should be. It replaced the somewhat sparse, isolating interface that launched with the console back in 2013. Halo 5: Guardians, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition and Forza Motorsport 6 all arrived.
2016 could be even bigger for the Xbox One than 2015 was. Here’s what we’re excited to see arrive in the new year from Microsoft.
What if a video game was a television show and that television show was interactive? That question seems to have been what was going through the minds at Remedy and Microsoft Games Studios when they came up with the concept for Quantum Break. Quantum Break is a science-fiction shooter, but with an embedded television show starring actor Shawn Ashmore.
Originally, Quantum Break was a part of Microsoft’s 2015 games line-up. The company quietly pushed off the release of the game until April 5th, 2016. Ashmore’s character gains the ability to manipulate time. It’s at that point that a shadowy corporation leader comes after him. We’re excited to see how Microsoft balances the game’s cut-scenes and video footage with actual gameplay.
Microsoft Takes PC Gaming Seriously
In 2015 Microsoft declared its intentions to take PC gaming seriously. I say declared because aside from creating a very capable app on devices running its Windows 10 operating system, the company delivered little else in the space. It spent the entire year teasing Gigantic and Fable Legends only to run out the clock in late December and delay both games. Gigantic and Fable Legends are two free-to-play games that will allow Xbox One and Windows gamers to play with each other over Xbox Live side-by-side. Microsoft has also confirmed that Gears of War Ultimate Edition is coming to Windows PCs.
In 2016 Microsoft should be able to deliver the PC games and Xbox Live functionality that it promised last year. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for the company to finally roll out program purchases for the Windows Store as it promised earlier this year either. That feature could allow the company to compete directly with PC gaming power house Steam.
Gears of War 4
This year Xbox One players got Halo 5: Guardians, arguably the most popular franchise that Microsoft has in its arsenal. In 2016 Gears of War 4 arrives on the Xbox One. Expect improved graphics and improved gameplay from the best-selling third-person shooter. Microsoft’s own The Coalition studio is working on the game.
Announced at E3 2015, ReCore is a new game coming exclusively to the Xbox One sometime this calendar year. Comcept is developing ReCore in partnership with Microsoft’s internal video games publishing arm. We do know that Keji Inafune is involved with the project. We also know that ReCore is an Action-Adventure game. Microsoft and Comcept haven’t shared much else about the title.
Halo Wars 2
If there’s a game coming in 2016 that we know less about than ReCore than its Halo Wars 2. It was also announced during Microsoft’s E3 2015 Media Briefing, but we haven’t gotten any new details about the game since.
The Halo Wars series of games are based on the same universe as the rest of the Halo series. Where they differ is in genre and gameplay, Halo Wars is a strategy game that lets players go to war with each other by building their own army of Spartans and UNSC vehicles. Halo Wars 2 is another game launching on both the PC and Xbox One sometime within 2016.
Xbox One as DVR
Microsoft’s original concept for the Xbox One centered around a single device that users could setup in their living room and enjoy different types of entertainment. The company wasn’t able to fully articulate that vision to buyers, but it remains as committed to it as it has ever been.
Late last year Microsoft unveiled new software additions to its Xbox OneGuide experience. Sometime in 2016 it’s aiming to integrate Sling TV directly with the OneGuide so that users of the service don’t have to put up with its lackluster app experience on Xbox One. Anyone with a digital TV tuner connected to their Xbox One will be able to record broadcast television shows and movies to an external drive connected to their console as well. The Xbox One SmartGlass app for iPhone, Android and more will let Xbox owners watch that content away from home, according to Microsoft.
Finally, there’s the very real shortage of Xbox Elite Wireless Controllers. Microsoft unveiled the new controller at E3 2015, saying that it wanted to create the world’s great controller for professional gamers and anyone really serious about their titles. The controller allows users to add paddles to their controller, switch controller profiles easily and change the D-Pad surface using replacements provided with the controller itself.
Right now, it’s impossible to find an Xbox Elite Wireless Controller anywhere. The company says that this is because it underestimated the amount of people who would be interested in the accessory. Potential buyers should have an easier time of finding the accessory in 2016.
2016 is shaping up to be a great year for the Xbox One. Microsoft just has to deliver on what it’s already promised and offer up a few surprises. The Xbox One is on sale for as little as $299 until the holiday shopping season ends in 2016.