Microsoft has some of the best game exclusives, technology and software around; they’ve given one of their best E3 performances yet, leaving plenty for the fans to get excited about. You can find Microsoft’s E3 conference on Xbox’s Twitch, and you should go watch it – even if you’re only interested in Halo, or Tom Clancy: The Division – because some of the ideas they’re pitching might just catch you off-guard with brilliance.

Microsoft set off with a bang, kind of predictably, setting the bar for the night high with Halo 5: Guardians. The teaser showed some previously unseen footage, taking place as we trace Master Chief – the now wanted fugitive – in the breathtaking scape of Halo. Multiplayer was emphasized in the feature, with matches up to 24 players and computer AI’s, taking place in maps up to 4 times larger than you’re used to – Halo 5 is going to be a worthy installment to the franchise.

Tom Clancy: The Division was also received positively, now finally having a release date March 8th across all platforms (plus a beta in December for Xbox owners). The story takes place in what feels like a personal journey through this RPG, but it’s the multiplayer that shows the most promise. From the looks of the demo, the focus on cooperative gameplay is important to get through certain modes; sticking very much to the gritty tactics that make the Clancy games popular.

Fallout 4 came up again, shedding little new light on the game (thanks to the Bethesda panel hours before) other than stating that mods will be available for free, to share and play across PC and Xbox One.

Tomb Raider made her appearance, too, hanging precariously on the side of an icy mountain in the middle of a storm – the adventure in these games kick in right from the word go. They really have nailed the graphics, though; the game is a far cry from the pointed angles of the original.

Along with the news that Gears of War: Ultimate Edition (another remaster, please try to contain your excitement) is going to bring the old versions of the games up to spec with Xbox One’s 1080p, 60fps graphic standards, we were gifted a trailer for Gears of War 4. There’s something about the dark, harrowing night and trying to avoid alien goop that provides the perfect atmosphere for shooting in.

Other games that come under the Xbox exclusive banner include: Plants vs. Zombies 2 Garden Warfare, Dead Souls III and of course the Ford GT for Forza 6. All the gameplay teasers are on Xbox’s YouTube page, if you haven’t poured over every second of them already. Some of the smaller titles got to spend some time in the spotlight, too, Phantasmal and Gigantic (beta available in August) to name a few, but my personal favorite has to be Cupheads. There’s just a charm to the ’60’s style artwork, and platformer design that tickles me about Cupheads.

1000’s of indie developers are receiving Microsoft support, and their work will be coming to Xbox as exclusives too – harnessing Microsoft’s pocket money and hardware to come out with some neat content that’s just for Xbox. From the developers that brought you ‘Gone Home’, a space adventure Tacoma has been announced. Ashen, an action RPG and Beyond Eyes, the artistic adventure game are just some of the more notable games that came from the gameplay trailers Microsoft were showing.

While Microsoft claims this to be ‘just the start’, I can’t help but feel this is the late (and long awaited) return of the prodigal son after last year’s far less successful E3.

Still, that’s all behind Microsoft, as they’ve learnt from their mistakes, they have to evolve and adapt, to bring features and technology to the table that other companies can’t.

Their solution? Total domination.

Having Windows 10 as the base operating system for Xbox One, Oculus; most PCs; Xbox controllers for Oculus and then this whole new gaming business side of their HoloLens, Microsoft know when it’s time to go hard or go home.

On top of the tech, Microsoft are expanding their additional features to include their own version of early access, Xbox Game Preview. You get a free trial of a game, which you can then choose to back right away or wait it out to see how the developers change it. The Long Dark and Elite Dangerous are the first games to get this treatment (both available on early access today) with DayZ and Sheltered due to come later in the year.

For me, I can’t wait to get my hands on and my head into the new Halo. However, I’m also intrigued by the smaller titles, the ones that maybe didn’t get more than a bare minimum mention but that contain fascinating game mechanics. Anyway, the path to discovering indie titles on Xbox just got easier; after all, this is the best Xbox line up we’ve seen in years.

What games are you most looking forward to? Let me know in the comments below.

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