For some people, they look forward to Spring Training, the NFL Draft, and the Super Bowl. For others, our biggest time of the year comes every June when all the biggest names in Gaming come out to show us what they have up their sleeves! Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo use this as their opportunity to call each other’s bluff and get everyone on each of their respective “Hype Trains.”
So what can we expect this year? Well we know for sure there will be games and likely a focus on VR with Oculus and Sony both refining and debuting their tech. Microsoft will be coming in strong with their almost “Born Again” focus on gaming. Nintendo will of course show us more of the long-awaited Zelda but will we see anything about the heavily rumored NX? Let’s breakdown the things we know about and what we want to see!
!!Disclaimer!! – The predictions listed in this post are exactly that, predictions. While there are some truth to many of the rumors floating around, there are no details on the actual design of any products mentioned below that have not been officially announced.
Microsoft came out of the gates swinging last year with their emphasis on exclusives and some pretty interesting holographic technology with HoloLens. We had our first look at Gears of War 4, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Quantum Break along with Microsoft starting a new partnership with EA for early access to their Battlefield series (similar to their previous pairing with Activision and Call of Duty).
But what will they wow us with this year? The Xbox One has been out for a bit now and has even seen a few price drops along the way, a move that was needed to play catchup with Sony and the PS4. These are some of the things we are likely to see.
Xbox One Redesign and “Project Scorpio”.
Like in generations past, consoles usually see a redesign, making them more compact with some sort of boost to storage or another minor component and this year seems like that trend will continue. Microsoft has been heavily rumored to be prepping the announcement of a new Xbox One model that will be smaller than the current one but will pack a generously large storage option with 2TB internal HDD. Now as someone who primarily does digital copies, this is a fantastic option for most, but it seems kind of silly considering consumers can plug in any USB 3.0 Hard Drive to expand their storage. On the other hand, a smaller, more compact console would be a welcome change to the behemoth that is the current model.
What about “Project Scorpio”? What is it and why are there so many rumblings about this? Well, for starters, the whole thing started with the head of Microsoft’s Xbox Division, Phil Spencer. Spencer had made comments in the past that he would like to see consoles take a more PC approach to evolution. This paired with leaks coming out of the industry, and you have the makings of a pretty interesting rumor.
“Project Scorpio” is said to be more of an internal redesign than a cosmetic upgrade. The console is said to be 4K compatible and come with upgraded CPU, GPU and RAM. Scorpio will also likely be the “made for VR” console that Oculus will need to get into living rooms around the world. Again, this is all speculation but with Sony recently confirming their own enhanced PS4(K), and the recent push for VR in the industry, one can’t help but think this is a sure thing.
Let’s not forget about this nifty bit of technology. Demoed during the 2015 Microsoft presentation, the HoloLens had wowed many in the audience and those at home with it’s futuristic take on VR. Users watched as the demonstrator brought the world of Minecraft to life on the stage. We were witness to the user navigating the world with simple hand gestures. We watched in awe as we would zoom in and pan out with ease, giving us more accessibility to the world of Minecraft. In that moment, you could almost hear the thunderous roar of kids (and a good chunk of adults) around the world screaming in excitement as they thought of all the possibilities.
The design of the tech is similar to most VR headsets that you see but with a hint of Google Glass thrown in. If you check out the official site, they show the HoloLens being used for a wide variety of tasks, most of which are outside of the realm of gaming, implying that the device is not meant specifically for entertainment.
- We will see a redesigned console. It will retain the same touch sensitive design on the enclosure as the current model but will be more unified in the texture. The design will be a little more rounded and less boxy than the current along with a matte finish (no more easy scratches and fingerprints!). Xbox One Slim will also feature 2 USB ports on the front along with 2 in the rear.
- Microsoft is rumored to not disclose the upgraded console but I feel like it will be mentioned. I would like to be truly surprised and see them fully unveil the specs for the console but hold off the actual device presentation for late in the trade-show season.
- Oculus Rift will be on the stage, showing off what Microsoft has planned with this generation’s newest gimmick. Just like with motion Controls and 3D last console generation, this generation will focus heavily on virtual reality. While VR is an interesting concept, I would personally like to skip this entire part and see more emphasis on content for the hardware I already own.
- HoloLens will be demoed once more and perhaps on a grander scale. While Minecraft is cool, I would love to see it in use with some AAA titles. What would a FPS like Battlefield look like behind the HoloLens. I expect to see another contained example using another easily contained source a la Minecraft.
- Microsoft will be the big winner of the night. They learned from the previous 2 appearances and they know that they need to focus on the gamers. New hardware and pricing will do just that and they know this from their recent successes. The only challenge they have is if the Neo is announced and Scorpio isn’t.
Sony has been on top of the world since the release of the PS4. The company took advantage of its competitors mistakes and haven’t looked back. By doing so, they enjoyed having the top selling console for the majority of this generation so far, but with recent price drops on the Xbox One, Sony needed to think of something to stay ahead of the game.
“Project Neo” is the answer to Microsoft and the rumored “Project Scorpio”. The only difference is that Neo has been acknowledge by Sony when they claimed that we will not be seeing it during their presentation this week. Although we will not be seeing the console, gaming site Giantbomb had released the details of this new PS4 a couple months back. Giantbomb had obtained information from a few sources close to the project that claimed Sony was designing a new console that would live alongside the current PS4
Like Scorpio, Neo would have an upgraded GPU, CPU, and RAM, allowing developers to get more out of their games. With this new console, developers will be required to make games that are at minimum 1080p resolution and should allow them to run at a much higher frame rate than some of the current titles. The hardware will also allow for the ability to output 4K resolution. 4K will be more along the lines of movies and streaming content but games should be able to experience some upscaling.
The rumored specs compared to the current specs look like this:
Developers will be required to make their games to be compatible with both the original and the Neo, with all current games seeing an update to make them compatible with and able to utilize the resources found with Neo. While this may make the development of games a little more tedious, it gives fans that are not looking to spend money on a new console a reason not to do so and those that want to get it will not feel burned by the games they already own.
Sony has revealed that they, too, have entered the VR race with their own branded headset. The Playstation VR will be out this fall and comes at a hefty price of $399 (the cost of the PS4 at launch). This is no surprise when considering the cost of the Oculus Rift is more than PSVR will be. The headset only features 720p resolution which is a step backwards, especially considering the company is trying to push 4K much like they did with Blu Ray. VR appears to be the next big thing but it does beg the question of why? Will VR really make that much of an impact and justify its expensive entrance fee? Or will this be the same as Kinect and Playstation Move and be fun for the moment but eventually collect dust?
- Sony will debut “Project Neo” at the show despite their comments stating otherwise. They will want to get this thing out the door and into the minds of the people. They know it would be a gamble to announce the console along side the upcoming release of PSVR but they know that the audience will be thinking about Neo, especially after having acknowledging its existence.
- The Neo will likely keep the same style that the current PS4 has with some minor tweaks. I expect it to be a little bigger to allow for a better cooling system (my only grief with the current PS4 is that it always sounds like lift off when I play any game). In an attempt to appease users that need more storage, they will allow the console to use external storage devices (again something I hate considering I have already maxed a 2TB internal and the Third-Party stuff is pretty weak).
- Playstation VR will be demoed and, much like the HoloLens above, they will keep it contained rather than use something unexpected. A first-person view Assassin’s Creed would be a killer demonstration that could get me to buy the headset, but this is unlikely. The show will push the VR headset hard, making us wish that they would talk more about Neo.
- Sony will again ignore the existence of the PS Vita, much like they have in the past with the PSP. They may mention the ability to remote play but that will be it for the Vita.
- Sony will come in second this year unless they announce Neo. The company knows they have the upper hand, but they also know that they are taking a huge gamble with VR and that they do not have a great track record for add-on hardware.
Nintendo hasn’t really been a heavy hitter in years past. The company knows their audience and they know that people will continue popping out kids, the primary audience for most of their games. While most gamers still love Mario, Zelda, Star Fox and the rest of the gang, Nintendo hasn’t had the relationship they once had with both fans and third-party developers.
The company knows that their bread and butter is in the handheld category. The Nintendo 3DS had a rocky start, but the company doubled down and the gamble paid off. With the constant stream of titles coming out, and the easily affordable price point of both the 3DS and 2DS, the company can assure the world that they will not be going anywhere soon.
The “home console” has been a different story. The poorly named Wii-U has been out for longer than the other current gen consoles; the release of it was a late start for the company, being that it wasn’t even on par with either the 360 or the PS3. The console made use of the touchscreen controller and did have a few neat features like the ability to play most games on the controller while the family could still use the TV for other purposes.
But Nintendo is not one to give up. No, they refuse to go the route of their former rival Sega by continuing their fight for your living room. Enter the Nintendo NX. NX is the newest console for the Japanese-based legends, and like the previous two consoles, it looks to completely change the way we see console gaming. Rumored to be more on par with current consoles, the NX will feature a controller that is entirely a touch screen. What other features it will have is unknown other than the upcoming Zelda has been pushed back to become a priority title for NX.
- Nintendo will talk about their handheld dominance. They will likely have some sort of redesign for their current handhelds. The redesign will be enough for the masses to trade in their current 2/3DS for whatever the new one is. I like to call this the Apple Tactic.
- Nintendo will finally reveal exactly what the NX is. The console will debut with a sizzle reel and a more in-depth look at the upcoming Zelda. The games will look beautiful and I think the visuals will surprise even those who have already written Nintendo off. The hardware will look sleek as always and it will likely feature barebones storage like its predecessor. The controller will be the eye candy for the console and they will show some new features for the touch screen but it will not be anything definitive.
- Nintendo will get the approval of their niche audience and they may get a few naysayers to join them, but the company knows they can never get the same backing as the big 2, Sony and Microsoft.