Microsoft Xbox E3 2015 Briefing: Top Five Highlights

The Xbox E3 2015 briefing moved at a rapid pace. The two-hour conference was jam-packed with so many announcements and previews that our fingers could barely keep up during the live-blogging. Here are five personal highlights.

It’s safe to say this was one of the best Xbox E3 briefings in recent years, with the head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, claiming "there has never been a better time to be an Xbox gamer".

Sony is holding its E3 conference later in the day so we’ll wait and see if this will be the Year of the Xbox. In the meantime, here are our top five highlights to come out of the Xbox E3 2015 briefing:

Xbox 360 backwards compatibility

In the announcement that elicited the loudest cheers at the Xbox conference, Microsoft is bringing out backwards compatibility for Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One.

Lack of backwards compatibility is always a sticking point for gamers, especially given next-gen hardware is definitely capable of supporting games from older consoles. Many gamers also don’t want to part with their extensive collection of games on previous generation of consoles.

In one fell swoop, Microsoft has not only appeased disgruntled gamers, but also significantly expanded its games catalogue for the Xbox One. Well played, Microsoft.

Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality

Fresh off its partnership with Oculus VR, Microsoft has formed another relationship in its quest for virtual reality dominance in the gaming space by teaming up with Valve VR. Much like the Oculus partnership, the Xbox One Elite Wireless controller will be compatible with Valve’s VR headset. Xbox games can be streamed through Windows 10 onto both the Oculus and Value VR devices.

With the new alliances and Xbox Elite controller, Microsoft is determined to make Windows 10 the best platform for VR gaming. But the company is also keen on investing in augmented reality. At the Xbox E3 conference, Microsoft’s HoloLens headset took centre stage and was paired with Minecraft.

The HoloLens was announced in January and is an AR device capable of summoning holograms through the headset. We saw HoloLens being used to create and destroy things in Minecraft, which brings a whole layer to the gaming experience.

Games, games, games

Microsoft has really stepped up in terms of focusing more on what gamers really want – more games.

The company is covering all bases and announced a swathe of titles ranging from brand new exclusive franchises such as ReCore (from the creators of Metroid Prime and Mega Man), additions to favourites like Gears of War 4 and a number of exclusive indie titles.

Indie games played a big part in the Xbox conference and Microsoft invited a select few to come on stage to talk through their creations such as the visually stunning Beyond Eyes and the quirky 1930s styled Cuphead.

Microsoft also announced a new indies game pilot program where users can try out games that are still in development.

Great news for gamers and smaller developers all around.

Fallout 4 mods coming to Xbox One and breaking down the wall between PC and console gamers

It was a bit of a surprise to see Fallout 4 at the Xbox conference given that it’s not a platform exclusive. We should have suspected something was up and it was revealed that Fallout 4 PC mods will work on the Xbox One version.

Modding is a huge part of the Fallout PC gaming community and console gamers have been left out of the fun, until now.

This is just one of the moves Microsoft has made to bridge the divide between PC and console gaming as it also kicked off Xbox One game streaming to PCs. Heck, it even designed the new Xbox One Elite controller to be compatible with PCs.

Is Microsoft determined to end the war between PC gamers and Console gamers? It definitely makes sense given the company has its foot in both camps.

Rare Replay Collection

Rare was once the darling of the gaming industry having developed some of the best games that are still loved to this day.

While it has been years since we’ve seen anything worthwhile from the old industry stalwart, Rare is determined to relive its glory days by bundling 30 of its titles into one epic collection. The Rare Replay collection includes Perfect Dark, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Banjo-Kazooie and more.

For pure nostalgia factor, we're pumped to see the old Rare classics come to the Xbox One. No need to dust off your Nintendo 64.

What are your top highlights from the Xbox E3 2015 briefing? Let us know in the comments!

Gizmodo attended E3 as a guest of Microsoft Australia.

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