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What Microsoft Said About its VR Plans for Xbox

The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, California begins tomorrow, but prior to the show opening there are several press conferences taking place by some of the major videogame publishers and manufacturers. Both Electronic Arts (EA) and Bethesda held their events yesterday. Today Microsoft held its press conference and the company made some very big announcements in relation to virtual reality (VR). The main one came right at the end where Phil Spencer Head of Xbox confirmed the long rumoured Project Scorpio, a more powerful console that’s been designed to output not only 4K but also VR.

But the first VR announcement came by way of Mojang AB and Minecraft with ‘The Friendly Update’. Available across platforms, the update is about sharing and collaboration and to talk about the Samsung Gear VR version was Oculus VR’s Chief Technology Officer, John Carmack. “It feels like you’re living and breathing in a Minecraft world. I’ve said that Minecraft was my grail for VR, and this was the most important gaming application that I could be involved with,” said Carmack. “The ability to spin around, take in everything, and have the freedom to explore an endless world is what I thought the core of VR was intended to be.”

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Then for almost the rest of the conference lots exclusive announcements followed but no further mention of VR came about until Spencer came back on stage to reveal Project Scorpio. With that a video launched featuring developers from several studios to talk about the abilities of the new system. One of those was Todd Howard, Executive Producer on Fallout 4 at Bethesda Softworks. At Bethesda’s press conference the company dropped a surprise announcement on plans for VR, with both Fallout 4 and the recently released DOOM being worked on. Stating in the reveal video Howard said: “We’re moving Fallout 4 to VR, and to have a console that can support that at the resolution and speed that we want I think it is going to be magical.”

Heading back to Spencer, the Xbox boss started to talk about how Xbox Live can be used by developers across multiple platforms such as mobile and Windows 10. But the online system for Xbox players will also come to VR, allowing achievements to be unlocked. Spencer said: “So today we’ve shown you how Xbox Live is available for developers to use across Xbox, Windows 10, VR and mobile.” VRFocus reported earlier that Minecraft Gear VR Edition would be getting Xbox Achievements with 56 available totalling 1110 points.

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To round things off Spencer closed his keynote by saying: “When it ships next year we believe it will be the most powerful console ever built. With six teraflops of power this is hardware built specifically to lead the console industry into true 4K gaming and high fidelity VR. True 4K visuals without sacrificing quality, premier VR experiences without sacrificing performance. Putting greater graphic fidelity in the hands of the worlds best creators.”

The announcement stopped short of detailing which head-mounted displays (HMDs) would be supported, the likely hood is Oculus Rift due to Microsoft and Oculus VR’s close relationship. But that’s not to say HTC Vive couldn’t work, as both HMDs require similar specifications to operate.