Gamescom 2015: the 8 most important Xbox announcements

Microsoft kicked off Gamescom 2015 in a big way. While the company’s keynote covered a lot of the same ground as its E3 press conference in June, it also featured a number of new announcements that make the Xbox One more tempting than ever. There are improvements to the console itself, like the new DVR functionality, as well as exciting new games to play on it — including a whole lot of Halo. Here are the eight biggest announcements from the event in Germany.

Quantum Break has a release date and a strong (Human) cast

After a long wait, Remedy's TV / game hybrid Quantum Break finally has a firm release date: April 5th 2016. The footage seen at Gamescom (ostensibly its reintroduction) looks intriguing. We also got our first good glimpse at the all-star cast — including Shawn Ashmore, Aidan Gillen, and Lance Reddick — both as in-game characters and as live-action humans for the TV show counterpart.

shawn ashmore quantum break

Crackdown 3 will have "100 percent destructible environments"

Because super-powered agents in an open-world environment shouldn't be stopped by immovable chain-link fences, Realtime Worlds' Crackdown 3 will have a multiplayer experience that promises "100 percent destructible environments" (no word on if all modes will have the same carte-blanche mayhem). The trailer also claims that the game will use Microsoft's cloud to provide "20 times more computational power" than the Xbox One. Bold claims, but given Crackdown 3 has no firm release date, there's no telling when we'll see it in practice.

Crackdown 3 Image: Microsoft Studios

Windows 10 is coming to the Xbox One

Microsoft's redesigned Xbox One dashboard, powered by Windows 10, is set for release in November. The new design is faster, easier to navigate, and features Windows 10 voice assistant Cortana (Kinect will be required for talking back).

Xbox One will become a TV DVR next year

While the Xbox One has transitioned away from its origins as an all-in-one entertainment device, it's not exclusively a gaming device. For those that have free-to-air digital TV tuners in US and Europe, starting next year Microsoft will let you record programs for streaming to any Windows 10 device in the house (or download for watching on the go).

Backwards compatibility for all future games with gold titles

One of the big surprise announcements from E3 was select Xbox 360 games being compatible with Xbox One. As we get closer to that November date, we're starting to see the fruits of that promise. All future Xbox 360 Games with Gold titles — those free full games that Microsoft offers a monthly basis — will be compatible with Xbox One. In practice, that means up to four games per month if you subscribe to Microsoft's Xbox subscription. That also means Just Cause 3 can launch with Just Cause 2 bundled, just in case you missed it the first time around.

There's a new $1 million Halo e-sports championship

Though Halo has long been a major part of e-sports, its influence has declined over the years, thanks in no small part to competition from Call of Duty. Microsoft hopes Halo 5: Guardians can change all that — and if that's not enough, a $1 million Halo World Championship launching later this year might also boost interest.

... And a new Halo 5-themed Xbox One console

If you don't have an Xbox One yet — or you do but have a lot of money to kill — you can get a new limited-edition bundle designed around Halo 5: Guardians with metallic blue detailing on both console and controller. The 1TB model will cost $499 and is coming one week before Halo 5 (you'll still have to wait until October 27th to actually play).

Halo 5 Xbox

... and Halo Wars 2

Ah, the surprise announcement of the show. The original Halo Wars was a 2009 real-time strategy game. We know next to nothing about the sequel other than it's being made by the same studio who did the great horror title Alien Isolation. Oh, and it's coming next year.

Halo Wars 2