Microsoft came into this year’s Electronics Entertainment Expo with something to prove. They’re trailing behind Sony’s PS4 in sales (granted, the slower, country-by-country rollout has contributed to that) and arguably didn’t have as great a show last year as their primary competition, either. With the Xbox One out now, Microsoft decided to concentrate on games, not hardware, peripherals or apps, and it proved to be the right call because this year they came with a very strong showing.
Phil Spencer came out with a nice, diplomatic opening, playing up how everyone–console manufacturers, publishers and developers–are all at E3 for the fans, to talk about games, and how as such, the entire Microsoft press conference is all about games this year. Spencer also touted how player feedback has shaped the Xbox One release and the changes made to the system during monthly updates and asked gamers for more feedback going forward. From here on out, it was pretty much all games, all the time. The first part of the show was about games coming in 2014, and the latter part was about games in 2015 and beyond.
Games coming in 2014
Call of Duty
Microsoft lead off the conference with the best selling series in Xbox history. The Advanced Warfare trailer (below) looks great, just like the previous trailer and features a good bit of gameplay. The more sci-fi style setting is a nice change of pace for the game, but as fellow TGB staff member Jimmy pointed out during the show, the flying robots make it feel like a prequel to The Matrix. The only downside of the trailer was that there wasn’t enough Kevin Spacey.
Switching gears, Dan Greenewald from Turn 10 came on to talk about the Forza franchise. First talking about the additions that have been seen thus far in Forza 5 while great looking cars cycled through the background. Then came the first of two reveals: Nurburgring in Forza 5, including 16 mile combined circuit, which is available starting today for free. Afterwards, Ralph Fulton from Playground Games took the stage to announce Forza Horizon 2,which will feature dynamic weather, no lobbies for online races and the create a “racing club” with friends. Then he showed off a sweet looking trailer (embedded below). Forza Horizon 2 is set for a September 30th release on Xbox One.
Up next was a quick trailer from Turtle Rock showing off their upcoming game Evolve. It showed a team of four taking on a giant kraken-like monster in a dark cave area. The environment was nice, if a bit dark. The trailer showed off each of the four classes: assault, trapper, medic and support. This was the first of two games featuring a 4-players versus one mechanic during this show, which seems to be a mechanic that is gaining steam. The beta will be out this fall.
Vincent Pontbriand from Ubisoft came to introduce Assassin’s Creed Unity, which will likely see some more stage time during Ubisoft’s conference later today. The game is set during the French Revolution and features a new assassin, Dorian. Unity will be the first time players can create a “brotherhood” by playing up to 4 player co-op on Xbox Live. The gameplay demo showed off how four players can work together to create some new stealthy strategies for the game, but boy will that co-op open up the chance for trolls to ruin mission after mission.
Then a quick traler for Dragon Age: Inquisition came on, with graphics that were not as realistic as many of the games shown thus far. The change in style made the differences all the more stark, but the series definitely makes the right call staying away from more photorealistic character designs. The game is set for an October 7th release date, with more info probably to come in the EA press conference.
The trailer (below) starts out looking like a military shooter, and I admit that I was a little confused at first. Then it turns into something that just looks like it’s out of a comic book and it’s clear what game it’s for. The trailer is filled with humor and bright colors, featuring monologue from a punky version of Carson Daly. Afterwards, Insomniac Games’ Ted Price comes out to talk about it and show off a gameplay demo. He spends a good portion of the demo grinding around in a way that is reminiscent of Jet Set Radio. The game will feature an eight-player “chaos squad” multiplayer mode as well as a single-player campaign when it comes out October 28th on Xbox One.
A pair of quick hits
Several games took center stage for only a few moments at a time at this point. First, a trailer for Dead Rising 3 DLC called “Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade Remix Hyper Edition EX Plus Alpha Prime” that spoofs Capcom’s long history of tacked-on words to their game sequels. The DLC features the ability to switch the characters costumes to a vast array of characters from other Capcom titles and looks almost as ridiculous as Sunset Overdrive. Afterwards, Alex Rigopolous from Harmonix came out to talk about upcoming releases Fantasia: Music Evolved and then newly announced Dance Central Spotlight, which is coming in September as a download-only game.
David Eckelberry from Lionhead showed off some gameplay featuring four characters who were kind of annoying. So, when the 4 vs. 1 mode was introduced, I was cheering for the villain, who lost miserably. The game features four characters wandering around bashing on enemies as is standard to Fable, but now a fifth person can create levels and lay out enemies and traps to challenge them a la a tower defense game. It’s an interesting idea, but it doesn’t seem like something that will have a lot of legs. Maybe more options will be added between now and the multiplayer beta later this year, which can be signed up for at the game’s website.
Two more quick trailers
First was a quick trailer from Project Spark which has had over 1 million creators. They are adding new “Galaxies” palettes and the ability to insert the long-lost Conker into projects, which seems like a very random add on. Afterwards was Moon Studios’ trailer for Ori and the Blind Forest which was very artsy and emotional. It looks very pretty but has very simplistic gameplay from what was shown. Hopefully there’s more to it than just that.
The first half of the show wrapped up with an announcement that everyone was excited there was excited for: Halo. After a trailer that made me wonder if there was going to be a Metroid: Other M style Halo game, Bonnie Ross from 343 indusries came out to introduce Halo: The Master Chief Collection which will come out October 11th. She passed the mic to Dan Ayoub to talk about the collection. It will have a single interface but contains Halo 1-4 (including an HD remaster of Halo 2) with everything unlocked. Custom playlists will allow you to play through certain stages from each game without having to play the whole game if you don’t want to. It will also have 100 multiplayer maps and players can switch between maps and multiplayer modes from each of the four games between matches. The collection will also include Halo: Nightfall, an animated series which is directed by Ridley Scott. They closed by offering “just a taste” of Halo 5: Guardians, but the trailer was so short, it didn’t really offer anything of value.
2015 and Beyond
From here, there’s less information since all the games are earlier in their development cycle, but we did get several new game announcements.
After a bit more dialogue from Phil Spencer, Playdead showed off a trailer for Inside. It featured a little boy wandering about, hiding and blending in with a crowd while trying to escape from… somewhere? It was very reminiscent of Limbo, which is appropriate, given the developer. Afterwards, Chris Charla came out to talk about “ID@Xbox”–Microsoft’s initiative to get more indie development on the platform, including free dev kits, middleware and help with self-publishing. A very smart move after the hot start from PS4 on the indie scene. Afterwards was a montage of upcoming indie games: Aztez, Knight Squad, Plague Inc. Evolved, White Night, Earthlock, Cuphead, Drifter, Lifeless Planet, Slash Dash, Fru, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, Mighty No. 9, Grave, Threes, Fenix Mage, Woolfe, #IDARB, Hellraid.
Sequels of existing IPs
The first of these was a trailer for Rise of the Tomb Raider. At first, the trailer featured a young girl in a hood getting lectured by what seems to be a psychiatrist, and no one knew what was going on. Once the game started showing her running through the woods, getting chased by bears and whatnot, it slowly became apparent. It’s hard to say how this will be until we see some gameplay, though.
On the other hand, CD Projekt Red came prepared with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt gameplay. They showed off a fight against a griffin, which first flew off after being shot, but left a blood trail to track. A neat mechanic, but hopefully not used over and over again as it could become tedious if everything runs away.
Ken Lobb then introduced a sequel to the “cult classic” Phantom Dust, a game that I don’t even remember existing on Xbox. There wasn’t a lot of information to go around, since it seems to be a ways away from release.
Massive Games’ Ryan Barnard then took the stage to show off Tom Clancy’s The Division. The setting, in and around a New York subway, feels somewhat grey and drab, but otherwise the visuals are solid. The map mechanic that was shown off is neat, as was the use of a small drone to blind enemies so the team could strike.
Hideki Kamiya from Platinum Games came to show off Scalebound a new Xbox One exclusive title, one of the few third party exclusives Microsoft had to show off. The trailer showed off a guy with a sword and bow vs giant monsters and closed with him riding dragon to fight a giant hydra. Perhaps something akin to a Monster Hunter title?
David Jones from CloudGine got the honor of being the last title announced at the Microsoft press conference. The trailer showed off neon, futuristic graphic style and lots of explosions. I mean lots of explosions; it was like a Rube Goldberg machine that ran on explosions. And with that announcement, Crackdown returned to E3.
That about wraps it up for the Microsoft conference. What was your favorite announcement? Any surprises? Something you felt was missing? Let us know down in the comments!
Share this post: