Another year another Microsoft press conference, and I have to say that this year was one of the strongest that Microsoft has ever had. With a strong assortment of first party exclusives and third party games Microsoft is poised to own 2015.
They opened up the event with a very strong with a demo of Halo 5: Guardians, first showing off a story trailer, then a brief portion of a co-op campaign mission. Closing the Halo 5 demonstration with an unveil of the new multiplayer mode with Warzone. The game looked absolutely fantastic, big action set pieces, squad interaction, and very high production values show why Halo 5’s campaign is so anticipated. As for the new multiplayer mode Warzone; the only thing I can really compare it to is a MOBA or Titanfall with creeps and more unlockable loadouts as the match progresses. The game looks incredibly promising, especially after this reveal and a very strong beta back in January.
Then instead of coming out and saying anything they just play the trailer for the next game known as Recore. Not much was shown besides a brief CG trailer and that it is an adventure game made by the Metroid Prime team and Keiji Inafune (the creator of Mega Man, Dead Rising, Onimusha, and Lost Planet). Seems like a neat idea, but so little is known it is hard to get excited for what they showed.
Microsoft follows this with some of the most exciting news of all of E3 so far. That Xbox One will be backwards compatible with certain 360 titles. Over 100 titles will be coming this holiday with more later next year. The way it works is if you downloaded it you just download it straight from Xbox Live; if it’s on disc you pop the disc in and download the title. There will be cross platform play, streaming, in game DVR; it’s almost functions like an Xbox One game. The best part is for a game to hit the service a publisher just needs to give Microsoft the ok, no fees, no development on their part, all Microsoft. This feature will be available to the public this holiday season with Xbox Preview Program members being able to try a select number of games right now. This is a huge win for Microsoft, who wants all their existing 360 users to come over to Xbox One.
The next announcement was hardware related. A brand new Elite Wireless Controller, which is a fully modable controller. You will be able to adjust triggers, four new buttons or “paddles” on the bottom, a D-pad that can change into other style of D-pad. The only problem is that it is 150 dollars. Even if this is the best controller of all time 150 dollars is an outrageous price and it needs to be slashed as soon as possible.
Bethesda then took the stage with a brief demo of Fallout 4. It’s nice to see the newest Fallout game actually having more than the color brown. Slight changes to the VATS system and mods coming to the Xbox One version. The whole game appears to have a lot more character than Fallout 3 which is why I am excited about Fallout 4.
Next up EA with EA Access…. Yeah nobody cares, but Garden Warfare 2 that looks neat.
Microsoft then proceeds to lower a Ford GT onto the show floor, followed by a brief trailer showcasing some features of Forza 6. The new features like weather seems really awesome and I look forward to racing in the rain around the Nürburgring.
Then we ended up with several third party announcements. Dark Souls 3 had a brief trailer, looked solid but no gameplay was shown. Also it’s hard to go back to Dark Souls after Bloodborne, but we will see how it turns out. More gameplay of The Division was shown, along with Rainbow Six Siege coming with Rainbow Six Vegas and Rainbow Six Vegas 2.
Finally Microsoft showed off a new IP first party title. Gigantic; a team based first person shooter similar to Team Fortress 2 coming to Xbox One and Windows 10. Hard to tell if it will be a legit game or just a TF2 knock off.
This was followed be a presentation about Microsoft’s indie group ID@ Xbox. The highlights of this indie showcase were a console exclusive from the Fullbright Company Tacoma, and Cuphead an indie platformer with the art style of a cartoon from the 1930s.
After the indie showcase it was back to AAA franchises with one of Microsoft’s tent poles for the holiday season Rise of the Tomb Raider. Graphically it looks amazing, the set pieces look impressive, I just wish they would have showed some of the combat, but the game still was jaw dropping. Loved the first game and this looks even better.
Now the only way you could follow Tomb Raider was with one the best announcements of the show, the Rare Replay. 30 of Rare Wars classic titles all in one box coming out this August. Banjo, Perfect Dark, Jet Force Gemini, Battletoads, Viva Pinata, Kameo, the list goes on and on. Rare then proceeds to show a shared world pirate game Sea of Thieves. I adore pirates be it real or fictional and with Rare’s track record of great games this might be my favorite. Plus I can’t wait to make random strangers on the internet walk the plank.
Microsoft took this epic bit of momentum from a series of great announcements and then proceeded to kill it by showing a Fable game that no one cares about. Who knows it may be good, but that seems doubtful at this point .
After all this Microsoft showed off the most technically impressive thing I saw all day, even if it wasn’t the most exciting. I really do think Hololens is the future of VR. Just being able to control your game by using your hands. For example with an RTS game this could totally redefine the genre; being able to move units by hand and see a top down view of the whole battlefield. It may have not been the most exciting thing, but it was the most impactful.
At this point Microsoft decided to close the show with a huge pair of games from one of the biggest franchises on Xbox. Gears of War. The Coalition is remaking the first game for Xbox One with a ton of new features. I got some hands on time earlier today and nine years later the first Gears still plays great; with a fresh coat of paint to the graphics and the game running at 60 frames it this remake looks to be superb. Then the real closer Gears of War 4. While very little combat was shown it appears to star new characters, be incredibly atmospheric, techically impressive, and a step in the right direction after the most recent game in the series let a lot of fans down.
Overall Microsoft made a strong case on why you need to get an Xbox One right now. They have great first party exclusives and strong support from third party developers, along with a hardware team that is always trying to add new features to the console. Microsoft had a great show and is going to have a spectacular 2015.