In the somewhat rocky approach to E3, one thing that Microsoft continued to stress was that it would all be about the games. And in a an unexpectedly packed opening to this year’s expo, they definitely stayed true to their word.
Microsoft didn’t skimp out on the big guns and brought out every single one at their disposal to ensure that there was no doubt that the Xbox One is still very much a games console. There was no talk of TV deals, Kinect upgrades or free hats, but here is a rundown of what did get shown off during Microsoft’s best E3 media briefing in years:
- The show opened with the first look at a transformed Metal Gear Solid. Keifer Sutherland is Solid Snake, the game has gone open world, and it all looks a bit Far Cry. If you wanted a big opening you got it, as Kojima took to the stage to assure the world that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain will be coming to Xbox One, and showed off some marvelous-looking world exclusive gameplay. Talk about starting with a bang.
- Some new 360 treats were paraded around, confirming that Microsoft hadn’t forgotten about the X1’s big brother. In a late but solid counter to PSN+, Xbox Live Gold subscribers will be able to claim two free games a month, starting with Assassin’s Creed II and Halo 3. We also got a glimpse of a new 360 model that, while kind of unnecessary, ensures that we should still be in line for a few more years with the console just yet. The console will also get its own adaptation of World of Tanks, plus a new title in Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, and the much-anticipated Dark Souls II. It’s still a good time to be a 360 owner.
- Ryse: Son of Rome returned as expected, clearly receiving a makeover since its last E3 showing. The game itself puts you in the shoes of a Roman general, and seems at this early stage to provide the total package. Story, gameplay and graphics look to all be nailed in what we were shown, and Crytek have cooked up a masterpiece in the making. As if you could expect anything less.
- The barrage of game news and footage continued with the return of Killer Instinct, a new Insomniac title in Sunset Overdrive which looks like Jet Set Radio and Mirror’s Edge have had the most beautiful baby imaginable, plus Forza 5 looking incomprehensibly amazing and bossing ‘Drivatar’ Cloud AI to act as at least one of the perks to maintaining an internet connection to the X1. We also got a confirmation that Minecraft would be coming to the X1, and more news on Remedy’s Quantum Break. Throw in the cel-shaded action of D4 and the SmartGlass-assisted Project Spark, and you have a very promising lineup coming together for Xbox One.
- On the topic of SmartGlass, its innovative integration into Project Spark is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of a potential SmartGlass-X1 combination. Its compatibility with Ryse was also shown as part of a mini-diversion from Microsoft’s “games, games, games” focus that went on to detail a partnership with Twitch to allow in-game livestreaming from the Xbox One, and the “unfortunate” demise of Microsoft Points in place of regional currency. It’s about time, really.
- Dead Rising 3 was announced as an X1 exclusive, looking as solid as ever but it seems a little more will need to be said before we can see if it really separates itself from the ever-growing zombie game crowd. Battlefield 4 is another game with a bit more convincing to do, but both games are still looking incredible nonetheless. The Witcher 3, however, is a game that already seems to have it all, and its showing fills you with nothing but good feelings for its quality on release.
- We were given very little information on the work being done by Black Tusk. A Triple-A title was promised; a new icon for the new console generation. What we got was a few seconds of teaser in which a guy rappelled down a Hong Kong skyscrape, and very few concrete details. Microsoft continued their approach to the conference’s conclusion with a new indie game in Below, a magnificent trailer for a seemingly reimagined Halo 5, and the show-closing Titanfall to leave those in attendance or watching at home with very little to complain about, really.
- Obviously, Microsoft couldn’t leave us without some information on launch date and price. It was revealed that the Xbox One would be landing in November of this year, eight years to the month since the 360 hit shelves. As for the price, well. $499 is the launch price for the Xbox One, with Brits being charged £429 and Europeans needing to part with €499 for the console. This is a bit of a mismatched price, with non-Americans being charged the equivalent of around $650, so hopefully this won’t be the final word. But while it isn’t certain yet who has won E3, it can be pretty certain who’s lost. The bank accounts of gamers everywhere. Now’s probably a good time to consider that second mortgage, because it seems it may just be worth it.