E3 is in full swing now, with Microsoft being the first out of the gate with their press conference. Following a nearly game-less reveal event, Microsoft chose to attack this show with all sights set on controllers. From beginning to end, this conference was entirely about the games, and I’m going to run through them for you and let you know what I thought.
Things kicked off with Hideo Kojima’s reveal of Metal Gear Solid 5 – The Phantom Pain (awful name that reminds me a little too much of a certain prequel ‘Menace’). Once a Sony exclusive, this franchise has gone multi-console and it was quite a surprise to see this game announced at a Microsoft presser.
MGS 5 is going to be an open world stealth action game, and the video reminded me a lot of Red Dead Redemption, but with all the Metal Gear flair. Admittedly, Kojima’s masterpiece hasn’t gone over well with me in the past. I found the excessive cutscenes of the 4th installment to be a bore, but with the franchise headed into open world territory, I’m willing to give this a shot.
Oddly, there hasn’t been an announcement about what consoles the game will be available for, but I think it’s safe to guess that it’ll be on both the Xbox One and the Playstation 4.
The next big reveal was a shock to me. Xbox Gold has taken a play from the PS+ handbook, and will now be offering two free games a month to all subscribers. I have to eat a little crow on this one, because I’ve been against Sony’s decision to give away games for a long time – not because I hate games, but because it’s a stupid business decision. Well, I still think it’s a bad decision, but Microsoft is following suit.
World of Tanks was also announced for the Xbox 360 as a Free-To-Play game, and this will certainly garner a lot of support for the system’s waning life. Also attempting to give a shot in the arm of last gen are Max – Curse of Brotherhood and Dark Souls 2. That’s all well and good, but no one watched this conference to see what’s in store for the 360. They wisely moved quickly into talk about the Xbox One.
Right off the bat, Microsoft did this thing right. They announced that Ryse – Son of Rome would be an Xbox One exclusive launch title, and the gameplay looked brilliant. Just watch for yourself.
This is a system seller, and set the tone for what I think was one of the best Microsoft conferences in history. Truly stunning next gen gameplay, and this set the standard for my expectations. I can’t wait to play this game.
Next there was a quick reveal of one of the worst kept secrets about the games on the way: Killer Instinct. People are excited about this fighter, but I really have no clue why. Killer Instinct was a cabinet fighting game that came out back in the days when arcades still existed, and was supposedly a “great” game. Personally, I always thought it was a second-tier rip off of Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. This one won’t be making it onto my game shelf. However, the next game will for sure!
Insomniac, the makers of Ratchet and Clank, announced an Xbox One exclusive called Sunset Overdrive. Details were a little sketchy on just what the heck this is, but after watching the preview you can go ahead and sign me up for it. They claim it’s a “living world” game, but I have no idea what that’s supposed to mean. To me, it looked like Jet Set Radio with guns, and that sounds like a blast. Here, watch the clip:
After that, Microsoft went full-on into car pornography, unveiling stunning clips from Forza 5. While I’ve never been a huge racing fan, there was something revealed in this game that peaked my interest: The Drive-atar. This is an AI simulation of your racing style that is applied to other people’s games. In other words, when your friends sign on to play Forza 5, they can race against AI versions of you. These aren’t just “ghosts” of your laps, but an AI simulation of a racer with your style and skill. That’s a pretty neat feature, and has me considering purchasing a racer for the first time in years.
After Forza, we were treated to a quick reveal about Minecraft coming to the Xbox One, and I’m certainly happy to hear that. Hopefully the Xbox One version will incorporate some of the fun textures and skins available on the PC version.
Quantum Break made an appearance, as did a game called D4, but neither of them were explained particularly well. We were treated to a Quantum Break video depicting a couple of gun wielding people (officers?) breaking into an office building that had just exploded, but time had been stopped. The character was able to move through the explosion, pushing aside shards of glass in mid air as if he were walking through space. This could be interesting, but the pre-rendered video did nothing to excite me about the game.
Project Spark was next up on the list, and it was intriguing for sure. This looked like a Minecraft inspired, next gen world creator that attempts to utilize some of Xbox One’s unique smart glass and voice command features. I liked everything I saw here, but I have a feeling this is still in the early stages of development. I doubt this will be out within the next year.
Xbox Live got some more attention, revealing that they have lifted the friend limit from 100 to… well, to an undefined limit. Infinite? I have no idea. Also, they are partnered with Twitch to allow easier streaming of clips, and will no longer be using MS points but rather actual $$$.
Next up was Crimson Dragon, which was unfortunately shown with no sound. The game looked pretty, but they spent next to no time discussing it, so neither will I.
Dead Rising 3 was announced as an Xbox One exclusive, and I think I’m excited about that… I guess. It’s going to be an open world zombie game, and they showed a considerable amount of gameplay, but I didn’t see anything there that made me count the days until it’s released. It looks okay, but I’ll wait to buy it until I get some reviews from people first.
Then came The Witcher 3 – Wild Hunt, and I got a big old smile on my face. This series is going open world (YES!) and looks gorgeous. It’s not an Xbox One exclusive, but has some features exclusive to the console that weren’t well defined. Frankly, this is a game that I am going to want to play on the system that can give me the best experience, so if it’s on the PS4 and they can promise that it will look better there than on the Xbox One, then I’ll be playing this on that system instead.
EA and DICE revealed some Battlefield 4 gameplay, and I yawned through most of it. Sorry, but military style shooters just don’t get excited these days, and the only reason I’ll ever buy this game is to play it online with friends. If they wanted to get me excited for this one, then they should’ve shown multiplayer footage.
Microsoft is also funding 5 new game studios including one called Black Tusk, and they showed some footage from a spy-thriller similar to Splinter Cell. They also showed a game called Below that looked interesting, but the details were scarce.
Then 343 revealed that they were working on a new Halo game, which was a surprise to no one. The trailer, however, was quite gorgeous – although devoid of gameplay.
Sandwiched between the Halo trailer and the next game (which was the highlight of the show for me, but we’ll get there in a minute) was the launch date and price of the Xbox One. Microsoft very wisely stuck this in between two anticipated titles because this was a bit of a shock.
The Xbox One will be available in November, 2013, but not official date was announced. And here’s the shit in the pie: It’s going to cost $499 in the USA (which is bad enough), and a shockingly expensive £429 in the UK. That’s equal to $666.
WHAT THE FUCK, MICROSOFT?! That is unbelievably expensive, and if Sony’s PS4 is released at a reasonable price in the European market then I sincerely doubt MS stands a chance over there. Considering most of the television aspects of the Xbox One will be lost to our European friends, there’s no damn reason to buy the Xbox One over the PS4. This was a shocking turn of events, and might very well spell doom for the Xbox One. I am extremely disappointed with the price tag of this beast, and I hope for Microsoft’s sake that Sony doesn’t come out and reveal a significantly lower price tag.
As if knowing that the price tag is a mistake, Microsoft saved the best for last here. Respawn Entertainment unveiled their new game, Titanfall, as an Xbox One and PC exclusive, and it looks incredible.
All in all, this was an excellent conference, maligned by the very disappointing price tag of the system. $500 is more than I wanted to pay for a next gen system, and I’m not sure the market is strong enough to support it. However, I feel awful for my friends overseas, who are getting robbed with a much higher price.
By tonight we should know how Sony is going to respond, and if they get their system out in October with a $399ish price tag, then it’s going to take a miracle for Microsoft to outshine them this Christmas. It’s shaping up to be a good E3 though, and I can’t wait to see what’s coming next!