E3 2014: Microsoft Press Conference Reaction
Let's get ready ready, Let's get ready ready, Let's get ready to Rhumble!
Games, games, gamesPhil Spencer opened this year's Microsoft media briefing by thanking fans for all their feedback and support, even poking his head above the trenches to name check Sony and Nintendo, proclaiming it was all about the content. It was a sincere olive branch from the man who has now become the new face of the refocused Xbox division. The difference from last year's outing was stark, the presentation was less of a stage show, with a small platform mere metres away from the expectant crowd with almost zero SmartGlass, TV and Kinect filler to be found.
Some things, however, never change and the first game on stage was the Xbox platform's bread and butter, continuing the age old pattern of DLC first on Xbox One was Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. A fresh game play demo showcasing just how much better the game looks in its new engine, complete with increased mobility, movable cover and lasers. It certainly seems as if Sledgehammer games have a lot of ideas for the franchise and god knows it needs it
Turn 10 took to the stage to flip the switch on the fan favourite Nurburgring track for Forza 5, all 16 miles available now for the low low price of free. Forza Horizon 2 made an appearance with a trailer which evoked the sun soaked festival soundtrack vibe of the original perfectly and announced a welcome release date of September 30th.
Cooperative shooter Evolve and Bioware RPG Dragon Age: Inquisition both appeared with new trailers and announcements of DLC first on Xbox, with a Beta for Evolve on the way.
Ubisoft delivered a game play demo of Assassin's Creed: Unity which aside from a graphical bump hung its hat largely on the ability to play through in co-op with up to 3 friends, no mention of Naval Combat or sea shanties though, the French Revolution seemingly taking the franchise closer to its renaissance roots perhaps.
Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade Remix Hyper Edition Plus Alpha (Yes seriously)
Breaking the fourth wall was Insomniac Games; shoving Sunset Overdrive's colourful shooting down our throats with its over the top brand of game play seemingly doing everything it can to be the exact opposite of every shooter on the market. Every demo so far has focused on the studio's wheelhouse of inventive weapons and quirky styling but it still remains to be seen if the campaign has the story chops to carry it the distance.
Hitting the the fourth wall and knocking itself out was Capcom with Dead Rising 3's instantly available new DLC pack . Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade Remix Hyper Edition Plus Alpha (yes, seriously) brings back all the series' previous protagonists and grants access to a variety of Capcom themed costumes including Ryu and Captain Commando. Who was it who said Dead Rising took itself too seriously these days?
Fable Legends rounded out the Xbox exclusives with a new trailer showcasing game play which allowed you to team up with 3 other heroes or play the villain who controls the gauntlet of AI and traps.
Arcade may be dead in name, but smaller titles still have their place on Xbox including Project Spark (now with extra Conker), Kinect lifeline Dance Central and a montage worth of ID@Xbox games all filling out a marketplace near you soon. Notable mentions go to Inside from Limbo creators Playdead and Ori and the Blind Forest, an equally intriguing platformer from indie developer Moon Studios.
Everything up to this point was slated for 2014, Microsoft popped the much rumoured cherry on top with Halo : Master Chief Collection which includes the original versions of Halo 1 through 4, upgraded Anniversary versions of the first 2 games and untouched Halo 2 multiplayer. As if that wasn't enough a Halo 5 beta and the Ridley Scott produced TV series Halo: Nightfall are also included. The wait for Halo 5 just got a little bit shorter.
The wait for Halo 5 just got a little bit shorterWith 2014 out of the way it was 2015 content all the way to the finish. Witcher III: The Hunt offered up a beautiful yet predictable demo while The Division continued to look promising with yet another game play sequence from the most perfect group of co-op friends exploring yet more of the beautifully decayed city.
Straight out of left field was a remake of the "classic" franchise Phantom Dust, originally a pseudo card based action strategy game from the director of Crimson Dragon, back with a snazzy trailer and the comforting presence of veteran Ken Lobb who successfully bought back the Killer Instinct franchise.
Crystal Dynamics teased us with a coy teaser for Rise of the Tomb Raider showing Lara proclaiming she is "becoming who she is meant to be", hopefully that will include more puzzles and brutal set pieces for Lara to endure.
Closing out the show were two large exclusives to look forward to, Scalebound from Platinum Games; a fantasy action game where the player uses supernatural abilities to battle increasingly enormous monsters who seem intent on eating each other before you can claim the kill for yourself. Which just leaves everyone's favourite cel-shaded open world from Crackdown 3, showing off the staple elements of the world with its distinctive art style and glowing collectibles, whilst hinting at the possibility of destructible environments.
Watch us wreck the mic.............Psyche!Going into the conference, Microsoft cleared the slate quite thoroughly, leaving many wondering what surprises they could have in store to announce. Turns out it was a fairly understated outing with Redmond falling back on the safety of its core franchises, doubling down on Forza and Halo, reaffirming some of its most successful third party relationships with Call of Duty and Dance Central and ticking off a big entry on the community wish list with Crackdown 3.
It may not have been a spectacular presentation, but it was certainly a consistent one, not only in terms of the solid content throughout but more importantly redelivering the underlying message Phil Spencer has been dogmatically re-iterating since his installment. It's all about the games.
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