The other day, I wrote an article about what Microsoft needed to do in order to have a successful E3. There was a lot that needed to be done in order to achieve this goal. Fortunately Microsoft pulled it off in the end. Throughout this article, I’ll be grading Microsoft’s conference. Let’s start with the heavy hitters, announcements and then what didn’t work later in the article.
Halo 5: Guardians:
Halo 5: Guardians kicked off the show with Campaign footage. Seeing a game run for the first time is always an awesome experience. Sure, there was a Beta last year, but other than that, no campaign footage had ever been shown. 343 took us through a Locke centered mission. Visually, Halo 5: Guardians looked stunning and the gameplay was fluid. What I liked most about the single-player demo of Halo 5: Guardians was the fact that the gameplay actually looked different. So far, the Halo series has been a typical shooter, but Halo 5: Guardians has added squad-based commands into the mix. Having each member of the squad being able to do a different task is a cool shake-up to the Halo formula.
After the single player demo, a trailer for the multiplayer mode “Warzones” was shown introducing the new gametype. 24 players can take part in Warzones. Like some current shooters, there are AI controlled adversaries thrown into the battlefield. The trailer showed intense battles between players and between “everything” as they mentioned. Even though Halo 5: Guardians will ship with traditional gametypes, Warzones looks like it will keep gamers coming back for more.
Rise of the Tomb Raider:
The most anticipated game of the show had to have been Rise of the Tomb Raider. Microsoft acquired Rise of the Tomb Raider during Gamescom last year, but details have been scarce for a long time. We had some idea of the content, but seeing it actually running in game was a cool sight. With the exception of a few “Quick Time Events”, the gameplay was very cinematic. After this intense scene, the gameplay trailer that was shown revealed some interesting pieces of information. Here are a few observations.
– Hunting is back and plays an important part in survival.
– There are going to be plenty of thrilling set-pieces.
– The most important aspect of them all. TOMBS! The first game lacked many tombs for a game called Tomb Raider.
Microsoft ended the conference with a gameplay demo of Gears 4. I found it very interesting that “Of War” was dropped from the title. Gears 4 has a long way to go, but the demo showed that the game is coming along nicely. The Gears of War franchise has always been dark, but the tone of Gears 4 (as well as the visuals) are a lot darker. While only a brief section was shown, it looks as if Gears 4 is going back to the roots of the series. The first game had a horror feel to it at times and that’s the vibe that the demo had. This is The Coalition’s first attempt at a new Gears of War game and so far, the game is looking very good. The franchise seems to be in good hands with The Coalition.
Microsoft even announced The Gears of War: Ultimate Edition and Beta which started that day.
Other exclusives and timed exclusives were shown during the conference as well.
- Beyond Eyes is a gorgeous looking game with a unique art style. The premise is intriguing and I think the trailer shown for it sparked interest. In Beyond Eyes, players control a girl who is searching for a cat that she had found earlier. The catch is that she is blind. Players must use the sounds from the environment to navigate and complete your objective. Beyond Eyes will be released first on Xbox this summer.
- Ashen was one of the games that interested me the most. It features some of my favorite things: A cool art style. it’s an Action-RPG and the trailer is filled with mystery. I was left with so many questions that I instantly was drawn into the world that studio Aurora44 have created. While we don’t know much about Ashen, we do know that Ashen will be an Xbox One console exclusive.
- Cuphead was the game that left many people talking. While we do know that the game will launch sometime in 2016, we’ve only seen trailers from the game. Cuphead is such a treat to look at because there are many things that will appeal to all different kinds of people. Fans of old-school Disney cartoons like “Steamboat Willie” will love the visual style while fans of hectic classic action games like Gunstar Heroes will feel right at home. It would have been great to see more of Cuphead, but the studio accomplished its goal of making us want more.
Games like Fullbright Studio’s Tacoma and the new game from the creator of Day-Z named Ion were also announced as games that will be coming first to the Xbox One.
ID@ Xbox Section: Grade: A
In my Pre-E3 article, I said that Microsoft needed to utilize Rare and that is exactly what was done. While some of Rare’s old IPs didn’t get the reboot treatment, Rare Replay was announced and completely exceeded expectations. For $30, gamers will be able to get 30 games spread out throughout Rare’s time as a developer. Games like Battletoads, Jet Force Gemini, Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Blast Corps, Kameo, Viva Pinata and more will be playable.
Rare also announced a new original IP called Sea of Thieves which will be releasing on the Xbox One and PC. This multiplayer focused game is considered Rare’s most ambitious title yet. The trailer which you can see below is made up of real time gameplay that includes exploration, melee-combat, mutinies and intense sea battles. After years of Rare working on the Kinect Sports franchise, it’s excellent to see them do something original again.
Rare’s Announcements: Grade: A
Another new IP that Microsoft announced was ReCore. This was another game announcement accompanied by a cinematic trailer. We don’t know much about the game other than the fact that it was created by Keiji Inafune (The creator of the Mega Man series) and the ex Metroid Prime developers from Armature Studios. Keiji Inafune alone is a reason to be excited about ReCore. The trailer sets up a beautiful looking world. While there is shooting in the trailer, we really don’t know what type of game ReCore actually is. We’ll just have to wait a while to find out, but it’s great that there is a new IP to be excited about.
ReCore Reveal: Grade: C+ (Only because not a lot of information was given)
Microsoft also revealed Dark Souls 3 which was accompanied by a trailer. This is potentially the last game in the Dark Souls series. Games such as The Division and Fallout 4 were also shown during the conference. Both games are highly anticipated so making an appearance was a great thing for the company. Microsoft had other cool surprises for the crowd. EA Access is getting Titanfall (available now) and Dragon Age: Inquisition later in the year. Xbox players even get to try EA Access free for the week. The Titanfall community isn’t as big as it used to be so it was an awesome idea to put Titanfall in the vault.
Game Demonstrations and EA Access: Grade: C+
Microsoft also announced a new Elite controller. This controller has a steep price of $150, but when you see all of the features of the controller, it actually seems worth it. I’ll break down the controller for you.
- Designed for competitive level play.
- Swappable D-Pad and Thumb Sticks to fit with your play style
- Changeable paddles to maximize comfort
- Hair Triggers
- It also comes with multiple components for you to change when you feel like it
I enjoy playing on my Xbox One, but my biggest problem is definitely the controller. The bumpers always give me trouble and depending on the game, I can sometimes feel uncomfortable using the controller. The Xbox Elite controller is something that looks to remedy those problems. It was a welcome and very pleasant surprise. Hopefully the price won’t turn many gamers away because this looks like an accessory that is definitely worth it.
Xbox Elite Controller Reveal: Grade: A
The most talked about announcement during Microsoft’s E3 conference was when backwards compatibility was announced. This has been a feature that many people have been asking about for a long time. Xbox Preview members are already able to utilize this feature and everyone else will have backwards compatibility later in the year. Not many games are backwards compatible at the moment, but Microsoft said that 100 games will be backwards compatible this year with many more coming later. Backwards compatibility also depends on the developer of a particular game, so hopefully they get on board with this feature. You can actually request which games you would like to be compatible with the Xbox One by going to Xbox.com.
In order to use your Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One, simply place a disc of a supported game into the Xbox One and download it onto your hard-drive. If you’ve also purchased a game digitally on the Xbox 360, that game will show up on your Xbox One. Xbox One functions such as taking screenshots and broadcasting will also work with backward compatibility once Windows 10 launches. Some people may not utilize these features, but backwards compatibility is a very convenient feature to have. While not a necessary feature to bring to the Xbox One, it’s a feature that has been requested and Microsoft delivered.
Backwards Compatibility: Grade: A
In my Pre-E3 article, I talked about how Microsoft should focus on games and if they were going to talk about other things, it should be short and sweet. That is where the Hololens came in. I’ll admit that I’ve never really been into the Hololens, but the demonstration shown at the press conference was impressive. It works so well with Minecraft that it makes me wonder what other things the Hololens can do. Will it be a success or will it not find an audience like the Kinect? Only time will tell, but my initial impression is that the Hololens is a cool piece of technology.
Hololens: Grade: C+
I don’t believe that Microsoft had many boring moments, in fact, it was a pretty great show. The only segment that bored me was when Forza Motorsport 6 was brought on stage. E3 is the perfect platform to showcase games, but Microsoft focused more on getting the actual car from the cover on stage rather than focusing on the game itself. It was a wasted opportunity to enlighten gamers about the next installment in the popular franchise. The few minutes that Forza Motorsport 6 took on stage could have easily been given to another game that would have benefitted from that extra time.
Forza Motorsport 6: Grade: C-
In the end, Microsoft did a great job in delivering a great E3 presentation. From intriguing game reveals, fun game demos and new features coming to the console in the future, the conference was all about gamers. The biggest thing that I got out of the Microsoft conference is that now is a great time to be an Xbox One owner.
Overall Conference Grade: B+