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E3 2014 is off and running as once again Microsoft starts things with their press conference. Phil Spencer hosted this year’s media briefing and there is nothing but games, games, and games for both later this year and 2015. The usual suspects are there, but lots of surprises made me excited for what’s next on the Xbox One with the reboots of certain franchises. Without further or ado, let’s rundown Microsoft’s press conference below.
While some games were shown in the pre-show such as Killer Instinct’s Season Two, the main conference began with no surprise, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. The lengthy gameplay demo showcases a slower pace of combat, probably for the sake of showing off the graphics. The sequel does look amazing and the in-gun HUD is a nice touch as well. Once again, Xbox platforms get the DLC first as Advanced Warfare is still coming out this November.
Next up is the Forza franchise as Turn 10 announced more free DLC for Forza Motorsport 5 out now and then Playground Games came in to show the first trailer for Forza Horizon 2, coming out on both Xbox platforms with Sumo Digital working on the 360 version at the end of September.
A new trailer was also shown for Dragon Age: Inqusition with DLC also coming out to Xbox platforms first, but expect more at the EA press conference later today. Turtle Rock’s Evolve also had a new trailer with a beta announcement for the Xbox One before it’s October release. New Dead Rising 3 DLC was shown featuring all the main characters playable in some co-op arcade-like format and dressed up as famous Capcom characters. The DLC, absurdly titled Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade Remix Hyper Edition EX Alpha, is actually out now on the Xbox Store.
Insomniac’s Sunset Overdrive had a big showing with a clever trailer and then a gameplay demo above by Ted Price. The demo was brief showing off the crazy fast-paced action. Another mode was also announced featuring eight-player co-op, but not shown. This Xbox One exclusive comes out on October 28th.
Ubisoft surprisingly had two of their big games at the Microsoft press conference with Assassin’s Creed Unity and Tom Clancy’s The Division. The new Assassin’s Creed had a four player co-op mission demoed off, which looked interesting and also impressive. The Division on the other hand, while looked amazing visually as expected, the shooting mechanics didn’t impress me that much. Luckily that game is still coming out next year while Unity will be released this fall. More of both these games will be at the Ubisoft press conference later today.
Lionhead’s Fable Legends was also there with a lengthy gameplay demo showcasing some co-op combat. The game does look pretty good, but the gameplay is not as impressive as I thought probably because I’m not much of a Fable fan. Fable Legends comes out next year only for the Xbox One.
Harmonix had a brief segment talking about Fantasia: Music Evolved and a new downloadable Dance Central title slated for September. Subtitled Spotlight, this Dance Central looks like a bit-sized approach like Rock Band Blitz with some new songs and the whole library from the previous games available for download. As the only Kinect-related talk of the whole press conference, this maybe shows Microsoft’s whole stance on it now along with the Kinect-less Xbox One out this week.
It wouldn’t be a Microsoft press conference without Halo and there’s a good amount of info this year especially that the rumors were true. Halo: The Master Chief Collection comes out on November 11th with all four mainline games included in the package for $59.99. The big part of this compilation is Halo 2 Anniversary, also been rumored for a while but finally official, with remade HD graphics for both the campaign and multiplayer. A brief multiplayer match was demoed showcasing the new and improved Ascension map and yes, the Halo 2 multiplayer will be unchanged for this Anniversary release.
343 Industries’ Bonnie Ross also announced a beta for Halo 5: Guardians if you pre-order the Master Chief Collection in a brief teaser as well. Not much was shown for the sequel since it is coming out next year.
A brief time spent on indie games was also not surprising with the idXbox lineup, but the major highlights were Ori and the Blind Forest and Inside, the new game by Playdead, the folks who made Limbo. Project Spark also had a new trailer with a playable Conker in your custom content, which was a bit random but what else can you do with that character these days considering the state Rare is in currently.
As far as 2015 is concerned, one of the big surprises of the Microsoft press conference was the announcement of a new Tomb Raider game by Square-Enix and Crystal Dynamics. Titled Rise of the Tomb Raider, Lara Croft is once again pushed to her limits like the last game in new areas and tombs. This sequel will also have exclusive content for the Xbox One.
One of my early picks for this year’s game of the show is The Witcher III: Wild Hunt as a really impressive gameplay demo was at this press conference. The open world environments alone look gorgeous and the combat is also already looking visceral. Expect this highly anticipated sequel to make a lot of noise with gamers on February 2015.
Ken Lobb then came to the stage to announce a new reboot of an original Xbox classic. One of their cult hits, Phantom Dust, is coming back in a big way. The current word is that it is a HD remake, but my feeling is that it will be a reboot of sorts like the new Killer Instinct. This was definitely another surprise no on expected and I’m sure fans of the original Phantom Dust are thrilled to see it back.
Platinum Games at Microsoft’s press conference was also another big rumor that came true with Hideki Kamiya coming to the stage to announce a new IP called Scalebound. This new action game has a stylish protagonist taking control of enemies against bigger foes, but that’s pretty much it from the trailer above. Expect the classic Platinum touch in terms of crazy gameplay and an absurd storyline as Scalebound comes out sometime next year only for the Xbox One.
The closer of the show is the return of Crackdown. Developed by a new studio but headed by creators of the original, this reboot brings back the infamous voice of the Agency, takes place in a new city, and pushing the open world genre into new directions. Personally, the original was one of my favorite 360 games, but skipped the second game because how disappointing it was. With the right people working on this new Crackdown, it is already one of my most anticipated games of next year for the Xbox One.
Overall, Microsoft’s E3 press conference is a big two thumbs up. They showed a lot of games of various genres people will care about. From the blockbusters such as Call of Duty, Tomb Raider, and Halo, new IPs like Sunset Overdrive and Scalebound, and rebooted franchises such as Crackdown and Phantom Dust, there is a lot to be excited for on Xbox One later this year and beyond. The lack of Xbox 360 only stuff is expected, but the lack of Kinect content shown is a bit disappointing, but not surprising because of the direction Microsoft is heading towards now.
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