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Microsoft’s E3 presentation, despite being a fairly stacked affair, still had some conspicuous absences in it’s lineup. Some prominent titles that hadn’t been mentioned in a while went unmentioned again, prompting many to speculate that they were being held back for discussion at Gamescom. Well, they were just about spot on. Microsoft held their press conference today at Gamescom and it was a more than solid showing from them. They managed to mix in some new stuff, some bits and bobs from E3 and several games we expected to hear about at E3.
After some obligatory back-slapping waffle the first real showing was Remedy’s Xbox One exclusive Quantum Break. Mr. Max Payne-face himself Sam Lake came out to present a gorgeous gameplay trailer and talk a bit more about the TV side of the project, which has been only talked about in rather vague terms up until now. Apparently, the game itself will focus on the heroes of the story and the live-action TV show will focus on the villains. And finally, a release date! It’s coming on April 5, 2016. Hopefully.
After that it was right into another title that hasn’t been mooted in a hot minute: Crackdown 3. I’m personally very excited for this one as a big fan of the first game, and boy did it not disappoint. The environments are now ‘100% destructible,’ meaning you can wreck all of that sumptuous Tron-esque blue neon glaze to your advantage. Also, it would appear the way in which you can approach taking on the criminal gangs is more complex than before. They spoke about it in imprecise terms, as the way with these things, but from what I could make out it sounded somewhat similar to Shadow of Mordor’s nemesis system. Maybe? Guess we’ll find out!
Famed purveyor of Twitter fire Hideki Kamiya jumped on stage to talk Platinum Games’ dragon-em-up Scalebound. The pitch for this one is pretty easy: You know that usual brand of tight, satisfying action that Platinum conjured up in games such as Bayonetta and Vanquish? Well imagine that, but except you also have a fucking dragon with you. You can have it fight alongside you, you can ride it, and you can team up in 4-player co-op for mental Dragon Action. Coming Holiday 2016, you beauties.
From there on Microsoft jumped into the nitty-gritty systems/hardware side of things. They threw a bunch of stuff out there so I’m going to run through it all and you can zero in on the stuff that appeals to you: The Xbox One is getting free DVR functionality, and you’ll be able to watch anything you record on your Windows 10 machine. There’s also a chatpad coming this November for $35; it’s very similar to the one they brought out for the Xbox 360. Also arriving in November is a new dashboard update and the Xbox 360 backwards compatibility feature that they dropped the bombshell about at E3. Oh and all future Xbox 360 Games With Gold titles will be backwards compatible too. Solid.
Lovely fella Chris Charla hopped up there next to talk about ID@Xbox, there indie outreach program. First out the gate he brought up Castlevania man Koji Igarashi (who was wearing his usual outfit of a whip and hat) to talk about his recently kickstarted game Bloodstained. Not much was said about the game but they did reveal that it would be cross-play between Windows 10 and Xbox One, meaning gamers on both platforms could play together. Bringing people together, ain’t that what it’s all about?
When Chris reappeared he began a segment in which several indie games received variously smaller, bite-sized showings. City-builder Cities Skylines got a brief mention as coming to Xbox One soon, then some kind words about Team 17’s efforts to foster indie development as well as a trailer for the newest Worms game Worms WMD. Then appeared adventure game progenitor Ron Gilbert to spin a yarn about latest project Thimbleweed Park. It appears to be a proper adventure game throwback right down to the art-style and various esoteric ways in which you can interact with the environment.
Rounding them about was Compulsion Games, developers of Contrast. Their new game We Happy Few is a proper menacing looking survival game set in an alternate 1960s England. A hugely psychedelic one, and I mean the scary kind of psychedelics. Like the ones you get from the dodgy bloke where 10 minutes after they kick in you crying and pissing yourself. Also, here’s a montage of various upcoming Xbox One indie games for your perusal. Lets go Cuphead!
I heard a story recently about how a higher-up at Microsoft, when discussing their recent purchase of Minecraft developers Mojang, mistakenly referred to studio as ‘The Minecraft Studio.’ That sort of (understandable) intense focus on one part of what a studio does must be frustrating for Mojang, so it will’ve been nice that Jens Bergensten was able to talk about Cobalt, a sharp looking, action-packed side-scroller from Oxeye Game Studio and published by Mojang. The Xbox One/Xbox 360 port is being developed by Fatshark and will arrive in October. Here’s hoping it hits for them and diversifies the outside perception of what they do (Oh, and Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition is coming too. Natch).
Dark Souls 3! Dark Souls 3! Dark Souls 3! Dear reader, just watch the trailer. I mean, my word.
Dark Souls 3!
I must admit, rather ashamedly, that I had completely forgotten about Homefront: The Revolution. Thankfully though my memory was jogged by a single-player gameplay demo highlighting the game’s ‘Red Dawn but really messed up’ vibe. Playing as a rebel all of your equipment is rough and hastily scrapped together, while your North Korean oppressors are all armed with shiny, high-tech gadgets and gizmos. There seems to be an emphasis on providing multiple approaches to any given battle a la Far Cry, with some added mobility in the form of a motorbike (and presumably other vehicles yet to be shown). Microsoft also said that owners of the game on Xbox One would get exclusive early access to the game’s cooperative mode beta, which will take place sometime this winter.
EA came out to talk and- Look, I love the FIFA games. I’m football (well, soccer for y’all) mad and I’m hugely excited for FIFA 16. But I think this will go better for all of us if I just say that the Xbox One version will have 60 exclusive FIFA Ultimate Team legends, and then just move on with the article. Cool? Cool.
It wouldn’t be a Microsoft press conference without bloody Halo 5: The Guardians now would it? This time out it was all about the multiplayer. Microsoft and 343 Industries want you to know that they are goshdarn serious about making this game welcoming for the eSports community. First we got this gameplay trailer, with some snippets of shoutcasting peppered in there. Afterwards came the full eSports experience, with two prominent (I assume? I’m not really in this scene) shoutcasters coming on stage to commentate over a pre-recorded match between the UK’s Epsilon eSports and US-based OpTic Gaming. It was all a bit disorientating and loud but hey, it certainly got the intention across.
You know what really gets the intention across though? Prize money. Which is why Microsoft announced a $1 million prize pool for the first ever Halo World Championships, happening this winter. Oh aye, $1 million. Better get sharpening your Halo skills folks.
One regular follows another, with (also a lovely fellow) Dan Greenawalt chatting some Forza Motorsport 6. There were some small sprinklings of new info like 24-car online races, but this was mostly about the game’s exquisite rain technology, with a rather handsome racer chap talking about how realistic the game’s wet-weather conditions feel.
Rise of the Tomb Raider, a timed Xbox One exclusive, appears to be coming along rather nicely. Again, as seems to be the case quite often currently, the gameplay we saw emphasised versatility in how you tackle the various combat situations you encounter. Whether you prefer Metal Gear-ing it up, sneaking around slicing necks, or just going gung-ho like a mentalist one thing’s for sure: you wont be able to resist using that slick looking ‘two enemies at once’ bow move.
And, finally, a surprise ending announcement that I certainly didn’t see coming: It’s only bloody Halo Wars 2! That’s right, the 2009 RTS set in the Halo universe is getting a sequel, and it’s being developed by Creative Assembly, those of Total War fame. Some mighty pedigree indeed. It’ll hit in fall 2016 on Xbox One and Windows 10. Hot damn.