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E3 2014: Microsoft Press Conference Predictions

The time of E3 is upon us, in a couple of weeks we will be swimming chin deep in a wealth of video game announcements, trailers and hopefully surprises. With this E3 being the first of the next gen conferences, a lot has been built up on this year’s show and for good reason. New generations are notorious for spawning brand new titles that will hopefully drive the Xbox One and Playstation 4 into new heights.

It is hard to judge so early in the console cycle but it isn’t crazy to say that the Playstation 4 has the slight edge of Microsoft’s new hardware as of right now. If there is a time for Microsoft to deliver that knockout blow and regain some much needed balance, E3 will be the time to do it. I think Microsoft has a lot lined up for us this E3 and hopefully it delivers on not only games but system functionality and maybe some surprises. Let’s take a look at just a few things we can and cannot expect to see from Microsoft this E3.

What we WILL see at Microsoft’s Press Conference:

Halo 5

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When Microsoft announced a brand new Halo trilogy was in production it was pretty obvious to suspect it would stretch across both the 360 and its successor. I expect to see a full gameplay sequence along with a trailer for 343’s second attempt on the Halo franchise. The real question here is what platforms the game will be released on. Personally, I will not be surprised to see this on the Xbox One only, stacking the deck further to push those consoles out the door.

Sunset Overdrive

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We finally got a real look at Insomniac’s new game, Sunset Overdrive and it sure made an impact on quite a lot of people. Originally known for pumping out Sony exclusives like the Ratchet and Clank series as well as Resistance, Insomniac is switching camps and releasing this game solely for the Xbox One. It is likely we will get another taste of the new third person open world adventure when Microsoft hits the stage at E3.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

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While certainly a multiplatform game, Call of Duty has numerously appeared during Microsoft’s conference considering the DLC is usually wrapped up for a timed exclusive on the Xbox platform. Activision’s new entry to the popular series seems to be following suit and we can almost guarantee a gameplay session coming from the conference. Now let’s move on (in the interest of time).

Black Tusk Studio’s Gears of War title

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I do not expect to see much here other than a quick teaser and title card but hopefully some details will be thrown into the mix so we know just what this new take on the Gears formula is going to be like. Can they really pull off another game in the same vein as the critically acclaimed trilogy? My hopes is we see some similarities to previous games but with a fresh new take that will capture some more interest in the cover-shooter genre.

Quantum Break

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Oh Remedy, despite Alan Wake playing a bit weak, the storytelling and raw style that spewed from every environment in that game was absolutely intoxicating. From the writing to the FMV fake TV show, Remedy has a unique signature that is attached to every game and I am really looking forward to seeing more on this game; something I fully expect to see during this year’s conference.

What we MAY see

Fable Legends

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While the game is already known to exist, it is pretty cloudy on exactly how much exists. I certainly would like to see something from the game but it seems like the game has gone pretty dark with no new information of note coming about for a long, long time.

Fallout 4

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I want a new Fallout game; I want a new Fallout game so bad! Bethsteda and Microsoft have paired up before to show off some of the most open ended games the industry has ever seen. If we follow the rather predictable path that Bethseda is known for, it is Fallout’s time again and I know many of us are chomping at the bit for even a mere mention of the name.

Previews for Xbox exclusive TV shows

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Microsoft since the beginning has pushed the flexibility of its console, mainly in the way of television. Taking cues from notable streaming services like Netflix, the company has announced multiple TV titles in production exclusively to Xbox Live. It sounds like these are all in their infancy but a quick teaser from a few of these shows would at least help solidify the idea console exclusive TV.

Surprise titles?

Look, I want to see new stuff. I don’t care what it is or who is putting it out but I want to see new things. The games industry is a sequel driven business and that is completely fine but growing new titles is a part of the process and there is no better time to do this than right now.

What we have already seen

Kinect-less bundle/Price Drop

When I originally wrote my draft of this piece the title of this section was what we won’t see from Microsoft. The two paragraphs included a kinect-less bundle and large price drop, I was apparently quite wrong. Today Microsoft has announced that on June 9th users will be able to buy a $399 Xbox One without the Kinect. The fact that the kinect has been dropped isn’t too crazy to think about by itself, but the timing is. I expected to see this happen maybe around next E3 or so but seven months later? It seems like somebody broke the glass and slammed on that big red emergency button at Microsoft for this to happen so soon. I for one am really shocked and disappointed that this has happened so soon. Phil Spencer stated that “Kinect remains an important part of our vision,” important, but not essential. I would have never picked up a Kinect if this bundle was available day one but that said I’m not too sour that I have one either. Nothing has grabbed me about the camera just yet but including it with every machine meant that developers knew everyone had one. It meant that using the camera for some really cool and inventive ways was entirely possible; that idea has all but withered away now with this announcement.

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Now it is an outsider, just another peripheral. No matter how many times Microsoft states that the Kinect is important, it is simply an expendable piece to the system. We know that Sony has had a good lead in sales as of right now, but this move tells us one of two things. Either Microsoft is drastically overreacting considering it has not even been a year since new consoles released, or they actually are very far behind Sony and needed to take immediate action. This will surely boost sales and that is good for everyone, but I can’t help but feel a bit disappointed that the camera was pulled so soon. It would have been cool to see something really take advantage of the Kinect’s technology and I believe the chance of that happening now is slim to none.

To end on a good note, Microsoft has also stated that big changes are coming to Xbox Live, specifically their controversial pay wall. Microsoft has stated that you will not have to pay for Xbox Live Gold to use the many apps that are required on the two systems like HBO GO, Amazon Instant and Netflix. On top of that, Microsoft has picked up the pace on their games for gold and are starting to divvy titles out for the Xbox One as well; expect to see Max: The Curse of Botherhood and Halo: Spartan Assault later this month.

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It is already getting absolutely bonkers for Microsoft and I really cannot wait to see what else they have in store for us later at the E3 press conference event.

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