Coming off of 2013’s kind of awful press conference, Microsoft had a lot they needed to prove here. Right from the start they promised that they would only be showing games the entire hour and a half long conference. And good news: They did exactly that. Played a little safe with the selection of games they did show, but I mostly have good things to say about their conference this year.
They started off with the mandatory showing of Call of Duty: Advance Warfare. It lasted about 10 minutes and showed the player dropping into Seoul and using several high tech items in various fire fights against enemies. It was pretty clear they were trying to be Titanfall though, at least at times. It was noticeable that the soldiers had jetpacks and could use them for added mobility around the field. Actually, I thought that was kind of awesome since now you had a double jump. Some really cool tech got featured too. At one point they pulled up a grenade that let you switch through various modes. Another grenade stopped mid-air and readjusted itself to hit targets. It’s a game I will admit I am completely excited for.
Following that was Forza Horizon 2. I really don’t have too much to say about it as racing games are not my thing at all. It looks pretty and it was nice of Microsoft to give away a free track to all owners of Forza 5 on the spot. More important to me was the trailer for Evolve that followed it. The game looks great, and the new Cthulhu-like monster was awesome to behold. I’m excited to see how Evolve will continue to shape up in the future. While it was just a trailer and there wasn’t much time spent talking about it, Microsoft did say that Xbox One players will get exclusive early beta access, which is probably a good move as Sony has been doing similar with their games.
Next up was the lovely looking Assassin’s Creed Unity. The French Revolution is a smart setting for the game, and the addition of co-op can add a lot of good to the game. They showed game play of the four characters sneaking into and organizing an assault on a mansion. There were some things that bothered me, like at one point they sort of just waltzed past some guards with no resistance at all. The setting was so well made though, so I was really impressed with that. Hopefully the series can keep up the streak after Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag was so well received. After that was a trailer for Dragon Age Inquisition. I’m not going to say much about it here as it was only a quick trailer and the game was featured heavily during the EA conference that I’ll talk about later.
After that we saw Sunset Overdrive, an original IP exclusive that honestly makes me consider buying an Xbox One. A humorous CGI trailer poked fun at modern shooters, then Insomniac’s CEO Ted Price came out to play the game for a bit. It looks like someone gave Jet Set Radio guns, as the character was grinding, zip lining, and constantly staying in motion as he was dealing out various forms of death using all the crazy weapons you’d come to expect from an Insomniac game. The game is also complemented by this really fun cartoony/comic book style that looks stylistic and great. They didn’t show it off during the demo, but it was also mentioned that the game would have 8-player co-op.
Keeping up with the wacky spree, Capcom announced the extremely weird Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade Remix Hyper Edition DX Plus Alpha. Try saying that three times fast. It basically just looks like Dead Rising 3 DLC that adds a bunch of stupid stuff to the game that I could easily see making it more enjoyable. Also a boss fight against a giant zombie version of M. Bison, so there’s that too. Harmonix came up next and just quickly confirmed the release date of Disney Fantasia, then also announced Dance Central: Spotlight. All they really said was that it’d be an Xbox Live Dance Central game, and that getting music to it would be faster.
The next big revelation was Fable Legends. It does looks like a Fable game, which may or may not be a good thing. It featured four players running a dungeon in co-op, assisting each other as they delt with various monsters. Eventually they revealed that there was actually a fifth player that was controlling the monsters in an RTS-like mode. They were able to set traps and move the monsters around to try and stop the heroes. It was a pretty cool idea that I think could be used pretty well. Then came Project Spark, which is pretty much still Microsoft’s 3D version of LittleBigPlanet. Didn’t really tell us much about it, but it’s nice to remember that Project Spark is still a thing. Then came a trailer for Ori and the Blind Forest. I’m not exactly sure what the game was, but the absolutely wonderful trailer was so well made that it was probably my favorite thing to come out of Microsoft’s press conference. If you watch one trailer from it make sure it’s this one.
We moved focus to Halo now, something to be expected. They didn’t focus on Halo 5: Guardians outside of a brief trailer that showed someone was hunting Master Chief. Instead they announced The Master Chief Collection. This Xbox One collection will include ports of the Halo remake, Halo 3 and 4, and include a remake of Halo 2. It will start with everything unlocked and allow you to play the entire series from start to finish, or create “custom playlists” of your favorite levels. It will also include every single map seen in a Halo game, giving you about 100 total. Finally, it also includes access to the Halo 5: Guardians beta once it’s available, and a Ridley Scott directed movie called Halo: Nightfall. It’s a ton of quality content and anyone who is into the Halo universe should check this one out right away. My only complaint is that it’s not called “Hella Halo”, which I personally think is a much better name.
Microsoft then moved onto Indie games, and started with a trailer for Inside. Developed by Limbo creators Playdead, it looks like, well… Limbo with color. Not a bad thing mind you, Limbo was pretty good, but the first impression left me surprised it wasn’t just called Limbo 2. They then showed a quick montage of all new Indie games coming to the Xbox One. I noticed a few titles like Aztec, Plague Inc: Evolved, and Threes. I didn’t really recognize the rest of it though, but it was nice to see. Then we got a CGI trailer for Rise of the Tomb Raider that featured Lara getting therapy after the events of Tomb Raider. I loved the Tomb Raider reboot, so you can bet I’m going to keep a close eye on this one.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the next game they showed gameplay of. The clip showed Geralt hunting and tracking a gryphon. At one point he comes across some thugs attacking a lady’s home. After killing them, he tells the lady he’ll come back after killing the gryphon to make sure she’s okay. The combat looks similar to past entries, and that’s not a bad thing at all. After this he tracks and finds the gryphon again. This time he fights it before the demo ends with him dragging its head into town. Following this we get a CGI trailer of a remake of an Xbox game called Phantom Dust. It looks great, but I never played the original so I have no way to say how good of a thing this is.
The final gameplay trailer was for The Division. It featured three players, and one man on a tablet, fighting their way through a group of enemies to get home. It still largely looks the same as last year, but does feature some cool new skills like a flamethrower turret. They then announce that all DLC will come to the Xbox One version first. Finally Microsoft closes the show with two more CGI trailers. The first is for the Platinum Games developed Scalebound. In the trailer we see a guy teaming up with a dragon to fight a monster bigger than either of them. Looks appropriately goofy for Platinum. Finally we get a trailer for Crackdown 3. It features four agents having to assassinate a crime lord. So naturally they blow up the building next to his and launch the top of the building at him. Makes sense, of course. Hey, if that kind of insanity is in the game then I’m all in.
Overall, Microsoft did a decent job. They stuck to their promise of only talking about games. Some of the games they showed, like Sunset Overdrive and Ori and the Blind Forest, looked excellent. This conference easily picked up the slack after last year’s complete bomb. It was all about games, just like E3 should be.