Microsoft Review : Their best press conference in years, simply because they didn't focus on anything but games!
Overall Rating : B-
Going in, Microsoft assured the public that their console reveal was about making a name for the console itself, yet E3 would be all about the games. And despite a few "integration" sequences with SmartGlass, they delivered exactly that; games.
So many games I cannot even possibly attempt to talk about them all here. The event started with a high energy look at Metal Gear Solid 5 and that high intensity was mostly kept throughout the event.
Don Mattrick as always took the stage to briefly get us excited for Xbox One. However, it was revealed that Microsoft still has some love for the Xbox 360. A number of great announcements were made for the console, from stating it would still be getting some exclusive game content before Xbox One's release, to the fact that all Xbox Live Gold subscribers would gain access to two free games each month they can download and keep from their popular Games On Demand service.
Even more surprising was the reveal of a brand new, redesigned Xbox 360 SKU which is available for purchase today. This is a surprisingly play from Microsoft, who just released the Slim version of the 360 last year. This new design falls more in line with Xbox One's overall design, but features a smaller console than ever before.
After this, as well as several game trailers for the 360, Microsoft began to show what they and their partners have up their collective sleeves for the Xbox One. Ryse was shown, a title that was already known to exist, but with a much more in depth trailer than before. The graphics look very nice, and a very happy announcement is that this game will no longer require Kinect to play, a fact the audience seemed to regard very highly as a wise move.
Fighting game fans will be happy to know that Killer Instinct is an Xbox One exclusive title. Racing fans were also in awe of Forza 5 and its extended information. After these games, it was revealed that Minecraft would be coming to Xbox One, and with it a host of new maps, content, and great things for the already extensive world of Minecraft.
Sam Lake then took the stage to speak about Quantum Break, Remedy's new IP. The game features a character who, through a failed science experiment, has somehow gained the ability to stop time for brief periods. The trailer shows the main character, as well as a companion, moving through a building in the midst of some type of explosion. The main character moves to a woman frozen in the scene and through contact, unfreezes her from time to interact with her. While I'm personally sad to see the Alan Wake franchise get shelved indefinitely, this game so far looks pretty interesting.
D4, an episodic murder mystery was next revealed in a short trailer. If you like cel-shaded, comic book style graphics akin to Telltale's The Walking Dead or 2K's Borderlands this game may visually be right up your alley. Next up was Project Spark, a new game that attempts to let the player build a game world from scratch then allow your player to enter that world and interact with it. The world can be created using a combination of Kinect, your controller, and Xbox SmartGlass. Admittedly these elements look very interesting and each piece of hardware allows for greater customization than just a controller would allow you. Naysayers of the Kinect (myself included) may finally have something to prove them wrong.
The most cringe worthy moments of the conference we're up next. MS took a brief break from games to show how SmartGlass will be improving with Xbox One and how much deeper the software can be used. At this point, they decide to then have 2 people onstage for some staged banter as they face off in a game of Killer Instinct. After a very painful gameplay demo (and even more painful banter between the 2 players) the demo was finished, but not without Microsoft revealing their apparent answer to Sony sharing feature. MS has partnered with Twitch TV to allow you to share your gaming experiences with the world, as well as live broadcast yourself playing at any point.
Back to the big name games, a Dead Rising 3 reveal came next. 72 hours after the zombie outbreak and this story finds the main character facing the standard sea of undead. This time around vehicles play a larger role in the game as well as the usual scrounging for weapons and items and combining elements to create better weapons.
Following Dead Rising was a short demo and trailer for The Witcher 3. CD ProjektRed promises a large, open world game with a more mature theme (weren't these games already pretty mature as they were?) and a lot of added gameplay. The Witcher 3 was also confirmed to be a launch title for Xbox One.
The other cringe worthy moment came next as Battlefield 4 was up to be shown off. However, some type of technical difficulty kept the speaker onstage for far longer than he would have liked before the video finally came back. As someone who works events exactly like these, trust me when I tell you it was chaos behind the scenes for a few moments there but alas, technology will undoubtedly fail you at the most inopportune times.
Once Battlefield 4 got running, a lot of it was shown off and fans of the military shooter genre will have a lot to be excited about. A brief glimpse of a game called Below was then shown, but was quickly overshadowed by the unveiling of a brand new Halo game for Xbox One. Yes, the venerable franchise that MS built is making its way to the 3rd console in a row, and from the audience's reaction this franchise has no signs of slowing down.
Naturally all this wouldn't be very exciting unless we got a release date and price right? Well I have a feeling this will be the talk of the net for the next few days. MS revealed that the Xbox One would be released this November at a price point of $500.00USD. That's a pretty steep price point for most people, especially when $400.00USD was the most expected price. It will be interesting to see what defense MS will muster for this decision.
Finally MS ended, but not without one more trick up their sleeve, a surprise unveiling of Titanfall from Respawn. I will reserve judgment to my social betters on this one, I'll only say that perhaps, finally, a true CoD killer may be close to being released.
So that's that. All in all a grand job from Microsoft. They wasted absolutely nobody's time with Kinect and SmartGlass looks to be finally getting enough content and inclusion to make it a more worthwhile app to have on your smart deices. MS has a grand game plan for Xbox One, and while very few of these games have confirmed release dates as of now, even having half this lineup at launch would be a welcomed boon for Microsoft. Microsoft kept to their word, they stuck to games and only games and that, in this bloggers humble opinion, is exactly what they needed to do the soften the awful press they have been getting of late. Granted this is due to their own questions decisions going forward, but this gamer is much more assured that the future of "gaming" will still have plenty of games included with it. Now if I can just find a way to stop that darn Kinect sensor from watching me play at 3AM in my boxers...