E3 Recap: Microsoft’s Press Conference

With so much facing the Xbox One by way of rumors or speculation, there was a lot riding on Microsoft to deliver a press conference that would both satiate gamers and quell fears about their upcoming next gen console. And while they did make good on their promise for the conference to be “all about the games”, there was still something disturbing about their lack of discussion about the console itself.

The conference started off, surprisingly enough, with a new trailer for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Featuring brand new gameplay footage, the trailer also revealed several new mechanics and elements of the gameplay itself, including an all-new take on stealth and dynamic vehicular transportation in an open environment. It looked incredible, and it is officially releasing on the Xbox One.

Shortly after that, Microsoft also announced that the Xbox 360 would be receiving a redesign that would feature a quiter and much sleeker console. Alongside the redesign, it was also announced at their E3 conference that Xbox Live Gold members will now have two new games available to them regularly, starting with Assassin’s Creed II and Halo 3. It was an interesting move and one that leads me to believe that they will be doing more to counter the model of PlayStation Plus.

Next up in the announcements was that World of Tanks would be coming to the Xbox 360 and Xbox One, all explained in a great trailer that is sure to please fans of the game.

It was Dark Souls II that followed, with an impressive trailer and the announcement that From Software’s game would be releasing on the Xbox One in March of 2014.

After that was an in-depth look at Ryse,a game long rumored but seldom seen until Microsoft’s conference today. The game sees you taking control of a Roman Centurian general, commanding units and using a dynamic combat system that combines counter attacks and Quick Time Events in order to deliver devastating blows and strikes to enemies. It looked impressive alright, but I personally worry about too many QTEs ripping the control out of the hands of the player. Of course, this was only a demo, so there’s a chance I might eat my words. We’ll wait and see.

Probably one of the biggest announcements at the conference was the announcement of Killer Instinct, a game that has long been sought after by fans of the franchise. Impressive? YES. Yes. Of course, we’ve already seen people complaining about it, as the internet is wont to do. But check out the footage below and gauge it for yourself:

Ratchet and Clank developer Insomniac Games also revealed their next gen title Sunset Overdrive, a cartoony parkour shooter with an aesthetic similar to Epic Games’ Fortnite. The game is said to feature dynamic and ever-changing features and weapon types. No further details were really revealed, but I’m excited for it nonetheless.

Microsoft also revealed more details about Forza 5, including the game’s new “driveatar” feature that sees AI taking on characteristics of other players in relation to your skill level and ability. Also, there are cars in Forza. Surprise!

Minecraft was also revealed to be coming to Xbox One, and we received another look at Quantum Break, learning that the decisions you make in the game will affect the game’s story and somehow coincide with the TV show meant to follow along with the game itself. Again, the information was somewhat scant and candid, but it was still an interesting concept to watch unfold.

One of the more peculiar demos on stage during Microsoft’s E3 conference was Project Spark, a game that was described to me as “Little Big Planet for the Xbox One.” The game essentially allows you to create your own worlds in 2, 2.5, and 3D spaces, using different aesthetic designs and textures in an effort to give you multiple options when designing your personalized game. It was interesting, and we can expect to learn more about it in the future.

Microsoft also had some interesting indie game debuts at the conference, including the roguelike adventure game Below from the minds of Sword & Sorcery and Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, a platformer that looked both adorable and intriguing. Look for more information on Max in the coming weeks.

One of the most cringeworthy, yet interesting moments of the entire E3 conference was the Killer Instinct match that saw both terrible 8th-grade circa 1996-style trash talking and the new reveal of Upload Studio and Microsoft’s new partnership with Upload Studio allows players to upload replays of their game footage, edit it, and share it on the web through Twitch. It sounds very similar to Sony’s idea with the Share button on the PlayStation 4, and isn’t surprising, considering the emphasis of online interaction set to hit in the next generation.

Dead Rising 3 was also revealed as an Xbox One exclusive, featuring a darker tone and more open world zombie-killing goodness in the same vein as the previous Dead Rising games. A new protagonist arises this time, and we had a chance to see dynamic weapon crafting taking place during the demo. Expect Capcom to discuss it further throughout the week.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt was also announced to be released on the Xbox One, complete with a new trailer including a secret message hidden within the footage itself. We also had an impressive demo of Battlefield 4 and a candid Halo trailer from 343 Industries that didn’t reveal whether or not the game was Halo 5.

Probably the most important announcement of the show was the console’s targeted release of November 2013 for a staggering $499 USD.

The conference ended with an impressive look at Titanfall, Remedy’s new shooter featuring mech combat and fast-paced gameplay. It was an explosive demo that bookended the show well, giving them a suitable drop-the-mic moment the company needed once the curtain fell.

What was interesting was the conference’s lack of a demo for Call of Duty: Ghosts. Xbox has long been the most popular platform for the Call of Duty series, and Microsoft has pursued the game almost desperately over the years by securing timed exclusivity and garnering a huge player base. Swapping Battlefield 4 for Ghosts was an interesting move, and one I’d love to know the motives behind.

Overall, Microsoft’s conference was well-paced and interesting. But the severe lack of any discussion about some of the more troubling features of the Xbox One was something the company couldn’t afford at this point in time. Couple that with the console’s steep price tag, and the ball is now in Sony’s court to prove who is the more gamer-friendly console set to release later this year.

Keep it locked here for more about E3 and the conferences throughout the week!