Microsoft E3 2014 Press Conference Reaction
So Shank was right this past week on Totally Heroes: Microsoft leaned on the marketing power that is Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare to kick off E3 2014. But before we saw a glimpse at the futuristic shooter that is designed to take the Call of Duty franchise into the next generation, it was apparent right from the get go that this press conference would be different than the last time Microsoft took the stage at the Galen Center a year ago.
Flashback to June 10,2013: Microsoft had just revealed their new Xbox One console to mixed reception. For all intensive purposes, the Xbox 2013 Media Briefing was actually pretty good. Titles such as Ryse: Son of Rome, Forza Motorsport 5, and CD Projekt RED’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt made their debuts. But the conference was about more than games. It was about touting what made the Xbox One unique amongst the other consoles that were being advertised. DRM policies, always online – these made gamers cringe and flock toSony’s PS4 later on that evening with their stellar punch-to-the-gut-of-Microsoft press conference.
Now with new leadership, the tone of Xbox has changed. The company seems completely devoted to it’s core audience: the gamer. This was realized in a 90-minute wall to wall press conference showcasing nothing about games. No mention was made by Microsoft of TV, with the exception being 343 Industries detailing what comes with Halo 5: Guardians. The Kinect games received very little attention, basically about 2 mins between Just Dance and Fantasia. The conference even had the audience participate…sort of. Those who were in attendance were outfitted with hulking LED wristbands that lit up when you clapped. They also were activated along with the trailers and gameplay one stage, often matching the color scheme of the game’s logo.
Throughout the show, if you were paying attention, you started to notice some trends with Microsoft’s presentation. A lot of cross-platform games will have exclusive content coming first to Xbox. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Evolve, – these headline the list of games that were showcased at the press conference that will have premiere or DLC hit Microsoft’s console first. Say what you want about exclusivity deals – whether you hate them or like them, they add even more competition between Microsoft and Sony to get gamer’s attention.
Mixed in with the cross-platform, third party titles were a group of titles were a couple of exclusives coming to the Xbox One library. Sunset Overdrive by far had the quote of the show: “Of course you can – it’s a f***ing video game!”
Gameplay footage was showcased by Insomniac’s Ted Price on stage. Sunset Overdrive seems to be a game that really doesn’t take itself too seriously. Price effortlessly grinded rails around an amusment park as he used uniquely built weapons to decimate the hordes of the OD’ed. The gameplay’s fluidity of movement had me reminiscing back to Jet Set Radio and grinding rails in Tony Hawk Pro Skater. The demo was short, however, but Ted did leave us with some information regarding the game. The battle for Sunset City will start on October 28th.
Also showcased was Turn10’s sequel to a long-loved franchise, Forza Horizon 2. The game will run on the same graphics engine and will be an open world game. Not much else was really revealed about the game other than it will be running at 1080p30, will feature dynamic weather and will have Dravatar support. In fact, if you are playing Forza on Xbox One, your Drivatar is already racing in Forza Horizon 2.
The world was also given a glimpse into the next entries in long standing franchises, and installments into recent reboots. Ubisoft was on hand to showcase the first ever gameplay footage of Assassin’s Creed Unity, a game built entirely for next-gen consoles and PC. Unity will be set in 18th century France and will feature full co-op mode. The demo showed a team of four stealthily and with practiced precision make their way through a few French Chateaus as rebels demand the life of the Marquis inside. The game looked good visually, but nothing that really screamed “next-gen.” What impressed me was the level of coordination that these players had in executing targets throughout the home, one by one creating a wake of dead bodies behind them for another to clear away.
Later on in the show we saw a trailer for the next installment in the new Tomb Raider series. Rise of the Tomb Raider starts with Lara sitting with a shrink going over how her past experiences have effected her. Throughout the drone of the psychiatrist’s banter, we see a montage of Lara stealthily killing an enemy with her all-to-deadly bow, cliff hanging and generally slinking around tombs. Coming Holiday 2015, expect to see more from Crystal Dynamics in the future with their amazing renditions of Lara’s journey.
— Quest Gaming Network (@QuestGaming) June 9, 2014
It’s a moment we were all awaiting with bated breath. Would the rumor be confirmed and the world would be have a remastered edition of Master Chief’s fight against the Covenant? Also, with the 10th Anniversary of Halo 2 being this year, would we also see an Anniversary edition of this game?
Yes, and yes.
343 Industries confirmed that The Master Chief Collection will be available in stores November 11th. All four games on a single disc running at a full 1080p60. Halo 2 will have the full anniversary treatment, allowing the player to switch between the original graphics and the updated graphics engine. Halo 2‘s excellent matchmaking will be coming to the Xbox One as well, fully intact as it was in the original game.
Plus, Halo fans will be excited to know that Halo 5: Guardians beta will be coming to Xbox One in December, and the Master Chief Collection will get you access to the Halo 5: Guardians multiplayer area beta.
Other games were announced and showcased, which we will write more in full later on in the week. Remember that trend though that I was mentioning earlier in this piece? Everything Microsoft showed today, with a few exceptions, had the word exclusive somewhere in the trailer, or in the area lining the concourse screens. Whether it be exclusive-first DLC or fully exclusive games such as the cult-classic Xbox game Phantom Dust, exclusive was all over the place. Phil Spencer seems to want gamers to associate game exclusivity with Xbox. Where can you get the exclusive DLC map-pack for Call of Duty first? Xbox One. Want a smattering of Xbox exclusive titles such as old remakes and new IP? Xbox has them. Phantom Dust and Crackdown join Fable Legends and Scalebound as exclusive titles only playable on Xbox One. Want to experience a new portion of Evolve? Make sure you play it on Xbox One because they get it first.
A trend has surely formed. What Microsoft lacks in console’s hardware parity with PS4, it more than makes up for it with unique, exclusive experiences. Or so we hope.
One thing is for certain, Microsoft is in a much better position after their presser this year than they were last year. There was no deflating moment in the conference. No “$499” price-tag announcement that literally sucked the air out of the building.
Phil Spencer delivered games, and nothing else. When the dust settles, no matter how “safe” the show was deemed, he helped put his company in a better position to build upon, and that’s a better outcome than Microsoft could have hoped for when they left USC a year ago.