This year, Microsoft really tried to build the gamer’s interest for its upcoming Xbox One by showcasing some impressive installments in many popular franchises. Read below for more.
Metal Gear Solid V/Opening Remarks/Xbox 360
The conference opened up with an exhilarating trailer for the upcoming Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, which will be the series’ first open world game. That’s right, open world! This was followed by some gameplay footage, which showed off an impressive Red Dead-like setting (and protagonist Snake even rides a horse). Snake uses different methods for stealth, like hiding on the side of his horse or jumping into a cargo truck with conveniently placed barrels. The footage ends with Snake solemnly claiming, “I’m already a demon.” Compelling stuff. Metal Gear Solid V is due out in 2014.
After the trailer, Don Mattrick, Microsoft’s President of Interactive Entertainment, gave a short and sweet opening speech boasting 11 Xbox One exclusive titles to be introduced at the conference. He then introduced Yusuf Mehdi, who touched on the new Xbox 360 design, and new benefits for Xbox Gold Members. Starting July 1st, and going all the way up until the release of the Xbox One, Gold members will be given two free game downloads a month. These games included Assassin’s Creed 2 and Halo 3. Mehdi went on to say that the 360 still has “hundreds of games” due for release, including the much-anticipated Grand Theft Auto V.
World of Tanks
Mehdi, hammering down the Xbox 360 nail just a little more, then went on to introduce three new games for the aging system. First up was World of Tanks, the popular online computer game, which will make its console debut on the 360. Victor Kislyi, CEO of Wargaming.net, then made an appearance to talk a little about the transition from computer to console. It’s due out later this summer, and it will be absolutely free with Gold membership.
Max: The Curse of Brotherhood
Next up was the Pixar-meets-Tim-Burton-nightmare adventure game, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood. From the trailer, it looks like a good ol’-fashioned platform game, and it seems to be Microsoft’s answer to Sony’s Little Big Planet. Max is being developed by Press Play Studios, and it will be released later this year.
Dark Souls II
The third and final Xbox 360 title to be revealed was the highly anticipated Dark Souls II, sequel to the critically acclaimed Dark Souls. The game looks complete with monsters, ghouls, and dragons, as well as an open world system. The first game offered over 100 hours of gameplay, and this one looks like it offers just as much to do, if not more. Dark Souls II will be released March 2014.
Ryse: Son of Rome
Phil Spencer, a Microsoft Game Studios Vice President, was next on the docket, and he promised an entire array of Xbox One titles. First up was Ryse: Son of Rome, Microsoft’s new hack and slash game (which they hope is the start of a franchise). The cutscene footage was impressive, but it’s the in-game footage that truly awes: carnage and dead bodies all around, explosions coming right for you, and even a burning ship grounding on the shore. Ryse promises a lot of action (and strategy), and from this footage alone, it seems to deliver on that promise. Ryse will be released right alongside the Xbox One in November.
Next up, Spencer introduced the reboot(?) to the highly popular fighter game franchise, Killer Instinct. The graphics were awesome, the was fighting intense, and it’s yet another Xbox One exclusive game. It will be available alongside the One in November, and it will be free to play (though, you’ll only be able to use one character, Jago, until you purchase more).
Spencer then brought out Ted Price, CEO of Insomniac games – the studio behind Sony’s Ratchet & Clank franchise – to talk about Sunset Overdrive, an open world shooter. The trailer included lots of shoot-‘em-up violence (one protagonist even has a gun that shoots records), and it sort of reminded me of a weird Borderlands-meets-GTA mash-up.
Forza Motorsport 5
Forza developer Dan Greenawalt introduced Forza Motorsport 5, which he claimed was the, “end of AI” because of the game’s learning cloud processor. Greenawalt also boasted that your driver will race even when you’re not on the game, and you will earn coins for these “computer-controlled” races. Truly stunning stuff here. The graphics alone have me excited to play, and I’m not even the biggest racing game fan.
Unlike last year’s E3, not much of this conference was dedicated to tech talk, with Microsoft instead focusing on the games. Phil Harrison talked briefly about the indie games of the 360, boasting that these independent titles have sold more than a billion dollars worth of sales combined. To hit this point home, he then revealed that the ridiculously addictive Minecraft would also be coming to Xbox One, given how much it had already sold on the 360.
Sam Lake, Creative Director of Remedy Studios, introduced a concept that has been gaining some traction lately in the gamer’s community: a video game/television show hybrid called Quantum Break. The premise looks intriguing, the graphics for the game are next level, and apparently, choices made in the game help to shape the television show. The game – and the series – will be sold together. Next up was a short and sweet trailer for an “episodic murder mystery game” by SWERY called D4. The graphics look similar to Telltale’s The Walking Dead, and it seemed to have something to do with your player character preventing the death of your wife by going back in time. D4 also seems to implement a noir style, and it looked high in the action category.
Microsoft’s Dave McCarthy introduced what is perhaps one of the most unique games in Project Spark, a world-building game where you build the type of game you want, and publish it for others to play. This ranges from valleys, mountains, and even building your own towns. The possibilities of this concept are seemingly endless, and we were even shown projects from other developers. If this works out the way Microsoft hopes, it could really be a defining step in making the creation of games available to the every-day gamer.
Marc Whitten was the first Microsoft employee to really talk about the tech side of the Xbox One, including SmartGlass features and real-time stat update comparisons between where you are in a certain game, and where your friends are in the exact same game. Whitten also showed off a little more of the One’s multi-tasking capabilities, using Ryse as a nice example, while setting up a match simultaneously in Killer Instinct. Whitten also touched on the new Upload Studio, which allows you to use the Cloud to upload “epic” moments of your gameplay. This is all built into the Xbox One so you can share these moments instantly. Whitten also made it clear that Microsoft Points would be phased out, using real currency instead, and Gold memberships will now be sharable in one household.
Whitten didn’t use up all of his time for simply tech talk, however. He also introduced Crimson Dragon, a rail shooter where you’re basically a dragon and you fly around killing other, larger dragons and other beasties. This will be a Kinect title, and you will control the dragon with your hands. It’s unclear at this point when Crimson Dragon will be released.
Dead Rising 3
Josh Bridge and Mike Jones of Capcom premiered the long-awaited Dead Rising 3, the franchise’s first truly open world title. Everything about this game just looks stunning, and it’s clear that the studio has built on their “make a weapon from anything” style. You can now combine two weapons to make one “super weapon” – as showcased by protagonist’s Nick use of a buzz saw and sledgehammer ultra combo – and it really makes the game truly unpredictable. And, of course, there are zombies… lots of zombies. Dead Rising 3 really seems to take the franchise into a new direction while retaining its roots. It will be released later this year.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
John Mamais, executive producer for CD Projekt Red, unveiled The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, boasting an open world, non-linear gameplay, and “easily over 100 hours of gameplay.” The trailer/gameplay footage looked fairly impressive, boasting a multi-regions, as well as the use of boats and horses.
Patrick Soderlund of EA gave us another intimate look at the upcoming Battlefield 4. The gameplay footage continues to stun, showing a very fast-paced style (even more so, it seems, than Call of Duty) and beautiful graphics. Battlefield 4 even allows you to use your surroundings to take down your enemies, including military jets that you can use to crush baddies. It’s really a nice occasional break from the point-and-shoot style a lot of these games focus on (though there’s still plenty of that for fans of the genre). Battlefield 4 uses the breathtaking Frostbite 3 engine, and they really implement it to full capacity. The game is due out in October of this year.
Phil Spencer took the stage again to talk briefly about Below, an upcoming adventure game, and Black Tusk Studios, formerly Microsoft Vancouver. Both of these topics included short trailers to intrigue fans. Below currently has no set release date.
We all knew it was coming, but Microsoft tried to throw us off the scent for a minute or two with a trailer showing a hooded Master Chief walking through a desert. As soon as the large, Promethean-like creature came up from underground, however, it was immediately clear what franchise we were looking at. The teaser trailer left us with many questions like, “Why is he in the desert? Is the Chief still on Earth?” Following the trailer, 343 Industries’ Bonnie Ross took the stage to talk a little about the game, Master Chief, and the live-action series by Steven Spielberg. She also revealed that the new Halo title would run at 60 frames per second.
Phil Spencer took the stage one last time to drop the price of the upcoming Xbox One, which will be $499 (a hundred dollars more than Sony’s upcoming Playstation 4). He also revealed one last title, called Titanfall, by newbie studio Respawn Entertainment. The gameplay footage was some of the most exciting of the event, which includes standard first-person shooter action, but more importantly, the ability to control a large mecha robot to fight against certain enemies and achieve goals. The game will be multiplayer-only, but it does include a story, characters, and NPCs. CEO of Respawn Vince Zampella showed us some awesome gameplay footage, which included your character’s ability to eject from your mecha, free fall from the sky, and latch yourself on to an enemy mecha and destroy it. There were a lot of things in this footage to get excited about, and Titanfall could easily be a new face in multiplayer FPS games. Titanfall will release Spring 2014.
This year’s conference focused almost exclusively on games, juxtaposing it with the entertainment-heavy reveal of the Xbox One back in May. Which of these titles had you the most excited? Were you relieved that the studio finally focused on games instead of live television, voice recognition, etc.? Share your thoughts below.