Microsoft's E3 Presser: All About the Games

Microsoft's E3 Presser: All About the Games

Microsoft's E3 press conference today was indeed, as promised, "all about the games" - Metal Gear Solid V, Titanfall and much more.

After Konami's pre-E3 presentation the other day, we're now well underway with the show proper. Microsoft's press conference was first up today, and it's not an exaggeration to say that there was a lot of pressure on the Xbox One team to deliver something to placate gamers. The console's reveal didn't go too well, and further revelations about game ownership (or the lack thereof) alongside connectivity and privacy concerns was just making people more and more concerned.

Microsoft needed a good performance to win over skeptical - and in some cases, outright hostile - gamers. And to a certain degree, they delivered - TV was only mentioned once in the entire two hours, and all of the games shown were what is euphemistically referred to as "core" titles by marketing types these days.

Let's look at what was shown.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

The show got off to a strong start with some gameplay footage of Metal Gear Solid V. The biggest takeaway from the demo was the fact that Snake's latest adventure is an open-world game with more than a passing resemblance to Red Dead Redemption.

The setting of the new game is Outer Heaven, which will be a familiar name to series veterans. Some of the characters making an appearance will be familiar, too; the new game features Kazuhira ("Master") Miler, Emmerich and Ocelot as well as newcomers Quiet, Eli, Skull Face and Code Talker. All in all, it looks like the trademark Metal Gear brand of combining somewhat realistic characters with outlandish comic book villains is present and correct.

The New Xbox 360 and Xbox Live Gold

After the Metal Gear demo, the show got underway proper. The first thing to be announced was yet another redesign of the Xbox 360 console, available starting today. The new unit promises to be "smaller, sleeker and quieter" than previous models - I'm sure we've heard that before somewhere.

Xbox Live Gold is also getting some improvements in an apparent response to Sony's PlayStation Plus service: beginning on July 1, all Xbox Live Gold members, new or existing, will receive two free games per month, beginning with Assassin's Creed II and Halo 3. It wasn't made entirely clear if you get to keep the games, but it's likely a similar situation to PlayStation Plus: they're yours as long as you continue to be a Gold member, but downgrade to Silver and they go "poof!"

Microsoft also confirmed that Microsoft Points are going away, that Xbox Live Gold memberships will transfer to Xbox One, and that you'll be able to share "some" Xbox Live Gold features between family members - the example they gave was that a family member would be able to play multiplayer games even without the primary account holder logged in.

Three New Xbox 360 Games

Microsoft showed off three upcoming Xbox 360 titles, two of which were seeing their first public appearance today.

First up was World of Tanks, Wargaming's popular free-to-play team-based tank battle game. The Xbox 360 version of the popular title has apparently been rethought for console play, with a 360 controller-friendly control scheme. The game will be free-to-play like its PC-based big brother, but like current free-to-play Xbox Live Arcade title Happy Wars, you'll require a Gold Membership to play in the first place... so not quite free-to-play in the traditional sense.

Second up was Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, a platform adventure game in which the titular character casts his annoying brother into another dimension and then, presumably, must set off and rescue him through a series of perilous environments. The game looked to mostly play like a 2D platformer, albeit with 3D visuals in the style of Dreamworks animated movies.

Third up was Dark Souls II. The new trailer didn't really show anything we haven't seen before - it sure looked like Dark Souls, so those hungry for a new challenge will hopefully be happy with what the new game has to offer.

Ryse: Son of Rome

The first "next-gen" game to be shown was Crytek's Ryse: Son of Rome, which will be available as an Xbox One launch title. The demo showed gameplay of a stage where the player character (Ryse, presumably) was part of a Roman-era beach assault, and involved a whole lot of chopping, slicing and press-X-to-neck-stab.

The gameplay looked fairly heavily-scripted - Ryse seemed to largely be walking forwards and occasionally stabbing someone in the face. There didn't look to be a lot of tactical movement or freedom, but it was certainly spectacular. Referring to it as "Call of Duty: Rome" is probably premature, but also not entirely unfair.

Killer Instinct and Xbox One's Online Features

Rare revealed a new title that it was working on and, as expected, it was a new Killer Instinct game. As a game, it looked to be fairly "business as usual" for the fighting genre - it's still 2D fighting gameplay with 3D graphics, a la Street Fighter IV - but it was used to demonstrate some of Xbox One's interesting new features: specifically, the ability to "queue up" a multiplayer session for one game and continue playing another one; the ability to livestream gameplay via Twitch; the automatic digital video recording of gameplay sessions; and the ability to edit, customize and share those gameplay videos online.

Sunset Overdrive

This rather strangely-titled game is Insomniac's new game for Xbox One, and takes the form of a "stylized open-world shooter." What this means is that the game has a somewhat Team Fortress 2-esque aesthetic, involves parkour, lots of ludicrous acrobatics and lots of shooting people in the head.

What's interesting about Sunset Overdrive is that it promises to grow, change and evolve over time based on the community's behavior. Various events will happen around the game world according to the way the whole community has been playing, and this makes for an experience that is - theoretically, at least - different every day.

Let's just hope it's better than Fuse, eh?

Forza 5

In news that will surprise no-one, a new Forza game is on the way to Xbox One. The new game looks surprisingly Project Gothamy, with a strong focus on street racing in the demo footage.

The thing that Turn 10 appears to be most proud of in the new game is the "Drivatar" system, which learns the way you drive as you play, then allows you to turn the game off and let your virtual self compete against other players online, earning you credits even while you're not playing. This is somewhat similar to the asynchronous multiplayer system found in EA's mobile game Real Racing 3, and is an interesting idea... if it works.

Forza 5 will be ready in time for Xbox One's launch.

Minecraft

As evidence that Microsoft supports independent developers, a new version of Minecraft for Xbox One was trotted out. This will apparently distinguish itself from the Xbox 360 version by supporting bigger worlds and more simultaneous players, but otherwise looked distinctly like the Minecraft we're all very familiar with already.

Quantum Break

Remedy's time-bending action adventure looked pretty interesting, though the demo video shown was more of a cutscene than gameplay. What it showed off was some very impressive, realistic facial animation along with an example of how the game's main characters can walk around "outside time" and see things happening in slow-motion around them.

D4

Fans of Deadly Premonition now have a reason to want an Xbox One: Swery65's new game is coming to Microsoft's new console. D4, as it is called, promises an interactive murder mystery and features some heavily-stylized, comic book-style visuals.

It wasn't immediately clear how the game would play, but this being Swery, you can count on it being a little... unconventional.

Project Spark

Project Spark was seemingly designed in an attempt to take what LittleBigPlanet did on PS3, then dial everything up by a considerable margin. Rather than making 2D levels, in Project Spark you can create full 3D worlds using a combination of voice commands and Smartglass integration, then play God to your heart's content by placing villages, enemies and other objects.

What's really interesting about Project Spark, though, is the ability to alter objects' behaviors. By adjusting an object or character's "brain", you can make it work in all manner of different ways. If you want a rock to follow you around like a pet, you can do that. If you want it to turn into a giant robot, you can.

It looked like there was the potential for some interesting real-time multiplayer - at the same time players were exploring the world and fighting enemies, another player was deforming the terrain in real time and casting spells that devastated the landscape.

The system looks like it could be pretty flexible, too - among other things in the demo reel were convincing recreations of Limbo's silhouetted aesthetic and 2D gameplay, and Geometry Wars' frantic 2D top-down shooting action.

Crimson Dragon

The oft-delayed Crimson Dragon put in an appearance, albeit in a video without any sound. It looked very much like a new Panzer Dragoon game, which is no bad thing in itself, but it was difficult to tell a great deal about the game from the video - other than the fact that it involved a dragon flying around shooting things, of course.

Dead Rising 3

Capcom revealed the newest incarnation of the Dead Rising series, promising the "ultimate open world zombie game."

First impressions of the new offering are good, but the rather gritty Walking Dead-esque aesthetic suggests that the comic overtones of the previous Dead Rising games may be a thing of the past. This isn't necessarily a bad thing - The Walking Dead is great, after all - but it's hard not to feel like an important part of the Dead Rising franchise has been somewhat lost in this transition.

Regardless of the change in tone, the game offers an impressively "dense" city, with a wide variety of buildings you can enter, and what looks to be a very flexible weapon customization system - in the demo footage, we saw new hero Nick stick a circular saw onto a sledgehammer, then fling it at a zombie to slice it completely in half. Nick, it seems, has considerably more upper-arm strength than I do.

Dead Rising 3 also makes use of SmartGlass - you can use the second screen to call in air-strikes and the like. It wasn't entirely clear from the footage how this feature would be "limited" - if you can simply whip out your iPad to drop a few bombs every so often, a lot of the challenge would be gone, surely!

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

We didn't learn a great deal more about The Witcher 3 that we didn't already know - it's the finale of Geralt's saga, it's an open world game with non-linear quests, and it supposedly has over a hundred hours of content - but we did get to see the game running, and it looks lovely.

Developer CD Projekt Red confirmed that there will be some Xbox One-exclusive features in the new game - specifically, you'll be able to use voice commands to cast spells and switch items in mid-combat.

Battlefield 4: Second Assault

Battlefield 4 surprised no-one by involving a lot of men shouting and shooting each other while things exploded around them. It certainly looked very nice, with lots of dynamic lighting and levels crumbling and collapsing around the player. Ultimately, it was still a first-person shooter, though, albeit a fairly spectacular-looking one. Your move, Call of Duty.

The "Second Assault" part of the name refers to the fact that the second DLC pack for the game will be a timed exclusive on Xbox One.

Below

Below is a new game from Capybara, the team behind Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP and the excellent puzzle RPG Might and Magic Clash of Heroes. Capybara has once again teamed up with musician Jim Guthrie, who also put together the soundtrack for Sworcery, to create an interesting-looking, heavily-stylized roguelike.

Black Tusk Studio

There's not a lot to say about this save for the fact that the trailer was about ten seconds long and told us nothing, apart from giving us false hope that we'll ever see a sequel to Fantavision and/or Boom Boom Rocket. Black Tusk Studio is apparently a new studio focused on triple-A development for the Xbox One.

Halo

The new Halo trailer began by looking like a gritty reimagining of Thatgamecompany's Journey, but then - surprise! - it was revealed that the hooded wanderer in the desert was none other than Master Chief himself. Exactly why Master Chief needs to wear a poncho in the desert when he's covered from head to toe in thick, powered armor is anyone's guess.

Xbox One will, unsurprisingly, be getting a new Halo game next year, with a new engine "enhanced by the cloud" and running at 60 frames per second.

Interestingly, the new game wasn't called "Halo 5" - just "Halo."

Price and Release Date

Rare accidentally let slip the Xbox One's release date earlier today when announcing Kinect Sports Rivals, but it's been confirmed: the Xbox One will be here in November.

The price? $499. Ouch.

You can preorder a "Day One" edition right now, and that includes an exclusive Xbox Live achievement, plus DLC for Ryse: Son of Rome, Forza 5, Kinect Sports Rivals and Dead Rising 3, which pretty much confirms these titles will be ready for launch in November.

And Finally... Titanfall

The press conference closed with footage of Respawn Studios' Titanfall, which looked very much like Call of Duty: Future Warfare, unsurprisingly.

Titanfall looks to have a strong focus on multiplayer, but rather than the usual dry, characterless nature of current online shooters, an attempt has been made to make the action more immersive. Player lobbies are in-game, for example, being depicted as a mission briefing in a dropship on the way to the battle zone, and various NPC characters keep the player updated on important information during the match.

Titanfall's big Unique Selling Point over and above your regular multiplayer manshoot is the use of the Titans - giant mechs which you can call in after a certain amount of time has passed, then stomp around being awesome in. Rather than being big, hulking MechWarrior-style walking tanks, however, these metal beasts look to be pretty agile, and even have some interesting-looking special abilities such as plucking bullets out of mid-air and yanking pilots out of cockpits.

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