Recap & Review: Microsoft’s E3


Microsoft has been under a lot of scrutiny lately about their unveiling of Xbox One, the next-gen successor to the Xbox 360. A lot of people were upset that Microsoft showed too much of the One’s TV capabilities and not enough of games. Well, Microsoft certainly fixed that as they led off this year’s E3 by unleashing ALL OF THE GAMES!

MS meme

The Microsoft conference started off with a gameplay demo of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. I’ve never played any of the Metal Gear games before but after watching this one, I might actually pick it up. IT LOOKS AWESOME! The graphics look glorious, and the game sports a bunch of interesting features such as real time weather that changes randomly throughout the game, as well as a real progression of time (i.e. one hour in real life is also one hour in game time). Tie all that in with Snake kicking a** and taking names throughout the demo, this is definitely a game to keep your eyes open for when the One is released.

Then the conference took a very interesting turn: Microsoft didn’t dive right into talking about the One, but instead started talking about the 360. Stranger still is the fact that Microsoft is releasing a new, slimmer version of the 360. Don’t we already have one of those? And why release it now, especially with a new system right around the corner? I guess Microsoft isn’t ready to let the 360 go quite yet. They did, however, remind us of some of the awesome games that will be coming to the 360 in the near future, namely Arkham Origins, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and GTA 5. This was followed by the reveal of three new games: World of Tanks (the console version of the popular PC game), Max: The Curse of Brother Hood, and Dark Souls II. All three games looked pretty impressive, although they didn’t really excite me because I wasn’t there to see 360 games; I was there for the One.

Then, the moment arrived: games for the One. The first reveal was an Xbox One exclusive: Ryse: Son of Rome, a game by Crytek set in the height of the Roman Empire. The gameplay demo follows the main character as he leads a Roman legion in a siege on a castle strong hold. Holy. Balls. It was AWESOME! It was like a combination of Gladiator and 300! There were arrows and explosions everywhere, the combo kills were insane and the graphics were gorgeous. I definitely will be picking this game up when it comes out, assuming I get an Xbox One.

Microsoft then followed Ryse with another exclusive title: Killer Instinct. This short trailer didn’t give anyone much to go on, though the game does make a return later in the conference when Microsoft was showing off the upgrades to Smartglass, but more on that later. Anyway, here’s the short, 30ish second long trailer.

Killer Instinct was then followed by yet another exclusive: Sunset Overdrive. The game trailer, which looked kinda like it was straight out of a Dreamworks animated movie, except much more violent, followed a dude free-running all over the place, and shooting zombie-like creatures with ridiculous weapons (an energy drink charged shotgun?!). At first I didn’t really care for it, but the more I watch the trailer, the more intrigued I get. The presenter also mentioned that the game will dynamically change from day to day, adding new weapons and challenges daily. I will be keeping close tabs on this game to see if it will be worth checking out.

Next up was Forza 5, which was already announced at the Xbox One reveal. Instead of showing off a game play trailer, the presenter talked about one of the coolest features I’ve seen in a while: your “driveatar”. As you play Forza 5, the game will keep track of your driving style and create a ghost driver that will become more and more like you as you play. When you sign out of the game, the driveatar will keep playing as you. When you sign back in, you will be able to see how your driveatar did in the races it competed in. Now that is cool.

Following Forza was the announcement of Minecraft coming to Xbox One. I personally never saw the appeal of the game but I’m sure a lot of people are happy about this. Moving onto what might be my favorite new game announced: Quantum Break. The game follows an interesting concept that time has become broken to the point where it stutters, slows down, or stops all together. The trailer (which runs off the game engine and you should check it out because is flipping beautiful), features 2 characters, who seem to be unaffected by the time break, rescuing a doctor from an explosion that is frozen in time (I realize that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense but if you watch the trailer, you’ll understand). This game looks like it has such an interesting concept and I can’t wait to see more of it.

Next was a trailer for the Xbox One exclusive D4, a cell shaded murder/mystery game that seems to involve a plane, guns, and an owl (sorry, that’s all I got from the trailer). Sarcasm a side, this game does seem to be remotely interesting, despite it’s seemingly all over the place trailer. It could render a second look when more details emerge.

Following D4 was Project Spark, another Xbox One exclusive. This is a game within a game, in which players develop levels and objectives for other players to take on and try to beat. At first I wasn’t sold on the idea when the developers were demonstrating how to build a level, but when they started competing on a level that somebody else had built and finished, I quickly changed my mind. This game is both unique and beautiful. Please keep an open mind and check out the game demo.

Microsoft then started to talk about the next gen edition of the Xbox Smartglass app for mobile devices. I really enjoyed the whole concept of the Smartglass app but I couldn’t do much with the latest version except change what my girlfriend was watching on Netflix to mess with her. Microsoft has now fixed that, allowing you to watch in-game videos recorded on you game DVR, and track the stats of both you and your friends in whatever game you’re playing. While I think some of these features might be overkill or unnecessary, there is no denying how cool the interconnectivity of these devices are.

Following the Smartglass demo was yet another Xbox One exclusive: Crimson Dragon. The trailer, which didn’t have any sound at the conference due to technical difficulties, showed game play footage of players flying around on dragons shooting fireballs at other dragons. While this sounds pretty damn cool, I’m not 100% sold on this game and it looks kind of cheesy, but who knows, I’ve been wrong before. Microsoft is also coming out with a mobile version of Crimson Dragon to tie together with the console game, which is an interesting idea but once again, I’m not 100% sold on it.

Dead Rising 3 (Xbox exclusive) was the next game on the list. This portion of the conference featured a pretty lengthy game play demo of the new, massive, open world zombie game, and let me tell ya: it looks AWESOME. The demo featured SOOO MANY ZOMBIES. Having played many zombie games before, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an overwhelming number of zombies in once place. I can only assuming that the staggering number of enemies adds to the helpless feeling of being truly stuck in a zombie apocalypse. Aside from the massive amount of AI, the game also features beautiful graphics, and the ability to use just about anything as a weapon. Also, much like the last Dead Rising games, you can combine items to make better items to help improve your odds of survival. Definitely keep an eye open for this game, especially if you like killing zombies (who doesn’t?).

Microsoft’s next reveal was the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, which is actually NOT an Xbox One exclusive (C-C-C-COMBO BREAKER). Witcher 3 features open world gameplay, Kinect tie-ins, beautiful graphics, and has over 100 hours of game play. WAIT WHAT?! 100 F***IN HOURS?!?! SO. MUCH. SWORDFIGHTING! The Witcher 3, as you can imagine, is going to be an absolutely massive and immersive RPG experience that will effectively end you social life for a good long while. Remember when you’re playing that you do need to eat/move around every once and a while.

Moving right along, the next game was Battlefield 4. After a brief hiccup with the presentation failing to play initially, Battlefield 4 came out swinging, showing off a crazy action sequence of an attack on an aircraft carrier. The main character and his team are desperately trying to escape the ship and its getting shelled on all sides, when suddenly it BREAKS IN FREAKING HALF. The team then jumps from one part of the ship to the fight deck on the other half (which is now sinking), fighting enemies and dodging fighter jets that are sliding off the deck as the ship begins to capsize. It was absolute madness. After the video, the presenter from EA also announced that upon release, Xbox One owners get exclusive access to the first map pack DLC before any of the other systems, which is pretty cool too I guess.

Microsoft then changed pace and showed of some love to indie developers by revealing a trailer for Below. This over-head adventure game didn’t give me much to go off of but I looks a bit like an old school Zelda game but really zoomed out. Just watch the trailer and you’ll get what I’m saying.

Next was a game from Black Tusk Studios, in which a name or premise was never given. All that was shown was this interesting 28 second trailer:

This was then followed by another very cryptic trailer of a lone, hooded figure walking in a desert wasteland. The figure looks lost as it trudges on through the windy, sandy world, with no sign of life in sight. The figure then come to stop at a rock cluster at the top of a sand dune and looks out upon the waste land; jagged rock formations looming in the distance. All of a sudden the ground starts to tremble and rocks start to levitate off the ground. The figure just stands patiently and observes as a large single hole emerges before it. From the sinkhole erupts a giant, mechanical bird and as it rises into the air ever so slowly, the hooded figure looks down into its hands at what looks a bit like a dog tag on a chain. The bird spreads its wings and sends out a sort of sonic boom, knocking the hood off the figure to reveal THE MASTER F***ING CHIEF!!! Well I can say I didn’t see that coming. The chief looks beat to hell, his visor cracked on one side. He grips the dog tag (which I now realize is the old chip that used to house Cortana) tightly, and looks stoic as hell as he stairs the beast down. Then it cuts to black. Then reveals the words Halo (no 5 or any other tag line mind you, just Halo) and then followed by “2014”. Soon we will be playing the next installment. Soon…

The last game to be revealed was Titanfall, another Xbox One exclusive. Titanfall is a FPS that has everything you could ever want: guns, explosions, and giant mech suits that you get to run around and kill people in. It’s guaranteed to give you the ability to bench press 400 pounds by just WATCHING the gameplay. THAT’S how bad a** this game looks. Combine that with massive levels for multiplayer madness, and you got yourself one hell of a game. This one is DEFINITELY worth keeping on your radar.

Lastly, Microsoft gave out some important details about the Xbox One sporadically throughout the conference that I’ll just recap here. First, Microsoft has lifted its 100 friend limit for Xbox Live (I personally was nowhere close to that number but whatever). They have also done away with Microsoft points and switched to real currency, which I’m sure anyone who has ever bought something on Xbox live is happy about. Most importantly, Microsoft revealed the price and release date of Xbox One. The One will be priced at $499 and will be hitting stores November 2013. It’s about time they told us that.

FINAL VERDICT: Microsoft fixed everything it left out in its Xbox One reveal and (hopefully) won a lot of people back. They did VERY well at E3 this year.

SCORE: 8.5