E3 2014 has officially begun with the Microsoft press conference aptly named “Game On.” Microsoft showed off a ton of games at its media briefing this year. Here is a quick recap of all the big news from the conference and a review of the overall conference from James Pungello and Allan Muir.
Microsoft’s press conference began with Phil Spencer acknowledging the gamers and fans of Xbox first and the developers who are hard at work making games for the console. The show then kicked off and didn’t stop for 90 minutes of games, games and more games. Microsoft opened the conference with the highly-anticipated Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. A demo was shown off that included a frantic drop into an office building in Seoul that ended with a pretty dramatic finale.
It was then announced that the Nürburgring track for Forza Motorsport V is available for free right now and Forza Horizon 2 is coming later this year (September 30th to be exact). The game will be an open world driving game that features seamless multiplayer with no lobbies, online drivatars from Forza V, over 200 cars and all running at 1080p.
After a quick look at Valve’s game Evolve, the conference went to Ubisoft’s first current-gen only Assassin’s Creed game: Unity. The game takes place in 18th century France during the tumultuous revolution and the gameplay demo that was shown off featured four players cooperatively taking down enemies and allowing the crowds of angry peasants to run amok.
Dragon: Age Inquisition got an impressive trailer next and Sunset Overdrive brought its wacky and over-the-top sensibilities to the forefront of the conference. Sunset Overdrive’s trailer featured some jabs at third-person shooter cover mechanics and brought to life the colorful, cartoony and ridiculous world of Sunset City.
A very brief but humorous look at Dead Rising 3′s new DLC (which is available now) was next. The DLC allows players to cooperatively take on the game with four players as some of the most famous characters from other Capcom games. Harmonix then briefly discussed Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved and Dance Central Spotlight which will both be coming later this year. Dance Central Spotlight will be a download-only game that will allow the developers to add new songs to the library faster than before.
Lionhead showed off Fable Legends, a game that allows you to play with three friends as a group of heroes or as a villain who can control the game from above and make it a living hell for the players. The story itself will be dictated by the outcome of this hero vs villain conflict. Project Spark was also given some time and the creativity and openness of the map creator was highlighted. Conker was also revealed as a character that would be in the game.
One of the biggest portions of the conference was dedicated to Halo: The Master Chief Collection, which will be coming to the Xbox One on November 11th. The collection will include Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Halo 2 Anniversary, Halo 3 and Halo 4. The games will all be on one disc with one interface for seamless playthroughs and the multiplayer custom playlists will combine maps and experiences from all four games. Halo 2 Anniversary will come with the original Halo 2 multiplayer and the collection will also include beta access for Halo 5: Guardians and Halo Knightfall, a live action mini series that will tie into the story of Halo 5: Guardians and introduce a new character.
Phil Spencer then re-took the stage to talk about 2015. Playdead presented Inside, which looked like Limbo but with sluggish zombie-like people all lined up. We were shown the protagonist evading spotlights and any lights in general.
Chris Charla, formerly an IGN editor, talked about ID@Xbox. Specifically about multiplayer and Indie devs. A music video showcasing indie games for Xbox One was shown and a splash trailer was then played showing off all the games.
A trailer for the rumored Tomb Raider sequel (called Rise of the Tomb Raider) was then shown off. Lara was shown in a psychiatrist’s office talking about what happened in the events of the first game. While the psychiatrist is talking it shows Lara stalking enemies with her bow now more refined than the original one from the island.
Microsoft then showed off some Witcher III Wild Hunt gameplay. While hunting a Griffin, the main character is pulled into a fight with a group of bandits and culminates with a boss fight with the Griffin. The game looked absolutely beautiful.
Ken Lobb appeared on stage (fun fact: he is in the original Perfect Dark on XBLA). He introduced a trailer for Phantom Dust, a game that was on the original Xbox and received multiple positive reviews. It showed two people running at each other with orbs in their hands and shields.
Ryan Barnard game director of The Division was next to come out. The gameplay demo for The Division showcased a nasty firefight on the streets of New York that is extinguished rather quickly.
Resident Evil 2 director Hideki Kamiya then came out to show off Platinum’s next original game exclusively for Xbox One Scalebound.
Grand Theft Auto and Lemmings creator David Jones was next up to show off Crackdown. The trailer began with a drone getting shot down and ended with a tanker rigged with explosives launching debris at the enemy’s stronghold.
Phil Spencer then closed the conference by saying that this was only the beginning.
James Pungello- Editor-in-Chief
Microsoft needed to come out swinging with tons of games and a lot of energy and it did just that. The conference stayed high energy and chock full of quality games from start to finish. There we no superfluous Kinect demos (which easily could have happened with Dance Central), no fluff, no filler and no loss of energy from start to finish.
The demos for games like Assassin’s Creed Unity, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt showed off some impressive graphics and fun gameplay. Exclusive titles like Halo: The Master Chief Collection and Sunset Overdrive were phenomenal additions to the lineup and the large montage of indie games coming to the Xbox via the ID@Xbox program was great to see.
I personally was the most excited to see just how well 343 Industries is handling The Master Chief Collection and the fact that Halo 2 is getting the anniversary treatment AND its original multiplayer is just icing on the cake. The fact that some of the DLC was revealed to be available now was memorable and the little video clips with programmers and celebrities talking about their favorite games and characters was actually very effective.
Microsoft clearly wanted to appeal directly to the gamers with everything that it did and it worked out extremely well. The games that were shown were awesome, the energy of the conference stayed nice and high, the dedication to making the conference about the overall gaming experience was fantastic and it made me much more excited for what is to come on the Xbox One.
There is a very strong lineup of games and experiences coming to Xbox both this year and later on down the road and this conference hyped me up for it even more. I think Microsoft knocked it out of the park with this one and started off E3 2014 right!
Allan Muir- Senior Staff Writer
Overall, the Xbox conference was everything Phil Spencer said it would be: Games. We got what we expected in Call of Duty and Halo: The Master Chief Collection, but we also got some new things as well in Phantom Dust and Scalebound. Sunset Overdrive looked cool but it wasn’t really my jam. We also got the rumored Tomb Raider sequel we were expecting in Rise of The Tomb Raider. What Phil Spencer said was true, we are shaping the future of Xbox.
I was also excited with the 2015 panel of games. Specifically The Witcher III: Wild Hunt as it looks like a next-gen version of The Elder Scrolls: IV Oblivion. I was also excited with Rise of The Tomb Raider as it showed a different type of Lara Croft then we’ve seen in previous games. I was thrilled to see Crackdown 3 as Crackdown 2 was a real let down when compared to the original Crackdown. The art style of the game looks great as well. The Division looked absolutely phenomenal as well and makes me extremely giddy for 2015.