E3 2015: After Conference Report – Microsoft

 

As E3 continues throughout this week, Geek Syndicate will be covering as much as we can – as soon as we can. In addition to these “after conference reports”, check out our E3 twitter coverage, using the hashtag #GSE3.

As an owner of both XBOX 360 and XBOX ONE, and with a number of exclusive titles being on my radar (Crackdown, Quantum Break, Fable Legends and Gears of War) this was always going to be one of the key conferences for me.

Not only are there some great exclusives in the mix for Microsoft, but the company seems to be really striding forward on the tech side. With Windows 10 (I’m ready to install when it becomes available) and Direct X 12 on the way, the gaming PC is in no way being left behind this year. On top of that, there promises to be cross-platform compatibility between XBOX ONE and Windows which is brilliant news. Add to that Microsoft’s Hololens technology AND their recent collaboration with Oculus to bring that headset to the XBOX ONE … Let’s just say I expected great things from the conference!

Here’s my post conference thoughts on the presentation.

XBOX ONE

HALO 5: Guardians

Much of a muchness here – pretty looking game but I can’t get excited about it. I do like the look and sound of the game and the two storylines but I haven’t seen anything that made me want to get the title at launch. Of course, I’ve no idea if the new developers have eradicated my principle complaint with the series … the lazy AI system implemented by Bungie.

 

Backward Compatibility

Phil Spencer discussed the focus on new franchises before moving on to a very big reveal for me personally – backward compatibility. Xbox One will also be cross platform with Xbox 360. This is phenomenal and I am so pleased I went with an Xbox One. Downloaded games will start showing on the XBOX One soon. Available this summer.

 

Elite Controller

The new XBOX One controller will be coming out in autumn this year and features fully customisable controls. Buttons, sticks and triggers can all be re-mapped. Superb for pure left-handed gamers. I have to admit that I’m generally happy with the control scheme myself (and I’m left-handed) but there are some titles (like Dying Light) that I would love to re-map and can’t in-game. I just hope you can store more than one control profile on here.

 

Fallout 4

It was announced that the XBOX One version of the game will be able to install and use plugins created by players with the PC version of the game. I’m a big modder of Bethesda titles which is why I get them on the PC. Will this news make me get the XBOX One version instead? Maybe. It depends whether my PC rig can handle the title or not!

 

EA Titles

EA joined the Microsoft party, announcing that their pay service, EA Access will include more titles and be available cheaper to XBOX users. Titanfall and Dragon Age Inquisition will be included in EA Access this year. The company also announced Plants Vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2. Set to be released in spring next year, I’m not sure it’s a title that’s needed just yet.

 

Forza 6

Much as expected, Forza looked pretty and 24 player multiplayer was announced which should make for some great racing experiences.

 

Ubisoft Titles

A trailer for The Division was shown, along with more footage from Rainbow 6: Siege. The only surprise was that the two Rainbow 6: Las Vegas titles will be free to those who purchase Siege. I have to say, I’m still not interested in this title, despite my love of the earlier Rainbow 6 titles. The scripted trailers are killing the game for me.

 

Trailers

  • Recore – One girl death machine and her Robot death machine.
  • Dark Souls 3 – Reminded me somewhat of Dark Crystal at the start!
  • Tom Clancy’s The Division – Yeah … still looks pretty darn epic! I hope to see more in Ubisoft’s conference later!
  • Gigantic Cell-shaded, third person fun with an epic twist. It seems your character can become … well, Gigantic.

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A showcase of various independent games that are exclusive to XBOX and Windows was presented. Of these, here are the ones that stood out in my mind:

  • Ashen – a post-apocalyptic survival game where the player has no clue who’s good or bad. The game has a distinct art style and has taken the interesting move of removing faces from the characters.
  • Beyond Eyes – Take on the role of a young, blind girl who has to experience the world through her other senses, discovering beauty as she goes.

XBOX GAME Preview

Try games before they are released. Titles that will be in the program include Elite Dangerous and Day Z – both of which are making the leap from PC. I’m interested in seeing how Elite translates since it has a vast control scheme on the PC.

 

Rise of the Tomb Raider

Gameplay of the game was shown. I have to admit it was very reminiscent of the reboot’s first game … except more mountainy and snowy. This is a game that has been on my radar since its announcement last year. The reboot made me like a franchise I had no prior interest in. Although nothing was particularly new or awesome, I’m still very excited for this game’s rekease and it will be on my pre-order list as soon as possible.

 

Rare Titles

Rare have been developing games for thirty years and to celebrate, XBOX One will be seeing the Rare Collection which gathers together every title the company has produced. Except GoldenEye because of the licencing issues with James Bond and Nintendo!

The company also announced a very pretty looking shared-world adventure game set in a world of cell-shaded pirates. With ship based combat reminiscent of Assassin’s Creed 4, Sea of Thieves looked darn well pleasing to me. I’m very much about the pirate these days and throw in skeletons for a fantasy twist … yep. I’m in!

 

FABLE Legends

The cross platform nature of the game extends to in-game purchases. Players can play (for free) on both Windows 10 and Xbox One and transfer everything between the two experiences.

 

VR

In addition to their recent announcement that Microsoft are working with Oculus – indeed, the headset will ship with Xbox controllers – but also they announced a deal with Valve VR. Though no real details were forthcoming. Perhaps we will hear more in the PC conference later in the week.

Minecraft was used as a showcase piece for HoloLens. A new version of the construction game has been created for the technology. As I’d hoped (for non-gaming uses), holo lens can be used to beam gameplay onto a wall.

Now, I don’t play Minecraft. But I got a little too excited when the demonstration showed the HoloLens transferring the world to a table. The game uses voice commands, and other players can be helped or hindered by the world builder in this way. This is what I call moving forward in gaming.

 

Gears of War

The original has been re-mastered for XBOX One… The multiplayer beta for the new version is available now for a week. So get hold of a copy if you’re a fan of the franchise. I’m not sure I’ll be getting this unless it’s cheap. Especially since the console is now backwards compatible. I can play the original which was pretty enough for my needs.

The team also previewed a new Gears of War title – Gears 4. Gameplay footage can only be described as Gears of Wars-y. I love the franchise and thought they played excellently so as with Rise of the Tomb Raider, I can’t use this as a criticism. The gameplay was from night time though. Which meant I could see very little of what was going on. In my book this defeats the point of a reveal.

 

 

Round Up Thoughts

I guess that overall, this was a mixed bag for me. Having said that, most of the mix was glorious sour cherries with just the occasional horrible foam fried egg thrown in. The backward compatibility is a massive positive for Xbox. Especially if this is truly universal. It means I can free up a 360 sized hole to put a Playstation 4 in. This probably wasn’t the intention, but it works for me!

I was a bit disappointed that Quantum Break and Crackdown weren’t showcased, but I’ll just have to hunt them down elsewhere at the show. By which I mean on youtube, twitch and Microsoft’s own site!

It was also great to see a vast range of new IP’s and independent games on display. This is where the company has been lagging behind in my eyes, so hopefully this push will really mean the company are moving forward.

I would also have liked more from the VR section, though I have a suspicion that this will be forthcoming in the PC conference in the early hours of Wednesday.

A great conference overall. I’m glad I’m and XBOX gamer!

GS Blogger: WedgeDoc

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