DJ Arruda ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Microsoft kicked off what is essentially Christmas for gamers with their E3 press conference, Xbox: Game On. Opening with a montage of gameplay footage and a five-second countdown, Phil Spencer, the new head of Xbox, delivered a beautiful monologue putting the past year of Xbox in perspective. It showed the company was right to put him in charge, and that Microsoft learned from last year’s focus not being solely on games.
The first game shown was Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Looking gorgeous, a helicopter crash started the demo and proceeded to show the familiar HUD and gameplay of the series, action top notch as always, and some new futuristic additions given the new direction of this storyline. Xbox will once again have first access to all DLC. Swarming nanobots of some kind looked cool, as well as smart grenades, mechs, and all sorts of other robotic goodies. It was a solid and exciting way to kick things off.
The next game shown was Forza 5, also also sporting fantastic graphics, and offering the famous Nürburgring racing circuit free for current owners immediately. A sequel was also announced, Forza Horizon 2, which boasts no lobbies, a day/night cycle, racing clubs, and all sorts of new features, coming on September 30, exclusively to the Xbox One.
Next was Evolve, the 4v1 alien shooter with exclusive Beta and DLC for the Xbox One, and featuring a new Cthulu-esque alien.
Assassin’s Creed: Unity, the first next gen-exclusive release in the series, showed off four-player co-op on the eve of the French Revolution, looking to continually improve gameplay and graphics.
Dragon Age: Inquisition showed off another gorgeous gameplay trailer, showcasing the wide range of combat, characters, and locations ripe in the game, set for an October 7 release.
Premiere content for the Xbox One was also announced for BioWare’s latest title. Sunset Overdrive brought colorful zaniness in its gameplay demo, and all sorts of fun. It looks to be a unique and fresh experience, complete with an 8-player chaos mode where the player is the hero. This new IP comes out October 28.
In true Capcom fashion, Dead Rising announced a completely whacky arcade DLC bringing characters from all the studio’s games into the already tongue-in-cheek series.
A new Dance Central game and Disney’s Fantasia: Music Evolved were announced as some new music party games for the console.
Fable Legends brings multiplayer and co-op in what looks like a fun, fantasy romp in the familiar series, where players can now also play as the villain and set the battles for the heroes.
Throughout the conference there were cuts to various celebrities and game developers saying their favorite characters, games, and hours logged, adding to the home atmosphere.
Project Spark, the creative world building game revealed last E3 and currently in beta, revealed new additions such as multiplayer, co-op, galaxies, and the return of an old gaming icon, Conker.
Ori and the Blind Forest was a gorgeous and fun new indie game revealed, looking to be just as strong as any AAA title.
Perhaps one of the biggest announcements was Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Featuring basically all content ever for the main games in the series thus far in 1080p and 60fps, the collection also gives Halo 2 the anniversary treatment and keeps that classic multiplayer. All games will be on their original engines. Also included is Halo: Nightfall, the Ridley Scott prequel series to Guardians, and access to the Halo 5 beta.
Playdead’s Inside, the spiritual successor to its indie hit Limbo, spearheaded a montage of ID@Xbox games, showing many titles running the gauntlet and looking great.
The sequel to the 2013 reboot of Tomb Raider was also revealed, showing main character Lara Croft undergoing therapy after the events of the first game while also adventuring through jungles and caves.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt showcased a gameplay demo of Geralt hunting a griffin, showing off the open world, combat, and overall stunning visuals in the hotly anticipated sequel.
Killer Instinct supervisor Ken Lobb announced a reboot of Xbox classic Phantom Dust.
Tom Clancy’s The Division got a new gameplay demo showing some teamwork in recovering a base of operations.
A monster and combat filled trailer to new fantasy IP Scalebound was also showcased.
The show closed with the reveal of Crackdown 3. Though the sequel left a lot to be desired, the original game was a fun co-op experience filled with crime fighting super agents and destruction in Pacific City.
This conference was much stronger than last year’s, and shows that putting Phil Spencer as head of Xbox was the right decision for Microsoft. Though there was nothing overly surprising, the presentation fulfilled its promise of 90 minutes of game. Going forward through the rest of this year and next, the Xbox One seems quite strong with a number of exclusives and exclusive content for games shipping on other consoles.
All of the games were beautiful in their own right, and offered a variety options in genre and content for gamers of all kinds. It was a great way to kick off E3 2014, opening the door for gamers to experience these revealed titles and be excited for demos and trailers alike.