E3 2014: Microsoft Round-Up
It couldn't have gone that much worse than last year really. E3 2013 was a bit of PR disaster for Microsoft with so many policy reversals and daft comments made on the Xbox One it's almost like this year is when we see the true face of Microsoft's console. And it certainly was.
Microsoft's E3 2014 press conference was much better affair. Hosted by Phil Spencer, he just looked more at home as head of Xbox than Don Mattrick. Spencer just looks like more of a gamer where Mattrick just looks like a used car salesman.
They opened, as you might expect with, Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare. The partnership between Microsoft and Activision on Call Of Duty has gone from strength to strength and Spencer announced that they timed-exclusivity deal for downloadable content will extend to Advanced Warfare.
[Click on the images to view full-screen as they are insanely hi-res]
Then came Turn 10. Dan Greenawalt introduced the new Nurburgring track for Forza 5 which is available now as a free download and pledged to continue supporting the community with more content for the game. He also revealed that one million players were playing Forza 5 every day which is amazing for such a technical racing game.
Greenawalt then passed over to Playground who unveiled Forza Horizon 2 properly to he public. This does look beautiful on the Xbox One with a massive open driving sandbox and gorgeous day-night and weather cycles.As long as it is handled right it could undo some of the bad will generated by Forza 5's microtransaction system. Playground also revealed that players will be able to import their Drivatar from Forza 5.
Halo was always going to be the main event for this press conference and 343 Industries have not disappointed in their passion for the series. First they announced Halo: The Master Chief Collection which will be out on November the 11th.This is a fully remastered collection of Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3 and Halo 4. All games can be experienced in 1080p at 60fps for the first time (unless you had Halo and Halo 2 on the PC).
The collection puts all four games onto one disc and unites them, fully unlocked in one interface so Halo fans can revisit their favourite parts of the story without the hassle of unlocking the full game.
Halo 2 is ten years old this year and has recieved the full anniversary edition treatment and arrives with the original multiplayer intact just as it was the day Halo 2 originally launched.
This bundle also includes all of the downloadable map packs which adds up to 100 different multiplayer maps for Halo fans to sink their teeth into. And, for achievement hunters the Master Chief Collection has 4000 Gamerscore worth of Achievements to unlock.
But that's not all. The Master Chief Collection also ships with the full run of the Halo digital TV series Halo Nightfall which serves as a prologue to Halo 5: Guardians. The final big Halo announcement is that 343 Industries will be running a beta for the multiplayer of Halo 5: Guardians and this will launch in December of this year.
Lionhead popped up to show off the first gameplay footage of Fable Legends. This looks like an intriguing proposition as four player battle against a playable evil mastermind who can throw a whole range of devious traps and monsters at the heroes.It's still not quite clear whether this will be a retail release or if Lionhead is experimenting with free-to-play for this one but the beta is scheduled for the autumn and we should know more then.
Microsoft wasn't finished with the big reveals though. Ubisoft made an appearance to unveil the new four-player co-op elements of Assassin's Creed: Unity. This is an interesting addition to the series and visually the game is stunning.
Hideki Kamiya made a surprise apperarance to announce a Platinum Games Xbox One exclusive title. Scalebound looks like it will feature colossal monsters and dragons combined with the kind of jaw-dropping action gameplay that we've come to associate with Platinum Games over the years.
Rise Of The Tomb Raider also got its reveal in a trailer at the Microsoft press conference. This looks to be a clever follow-up to last year's series reboot with Lara still haunted by the tramatic events of the first game.
Insomniac's Ted Price gave an excited performance as he came on mid-show to announce a release date for Sunset Overdrive, their colourful open world shooter that looks like the illegitemate offspring of Team Fortress 2, Bulletstorm and Jet Set Radio. It's due out on October the 28th. It should be interesting and, let's face it, it can't be any worse than Fuse.
There were gameplay demos from The Witcher 3, The Division and a new trailer for Dragon Age Inquisition which is out on October the 7th. Evolve also appeared in trailer form unveiling a new monster which is called the Kraken.
Chris Chara evangelised briefly about ID@Xbox before shoing off a video [at the top] teasing a large number of the indie titles that they have coming to the Xbox One. Ken Lobb got a great deal though as he go to reveal the new Phantom Dust game that they are working on.
The show was rounded out by the reveal that many Xbox fans were hoping for. Dave Jones of Cloudgine and creator of the Crackdown series is back at the helm for Crackdown 3, although they've dropped the number so it's just Crackdown.
The trailer looked awesome but the really interesting part of the announcement was Jones' promise that they are planning to make use of the Xbox One's cloud capabilities to take Crackdown's already pretty awesome multiplayer gameplay to a whole new level.
Note: Throughout Microsoft's press conference and indeed throughout the others too it was pretty much a given that unless they gave a specific release date the games announced were for 2015 and possibly beyond.