18 Jun

E3 2015 Microsoft

E3 2015 Day 2

My thoughts on video game press conferences in general is that they’re a big waste of my time. Not that they’re a waste of everyone’s time, because clearly they create buzz and excitement, but watching developers and executives awkwardly introduce their games is not how I want to spend my time.

That being said, I did watch the guys from Kinda Funny do their pre and post conference livestreams all day on Sunday and Monday, so I must have some interest in these press conferences.

Anyway, I’ve watched and read all that I need to know, and so I’m separating the announcements from each publisher into three categories based on how much they matter to me. Your results may vary.

Major Announcements: Things that I care about or that I feel are important to gaming as a hobby.

Minor Announcements: Things that I may be interested in, but don’t have any deep feelings about, or things that might be interesting to a large segment of gamers who are not me.

Inconsequential Announcements: Things that have no interest to me and will probably only interest a small subset of gamers.

Microsoft

The XBOX One was in desperate need for games to play, and Microsoft delivered its player base a welcome influx of games to look forward to in the very near future. Big games. Small games. New games. Old games. The XBONE now has them all.

360 compatibility was a big step that instantly adds games to the XBONE library. Even if it only allows people to port over their XBLA games and a few select others, it’s still a big move for Microsoft and their player base.

This was exactly the press conference Microsoft needed, at exactly the right time; before the holiday shopping season.

  • Major Announcements

-HALO 5 OFFICIAL
Microsoft kicked off its E3 with a confident and varied showing, mixing blockbuster reveals and a slew of independent games. There was new gameplay footage of Halo 5: Guardians as 343 Studios look to expand the universe. Impressive four-player co-op and splendid sci-fi visuals were the order of the day.

-GEARS 4 ANNOUNCED
Microsoft announced Gears of War 4 for the Xbox One; due out ‘holiday 2016’.

Gears 4 is also the first game in the series developed by The Coalition (formerly Black Tusk Studios) after initial creators Epic Games sold the rights to Microsoft.

The footage I saw showed a pair of CoG soldiers running from a raging storm as the environment crumbled around them. The chainsaw bayonet and other Gears staples were showed off, as was a mysterious new enemy. Is it the return of the Locusts, or something worse?

Microsoft also announced that there will be a remastered version of the first Gears of War. Gears of War Ultimate Edition will have 1080p and 60fps gameplay, and a beta for the multiplayer.

-FORZA 6 RELEASE DATE
I’m not much of a Forza fan, but it is a big game with a large fan base. Beautiful cars zipping around scenic tracks with all the power the XBOX ONE can muster will be coming your way December 15th 2015.

-NEW TOMB RAIDER
“Rise of the Tomb Raider” will be released for the Xbox One this holiday season. The cinematic shown at E3 was well directed, featured bears, bows, and jumping off cliffs, and portrayed Lara Croft’s tomb raiding as a coping mechanism for the mental trauma she endured in the last game. Interesting stuff.

Gameplay footage showed that Lara is still more survivor than badass action hero, but it does build a nice character arc for her. The developers have taken a cinematic approach to this series by introducing Lara as a novice, accidental, tomb raider the first game. Then making her more capable and determined to find her true self in the sequel. Hopefully, a probable third game is where she’ll adopt the gun-toting badassery she’s known for.
As far as reboots go, the new Tomb Raider series may be the best ever when all is said and done.

  • Minor Announcements

-RECORE ADVENTURE GAME
There was a look at ReCore, an action-adventure video game designed by Keiji Inafune and Armature Studio. The game will be released exclusively for Xbox One in the second quarter of 2016.

The cinematic for this game was about a girl and her robot dog. It appears that “ReCore” refers to the memory core of the robots in this world, which can be swapped into new hardware as a form of upgrading or repairing your robot pal.

-XBOX INDIE
Xbox focussed heavily on its ID@Xbox program for independent developers, with showings for several games from smaller studios and Indie developers.

Side-scrolling platformer, Cuphead, was the indie game that caught my eye due to its amazing 1930s cartoon art style. The developer’s appreciation and dedication to that style is heartwarming, even if the game is about making a deal with the devil.

-360 COMPATIBILITY
Xbox One backward compatibility is rolling out  this year for a select list of games. Mass Effect is the only game on the limited roster that I’m interested in, but hopefully the list will grow over time.

360 discs do not play natively but trigger a download of a compatible file, while downloadable titles appear automatically.

  • Inconsequential Announcements

-SEA OF THIEVES
There was a new Rare game announced, an open-world pirate adventure named Sea of Thieves. It looked a bit too kid-friendly for my tastes, but if I had a younger child who played games then this looks like a good one. Reminded me of World of Warcraft in terms of visual style and mechanics. Also, it’s an MMO.

-RARE REPLAY ANNOUNCED
Collection of 30 classic games from Rare studio. I love the idea of retro games being re-released on new consoles, but there isn’t much here that I’m personally excited about. Battletoads and Perfect Dark are probably the biggest names on this list.

-NEW XBOX CONTROLLER
A new ‘Elite wireless’ controller was unveiled and it’s cool, but I already have two controllers that seem to work just fine. Maybe when one breaks I’ll consider going ‘elite.’

-HOLOLENSE VR HEADSET
Microsoft used Minecraft to demo its augmented reality headset, Hololens. Minecraft really is the perfect game for VR because of its low-fi graphics and first-person immersion, but I still don’t care and I definitely don’t want any kind of headset to play games with.