On…Microsoft’s E3 Presentation

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What’s this? Two posts in one day? Well, I was just so excited to share with you my thoughts on Microsoft’s E3 presentation that I couldn’t resists. That and because I wanted to be one of the early things you might read on the topic, because by tomorrow, this topic will have been covered to death. This is a slightly different format than my in-depth posts, but I just wanted to give a quick first impressions of stuff they showed. So without much ado, let’s begin.

It opened with a Metal Gear Solid trailer, which to me, seemed mostly like cutscenes (in-engine at least) and boasts of better stealth mechanics but no actual substance. Perhaps continuing the trend of MGS being more of an interactive movie than a game?

Xbox 360

They start with things concerning the Xbox 360. There’s going to be a new Xbox 360 model which looks like the Xbox One but promises to be smaller, quieter and faster. Available today. Not sure who’s that targeted at seeing as Xbox One is out this November, but whatever.

Xbox Live gold membership carries over, hooray! Also gold members get 2 free games every month, including Assassin’s Creed 2 and Halo 3. Which is really disappointing actually, seeing as PSN has been doing this for over a year and those games they mentioned as selling points are old as fuck. I mean you can get AC2 for less than £10 in most places. But whatever, shouldn’t complain about free stuff, right?

World of Tanks coming to 360, free to play, built from the ‘ground-up’ whatever that means to suit xbox 360 players (how can it be built from the ground up when it’s the same game as the PC version but with different controls? It’s a port…).

Max: Curse of the Brotherhood looks to be a cartoonish side scrolling platformer with some elements of environment manipulation. Kinda cool but indie platformers are really overdone by now and nothing about Max particularly stood out as amazing.

Dark Souls II announced. Interesting. I haven’t played Dark Souls so I don’t have much to say, but the trailer looked pretty good.

Xbox One

Now onto Xbox One games. I’m going in rough chronological order of when they showcased stuff in the presentation, but skipping everything out that isn’t game-related until after this bit.

They opened with Ryse: Son of Rome, a 3rd person action game where you play as part of a roman legion. Quite cool that there appears to be fighting in formation built in.

Killer Instinct comes back, includes Mad Catz joystick. Personally not a huge fan of fighting games but looks good enough, nothing particularly revolutionary in the trailer to comment on.

Sunset Overdrive, a quirky looking game which promises to be a living world that changes every day based on player actions. Looks to be some kind of shooter where you fight against monsters. Stylised, bright and colourful, quite cartoony, reminds me of Borderlands a little bit but less stylised than that.

Forza 5…ooh long screenshots of a shiny car. Not my thing at all. I’m sure if you like racing games this will be a pretty competent, realistic game. They promise better AI based on something called a Driveavatar (yeah, stupid term I know) which learns the way you drive and then you can send it out to drive by itself to earn you points. Not sure why you would want the game to play for you but I guess it’s kinda cool.

Minecraft returns! Promises bigger maps! No other details that I would have liked such as an easier way to download maps, or even mods or something. PC version has nothing to worry about.

Quantum Break looks to be a TV/game hybrid. The trailer looked amazing as it promises live-action sequences blended in with the gameplay. Honestly the difference between the CGI and the live-action is not that big so it did look pretty impressive. Looks to be a shooter anyway.

D4 is an indie murder mystery game, the art style reminds me of Telltale games.

Project Spark is a game where you make a game, basically. They give you the tools to make the world and terrain, then you can add buildings and creatures. They mentioned adding lines of code though this wasn’t shown, and being able to download pre-made stuff from other players. Might be pretty cool if the community gets big enough for it.

Crimson Dragon was shown, I think my stream (watched on IGN) died a bit because the sound didn’t come through. Basically from what I could tell, you control a dragon and fly around. Alright looking though not the best looking game demo’d today.

Dead Rising 3 promises to be open world! They show off one guy fighting off a huge hoard of zombies, using the environment to escape, and throwing flares to distract them. Not sure about this one, because it could be good, but the gameplay looked kinda clunky and stale. With so many zombie games on the market, it could be a tough sell.

Witcher 3 is open world and will feature kinect support and smartglass support. Given the success of the previous Witcher games, it looks to be fantastic.

Battlefield 4 was a super awkward presentation. The footage didn’t load immediately and caused the presenter to have to stall for time and make awkward comments. Very embarrassing for arguably one of the biggest titles of the show. Anyway, it comes on eventually and it looks fantastic. Exactly what you’d expect really, just prettier and more explosive than the last game.

Halo 5! What a gorgeous trailer, beautiful cinematography and the perfect amount of suspense. It starts with a cloaked figure in the sand dunes and then towards the end, reveals Master Chief. Definitely the best looking trailer shown, the animations on the cloak were tremendously well done. I’m not even a Halo fangirl but I was excited by this trailer. Oh and it’ll run in 60FPS! Heh, I’m sure that’s exciting news to console players…as a PC gamer, I thought it was cute (yes yes, PC master race and all that).

Finally, Titanfall was announced. It looks to me kinda like Call of Duty mixed with Halo mixed with Mass Effect. An FPS which also involved some kind of jumping environment roaming mechanics, and lots and lots of mechs. Gotta love mechs.

Anyway, my overall impression of the games for Xbox One were that they looked good, but nothing was that surprising. It looked to be on par for the best looking PC games at the moment, so that’s a vast improvement on xbox 360 games but nothing that really stood out as eye popping. I watched the HD stream but that was a bit fuzzy at times, so it’ll probably look better on a TV anyway.

But what I thought was interesting was the huge emphasis on cloud computing and cloud processing. Half the games announced mentioned something which would be offloaded to the cloud, or information gathered from the cloud. This all ties in with the online policy that Xbox One is going to have, though I wonder how exactly some of these single player games which require cloud computing will work offline, even within the 24 hour limitation? I’m sceptical because SimCity claimed these things too and it turned out to be false. We shall see. I honestly think that these developers were pushed to use cloud computing as part of a deal with Microsoft to enforce a kind of pseudo-online DRM. Maybe I’m just a cynic.

Xbox Live

They also announced stuff about Xbox Live. They promised faster matchmaking and the ability to do other stuff on your xbox whilst you waited for matchmaking. Very cool. You can now see what your friends are playing, in real time. There’s also built in DVR so you can record gaming clips and share them and upload them to Microsoft’s UploadStudio. Kind of banal stuff really, I’m not sure I’d ever be interested in watching my friends’ clips of games. There’s going to be a partnership with Twitch allowing you to stream from your xbox and use your mic too. The Twitch chat example on the trailer was hilarious though; it was all positive and nice, and anyone who’s been on Twitch would know how fake that Twitch chat was because no one is ever nice and encouraging on Twitch chat. A whole new generation of streamers perhaps? To be honest, I think it’s going to vastly decrease the quality of gaming streaming and I’m worried that it’ll be super obnoxious. They’re moving away from Microsoft Points, hooray! Oh and another hooray, you can share one gold account on your console with everyone (certain features only), so everyone on your console can play multiplayer. For me, this is a godsend, because buying gold for two people on one xbox was not worth it, given how our time would be split in half and we’d pay twice as much.

Conclusion

Oh and the final announcement. It’s going to be out November 2013. It will cost $499 or €499 or £429. Typical, the UK gets shafted again, given the conversion rates between the currencies (for context, £429 is about $667 or  €504). How disappointing. Still, that’s not a crazy high price point, and given the prevalence of buying iPads and such for about that price, it’s not unheard of. Hopefully the PS4 will be priced similarly.

My final verdict? Nothing really peaked my interest. The incredibly controversial online policy that Xbox One will have is just not worth any game announcement. None of the exclusives would make me buy the Xbox One over a PS4. I am just so fundamentally opposed to the really anti-consumer policies that Microsoft have announced, and this presentation really did nothing to change my mind. If anything, it made me more suspicious, given all their talk about the ‘cloud’. The price tag is also a big FU to UK gamers as well. Overall, the presentation was alright, but nothing spectacular or surprising, and has done nothing to make me want to buy an Xbox One.

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