The Xbox Media Briefing for this year is done and dusted, and we'll be bringing you some detailed looks at some of the games announced over the next few days. We'll have a jam-packed Game Buzz for you tomorrow, dealing with all of the reveals from today, but here are some immediate reactions from the team and the community on Microsoft's presser...
I'm buying an Xbox One.
Back in Saturday's Game Buzz, I basically said that all I needed to be sold on Microsoft's console this year would be a Christmas Halo experience that at worst provided a legacy collection of old maps, wrapped up in the rumoured Master Chief Collection, or a Halo 5 beta that might give us a glimpse of things to come. As it turns out, we're getting both. For $59.99.
This was the best press conference that Microsoft had conducted in years, helmed by a humble-yet-effusive Phil Spencer who promised 90 minutes of games, games, games, and then stepped aside after a quick thank you to the Xbox faithful to deliver on that promise. You could argue that Microsoft played it fairly safe, but I'd posit that Spencer and his team know the Xbox audience, and how they want to expand that. I can't criticise MS for opening with Call of Duty because, frankly, a vast majority of those tuning in will have been dying to know which platform will see the COD treats first this year. That it's still the Xbox One is important to all parties.
But what impressed me was the variety. Sunset Overdrive injected some real energy into things, and you could see Ted Price was visibly hyped. I still believe that Fuse was a blip rather than the road ahead for Insomniac, and every time I see more Sunset Overdrive that feeling is reinforced. There were a few too many multiplatform titles for my liking in all honesty, but the indie montage held some absolute crackers, the Tomb Raider reveal was excellent, and The Division is looking pretty special too.
Bringing the house down with Platinum's Scalebound and Crackdown, though, was a brilliant finish. Microsoft have always been unfortunate in that they have to kick things off. Everyoine's a bit looser, a bit more relaxed and settled and possibly hyped by the time Sony rolls around. But this was an emphatic showing across 90 minutes. Simple, straightforward, and yes, fairly safe...but it packed a punch and delivered in a way Microsoft's media briefings have frequently failed to do.
And it made me want an Xbox One. Badly.
A fine start to the day and a good showing from new boy Phil Spencer. The former Xbox games chief promised us games games games and that's exactly what Microsoft delivered, a muscular non-stop stream of stuff I'd very much like to play. Loads of awesome-looking indie games from ID@Xbox, big hitters and dollops of slightly underwhelming multiplatform stuff, of course, but this year even the Call Of Duty game has Kevin Spacey and lasers. Kevin Splasers. Better than clever fish, no?
I was right on a few points. Platinum Games are indeed bringing an exclusive to Xbox One (Scalebound YESS YESSSSSSSSSSS OHHHHHHHHHH), while the Phantom Dust reboot is definitely happening. We saw The Witcher 3 again -- any excuse -- not to mention a slightly-too-overwrought presentation of Sunset Overdrive that makes me suspect that I'll hate the protagonist a few hours into the game. The sweet spot has to be somewhere between him and Aiden Pearce, surely? Project Spark got a fun little demo, Fable Legends looks as generic and pointless as we expected and Halo 2: Anniversary is indeed just part of the Halo Master Chief Collection.
I'd love to chalk that up as a prediction win, but frankly, I was dead wrong about the most important thing of all. And dead chuffed. The massive package isn't a massive collector's edition, rather it'll cost $59.99 at RRP all-in, and sews up the "what will we be playing this Christmas" question tight unless The Last Guardian or Uncharted get their act together.
And then we come to Crackdown. We're so ready. The wait will be interminable but we'll probably be too busy playing Halo and Sunset Overdrive (with the volume muted) to notice. Skills for kills, agent!
An excellent presentation all-told, and one heck of a start. Not a bad start to Phil's Xbox tenure by any means.
In the run up to E3 I had stated that Microsoft would genuinely need to surprise me with something new to grab my attention. It did look a little shaky to begin with though, starting off with Call of Duty and hammering home the timed-exclusivity of DLC, but thankfully it all came together over the course of the 90 minute show, and I came away from it more interested in buying an Xbox One than I have since it launched last year.
Although it was good to hear about The Dark Tomb Raider Rises and Assassin’s Creed Unity’s co-op opportunities, I’m going to ignore the 3rd party multiplatform titles for now (as they’ll no doubt be shown in a bigger way in their respective publisher presser) and focus on the exclusives. The Master Chief Collection was finally confirmed, and fitting all four games onto one disc along with their respective multiplayers was just the move I was hoping 343 would make. While there was no mention of Firefight mode (boo) it will be the perfect way to keep fans happy until Halo 5 appears – even more so with that beta happening at Christmas – and the fact it will (hopefully) retail at a sensible price will ensure it sells.
Meanwhile, Playdead’s next project brought the atmospheric gloom with Inside, something that became an early highlight of the show, but I was glad to see ID@Xbox getting a mention and a montage, as this will hopefully mean XBLA will see some more love from the smaller developers in the near future.
Then Insomniac came along and presented an utter too-cool-for-school-smug-fest with its Sunset Overdrive trailer, and while the gameplay did look fun, I’m still reserving judgment until I get hands on with it. I would say the same thing about Scalebound, but let’s be honest here – it’s Platinum making a game about kickass combat and dragons. And riding dragons. And listening to bangin’ choones whilst fighting with dragons. I think it’ll be okay, and Microsoft have pretty much scored with that one.
Crackdown ending the show was a stroke of genius though, considering how its fanbase have been begging for it for years now. We’re still a good way away from seeing what it’s actually like, but the talk of a focus on multiplayer has me reckoning it will be the game that APB: All Points Bulletin wished it could have been. Overall, Microsoft gave us one of the best pressers they’ve put on in years, and the justification to put money down on an Xbox One has jumped for me.
Oh, and Fable was there. So there’s that.
Lots of new reveals for the Xbox One has certainly helped improve my perception of the prospects for the console. But I think most of the gameplay demos that had me excited are coming to all platforms anyway.
Four player co-op for Assassin's Creed Unity is looking like a great addition to the series, although I imagine it'll be for specific missions rather than the entire campaign. Fable Legends was a pleasant surprise by being one of the best-looking games of the stage-show and some fun-looking gameplay that could be a co-op winner.
The Halo collection did nothing for me as I've never been able to click with the series over the years, so oddly enough I'm not getting excited about rebuying it. I have a fuck-tonne of games I've not played yet and life is too short.
Despite being generally annoyed about the lack of gameplay for various reveal trailers, I'm still massively psyched to finally see the Rise of the Tomb Raider is a thing. Crystal Dynamics absolutely nailed it with their reboot and I'm sure they're going to do it all over again. Also, I've just heard that the downloadable 2010 title Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light will be getting a 4-player co-op sequel.
I've loved Platinum games since the insane Vanquish, but I can't understand why they want to limit themselves with console exclusivity. They're going to suffer with Bayonetta 2 being locked to the Wii U, so I hope Scalebound works out for them. Fingers crossed they redesign whatever that excuse for a character was though. Easily the most punchable face of E3 2014 so far.
Sunset Overdrive looks like a lot of fun, but like Dead Rising, I'm concerned that it'll only be fun ten minutes at a time as the combo-based gameplay will be tough to keep fresh. Remember Total Overdose?
The montage of indie games flashed by too quickly to get any solid looks, but there was plenty there for me to rush off and look into. Overall, fair play to Microsoft, they made their presentation all about the games. And they had some great reveals to show off. I daresay Sony might be sweating it a little harder than they were pre-show last year.
— Ben Farrington (@Fazzinho1985) June 9, 2014
@Dealspwn they've set a decent bar. Exclusives, 2014 releases, old favourites returning... your move, Sony
— Steve Hyde (@StevenJamesHyde) June 9, 2014
@Dealspwn Decent showing, Microsoft's best in recent years
— Brad (@Bread_is_good) June 9, 2014
@Dealspwn The most important thing was the amount of exclusive games. Exciting line up, especially with Sunset Overdrive stealing the show.
— Coop (@Stephen_Cooper_) June 9, 2014
@Dealspwn All I got was "we're going to get more exclusives to win the console war". Is this really what the console war should be about?
— Spindoctor (@Spindoctor52) June 9, 2014
Remember to join us for EA's presser, up next!