Microsoft aren't messing about when it comes to Xbox One exclusives, and they've got an early foot in the door. Following a strong start last Christmas, they've secured a fearsome suite of big games from shooters to racers, platformers, dancing games, Kinect showcases, insane open worlds and even a radical new editing suite powered by user-generated content.
Though we'll have to wait and see whether they actually live up to the hype, here are the hottest exclusives slated for 2014 along with the European release dates for your calendar.
"Gone are the artificial walls and fences of the first game, with barriers placed far more realistically this time around. If you want to fashion yourself a shortcut in a race, the chances are that you can. If you want to veer off the beaten track and tear up a vineyard, you absolutely can. Wooden fences are there to be smashed in the name of curiosity, the European countryside a canvas on which you can paint a petrol masterpiece. But the roads themselves real natural rather than purposefully crafted , and it's clear that Playground have done their research." - Forza Horizon 2 hands-on previewClick here to read more...
With Jon posting his hottest upcoming PS4 titles piece yesterday, something has become abundantly clear: Sony are rather on the slim side when it comes to exclusives this autumn and winter. LittleBigPlanet 3 is a game that the PS4 is crying out for, but it's being developed outside of the walls of Media Molecule's offices. PlanetSide 2 offers the expansive-yet-accessible F2P FPS that the new-gen platform has been crying out for, but why the hell has it taken so long, and will anyone care given that the game has been free and awesome on PC for years? We've struggled collectively as a team to muster even a smidgen of enthusiasm for Driveclub after a PR omnishambles and countless delays, especially given that the racing genre is packed to the gills this year and Evolution are facing staunch competition from the likes of Forza Horizon 2 and The Crew.
And I'm going to punch the next person who crows about The Last of Us Remastered like it's the sodding Second Coming.
Wightmad suggested that the Wii U is getting better exclusives than this. Looking at Bayonetta 2 and Smash Bros, I'm inclined to agree.
But, as we've suggested before, Sony are playing a long game indeed, and they're using the same weapons Microsoft employed with the Xbox 360 to do so: third-party partnerships. We could discuss the ethics of this until everyone involved is blue in the face, but the fact remains that both companies are investing heavily in cultivating third-party partnerships and bringing exclusive snippets of big-name games back from the haggling table. It could be as simple as running exclusive ads with your console appearing at the end, or something as brazen as securing a massive chunk of gameplay.
Microsoft have already done this with FIFA, essentially making Ultimate Team an exclusive piece of DLC. That's a big audience, football is massive, and people will jump ship for that. But Sony are doing something even more daring. They're going after Halo fans.
They're going after me.Click here to read more...
Xbox boss Phil Spencer has spent the last few months reforming the Xbox One's image through a series of high-profile U-turns. Or, to put it another way, scraping the last slimy traces of Don Mattrick off the Redmond office walls. Kinect became optional, Xbox Live Gold dropped its entertainment paywall and the focus shifted from nebulous entertainment content to being "all about the games."
Today brings us the news that this cycle is almost complete as Microsoft plans to shut down Xbox Entertainment Studios, sadly as part of the largest round of layoffs in company history.Click here to read more...
A decade ago I'd have laughed in your face if you suggested that thousands of gamers would willingly pay to play unfinished games, but here we are. Alpha funding is now a big deal and a very good thing too in the main, allowing small studios to get investment, community and publicity while letting us into the development cycle first-hand. Huge advantages for everyone involved, despite the increasingly hefty drawbacks of a system that enables unscrupulous liars to make bank and buries quality Steam software under a mountain of utter crap.
It's clear that Early Access (alpha funding by any other name) is still undergoing some growing pains on PC, but developers and hardware manufacturers are now calling for a similar system to be implemented on home consoles. To be perfectly honest, I'm not convinced they're entirely ready yet.Click here to read more...
Because this is actually happening.Click here to read more...
Halo is coming to Xbox One in a big way, starting this year with the Master Chief Collection, then flanked by live-action TV shows and Halo 5: Guardians. Fans of Spartans and Scorpions have plenty to look forward to.
However, it appears that Microsoft Studios are working on yet another Halo-related project, this time a collaboration between 343 Industries and another as-yet-unknown company. What could it be?
Hold onto your helmets and HUD, because it's time for some wild theorising.Click here to read more...
Kinect may now be optional, but its voice commands and automatic user recognition really do bring a huge amount to the Xbox One user experience. Better yet, you can get an Xbox One console and its depth sensor for less than you'd now pay for just the base unit itself. Thanks to levy @ HUKD!
Platform: Xbox One (£7.99)
Developer: Capcom Vancouver
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
I see what you did there, Capcom. After years of releasing 'super' and 'arcade' editions of games we already own, not to mention bucketloads of deeply questionable DLC, it's time to poke a little fun at yourselves while making amends for Dead Rising 3's calamitous season pass. Half fan service brawler, half 80s retro reference and all slightly-too-forced self parody, this colourful slice of content turns the game into a four-player hack and slasher. A bit like Streets Of Rage or Final Fight, perhaps, only with hundreds of zombies and an M. Bison boss the size of an office block.
It's galling that Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade Remix Hyper Edition EX Plus Alpha is still technically "on-disc DLC," mind, since the files are included in the latest mandatory 4GB title update. You've just swapped a physical CD for the hard drive, Capcom; making everyone who owns the game download the content then charging to unlock it. An improvement, except that we've only got 500GB to play with and you should ask our permission before taking up valuable space with stuff we might not want.
Never mind though, because I just dressed Frank West up as Mayor Haggar, teamed up with Nick Ramos in a sexy Felicia outfit and made lots of dead things even deader. Arcade Remix may not be subtle or particularly deep, but it sure is fun when you get some mates involved.Click here to read more...
We've been talking a lot about this ridiculous notion of "who won E3?" as if there's some objective way of determining a victor from a series of press conferences. We could say that Microsoft's was the tightest, EA had nothing really to show and Hardline unfortunately leaked, Ubisoft gave us another year of the Aisha Tyler experience, Sony bookend a superfluous hour of fluff with some really good reveals, and Nintendo brought the whimsical charm in a way that only Nintendo can.
Seriously, that Nintendo Direct was pure fan service.
But trying to analyse these things objectively is super boring, and we have to talk about things like "the mechanics of the perfect presentation" and waffle on about pacing and procedure and there are line graphs (not even brightly coloured pies FFS!) and it's like sitting through that EA presser all over again. "Who won E3?" is not a question that should or even can be answered objectively. We're all different people with different tastes in games, looking for different things from this carnival of interactive entertainment.
My outlook going into E3 was simple: I wanted things to be excited for this year. I wanted Microsoft and Nintendo to give me reasons for investing in their consoles this year. I wanted EA and Ubisoft to make me hyped for October, November, and December, and I wanted Sony to capitalise on their start to this generation with a strong end of year line up. To be honest, all of those happened to a certain extent, but on the basis of my criteria going in, my own personal winner of E3 this year is a no-brainer.
It's Microsoft.Click here to read more...
Well the press conferences (and one pre-recorded Nintendo Direct) have come and gone, and in this special edition of Game Buzz, we pick apart the showing from all five big cheeses at this year's E3, and give a little insight into some of our personal highlights of the show thus far.
We'll nominate our winners and losers of the show thus far, before dropping the answer to the biggest and most redundant question of them all -- who won E3 2014?
Parental Advisory: We've tried to keep it as conversational and informal as possible, and you should be warned that there may be some instances of strong language.
The E3 press conferences have come to an end and we've much to be excited about. All manner of tasty games and huge reveals broke cover over the last 48 hours -- I'm personally still beside myself with anticipation for Xenoblade Chronicles X and Rainbow Six: Siege -- meaning that we've rarely been more thrilled about being part of the greatest hobby on the planet. We'll be able to play some fantastic stuff, no matter what platform or console we own.
In 2015. Those four little numbers became a recurring theme at this year's conference. Looking forward to the future is all well and good, but what about this year? Where are the big Christmas 2014 exclusives?
On Xbox One, by the looks of it. Microsoft have seized the initiative by locking Christmas down in the short term... while Sony have once again reverted to type by focusing on their classic long game.
Click here to read more...
If we could sum up this year's EA presser in just one word it would probably be zzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZzzzzzzZZZZZZzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZ.
We're not saying that it was boring, it's just...no...wait...that's exactly what we're saying. We know EA is usually businesslike and swiftly corporate and charges through a hefty roster, but where was the gameplay footage this time? And why was fresh CEO Andrew Wilson styled like a slightly futuristic, possibly vampiric, super villain?
What a waste of time.
Star Wars: Battlefront is still in alpha. The next Mass Effect title is... happening, slowly. Need For Speed isn't turning up this year. Hennig's Star Wars Project didn't make an appearance. And Mirror's Edge barely had the decency to show us any gameplay, instead cutting to a tedious jargon-fuelled nonsensical presentation about how FIFA plans to bring "emotional intelligence" to the same game we've been playing for years.
Hardline looks mint, though. Sure, it's heavily reminiscent of previous series games and PayDay, but it looks like a ton of fun. The beta was a masterstroke, as was the community announcement.
And that's it.
See you next year.Click here to read more...
We've all had our say about Microsoft's impressive E3 presentation and dealt with some of the bigger stories, but Spencer and co. delivered plenty of reveals, surprises and third-party cameos during the ninety minute spectacular.
So to make things easier for you, here's everything we haven't individually reported on complete with trailers - though naturally we'll bring you the latest details as we get them over the next few days!
Forza Horizon 2
Forza Horizon 2 is set to bring real personality and flair to the driving experience as we hoon 200 cars around beautiful European scenery. An expansive open world allows the team to bring Dynamic Weather to the franchise for the first time, alongside retooled Drivatar AI that reacts to the newly open environments.
In other Forza news, the Nurburgring is now available to freely download for Forza 5. It's a bit of a slog, but a fan-favourite that's long overdue nevertheless.Click here to read more...
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.Click here to read more...
We wanted games last year, and we got...well...we got a few. But this is the consolidation show -- it's time for those exclusives and big hitters, Microsoft. We're expecting Halo and Forza, but we're looking out for the surprises too. Microsoft have been snapping up third-party partnerships, now it's time to see them pay dividends. With a new man at the helm, a man of the gamers it would seem, with Kinect dropped and last year's sins forgiven, can Microsoft smash it out of the park as the first to step up to the plate this year?
Let's hope so.Click here for to watch the Microsoft E3 2014 presser live >>
One of the best things about enjoying E3 from the comfort of your own living room/study/bedroom/venue with a livestream here in the UK is that everything happens after you clock off. This means that E3 can be enjoyed with a beer/wine/whisky in hand -- it's time to wheel out this year's E3 drinking game.
May the shots be ever in your favour.
NB. We ought to stress that drinking responsibly is totally awesome and absolutely something that you should try and do. You don't even have to use booze, to be honest. You could always substitute it with milk or Mountain Dew or shots of Virgin Mary. Just because we're preparing backup refill jugs for White Russians doesn't mean that you have to. Replace the beers with chillies, and then film the anarchy so we can all have a good laugh later on.
Have a little tipple...
Sink that drink...
Having a cheeky pre-E3 holiday was a great idea. Well, aside from the lack of internet, being awake for the last 36 hours, still having sand from the Aegean in my hair and suffering from regular twitchy lucid flashbacks of that spider that invaded my apartment one night.
But it’s the day before the biggest day in any gamers’ calendar and now that I’m no longer at the mercy of Wi-Fi powered by stray cats on a treadmill, I thought I better chuck in my Day zero predictions as the rest of the team have done for Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, EA and Ubisoft at E3 2014. Enjoy! I’m off to check my bed for spiders as big as my face.
I’m fully expecting God of War and Uncharted to smash my socks off tomorrow night with on-stage gameplay demos. If these massive names don’t appear, I think many PS4 owners are going to join me in feeling pretty damn pissed. It’s high time Sony stopped going on about how nice they are bringing indie games to PS4 and started showing gamers something that really pushes their hardware to the limit.
Naturally, I’d like to see some innovative titles announced for the Project Morpheus VR headset, along with a list of third-party developers that are working on specific games or adding compatibility for it. Some solid details on pricing or a release date would be nice too.
I share a concern with some of my colleagues though, in that it’s looking like more and more of Sony’s killer games are bound for 2015. We really need something big for the Xmas rush instead of leaving it up to the usual suspects of FIFA, Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty – not that I can’t wait to play all of them too.
I can see the Vita barely getting a shout to be honest, aside from a new bundle with the PS4, or maybe we’ll see a western release of the Vita TV hardware. We’ve been saying it for years though, where are the system-selling games for this incredibly powerful machine? I’ve been crossing my fingers for another Uncharted game on the Vita for so long that my hands are starting to resemble pretzels.
Anticipated Highlight – Kevin Butler marking a return by tearing onto the stage on a motorbike to announce Road Rash for the PS4.
Want to hear more of my thoughts about Sony at E3? Then check out my feature, The Sunday Seven: Ways for Sony to Win E3 2014.Click here to read my predictions for Microsoft, Nintendo, EA and Ubisoft.
Well, you've heard our thoughts on the matter, now it's time to put yours across. Who will "win" this year's E3? We've got 24 hours until the press conferences kick off, so let's see some debate!
Of course, with such things it's important to be fully up to speed, to have done your research, found a bunch of critics online you agree with and have nodded your head sagely and gone, "I concur." To help get you in the mood, here's a refresher of some of our predictions:
Crackdown 3 seems unlikely given that Sunset Overdrive is peeking over the horizon (see what I did there?), but I'd love to be wrong. We'll see Halo 2: Anniversary officially announced if the increasingly likely rumours are true, hopefully alongside remastered versions of Halo 1-4 available separately or as part of the 'Master Chief Collection.' Again, I'd love to be wrong about the aforementioned compilation being a pricey special edition rather than a retail price game -- seriously, I want to be utterly humiliated on that front. -- Jon
Of course, there will be sports, and we’ll all be very impressed by the new advancements they’ve made in elbowing mechanics or something, but other than that, what do I really want to see? The Star Wars games that are in development – Battlefront 3 and Visceral’s effort. There’s a low probability of us seeing anything from the latter, but the former has been mentioned numerous times in recent months, and with the build-up of the new film it seems the perfect time to piggy-back on the hype. -- Carl
It's time for Beyond Good & Evil 2 now, Ubisoft.
No, really, do it. For years you've been raising our hopes and dashing them expertly. With vague rumoured promises of a "next-gen" release and Michel Ancel free from Rayman duty, we want it and we want it before Christmas. Well, Christmas 2015 at any rate. -- Jon
Sony need to come out swinging in order to keep momentum going into the second half of 2014, and with delay after delay for their already-revealed big hitters, it's time to crack out the big guns.
The trouble is that although appearances from the likes of Sony Santa Monica, Naughty Dog, and possibly even Quantic Dream are expected, nothing they're peddling is likely to emerge ahead of next year. All of Sony's first and second-party partners have been keeping very quiet indeed since the PS4's launch, so there are bound to be a bunch of surprises, and I'm looking forward to seeing what Sony Japan bring to the party, having given us some fantastically bonkers titles in the last couple of years. -- Matt
It'll be tempting to dwell on Super Smash Bros, but don't. You've already showed us a huge amount about it, so keep things short and sweet rather than getting bogged down -- the less time Reggie has to embarrass himself the better. Just reveal a couple of characters and let the live championship final do the talking. Likewise, any Quality Of Life stuff will need a press conference as only gamers will be watching the stream.
So then, without further ado, roll out the new games hard and fast with plenty of gameplay footage and helpful narration. We need new Zelda, end of. -- Jon
Listened to the Game Buzz twice? Good, you're ready.
Now cast your votes, make them count, and let us know your thoughts in the comments box below. There's could be a game of your choice in it for you if you do.
You have 24 hours, until 5pm tomorrow, ahead of the pressers themselves, to get your votes in and tell us who you reckon will win this year's E3 and why. Comment in the box below to enter the prize draw for the chance to win a game of your choosing. We'll whip out our sorting hats and determine a winner on Tuesday after the smoke has cleared.