Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft at Xbox, made it very clear that Microsoft’s focus at E3 this year was on giving Xbox One gamers More Games. The company’s pre-show press event on Monday morning didn’t include a single word about living room convergence, how to use Kinect to record sports games on your Xbox, or the future of the Xbox as a digital media hub. packed full of one thing and one thing only: games. “You’re shaping the future of Xbox,” Spencer noted as the presentation began, “and we’re better at it.”
Considering that gaming was just one aspect of the all-for-all-people countertop presentation Microsoft gave about its new console last year, the message to gamers seems very clear: Microsoft heard you, and Microsoft wants you to know that while convergence in the living room is cool, the Xbox One is a game console and there are an awful lot of games to play. Spencer promised to show the audience “massive franchises, new IP and maybe a few of my old favorites.”
The event was roughly split in two, with the first half featuring games scheduled for release by the 2014 holiday season, and the second half featuring games scheduled for release in 2015 or later.
Appropriate was the first game up Call of Duty: Advanced Warfighter (not to be confused with the similar name Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter– there are a lot of advanced war battles going on, it seems). It looked like a slick faceless AAA warfighter: beautiful graphics, lots of in-game chatter between NPCs, a sprawling environment, and a player character named Ramirez or possibly Mitchell (Codfish vets know it doesn’t matter that much anyway). There were scripted events and it ended on a very Duty cliffhanger. While the game will be available on November 4, and while it will be coming to multiple platforms, Xbox One players will be the first to receive the game’s add-on content.
Turn 10 Studios then came up with a few announcements. First, Forza 5 players be able to download the famous Nürburgring for free from today; and secondly, Forza Horizon 2 comes. The game is built on the Fort 5 engine and will take players all over Southern Europe. The new title adds multiplayer features such as instant race matchmaking and race clubs with up to 1,000 members; it will be available on September 30.
To develop from Turtle Rock Studios got a lot of cheers from the crowd, although there wasn’t much to see except for a short clip. The game features class-based co-op play, but with a twist: players can also assume the role of a giant monster and fight other players. The game will enter open beta testing in the fall.
We watched for quite a long time Assassin’s Creed Unity, whose most hyped feature on stage was that you can form your own murder fraternity and play together with up to three other friends. The latest game in the long-running series is set during the French Revolution, using much of the Xbox One’s next-gen processing power to make France look dilapidated and terrible. The audience was treated to some extremes Assassin’s Creed-y gameplay, featuring a cloaked assassin making his way through the set of Les Miserables before hooking up with his friends in a palace and killing some of the guards. He then throws the no doubt haunting scummy “Marquis de Bullion” out of a window (live the Revolution!)
Bioware’s logo then flashed over a magical, medieval setting (along with a message that said “premiere content first on Xbox”), and the crowd was shown fire-drenched images of sorcery and elves and dragons; this was Dragon Age, Inquisition which comes out on October 7. There was a lot of spells and swordplay and dramatic music, but not much gameplay.
Next we saw what looked like another military shooter, though this was quickly turned on its head when a goofy cartoon character stepped in to save a gray soldier from certain death. This is Sunset Overdrive, from Insomniac Games, in which the player takes on the role of a custom protagonist to save the eponymous Sunset City from mutants spawned from tainted energy drinks. The gameplay footage seemed to be a cross between them Rising dead and a Tony Hawk game, as the protagonist jumped and slid and ran through an amusement park throwing out one-liners and killing mutants. According to Insomniac Games’ Ted Price, the game will support cooperative multiplayer for up to eight players. It comes out on October 28.
Speaking of Rising deadwe got a really close look at the cheap (in the best sense of the word) add-on to the title, which was billed as Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade Remix Hyper Edition EX Plus Alpha. It was definitely silly.
Then a short double announcement from Alex Rigopulos of Harmonix: on October 21, they will Disney’s Fantasia music has evolved, which Rigopulos described as “a world where music and magic are one”, and where players interact using “expressive motion gaming”. But before that they will release Dance Central in the spotlight, which allows players to take their shot. Rigopulos also promised that downloadable content for the game will be available at a very fast pace.