Games. Games, games, games, games…games. Games games games. Games? GAMES!
In case you didn’t know what to expect from Microsoft’s 2014 E3 press briefing, that was a summary of the opening remarks from Phil Spencer, head of the Xbox division.
After taking a PR beating for pretty much all of 2013 Microsoft must have known that they’d need to come storming out of the gate at E3 this year. A lot of the perception around Microsoft and the Xbox One is an unfair hangover of policies that they have long since abandoned, and the first step on the road to changing that perception was to have a solid E3. They decided to do this by talking about nothing but games, absolutely hammering us with announcement after announcement, trailer after trailer (seriously, the list of games that were promoted at the MS briefing is mind-blowingly long). But they can talk about games until the cows come home, the question is was what they had to say good? Yes. Yes it was.
Halo: Master Chief Collection
This was the big one. We all knew that Halo something was coming in 2014, and was 100% going to be dropped at E3. Most were speculating that Halo 2: Anniversary was on its way (which it technically is). A few, myself included, called a while back that the only thing that made sense for Microsoft was to release what is now known as the Master Chief Collection, which is Halo 1-4 packaged up into one game box. What we couldn’t have fathomed was just how much is going to be packed into this collection. We’ve got all the numbered games in the Halo series, plus the Ridley Scott produced TV show Halo: Nightfall. But the best revelations about the Master Chief Collection were that all of the multiplayers from all four games are present running in their original engines. So each Halo multiplayer is making a comeback simultaneously, which goes hand in hand with the second revelation; everything will be unlocked from the get go (93 multiplayer maps, 45 campaign levels and 50 Spartan Ops missions) and players can create custom playlists for any mix of all of these levels. Want to play all the Warthog missions throughout the entire history of the series? You can do that. ‘Scuse me, I need to change my pants again…
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
I really need to thank the guys at Sledgehammer for demoing Advanced Warfare up on the Microsoft stage. I was pleasantly surprised by the excellent looking reveal trailer for Call of Kevin: Spacey Warfare, and although I will as always reserve judgement until reviews and I get my own hands on the game, the on stage demo reminded me that it’s mostly the same old Call of Duty gameplay with a few tweaks here and there. Overhype averted.
Sunset Overdrive was a mildly interesting cinematic trailer from last years E3 (the most interesting thing about it was that Insomniac Games was making a title for Xbox One) and I hadn’t really paid it much mind over the last 12 months, until the last couple of days. I knew it was going to be coming out this year, and that it was going to be given a big spot at the press briefing today. The one thing I do remember from last year was that Sunset Overdrive seemed to have a sense of humour in a similar vein to Saints Row, which can’t be a bad thing. Now I know a lot more about Sunset Overdrive and I’m a lot more excited about it. It’s got a sense of humour that I can completely get behind, and it seems to have a style of gameplay that I really dig (somewhere in the Jet Set Radio spectrum).
Have you played Limbo? If not go and play Limbo, then come back and watch the trailer for Inside, which is the next game from Limbo developer PlayDead. You’ll be just as pumped as I am.
Ori and the Blind Forest
This trailer did not make me cry God damn it! It does look like a really beautiful, affecting game that I can’t wait to get my hands on.
One of the things Microsoft got slammed for last year was it’s lack of indies and smaller games on stage. This year we got the customary sizzle reel of ID@Xbox games, and got a quick look at some really interesting indie games like Grave, Threes, Cuphead, Below and many more.
Timed 3rd Party Exclusives
Microsoft had a lot of surprising third party announcements, trailers and gameplay on their stage, and alongside these reveals we caught a huge barrage of timed exclusive content for massive games like Assassin’s Creed Unity and Dragon Age: Inquisition (which I’ll talk more about in the Ubisoft and EA posts). We had a welcome surprise in the form of an announcement trailer for Rise of the Tomb Raider. We saw some more of Evolve, one of the games I’m most looking forward to. We got to see an excellent looking Griffin Hunt in Witcher 3, a game I’m kind of looking forward to. Just to stoke the fires of hype for CD Projeckt Red’s game, according to the devs on stage any piece of scenery you can see you can get to. That’s incredible.
Forza Horizon 2
Forza Horizon was a game I surprisingly liked a lot, so I’m really stoked for the sequel, which was revealed early on in the Microsoft press conference with a 2014 release date. I rarely get into driving games, so for me to be this invested in a driving game is something rare (though it’s not the driving game I’m most looking forward to, more on that in one of the next posts).
Scalebound has an intriguing cinematic trailer that has me interested , but it revealed nothing about the game, so call it cautious optimism at this point. It looks like it could be incredibly epic though, we’ll probably see more of it at E3 next year.
Despite owning every Xbox released so far I’ve never actually sat down to play a Crackdown game. I once had the first one on loan from Boomerang Rentals but after 2 weeks I sent it back because I didn’t get around to it (I got Resident Evil 6 after, so it wasn’t my wisest decision). So there’s not much I can really say about Crackdown 3. It looks good, I like the graphics style they’ve gone for, and I’ll be keeping my eye on it in the future.
The Not-So Great
I’m not at all interested in Project Spark, which hides too much of it’s content behind its micro-transaction paywalls, so the reveal that there would be a new Conker game, only to reveal that it would be available inside Spark was a real fuck you to Conker fans. Fable Legends looked about as painful as you’d expect from a franchise that has never managed to be anything more than average at best. Their awesome villain mode looks almost carbon copied from Dungeonland where it undoubtedly would have been done better. The “banter” between the different heroes was cringe worthy was well. Also Phantom Dust? I have no idea. There are a couple people who seem absurdly excited about Phantom Dust, so I’ll ask them why I should be too, but until then colour me meh.
Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade Remix Hyper Edition EX Plus Alpha
Because fuck yes, that’s why.