With the E3 conferences having come and gone for another year, we’re taking a look at what transpired as well as what wow-ed up and what left us feeling disappointed. In this article, Jamie Briggs and Eric Pepper will be analyzing the infamous Microsoft conference.
Eric Pepper: There’s no way to talk about the Microsoft conference without mentioning the “always on” requirement and the lock-down on used games. Microsoft seemed quite content to skim over this topic entirely at the conference, although I have a feeling that more announcements will be made surrounding this topic before launch.
As it stands, my Xbox 360 is always connected to my wireless internet, but if for one reason or another, my internet were to disappear for a week or two, I would still be able to enjoy playing the games that I’ve bought with my hard-earned money. How often would this particular situation arise? Well given that I live in a fairly developed part of the world and in a major city, it would not be something I’d experience on a frequent basis. However, the fact that you have to connect to the internet once every 24 hours in order to play your games is something that understandably has gamers and consumers a little concerned.
Jamie Briggs: Well that’s a real key point isn’t it? I was personally expecting them to come out and clarify the situation, tell us exactly how it would be and confirm all the details. Instead we seemed to get them trying to make the Xbox One seem like it was giving back to consumers, free games with Gold subscriptions, converting to real world currency instead of silly Microsoft Points. Yet instead they did focus on gaming, to settle their backlash from gamers from the initial reveal. So in that sense they did correct their first mistake, but more clarification on the major issue of DRM and online capabilities would have been appreciated.
On the topic of games, what stood out for you during the Microsoft press conference? It was definitely stacked game-wise, which is something gamers were begging for from the initial unveil.
Eric Pepper: I’m inclined to agree with you about the games aspect. The line-up was stacked and I think they made the right move by showcasing a lot of games, and exclusives no less! At least now nobody can complain that the Xbox One doesn’t have games.
One of the games that grabbed my attention immediately was Ryse. The demo they showed off had plenty of violence and gore, and was clearly designed to make the player feel like they really are a Roman Legionnaire. Only time will tell for certain, but I think this might be Microsoft’s way of combating the Playstation exclusive God of War series. The sheer amount of history and the ludicrous number of battles and wars that occurred within Rome’s aggressive campaign in the past is something that could lead to a large number of sequels depending on how well this initial title sells.
Quantum Break is another game that really stood out for me in this conference. Remedy is a developer that likes to put a lot of focus on the narrative. My only concern about the game is how well the game and TV show tie-in will work together.
Were there any games they showcased that really made your jaw drop?
Jamie Briggs: Visually, Ryse blew me away. The amount of detail in the amour, the amount of chaos ensuing around you and the attention to detail in the world itself looks breathtaking. Combat could get repetitive though if the combat is constantly flashing QTE-style events during each execution, but it is definitely a strong title to have an exclusive.
Strangely enough the 15 seconds of so shown of Microsoft’s Blacktusk Studio’s first title, intrigued me quite a bit. Sure they barely showed anything, no in-game footage, but the premise within the short reveal definitely peaked my interest. I also agree Quantum Break is another game that truly stood out, the premise of what the game could provide is definitely ambitious and that cloud of mystery behind the title truly excites me.
Hard to talk about games without talking about Microsoft’s start, not only did they secure Metal Gear Solid V‘s appearance in the form of an extensive and gorgeous trailer. But they also had Kojima himself appear at the event, I wonder how long this had been planned, or if Microsoft threw their cheques his way when they needed games? Who knows, but either way that was a massive addition to the press conferences line-up, and it was stronger because of it.
Eric Pepper: I think it’s pretty safe to assume that Microsoft wanted to start off their conference with a bang and they definitely succeeded. I’m not a big Metal Gear Solid fan, but even I was shocked and impressed when Kojima walked out on stage.
Later on, the development team behind Spark came out and to be honest, I think their explanation of what the game is and represents was far too convoluted and caused them to lose some of the praise they would have received otherwise. The concept of creating a very basic game and then allowing other people to take that blueprint, modify it, and do crazy new things with it is one we’ve seen more and more in other titles. Things like Halo‘s Forge mode, LittleBigPlanet, or just about any PC game involving custom levels, are all precursors to what Spark seems to be trying to do, but the lackluster explanation really caused their presentation to fall flat. They had a nice little sizzle reel at the end of it, but unfortunately the damage was done at that point.
A few interesting aspects of the Xbox One that were shown off were the DVR within the console itself and the live-streaming through Twitch. What are your thoughts on these features?
Jamie Briggs: Personally they are cool, seems like they are easily edited and them getting Twitch on board is once again a been exclusive. Twitch is one of, if not the most important place when it comes to streaming game content and Microsoft having them on Xbox One is great.
Spark definitely has promise, but the difference here was they didn’t do a good job at explaining what the end game was. Is there a single player portion? Will there be any sort of narrative? Or is it all just user based content? LittleBigPlanet always offers that single player experience for those who are not even interested in creating, so is that available? It showed promise, but I need to know more.
Another strong exclusive is Dead Rising 3, and does it look impressive or what. I am the first one to put up my hand and say zombies are over-played, but they presented such a cool style and the idea of a seamless world with no load-times definitely caught my attention. It seems to have a more realistic-horror vibe than the previous games, though as we saw as our hero combined a sledgehammer and chainsaw, the ridiculousness will still be there. Also visually, the game art style and amazing world looked incredible.
Eric Pepper: I was pretty impressed with how easy it seemed to be to start a stream or to edit your clips and create your own personal highlight reel from a game. I can also see the streaming feature becoming huge for people taking part in Major League Gaming events, at World Cyber Games events, or even people trying to break into those circles. For this reason, I think the Xbox One will be the console of choice for competitive gaming leagues, which in and of itself would be a huge boost for Microsoft.
If Dead Rising 3 is a little more realistic, I can foresee a lot of gamers being happy, but as you pointed out, the completely absurd custom weapons lower the chances of this being the case. Don’t get me wrong, those weapons would be a ton of fun to throw around, but I don’t know many people who would willingly put together a sledgehammer and a chainsaw during a zombie apocalypse. I think a sword would be a better partner to the chainsaw, but alas, I am not in the video game.
Of course, no Microsoft E3 conference would be complete without a Halo trailer. At first, I wasn’t entirely sure what we were witnessing, and a small part of me wondered if it was a sequel to From Dust. However, once the giant Forerunner bird-like creature emerged from the sand, I put it all together. Any guesses as to how Chief takes that monstrosity down?
Jamie Briggs: I have never got into the Dead Rising series for that reason, it was absurd and over the top to the point where I wasn’t interested. So hopefully it can become grounded in some, slightly more realistic ground.
I actually forgot about the Halo trailer, I’m not sure if that is a good thing. I know Halo 5 is a ways away and I was perfectly fine not seeing any Master Chief at the conference for that fact. Yet they decided to tease “a Halo game” not even officially Halo 5, it felt odd. I understand why they didn’t but if it was Halo 5, wouldn’t it have made sense to just show it? Still seeing Chief take off the robe made me drop my phone in shock.
We have to talk about Titanfall, the what looks to be online only shooter from Respawn Entertainment. It looks fun, nothing wrong with jumping into some online fun mech battles, for blowing off some steam and just enjoying yourself – Titanfall seemed to deliver that experience.
Eric Pepper: Titanfall is a game I’m not entirely sold on yet. It’s likely going to possess some tight controls given the experienced team that’s putting it together, but the balance between titan and pilot is what worries me a little. It can be done, and it’s been done fairly well in the past, but that’s no guarantee that it will happen this time.
One of the big games shown during the conference that we haven’t touched on yet is The Witcher 3. Everyone knew this game was coming, so it wasn’t a surprise, but as anyone who’s played the games can tell you, there’s still plenty of reason to get excited every time you see a new trailer for the game. The series is known for being gritty and mature, and it can be downright punishing on the hardest difficulties. Geralt is a protagonist who’s personality seems to perfectly fit any of the moral choices you make in the game whether they be good or bad, which is far more impressive than you may think. Combine the tight gameplay mechanics with fantastic voice acting and compelling story, throw in some truly epic boss battles and an open world, and the result will be a fitting conclusion to a phenomenal series.
Jamie Briggs: Our conversation has summed up Microsoft’s event nicely, though there were many questions about their consoles infrastructure and overall stance on many issues. We were ultimately left thinking about games, and many of them. This fact is probably because they didn’t announce much at the original unveiling, in comparison to Sony, but in the end it has left many fans happy with a huge line-up of games announced at E3.
Overall it was a very strong press conference, though the elephant never truly left the room, he was hidden well behind big stacks of games. With many more titles hopefully announced over the coming months, Microsoft has secured many more exclusives for Xbox One than I would have imagined.
What are your overall thoughts on the press conference Eric?
Eric Pepper: In terms of the press conference itself, I think Microsoft did a phenomenal job. People feel like the conference bombed, but it’s because of the online requirements the system has, not because of what the conference actually showcased. Many of the games are exclusives, they had content for both the Xbox 360 and Xbox One, they talked about some improvements to the Gold Xbox Live memberships, and they spent very little time talking about apps or Kinect.
This conference was everything that gamers want from big companies at E3, but the audience wasn’t able to wash the sour taste of “always on” from their mouths long enough to truly enjoy it.
What did you think of the press conference? Did any Microsoft exclusive games catch your attention? Let us know in the comments below.
Jamie Briggs manages Analog Addiction and you can follow his daily life on Twitter @JamieAA and his videos on YouTube. Eric is an editor for Analog Addiction and you can ‘Like’ Analog Addiction on Facebook to receive all of the updates as they’re posted.