E3 2015: Microsoft Press Conference Recap/Review

With Microsoft still trying to catch Sony’s sizable lead, Phil Spencer and crew changed things up this year and instead decided to send a barrage of trailers and game announcements at the audience. There were a ton of announcements in the hour and a half presentation, as Microsoft was laser focused in delivering players content this year.

E3 Xbox

With Sony admitting that their first party lineup is going to be sparser than normal this year, 2015 may be the most important one so far in the Xbox One’s brief history. Kicking things off with a juicy teaser trailer is a fine way to whip the audience into a frenzy at the forthcoming announcements as well.

So how did they do? Will this help Microsoft close the gap? Lets recap!

Halo 5
Leading off the presser was Halo 5: Guardians, obviously MIcrosoft’s big trump card for this year and one that Sony won’t be able to rival. A bit of the campaign was shown off and it looked absolutely gorgeous. We also got a glimpse at a multiplayer mode called Warzone, which has two teams fighting to capture bases with some AI mixed in for good measure. Halo 4 left me a bit empty after playing it, but from what I’ve seen so far of Halo 5, I’m definitely interested again. I get vibes from older games like Halo: Reach and a bit of ODST which makes me happy.

Hey look, a new IP! The CG trailer showed a desert wandering female and her robot dog. As the pair stumble across some broken bots, they’re suddenly attacked by these spider looking droids. Sadly, the robot dog sacrifices itself to save the woman, leaving behind a glowing blue core. The woman grabs the core and uses it to repair a hulking robot revealing even more enemies awaiting the pair. The biggest news? This project is being developed by Keiji Inafune and Armature Studios. Looks pretty cool.

Backwards Compatibility
This one was a shocker. After being fed what felt like scripted lines from both Microsoft and Sony about how this feature just isn’t possible, well, looks like that was a lie. The Xbox One is actually going to work with Xbox 360 games, which is something that’s going to make a lot of people happy. While the functionality won’t be available until later this year and there is a set list of compatible games, Microsoft has promised that more titles will be added over time. Red Dead Redemption is currently leading the polls, which is a very smart thing.

New Controller
The new Elite controller gives players the ability to customize the Xbox One controller, being able to swap out individual parts. It’s a cool idea, but seeing the trailer I figured it’d be pricey. Turns out that’s true as the controller will run you a staggering $150.

Fallout 4 Mods
When Todd Howard took the stage, I was almost certain it was to announce a new DLC timed deal like the one established with Fallout 3. Turns out, I was wrong. Instead, it was revealed that the Xbox One version of Fallout 4 will be taking advantage of the newly announced backwards compatibility by giving Xbox One owners of Fallout 4, Fallout 3 as well. Not only that, PC mods will also be supported on this version as well giving gamers a pretty good incentive to grab this version of the game.

EA Access News
Personally, this part of the show was the least interesting, but essentially Peter Moore came out and announced that Titanfall and Dragon Age Inquisition were being added to EA’s Access subscription service and that for the entire week of E3, Xbox owners could use the service free of charge.

Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2
Peter Moore also went on to announce a sequel to the quirky third person shooter, Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2. After a number of teases, a CG trailer was shown off sporting the same great style from the first title.

Forza Motorsport 6
Next up was this year’s Forza title, presented by Dan Greenawalt, Henry Ford III, and a Ford GT descending from the rafters. Game looks phenomenal and should be a great buy for racing fans.

Dark Souls 3
Short teaser revealed the long rumored title. It looks like Dark Souls, so that should make fans happy.

The Division beta news
Probably one of, if not my most anticipated game, The Division got it’s time on the stage to reveal a new trailer. Not only that, Ubisoft announced that a beta is coming to Xbox One players in December.

Rainbow Six Siege
Rainbow Six was up now and the big news for fans is that both Rainbow Six Vegas games will be packaged with Siege on the Xbox One when it hits in October.

Announced as an Xbox One and Windows 10 exclusive, Gigantic is very colorful, has an interesting art style, and looks very imaginative. I’ve heard of the game before but I don’t know much about it. I will say, the unique style it brings to the table has certainly captured my attention.

Indie Games Showcase
Showcasing a ton of great games like Tacoma, Cuphead, ION, and many others, there’s a ton of great “indie” titles coming to Xbox One in the next year. The ID@XBOX program really seems to be thriving.

Game Preview Program
Incorporating another Steam-like program into the Xbox is the game preview program. Think of Steam Early Access, only better. While this program will give gamers the ability to buy games that are still active development, a cool feature is that players can instead play demos of the title first rather than spending cash without being able to try the product. The Long Dark and Elite: Dangerous are currently up with DayZ and Shattered coming soon. More titles will be added over time.

Rise of the Tomb Raider Gameplay
Crystal Dynamics took the stage now and gave fans a first look at the upcoming Xbox One (timed) exclusive. Lara and old friend Jonah were climbing up the side of an ice wall when things start to fall apart prompting the duo to overcome a few obstacles capping everything off with an impressive avalanche sequence. Rise looks even better than the 2013 title though sadly, it’s release date was revealed for November 10, a day in which we will all learn again that war never changes.

Rare Replay
Rare, a company we haven’t seen in the spotlight for some time, came on stage and announced “Rare Replay”, a collection of 30 games from Rare’s history. Spanning the entire length of Rare’s history, the game will launch with a mind boggling 10,000 achievement points, and it’s only $30. Quite a deal if you ask me.

Sea of Thieves
Rare wasn’t done as they also announced their newest IP through an announcement trailer showing off a pirate themed game complete with huge ships, naval warfare, and what looked to be multiplayer ship battles. Totally reminded me of a pirate themed multiplayer Fable. Still a lot we don’t know, but from a first glance, it looks pretty cool.

Fable Legends Trailer
Considering this is a first party title and it’s going to be a free to play title upon launch, I’m a bit surprised that Microsoft only showed a trailer for the game instead of getting people more excited about the game with a live demo. Could that signal low expectations on this title? The plot thickens!

VR News and Hololens
Kinect hype man Kudo Tsunoda took to the stage next to announce a partnership between Microsoft and Valve VR while also confirming that Microsoft is working to make Windows 10 easy for VR. The Oculus deal was also previously touched on, signalling that Microsoft is basically making deals with as many VR companies as possible rather than trying to develop their own hardware. Not only that, the Minecraft folks came out to show off Hololens and it’s compatibility with the game. The crazy impressive demo showed the Hololens user’s viewpoint, as he manipulated the 3D looking world with hand gestures and moving his head. Based on the online conversations, it blew a lot of people away. It’ll be interesting to see how affordable this tech will be once it’s available to the public.

Gears of War Ends The Show
Closing out the show was the newly rebranded studio, The Coalition to confirm the leaked game, Gears of War Ultimate Edition, a remastered version of the very first Gears game. Not only that, a gameplay demo of Gears 4 was shown off with familiar gameplay and impressive visuals (more on that below).

Gears of War 4 demo – I’ll admit, I really enjoy the Gears franchise, so when I heard The Coalition would be announcing or showing something at the show this year, I was excited. Unfortunately, what we got was marred by the gameplay being way too dark. Taking place at night, two COG soldiers, one apparently named J.D., were exploring some sort of ruins. Why? No idea. Form the brief glimpses you could make something out, the game did look great. Still, picking gameplay that wasn’t so dark and perhaps providing a little context would have done wonders. For what it’s worth, I’m still excited for this game, just the announcement gameplay didn’t do much for me.

Overall: A
Solid A this year for the Redmond, Washington crew. The really cut the fat this year, focusing on games and the Xbox community with some major announcements like backwards compatibility, new IPs such as Recore, and some great gameplay demos from Rise of the Tomb Raider, and Halo 5.

You could clearly see Microsoft trying it’s hardest to capitalize on it’s upcoming software this year, devoting the show to appeal to people who like to play games. Considering the entire show was about games, it also struck me that Microsoft really cut out the junk segments they typically have in these pressers. There was no talk of sports, entertainment, movies, or Kinect. The show moved quickly and retained it’s momentum well. Based on the social activity online, it seems people were pretty happy, also agreeing that Microsoft’s show this year was pretty strong.

While not everything resonated with me, like that expensive customization controller, it didn’t detract at all from my experience. There was a ton of stuff shown that got me personally excited and better yet, a lot of what was shown is slated to hit later this year. If my only complaint is a demo that’s a bit too dark, you know you’re doing something right. Kudos on a well made show this year, Microsoft.

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7 Responses to E3 2015: Microsoft Press Conference Recap/Review

  1. C. T. Murphy says:

    I really want Halo 5. I can feel it already. Something about that series has a constant hold on me!

    • I’ve been impressed by what they’ve shown as well.

      Halo 4 didn’t do much for me if I’m being honest, but Halo 5 looks like a big step forward.

      • C. T. Murphy says:

        I liked Halo 4 okay. The multiplayer was a bit too weird though. I liked the attempt at story, or at least how it brought the game back down to earth*.

        *not actual earth

        • Right, Halo 4 was good, but didn’t do much for me. It was forgettable in my eyes, but I don’t regret playing it.

          And yeah, something was off about the multiplayer. I’m no “Halo Pro” or anything, but i typically have a good time with it. Halo 4 was missing something…

  2. Hatm0nster says:

    Looking forward to Halo 5 too, here’s hoping that it goes back to promoting Halo’s unique flavor of multiplayer rather than the heavy borrowing from CoD that we saw in Halo 4. Also, Rare Replay sounds awesome!

  3. I was surprised and happy to hear about the Backwards Compatibility. I’m really excited to see more on ReCore too. MS definitely had a good showing at E3.

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