This was the year that Microsoft had to put up or shut up, since November 2013 they have been in second place. I understand it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon, and I respect that but Sony came out the blocks running like it was a relay. Handing the baton off properly, catering to the fan base that champions their product, goes out and buys it then gets everyone else to do the same. This November, both Microsoft and Sony’s new consoles will have been on the market for 2 years respectively.
Each breaking records in comparison to the speed of sales, when compared to their predecessor. While all of this is filler throughout the year, fans want to know what the future holds, why should I buy an Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, or PC for that matter. If you’re at all curious, if you love games in the slightest, then you know about E3, and that for one week out of the year, most of your questions will be answered. Information is abundant and comes fast, but after this week your decision will be clear, and you’ll know exactly which system is worth your time and money.
Microsoft was at the helm once again this year, and they wasted no time in letting gamers know who they came to talk to. The show kicked off with Halo 5: Guardians which looked amazing, but the announcement of Backwards Compatibility on the Xbox One is what made people pick their jaws up off the floor. How is it going to work, and will this work with the entire line-up of 360 games, where just some of the questions I had while watching. They announced that there will be over 100 titles by holiday 2015, and that more will be added in the year to come.
It seems that Microsoft is making it a habit, to show off a new title that pulls at your heart strings. Last year it was Ori and the Blind Forest and this year it was ReCore, a game in which it looks like you play as a young woman in what seems to be a post-apocalyptic world. Your accompanied by a companion, that looks to have an interchangeable core, if the body it’s in gets damaged you can put its core in another one.
The push that MS seems to be making in the PC space since the announcement of Windows 10 showed during this press conference. The introduction of the Xbox Elite wireless controller, showed that they are serious about PC gaming, much so that they stated that Gears of War Ultimate Edition and Killer Instinct will be coming to Windows. Phil Spencer stated “that there has been a time in our past, where MS lost our way with PC gaming.” They seem to be trying to right the ship so to speak, and this E3 they seem to have found their way.
Todd Howard graced the stage with Fallout 4, and announced that Mods on the PC will also be available for free on the Xbox One. This could be a smooth transition or this could prove to be very difficult, either way it’s nice to see MS open up the platform to different ideas, which benefit gamers.
Peter Moore, the COO of Electronic Arts (EA) reminded us all the EA Access is still a thing, and that Garden Warfare 2 will be coming in Spring 2016. Forza Motorsport 6 showed us the new Ford GT, and how the cars still look great. For a game coming in the next few months, I thought they would go a little more hands on with it. Dynamic weather has made its way from Horizon and is now in Forza 6, they stated 26 world famous destinations will be in the game, but not to be a downer most of them have probably been in previous games.
The fact that Dark Souls 3 was announced at Microsoft’s conference, probably means some exclusive content will be coming for Xbox One owners. The same with The Division, once again just a trailer no actual gameplay was shown, they did announce that a Beta will be available this December for Xbox owners. A little more of The Division was shown at the Ubisoft conference showing actual gameplay, but nothing was about what makes this game an RPG, or what sets it apart from something like Destiny. For the last 3 years this game has been shown at E3, and every year we seem to learn less about it, the beta will be available this year, but I still think this game isn’t coming until Fall 2016.
Motiga announced Gigantic a third-person 5v5 Moba (Massively Online Battle Arena) where the goal is to destroy your opponents Guardian. It looks like you’ll be able to choose different heroes and guardians, but your guardians will be (AI) controlled. I’m not a Moba guy, but the aesthetic of the game has me a little interested.
Chris Charla the director of ID@Xbox came out after a montage of Indie games where shown and talked about the more than 1000 developers that are making games for Xbox. Oh, even though it isn’t coming until 2016 they finally showed off a little more of Cuphead, but from Aurora44 a New Zealand developer, came Ashen a beautiful open world game where you determine who is friend or foe. It looks as if it could be a Roguelike or a puzzle platformer, either way the game looks amazing.
Chris then announced that MS is starting up an early access program called Xbox Game Preview that pretty much works the same way it does on Steam. The difference is you’re able to play a trail version of the game, then decide if you would like to purchase it, in its early stage of development. This is MS separating themselves from the competition, that’s Sony and Nintendo, but embracing their PC heritage and catching up to what Valve has been doing for years now. Elite Dangerous and The Long Dark will kick off this program this week.
It was great to see Lara back at it in The Rise of the Tomb Raider, MS still did not go into specifics about how long their exclusivity will be for this title, if it will last only for this year or some of 2016 as well. Never the less the game looks awesome and I’m looking forward to playing it. A little nostalgia goes a long way, and the 30 years of Rare Collection that’s coming in August brought back some good memories. 30 games made by Rare, Battletoads, Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark, and Conker’s Bad Fur Day just to name a few are all coming this August. All of these games will be great to have this year, but the announcement of Rare’s new game got me more excited. Sea of Thieves looks to be an open world pirate game with some MMO features, ship combat and cooperative play. Even though the studio has changed since the days of Donkey Kong Country, it’s still nice to see Rare back to making ambitious titles, and getting back to what made them great.
MS announced late last week their partnership with Oculus, and at their conference they announced a new partnership with Valve VR. So both Oculus and The Vive will be usable on the Xbox One. Microsoft HoloLens made a debut as well, it was shown off with Minecraft. I still do not believe that HoloLens is capable of doing what they have shown at the event, it looks too perfect, I would have to see it with my own eyes first.
They did a great job of getting people excited about the future of the console, but the closing of the show was a little lack luster in my opinion. Rod Fergusson came out and announced Gears of War Ultimate Edition, a remake of the first Gears game, 1080p resolution, 60fps, and new content will be included coming this August. While all of that is nice, before he left he decided to show us a vertical slice of Gears 4. We saw a new protagonist and companion maybe and the game looked amazing, but it didn’t have that pizazz that would make you say “this could only be a Gears game.” Nothing new was shown, the guns hadn’t changed, and the mechanics of the game seemed to be the same. I know everything doesn’t have to be different, but I guess my expectations were a little higher than I thought for this game. I’ll just have to hold off my judgement of the game until it comes out Holiday 2016.
MS came to make a statement this year and in my opinion they did just that, the show was good from beginning to end, and they did an awesome job of separating themselves from the competition. I think this holiday MS will gain back a lot of the ground that they lost a couple of years ago.