E3 – Breaking Down the Microsoft Press Conference

I think it’s safe to say that the general consensus on last year’s Microsoft Press Conference was that it was kind of a train wreck. Microsoft focused on presenting the Xbox One as a general use entertainment platform, leaving the audience sitting before them, the kindly video game public, cold. Microsoft had a lot to make up for this year. We weren’t sure what 2014 would bring for Microsoft, but we hoped they had learned their lesson. After their presentation at E3 this year, it seems that they’ve done just that.

While the conference may not have had as many “ooh and ah” moments as Sony, Microsoft made a smart move in returning its focus to just the games. We got to see a very decent smattering of games this year. I appreciated the appearance of two new indie titles for the Xbox, Ori and the Blind Forest and Inside. After Sony’s push to support indie developer’s it’s good to see Microsoft doing the same. Both look like interesting titles in their ways – refreshers from the bombast of all of the AAA titles.

Of the games coming out this year, I’m most excited by Dragon Age: Inquisition. Microsoft got to show it off this year, and Ferelden looks fantastic on the new generation consoles. I have high hopes that Bioware learned from their mistakes with Dragon Age 2. Assassin’s Creed: Unity, while also not an Xbox exclusive, shows promise. I was getting a little tired of the recent yearly Assassin’s Creed trend, and while it seems like that trend has yet to die, it’s comforting that Ubisoft is trying something new with the series. Unity’s four player co-op seems like a perfect fit for an Assassin’s Creed game.

On the more exclusive end of things we’ve got Halo remakes, Project Spark, Fable Legends and Scalebound. I don’t have particularly strong feelings about any of those games. Project Spark looks like it’ll be fun in a Little Big Planet sort of way. And Fable is Fable. They do a good job marketing the Fable games but the final result is always a mixed bag. Fable Legends seems to feature co-op which could be interesting if executed well. We didn’t get to see any gameplay of Scalebound but it looks over the top and ridiculous, which is everything I love. I’m looking forward to seeing more of that. 

So while Microsoft’s press conference didn’t have much to make our hearts race (with the exception of maybe Tomb Raider. I’m so ready for more Tomb Raider!) they did give us a solid selection of games to anticipate over the next year or so. With no talk of the Kinect, instead spending all of their energy on games, it feels as though Microsoft is back on track.

In case you missed all of the fun, here are the highlights from this year’s Microsoft E3 press conference.

  • Microsoft opened their presser with a Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare trailer, featuring a lot of drool-worthy pyrotechnics and shiny mech suits set in a war torn Seoul.
  • A new Forza Horizon 2 trailer was revealed, along with an official release date – September 30, 2014!
  • We caught a glimpse of a new monster for Evolve, along with more details on exclusive Microsoft DLC. The more I see of this game, the more I need it.
  • It wouldn’t be E3 without the usual Assassin’s Creed reveal and this year is no different. Assassin’s Creed: Unity was announced by way of a demo and will feature four person co-op!
  • Dragon Age: Inquisition’s E3 trailer featured dazzling new locations (No more recycled dungeons a la Dragon Age 2? We can only hope.) and some spiffy new gameplay.
  • Project Spark returns to E3 for a second round, and this time it has, uh, Conker the squirrel?
  • A trailer for Fable Legends demonstrates the game’s four person co-op. Does anyone else sense a theme this year?
  • Microsoft gave us a first look at Moon Studios upcoming indie title Ori and the Blind ForestA sidescrolling platformer featuring charming characters, pretty artwork, and gorgeous music. Hits all the right notes with me!
  • Halo: Master Chief Collection was also revealed. Coming Fall 2014 the game will include HD remakes of Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo 4. 
  • In more Halo news, Halo 2 Anniversary was officially confirmed and it’s coming with the original multiplayer.
  • What’s that? You need more Halo? The Halo 5 Guardians multiplayer beta will be included in the Halo: Master Chief Collection.
  • Microsoft showed us a reveal trailer for Rise of the Tomb Raider and it’s going to be grrrrrrrreat. They were kind enough to give Lara a coat this time and everything! Ah, the future.
  • We were treated to a new Witcher 3 gameplay trailer demonstrating the game’s expansive open world.
  • Oh look! It’s Halo! This time it manifests itself as a live action series produced by Ridley Scott. Titled Nightfall, the show will tell the story of Master Chief’s past and future.
  • We got to see how The Division plays in a new gameplay video.
  • Inside, from the developers of Limbo, is another promising, mildly creepy, indie offering, in case you’re tired of all the AAA gun happiness.
  • Phantom Dust was confirmed for an Xbox One re-release.
  • Phantom Games revealed it’s new Xbox exclusive, Scalebound, in which you fight giant monsters while listening to some slick techno beats.
  • Crackdown 3 will be headed to Xbox One in the near future!
  • Microsoft announced cross-platform play between Xbox One and Xbox 360.
  • Killer Instinct Season 2 will be available this fall!

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