The new generation of consoles is here and Sony has jumped out to an early lead. It’s clear that Microsoft has been feeling the pressure as sweeping changes were rolled out for Xbox Live and Kinect is going to be taken out of the box to lower the price to $399.99. I was looking forward to what Microsoft had in store for us in their E3 press conference and I was not disappointed.
Phil Spencer came out at the beginning, with a short scripted thank you to the legion of Xbox, explaining how their box is the one gamers will want to play on this holiday season and beyond. Learning from their mistakes in their original Xbox reveal, the Microsoft presser changed gears quickly and turned the focus solely on games. It was heavy hitter after heavy hitter, showcasing some very compelling games (both first party and third party) that should get consumers on the fence to be interested in buying an Xbox One.
The first game shown was Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare which looked like the most interesting Call of Duty venture to date. The game looks to take advantage of its futuristic setting with jet packs, and smarter new weapons. The particle and lighting effects looked extremely impressive. Turn 10 announced the Nurburgring as free DLC available today for Forza Motorsports 5 and also showcased an early trailer for Forza Horizon 2 which looks to take place in a Monaco-like setting. It features day to night lighting transitions just like Horizon on 360, but also includes dynamic weather for the first time in a Forza series game. Sunset Overdrive, an exclusive third party title from Insomniac, looked great and was my favorite trailer so far. The live gameplay demo showcased over-the-top 3rd person gunplay and action that was reminiscent of Jet Set Grind Radio with guns and all-around chaotic violence.
Fable Legends, which is a 4 player cooperative RPG but also showed off a villain mode where one player can spawn enemies and traps to combat the 4 heroes. Fable Legends and Evolve are probably the two best examples of new ideas in online multiplayer experiences, bringing asynchronous gameplay mechanics to real-time competitive multiplayer. The gameplay demo of Evolve looked stunning with some wild looks of the monster that players will use to fight the four cooperative human characters.
The press conference kept on rolling with game after game which included Project Spark, Dragon Age: Inquisition, The Division, and The Witcher 3. The only time it really hit a lull, for me, was when they showed off the Halo: Master Chief Collection. Obviously the die-hard fans of Halo and gamers that have never played the older Halo games should be excited for this, but it just didn’t do much for me.
Microsoft did a great job understanding the commercial appeal of E3 to consumers and tailored their press conference appropriately to that audience. Instead of getting bogged down in the usual statistics and buzzwordy corporate statements regarding their innovations with the infrastructure of Xbox Live, multi-media features, and the cloud, they tried their best to make a compelling argument as to why gamers need to get into the Xbox One ecosystem. In my opinion, it’s mission accomplished.