Monday, June 15, 2015

E3 2015: Microsoft

It wasn't ground breaking, Microsoft was satisfying this E3.

As is tradition now, Microsoft led the press conferences for E3 this year by having a fairly tame, but inoffensive press conference. There wasn't any earth shattering announcements or reveals, but there was nothing to get offended or hurt over. There were some positive announcements I was excited for, there were announcements I didn't really care for, but there was more or less something here for everyone.

The press conference kicked off with Halo 5: Guardians as expected, and the game looks to be a solid advancement of the Halo series. Larger multiplayer modes, two four player campaigns, and graphics that are pleasant to look at. Then again, we've seen enough of Halo 5: Guardians to know that it's going to be good and make tons of money, so there was nothing for me to be motivated about besides acknowledged it looked solid.

What I can get worked up about is that fact that Xbox One will now have backwards compatibility with the Xbox 360. News like that is simply huge, because there is never a legitimate reason for why backwards compatibility should not be an included feature in a console. Nintendo did it, Microsoft is jumping on the train slowly, so now we're just going to have to wait for Sony to do anything. I have a lot of things to say about Sony and the PS4, but we'll save that for later provided their press conference doesn't live up to expectations.

Outside of those two huge bits of news, we also received plenty of trailers for upcoming games that range from interesting to compelling. Keiji Inafune announced Recore, a game that no one knows anything about yet, Forza 6 was announced for a September 15th release date, Cuphead, the 1930's platformer was shown off and revealed that it was delayed into next year, and then there was Beyond Eyes, an amazing looking downloadable game where you play a blind girl who is only able to see the world through her other senses. Just from the trailer, it looks beautiful, sensational, and makes me want to play it right now.

Even Rare had a decent showing at the press conference. They announced not one, but two games. One was an original IP called Sea of Thieves, which appears to be a pirate based MMO. I'm all up for pirate focused games, and it seems to be a more cartoony version of Assassin's Creed: Black Flag, so more power to pirates. Then there's Rare Replays, a $30 compilation pack that includes 30 Rare games like Banjo-Kazooie, Conker's Bad Fur Day, and Viva Pinata for release this August. On the surface, I'm happy it's announced and the price is incredible, but two things bother me about it. One, most of the games on there are from the ZX Spectrum and really only include a handful of must play Rare games, and two, a compilation disk pales in comparison to a new game announcement from one of their classic franchises. I would have loved to see a new Banjo-Kazooie or Battletoads, but with the recent success of Yooka-Laylee, I'm not too picky.

Finally, we had two more larger gameplay demos and reveals for Rise of the Tomb Raider and Gears 4 respectively. The demo for Rise makes the game look just as good as its predecessor, now with a cemented release date of November 10, 2015 (same day as Fallout 4). Gears 4 actually was a lot more disappointing than I thought it would be. I have no attachment to the franchise, but the majority of the reveal and demo were in dark caves at night with very little time to see the world. It was all too muddy to see or even commentate on and lacked any spectacle or scope of previous Gears of War announcements. I don't know, I just didn't feel the same passion behind Gears 4 this time. It'll release next Holiday season.

Also Ubisoft showed off a lot of their games, Dark Souls III confirmed ad well as Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, but those games will most likely be showed off later in the day. On the whole, Microsoft gave a solid, if ho-hum press conference. I applaud them for taking a huge initiative on games and listening to its fans and has made strides from E3 2013, but there wasn't anything that got me as worked up as Crackdown 3, Phantom Dust, or Quantum Break. Those were the titles I was interested in, but beggers can't be choosers. Not amazing, but a solid thumbs up from me. 

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