E3 2013: Microsoft conference round-up

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Microsoft

Maybe you were busy, or maybe you’ve just forgotten – but E3 pretty much started yesterday with the big guys in the industry showing off their new stuff. Microsoft kicked off the proceedings, and we were right there to see it all. Here’s what happened.

Even though the event at Los Angeles’ Galen Centre started at 9:30 in the morning, we arrived at around 7 – which was a good think, because that secured us priority seating for being some of the first 500 people to drag their asses out of bed to stand in a lot of queues. After standing in a a lot of queues, and then sitting in a chair for ages while being blinded by all that green light the thumping music stopped and the lights went down. i was expecting Tom Cruise’s doppelganger Don Mattrick to come out on stage, but instead a trailer started playing – and it was quite a great way to start off E3. It happened to be a trailer of Metal Gear Solid V – The Phantom Pain. And it looks great.

Next, Mattrick came on stage with Kojima who then happened to admit that he was a bit of a moneyhat, and that the Xbox One was a powerful beast. Microsoft then pledged a bit of commitment to the current 360, and announced a new redesigned SKU for the aging system that more closely aligns with the design of the Xbox One. Microsoft also announced that Xbox Live Gold will start giving away great brand new games to users, making it more like PlayStation Plus. Great, new games like Assassin’s Creed 2 and Halo goddamned 3.

Then, Microsoft showed off World of Tanks – the insanely popular free to play PC title – would be headed to Xbox 360. and nobody in the audience seemed to give a single damn. Max: The Curse of Brotherhood  continues the Magic Marker series and is headed for the 360. As is Dark Souls 2.

People did start giving a damn again when MS showed off Crytek’s Ryse: Son of Rome – which has transitoned from being a Kinect-powered 360 game, to an Xbox One exclusive God of War wannabe, including all those insipid QTE nightmares. It looks pretty impressive visually, but all that “Press “Y” for the opportunity to press “B”” nonsense really kills the immersion.

Former PlayStation BFF’s Insomniac Games head Ted Price then took to the stage to show off Xbox One exclusive Sunset Overdrive, which sports a really cool aesthetic and yes, really cool weapons.

Turn 10’s Dan Greenwald then pulled a damned McLaren on stage, and talked about Forza 5 Motorsport. I honestly wasnt paying too much attention (because ugh, driving games) except to notice that there’s a new system that uses the processing in the cloud to make the AI smarter, using your own driving style – something called “Drivatar,” which is a neologism that needs to be expunged from consciousness and never, ever repeated.

Former Sony puppet and now Microsoft puppet Phil Harrison then took to the stage and spoke about a commitment to indie games – without really showing very many indie games. they did, however, show the new game from Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery and Super Time Force creators, Below – which looks like a neat little atmospheric rogue-like.

The ridiculously handsome Sam Lake from Remedy then took to the stage to talk about Quantum Break – the company’s new Xbox one exclusive. It features a protagonist who can manipulate people and things frozen in time – and it looks pretty damned amazing, with some incredible facial animation. Check it!

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MS then showed Project Spark – which like Sony’s LittleBigPlanet allows people to quickly and easily create their own games using easy-to-use tools. It looks pretty dynamic and robust – though the “Play, Build, Share” motto was a little too familiar. Ms then reminded us that smartglass exists, before shocking the entire arena by announcing a brand new Killer Instinct – because they seem to have finally remembered that they own Rare, who’s for more than just Kinect games. They then showed off saving game replays to the cloud and then sharing them, which is all neat stuff.

Crimson Dragon, a continuation of the Panzer Dragoon series was shown – albeit without any sound – prompting people in the audience to hilariously make up their own audio overdubs, and shout out things like “XBOX ONE, PLAY SOUND!”

Next up was some great gaming, firstly thanks to Microsoft published, Xbox One exclusive Dead Rising 3 – which looks pretty amazing, even if I am a little tired of zombies in general. If there’s one game that might make me get an Xbox One, it’s this one.

Next up was the announcement that CD Projekt Red’s Witcher 3 would grace the Xbox One in addition to Ps4 and Pc – and would have some sort of Smartlgass functionality. It’ll be more open world than before. and feature boobs. Because it is The Witcher.

EA and Dice then showed Battlefield 4 running at 60 fps on the Xbox one – although that demo also started sans sound, making everybody in the audience giggle a bit before going “pew pew pew” like the professional journalists that they are.  Microsoft then cleverly announced a new Xbox One halo game, without showing too much – but just enough to get everybody very screamy.

It all seemed to be going rather well. And then they announced the price of the thing – $499, or about R6500. Whatever good sentiment there was left pretty much ran out of the Galen centre, screaming. A hushed silence fell over the auditorium, and everybody looked around and fidgeted in their pockets, feeling rather embarrassed on Microsoft’s behalf.

Before sending everybody on their way, they did show off former Modern Warfare guys Respawn’s new game, TitanFall – which looks like ModernER Warfare, with mechs and stuff. It’s actually a bit Halo-ey – and seems to compete directly with that space.

And that was it. Not a weak showing by Microsoft by any means – but very little there to convince me that I absolutely have to own an Xbox One. what about you? What did you think of Microsoft’s conference? Did they “Kill Sony,” as they said they would?

Last Updated: June 11, 2013

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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