Microsotft E3 Conference Recap and Reactions

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This is really shaping up to be a fantastic E3! Microsoft’s press conference had a pulsating rhythm and a fast pace with game after game after game. I had to take several pages of notes so I could remember everything, and it was hard to keep up. The best marker of Microsoft’s success? I now want an Xbox One.

They started strong on two accounts: a woman kicked off their stage presence and their first game was Halo 5 which featured two women and a person of color in the squad. Diversity isn’t just about checking boxes for representation, but Microsoft is off to a good start here. I’m not a huge Halo fan myself, but they showed a ton of gameplay and it looked really cool.

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They followed Halo 5 with a brand new Xbox exclusive IP from Keiji Inafune (Mega Man, Mighy No. 9) and Armature Studio (former devs who worked on Metroid Prime),titled  ReCore, slated for Spring 2016. Now I have no idea how Keiji Inafune has had time to work on this game when Mighty No. 9 is releasing in September, so I’m not confident it’s going to hit that release window (especially since they only showed a CG trailer). Despite that, ReCore looks really cool. It’s got a female protagonist fighting alongside and against these robot-like creatures. I’m intrigued and I want to know more.

Then Microsoft announced that Xbox One is going to be backwards compatible starting this holiday season. I did not see that one coming! They really stuck it to Sony and Playstation Now in this portion by saying “We won’t charge you to play games you already own.” It was a bold move. I personally don’t care that much about it because the 360 didn’t have many exclusives I cared about, but I definitely think it will be a selling point to get 360 owners to upgrade to Xbox One. They also showed off a new controller that looks amazing. It appears to be customizable with swappable d-pad, left and right sticks, re-mappable buttons, and other cool features. Edit: holy shit it costs $150?! Are they crazy?!

Todd Howard came onstage to show off Fallout 4. Here their conference dipped as Todd Howard started repeating stuff from Bethesda’s conference and showed a lot of the same footage. He did show the updated look and gameplay for power armor, though, and it was awesome. The HUD changes when you put on power armor (or at least certain types) and it was a nice touch.

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Then Todd Howard announced my personal highlight of the conference: mods will be available for Fallout 4 on Xbox One. He didn’t go into detail, but you will be able to use PC mods for Fallout 4 on the Xbox One, and that’s amazing. I don’t know if this feature will be coming to PS4, but if it doesn’t I am extremely jealous. He didn’t say anything about timed exclusive DLC so at least there’s that.

Forza Motorsport 6 was shown off, along with a new sports car from Ford. As in, a real life car was shown onstage at E3. It was a weird choice. Henry Ford III, current head of Ford, was also onstage and talked briefly about the new car and Forza. It was weird and I don’t know why they didn’t just exclusively talk about Forza and show in-game stuff. Thankfully, it was short and didn’t detract from the overall conference.

The official reveal of Dark Souls 3 came next. It was just a CG trailer, and if you ask me, it’s too soon. This will be the fourth Souls game since 2009. Fifth if you count Bloodborne, which definitely had a lot of similarities. I think they should’ve waited longer before doing Dark Souls 3 and let fans miss the series before doing another entry. But maybe diehard Souls fans feel differently.

Another cinematic trailer of The Division was shown. This is the third E3 in a row that The Division has been shown at. That’s utterly ridiculous. Ubisoft has gone the complete opposite direction of Bethesda with Fallout 4. And The Division still isn’t coming out until March! Ubisoft and all game companies need to stop showing games so far in advance. Perhaps they thought The Division would have been ready sometime in 2014 so they showed it at E3 in 2013. That’s still too early! No game needs over three years of hype and press coverage before release. They should show that game when they actually have a realistic release window in mind. They also showed Rainbow Six: Siege which is coming out this October. It looks boring to me, but I’m sure it will appeal to multiplayer FPS fans.

Microsoft had an extended segment for ID@Xbox, their indie games division, and I was quite impressed. They started it off with a long reel of all the indie games coming to Xbox One, which was too fast to actually keep up with or gleam anything from other than there are a lot of indie games coming to Xbox One. They went more in-depth on four games in particular. First was Fullbright’s new game Tacoma which looks stunning. It’s about a woman exploring an empty lunar station and trying to figure out what happened. It definitely has a similar vibe to Gone Home, their previous (and first) game, which is my favorite game of all time so I’m very cool with that. That was followed by Ashen, which has a similar look and fantasy aesthetic to Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. The next game was Beyond Eyes which is about a blind girl where the environment near you is painted in a kind of water-color style as you move around. It was perhaps the prettiest game shown during the entire press conference.

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Then Microsoft announced a new feature for the Xbox One – Xbox Preview, which is effectively their version of Steam Early Access. However, all games in Xbox Preview will allow you to play a short trial before deciding whether or not to buy it. It’s going live today with two games: Elite Dangerous and The Long Dark. DayZ will also come to it eventually and is going to be a console exclusive to Xbox One. Another point of jealousy for me, as I would really love to play DayZ, but my PC is just not powerful enough. The DayZ creator also revealed…something? It’s called Ion and he used very abstract language to describe it and showed a CG trailer that revealed absolutely nothing about it. I don’t know what the purpose of that reveal was since they said absolutely nothing about it.

Following ID@Xbox, Microsoft unleashed another heavy hitter with Tomb Raider. On my notepad I simply wrote “Tomb Raider – WHOA” They showed an extended gameplay segment of Lara climbing a mountain and trying to avoid an avalanche. I wasn’t even playing the game and yet my heart was racing. Between the music, the amazing graphics, and the gameplay, the folks at Crystal Dynamics know how to create real tension in a game. I really think Microsoft wants Tomb Raider to be their answer to Uncharted. Microsoft doesn’t own the rights to Tomb Raider, so I’m really hoping it eventually comes to PS4, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft tries to buy the rights – if they haven’t already tried that is. After mods on Fallout 4, Rise of the Tomb Raider is what I’m most jealous of on Xbox One. Although the decision to release it on the same day as Fallout 4 is questionable. I expect they might shift the release date a few weeks in either direction.

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Rare came onstage next to announce Rare Replay, a collection of 30 of their games, and to announce a new game: Sea of Thieves. Sea of Thieves is a brand new IP from Rare and is a brightly colored, multiplayer pirate game that looks very unique. They showed a decent amount of gameplay exploring an island, manning a ship, and engaging in ship on ship battles. This is the first time I have ever been interested in one of Rare’s games and I have high hopes they will deliver a brilliantly fun experience.

Fable Legends was shown off and the coolest tid-bit from them was that the game will be cross save and cross play (and cross buy, since it is F2P) between Xbox One and PC. So anyone on Xbox One can play against anyone on PC. That kind of interaction isn’t common, but is much appreciated and I wish it would happen more often.

And then Microsoft showed the first thing that actually made my jaw drop this E3. I’m not hyperbolizing: my jaw literally dropped. They showed off Hololens, which is what they described a mixed-reality, holographic headset. Instead of full VR, Hololens shows holograms in real life, so you still see the world around you. They brought Mojang onstage (no surprise considering Microsoft bought them for $2.5 billion) to show off Minecraft with Hololens. They had an awesome set up where the camera could display whatever was being displayed in Hololens. First Hololens displayed Minecraft on a blank wall for the wearer, as though there were a tv there. That’s cool enough, but then the wearer went over to a table and that’s when things got crazy. The table turned into his Minecraft world. The woman playing with him was displayed in the hologram, interacting with the world in real time. It was mind-blowingly awesome. Go look up a video of it if you haven’t seen it yet because words cannot do this justice. It looked like the future!

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^This is what it looks like without Hololens.

Microsoft ended the press conference with someone from Black Tusk Studio coming onstage to first show Gears of War Ultimate Edition, the remaster of the first Gears game. And then they revealed Gears of war 4 with, surprisingly, an extended gameplay trailer. I don’t care for Gears, but damn, no CG trailer? Kudos Microsoft. And the game looked gorgeous. The characters from Gears 1-3 were nowhere to be seen was an interesting choice, but since I never found them interesting that’s fine with me.

Microsoft’s press conference was an almost endless barrage of impressive games, with only two real hiccups to speak of. They had a diverse showing, with many characters of both genders, gritty FPS’s, beautiful indie games, games aimed at younger audiences, tense action games, and a ton of exclusives. Microsoft wants to get back in the lead like they were last generation. If they follow through and these games turn out as good as they appeared today, I’ll probably end up buying an Xbox One. After trailing Sony for the past year and a half, they have shown that they are ready to both cater to and challenge gamers with an inspiring array of titles. With everything they showed, Xbox might just take the lead once again.

What did you think of Microsoft’s E3 conference? Comment below! And if you enjoyed this piece stay tuned here, GamesWithFriendsWrites.WordPress.com, for more coverage of E3. You can also check out my YouTube channel, Games With Friends (link at top of page), for my Let’s Plays and commentary on great games, both recent and old. Enjoy!

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