After a console launch that focused on the Xbox One's entertainment features, Microsoft promised to bring nothing but games to its E3 press conference. The company largely carried through on that promise this morning, showing a parade of Xbox 360 and Xbox One games over its hour and a half conference.
The conference opened with a trailer for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. The game is set in Afghanistan and features open world gameplay. The trailer shows Snake riding a horse in order to cover distance over that world, as well as doing his signature sneaking in a variety of situations. It ended by introducing the game's cast, which includes both Metal Gear series veterans and some new faces.
Next, Microsoft took an Xbox 360 break, showing off some of the games coming up for that device and noting that Microsoft intends to support the 360 for some time to come. The main upcoming games shown included World of Tanks, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, and Dark Souls II. The company unveiled a new SKU of the device, which is smaller than previous versions and is meant to resemble the Xbox One. It also announced that Xbox Live Gold members will have the opportunity to download two free games between now and the launch of the One. Examples of the available games include Assassin's Creed II and Halo 3.
Moving on to the Xbox One, Ryse: Son of Rome was introduced as an action game in development at Crytek. The trailer shows the main character in a massive battle against the barbarian hordes. It includes both God of War-style QTEs and a segment during which the player commands a phalanx of soldiers. It was announced that Ryse will be exclusive to the Xbox One and will be available at launch.
After a brief moment with the fighting game Killer Instinct, which will also be an Xbox One exclusive, Microsoft brought out a trailer for Sunset Overdrive, the latest game from Insomniac. It's a game set in a stylized “living” world that has been invaded by stylized zombies. The main character was shown leaping and swinging around the city before using comically exaggerated weapons to blow up the zombie hordes.
The stage-trick segment of the conference came when a shiny orange race car was hydraulically lifted onto the stage for the Forza V segment. After showing off the game's visuals, the presenters discussed the new Drivatar system. The Drivatar learns from the way that a player races, and uses cloud technology to race people from around the world when the game isn't running.
Next, a series of games from smaller, independent studios was shown. After setting sales records on Xbox Live Arcade, Minecraft is coming out for the Xbox One, which allows for larger worlds and other improvements that make the game play more like its PC counterpart.
A Quantum Break trailer showed off a segment in which the main character uses sixty seconds of stopped time to rescue (or perhaps kidnap?) a scientist. Quantum Break will be tied in to a TV show, and the player's choices in the game will create custom versions of the show.
Finally, a trailer for a cel-shaded episodic murder mystery called D4 was shown, and a new game-making game called Project Spark was demonstrated. Project Spark utilizes both Kinect voice commands and SmartGlass integration to assist players in creating games. Some of those tools even translate into gameplay, as the demonstration showed one character morphing the world's landscape in order to fight off a goblin horde.
Following the indie gaming break, Microsoft took a few minutes to discuss its SmartGlass technology, which allows players to interact with the Xbox 360 and Xbox One via their mobile devices. The company has been encouraging companies to add SmartGlass integration into their games in ways that expand the games' user interfaces and allow players to compare progress and scores. The company then trotted out a shamefully sexist demonstration of a SmartGlass matchmaking system in Killer Instinct in which the game's producer humiliated a female Microsoft staffer while making rape jokes. Even the long-awaited announcement that Microsoft Points are finally being turfed in favor of actual money purchases couldn't erase that dark blot on the conference.
Zombie games are apparently still all the rage, as a lengthy demonstration of Dead Rising 3 thankfully left the SmartGlass segment in the dust. This game did the conference's best job of showing off the Xbox One's technological improvements, as the game displayed impressively large zombies hordes on the screen. The player will need to make use of improvised weapons and distraction techniques to survive the zombie apocalypse, and it's even possible to drive cars around for transportation and zombie-mowing purposes. Still, the undead are more than willing to punch open a car's window to get at the tasty brains inside.
RPG developer CDProjekt took the stage to premier gameplay footage of The Witcher 3, its open-world finale to The Witcher trilogy. Although the game is not exclusive to the Xbox One, it will include optional Kinect voice commands and SmartGlass user interface integration. The game's protagonist, Geralt, was shown riding a horse and sailing across the game's large world, as well as getting into sword fights with a variety of nasty beasts.
After that brief RPG segment, the shooter gallery continued with a gameplay trailer of Battlefield 4: Second Assault. The game will run at 60 fps, and a battle both inside and on top of an aircraft carrier was shown. Battlefield 4 will launch first on the Xbox One, although the time gap before it appears on other systems was not stated.
After the announcement that Microsoft would be producing a Halo television show, everyone expected a new Halo game to show up on the Xbox One. They were not disappointed when a trailer showed a hooded figure walking through the desert, then revealing himself as Master Chief as a giant alien ship burst through the sand. This game appears to be simply named Halo, perhaps in a nod to the back-to-basics name of the Xbox One.
A few brief teasers were sprinkled throughout the conference. These included the dragon fighting game Crimson Dragon, a next-generation, rogue-like title from Capybara Games called What Lies Below, and what could either be a game or a tech demo that's in development by Black Tusk studios in Vancouver.
The conference ended with the announcement that the Xbox One will release in November at $499, which led into the inevitable “one more thing” segment, in which the futuristic shooter Titanfall was demonstrated. Players control rocket-propelled soldiers with giant mecha buddies called Titans in this game, and a co-op mission including four players was shown.
Overall, Microsoft's conference did a good job focusing primarily on the games that are coming out for the system. However, it didn't address the many concerns that gamers have about the Xbox One, including issues such as used game restrictions and internet connectivity requirements. Will this conference be enough to change the dialogue about the Xbox One in the gaming community? The answer may be up to Sony, which hosts its big E3 press conference this evening.
Senior Contributing Writer