Microsoft Starts E3 With Halo, Crackdown, And Many Other Exclusives

Posted by Bob Muir on Jun 9, 2014 in Videogames |

Microsoft E3 2014

It’s time for highlights from E3, the biggest game expo of the year! Microsoft got a lot of flack for not talking about games enough as they revealed the Xbox One last year. Thankfully, Microsoft kicked off E3 with a conference devoted entirely to games. (How refreshing!)

As in the past, they began the conference with premiere footage from Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. While not exclusive to Xbox One, Microsoft is continuing their deal with Activision to get any DLC released first for Xbox One and Xbox 360. The gameplay demo shows near-future soldiers in exoskeletons, fighting through the streets of South Korea and confronting a horde of drones. The player has boosters (for falling from heights or a double-jump), hovering grenades, and shockwave guns as they fight cloaked enemies and a hovercopter. Since this is being made by Sledgehammer Games, it had a rather different feel, a bit like Black Ops 2, and definitely more fantastical than Modern Warfare.

Next up was Forza Motorsport, Microsoft’s exclusive sim racer. First, a Nurburgring track will be released in Forza Motorsport 5 (the latest release) for free. Then, as expected, was the announcement of Forza Horizon 2, the arcade-y variant of the fraction. Drivetars from FM5 are now included in Forza Horizon 2, as well as dynamic weather, 1080p, and over 200 cars. The game comes out September 30, 2014.

Turtle Rock’s Evolve was shown in trailer form. Some stunning gameplay showed four players teaming up to fight a giant Cthulhu-like monster, which another player can play. There will be a beta on Xbox One and DLC will come first on the platform. It looks like a great successor to Left 4 Dead!

As leaks had confirmed, the next-gen Assassin’s Creed (which won’t be Microsoft exclusive) is Assassin’s Creed: Unity. Set in 1789 in France during the French Revolution, you play as Arnold Victor Dorian. While you may have teamed up with friends in the previous games’ multiplayer, you can now team up in the main story with three of your friends for four-player co-op. The game looks notably prettier than Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag.

EA’s Dragon Age: Inquisition takes the stage with a moody trailer with a surprising amount of color. Running on the Frostbite 3 engine, the game’s environments look beautiful. There are medieval people talking dramatically and fighting dragons. The game is releasing on October 7, and obviously not just on Xbox One.

What appeared to be another trailer for a gritty COD-style shooter soon turned into a cartoony explosion of violence: Sunset Overdrive. The prerendered trailer setting the tone for the game, as the main character sells the game, showing off wacky weapons and blowing up mutants. It’s reminiscent of Team Fortress 2‘s light-hearted energy, but of course, this game is a third-person open-world game in a colorful city filled with glowing mutants. The character can perform some crazy parkour moves, and explosions regularly show words like “boom.” There will be eight-player co-op, which sounds very fun. This Xbox One exclusive will be out October 28.

Dead Rising 3 was one of the notable launch games on Xbox One, and after some mediocre DLC, Capcom is making up for it with some very ridiculous DLC. They’re calling it Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade Remix Hyper Edition EX Plus Alpha, referencing how ridiculously lengthy Street Fighter variant titles can get. You can play as all the protagonists from every Dead Rising game, as well as putting on costumes from numerous other Capcom games that grant new abilities. There are tons of new enemies and modes. If you want to check it out, the DLC is available for purchase right now.

Harmonix came up to announce Dance Central: Spotlight, a motion-controlled music game sequel being released digitally this fall. They also reminded us about Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved, though no footage was shown from either game.

Next up is Fable Legends, an ambitious RPG game. This is a lush fantasy game with four-player co-op. Different classes (including an armor-clad female warrior) enter forest ruins and fight off enemies to make it through the dungeon. Meanwhile, another player controls the villain, essentially playing a dungeon master who sets traps, positions enemies, and responds to the players in real-time. There will be a multiplayer beta this fall season.

Project Spark was the next trailer, showing off all the different worlds and games that players could make. While what is presumably the co-op campaign looks impressive, all of the user-created games look rather simplistic. The trailer ended with Rare’s Conker making an appearance. Since it’s been ten years since his last game, he thinks it’s about time for another one, but it appears he’s not getting one. Instead, you’ll be able to make your own game with the character in Project Spark, which is much less exciting. Thanks for the bait-and-switch, Microsoft.

Moon Studios showed a trailer for a new indie game, exclusive to Xbox One: Ori and the Blind Forest, an atmospheric indie platformer. A gentle giant explores a sidescrolling world with some sort of cute dragon bunny.

Finally, it was time for Halo 5: Guardians. Master Chief pulls a giant mine out of a ship in space, jumping into space to deliver it to an enemy ship while a new, mysterious soldier watches. No gameplay was shown, and talk soon moved to Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Releasing on November 11, this $60 compilation will include updated versions of Halo 1-4 on Xbox One, all running at 1080p and 60 frames per second. Everything is included on one-disc, with everything unlocked. You can set up playlists with missions from every game. And since Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary will be the version of the first Halo game included, this collection will feature Halo 2 Anniversary, complete with new graphics, so all four games have at least Xbox 360-level graphics. Each game gets its own gamerscore for 4000 points total. More impressively, the original multiplayer from Halo 2 is included, while every map for every game’s multiplayer is included. The collection also includes access to Halo: Nightfall, a digital series executive produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Sergio Mimica-Gezzan. And once it’s ready in December 2014, the game includes access to the Halo 5: Guardians beta.

That was it for games coming out in 2014, where Microsoft showed off the next game from the developers of Limbo. Called Inside, the game is a drab sidescroller with another young boy, moving through a dull factory and sneaking around. I’m making it sound boring, but it’s more melancholy than boring, being quite atmospheric.

Next, Microsoft promoted ID@Xbox, their service for indie developers. What followed was a sizzle reel of a bunch of indie games coming to Xbox One, many of them premiering first on Xbox One: Aztez, Knight Squad, Plague Inc., White Night, Earthlock: Festival of Magick, Cuphead, Hyper Light Drifter, Lifeless Planet, Slash Dash, Fru, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, Mighty No. 9, Grave, Threes, Fenix Rage, Woolfe, #IDARB, Hellraid, and Below.

Next was a premiere trailer for Rise of the Tomb Raider. Lara Croft seems to have a lot of trauma left over from the previous game that rebooted the series. She wears a hooded jacket from the original Tomb Raider 2. The game shows a noticeable graphical leap compared to the already-pretty reboot.

CD Projekt RED took the stage to show off The Witcher III: Wild Hunt. Geralt explored a forest, tracking a griffin. Apparently anything you can see, like mountains in the distance, you can travel to. After fighting some bandits in a camp, Geralt continues, eventually finding and killing the griffin. The game is coming out for Xbox One and PC in 2015.

Though it wasn’t shown at the show, the second season of Killer Instinct was briefly covered. TJ Combo is coming as a character, and a trailer was revealed earlier today.

What came next was a pleasant surprise: a sequel to original Xbox cult-classic Phantom Dust. In the prerendered trailer, a businessman is sitting on a bench in a city, when suddenly the city around him is in ruins. A woman shows up, and the two start fighting. So yeah, a new Phantom Dust is on the way, and that’s all we know.

Ubisoft started showing Tom Clancy’s The Division, which was announced last year. This is an online third-person shooter in an open-world messy city, so the gameplay showed some players teaming up to get through a mission. It looks impressive, but as someone who has seen a lot of shooters, there’s not a whole lot for me to say. Those looking for a great co-op experience should consider this.

Platnium Game’s Hideki Kamiya took the stage to announce an Xbox One-exclusive game. A teen boy runs with some anime-style clothing runs through a forest and encounters a dragon. He starts fighting it with a bow and a sword, but another dragon enters the fight. Putting on his headphones, he transforms his clothing into scaley armor, before more dragons appear to fight a giant Hydra. The game is Scalebound, and I’d love to know more about it, but the trailer was sadly all prerendered.

Next up was the reveal of the next Crackdown game to close the conference. A prerendered trailer shows an agent targeting an enemy in a giant tower, surrounded by a neon city. Explosions ensue, and a truck is driven up a collapsing tower to get into the larger tower. The collapsed tower smashes the target tower to bits, as the city engulfs in flame. The original game’s designer Dave Jones is leading the team developing the game.

So that was the show, and it was much better than last year’s. Microsoft showed only games and didn’t talk about things like TV shows. However, many of these games were announced or heavily rumored before, so there weren’t a lot of surprises. Games like Ori, Scalebound, and Crackdown look good, and the other known exclusives like Sunset Overdrive also look fun, but nothing was quite the mind-blowing revelation the platform needed. But many of the games covered are also coming to either PC or PS4. I think Microsoft has given gamers enough reason to invest in the system, but for it to overtake the momentum of the PS4, it will need to continue pumping out even more exclusives, especially given the perception that the system is underpowered compared to the PS4. It also will need to show a lot less prerendered footage and more in-engine gameplay.

Regardless, it was a fine presentation and showed Microsoft was learning from its mistakes last year. Notably, the only two games that focused heavily on the Kinect — Harmonix’s two games — were not even shown off. I think Microsoft is still reeling from how much people didn’t want to buy the new Kinect, considering that you can now buy the system without the previously-mandatory Kinect.

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