Microsoft garnered a lot of good will during the start of the year with the reversal of a lot of their draconian policies, such as needing to be an Xbox Live Gold membership to access Netflix and not including the Kinect in future releases. Would they be able to keep this up and hit a home run this year with their press conference before E3? Well, the press conference just ended and here are a few of my thoughts and comments on what transpired.
I won’t be talking about everything they showed during the press conference (there’s just too much to discuss). Instead, I’ll be breaking them down into The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. If they did show something during the show and I didn’t mention it, that’s because it wasn’t worth mentioning.
Anyway, on with the list!
During last year’s E3, Microsoft bogged down the show by highlighting the use of Kinect and SmartGlass on their games. Well, it turns out gamers didn’t care for this features and just wanted to see, well, games! It looks like Phil Spencer managed to set the guys at Microsoft straight and actually gave gamers what they wanted to see this year!
They also highlights a bunch of fantastic looking games, starting with one of last year’s standouts, Sunset Overdrive. Insomiac really knows how to make a fun game and Sunset Overdrive is no exception! It’s a 3rd person shooter that doesn’t take itself seriously. And to that I say “Finally!” I was getting kind of sick of seeing all these serious shooter games! Not only that, the action looks frantic and exaggerated but never too crazy. The stage they showed looked really well designed and should be a blast to play.
Of course, what would a Microsoft Press Conference be like without an announcement for a new Halo game? Oh, but they didn’t just announce one Halo game. Nope, they announced four! Well, they are re-releases but seeing as the ones worked on by Bungie were the really good ones, it’s nice to see they’re getting the HD upgrade treatment in glorious 1080p and 60fps! All the multiplayer maps are intact and, just as a bonus, they’re going to also include the Halo Nightfall series to sweeten the deal even more!
They also showed Project Spark. While not a game in the strictest sense, it’s actually an application that can make games! It sort of reminds me of Little Big Planet 2 and all of the wacky smaller games some creative minds managed to develop using it. I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to make anything good with it but I’ll definitely would be willing to check out what others can think up!
They showed some gameplay for The Division and Assassin’s Creed Unity, two games from Ubisoft that focus on teamwork. Now, I’m not a big fan of multiplayer games (I love the solo experience much more) but, as much as I hate to say it, both of these games really caught my attention.
Microsoft also seems to have renewed their focus on getting indie games onto the Xbox One with their ID@Xbox program. They didn’t really focus on any one game and just showed a montage of various indie games. There was one game that stood out when it flashed by the screen. It’s called Cuphead and it’s apparently inspired by old 1930 cartoons. The graphics are phenomenal! If I didn’t know it was a game, I’d say I was watching a cartoon! I just hope the gameplay is as good as it looks!
To close out the show, they showed a trailer for the next Crackdown. I never played any of the Crackdown games and I can’t even say I have a passing familiarity to what it’s supposed to be like. The trailer did get me excited and, if the trailer is anything like any of the missions in the game, then I’m totally down with that!
They showed the first trailer for a new franchise called Scalebound. Honestly, it didn’t excite me at the least. With games like Dragon Age: Inquisition coming out sometime this year, your trailer has to do a lot more than show a generic cocky hero with a pet dragon! Oh, he can turn his skin into armor-like scales? Nope, still doesn’t do anything for me. Next!
Speaking of Dragon Age: Inquisition, I was very disappointed they only showed a trailer for the game and not any actual gameplay. In fact, there were a lot of trailers this year! Forza Horizon 2. Phantom Dust. Evolve. Ori & The Blind Forest. Inside. Rise of the Tomb Raider. Even Crackdown was only shown as a trailer this year!
Still, there were some games that did show gameplay that didn’t impress. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, even with all of the bells and whistles of a futuristic setting, looks like… another Call of Duty game. Fables: Legends, even with the original concept of being able to play as the villain who can place the spawn points of the monsters, didn’t really do anything for me.
I’m not sure if anyone noticed but it looks like Microsoft is abandoning the Xbox 360! I mean, they didn’t announce anything for their last-gen console during this year’s E3 press conference. If I owned an Xbox 360, I would be worried that it’ll turn into a huge paperweight gathering dust in my closet by year’s end!
Also, they kept on showing developer vignettes. I do appreciate Microsoft trying to feature the developers and letting them talk. But to mix them in with celebrities like Bobby Moynihan and Kumail Nanjiani (both great guys, I’m sure) sort of takes away from the focus from learning about the developers themselves!
Also, even though they put a lot of focus on the games, the presentation of Microsoft’s E3 Press Conference this year felt so clinical and sanitized. There were no big surprises this year. Nothing stood out for me! While this may not seem like a terrible thing, I’m pretty sure I’ll be forgetting the details on what happened during the show in a couple of days.
The Overall Impression:
Microsoft did show renewed focus on games but, unlike last year, this press conference wasn’t very memorable. Sure, I only remember the 2013 conference because of all the missteps Microsoft did but at least I can recall what happened then! This year just felt so blah. Still, they did show a bunch of great games to look out for like Sunset Overdrive.
I just wish they showed a lot more pomp and circumstance this year round.
What did you think of Microsoft’s E3 Press Conference this year? Did they do good this year or not? Whatever your thoughts on the subject, leave them in the comments section below.