The Good and Bad and the Meh! of Microsoft E3 2015 Press Conference

Today’s is probably one of my favorite days of the year. It’s that time of the year when the gaming world looks to one place and get a picture of what the gaming landscape will look like in the following years. Of course, I’m talking about E3! And with each E3, Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo and pretty much everyone in gaming try their darndest to put their best foot forward and impress all the possible (and future) customers. This is why the Big Three, Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo (well, maybe not so much Nintendo… but they are there!) spend so much money with their annual E3 Press Conferences.

Well, Microsoft’s E3 Press Conference ended a few hours ago and I’ve had some time to digest all the information they threw at us. Let’s go look at the highs and the lows and the really boring parts of this year’s Microsoft E3 Press Conference, shall we?

The Good

Microsoft started out strong with the debut of a smaller and much better designed Xbox One: the Xbox One S. One of the things I didn’t like about Microsoft’s latest console is how bulky it looked. It looked terrible and had some really awful design choices, such as not putting any USB ports in the front of the unit where, you know, it’s easy to get to! Thankfully, someone over at Microsoft knew they blew it with the design and made the necessary fixes with the Xbox One S.

Microsoft also heavily promoted their Xbox Play Anywhere feature and it’s something they should be proud of. Giving gamers the ability to play both on a Microsoft console and a PC is actually a good thing. Essentially, if you purchase the game on Xbox One and it’s available on PC as well, you can get the PC version for free and vice versa! That’s a pretty sweet deal! Also, in line with Xbox Play Anywhere is the Cross Platform feature so you can play against PC users on your Xbox One system. This is great but it’s more like “what took you guys so long to make this possible?” for me.

Also, this year, they showed some exclusive gameplay footage of an Xbox One and Windows 10 of a new IP, Rare’s Sea of Thieves. Strangely enough, this was the only lighthearted game that was featured throughout the entire Microsoft show. And it has to be the game I got the most excited about. Gears of War 4 may look good and Forza Horizon 3 may have a stunning and realistic open world but I would rather frolic in the lively and colorful world of Sea of Thieves more. Granted, it’s not for everyone, especially if you want your game to be all grimdark (and bereft of personality) but Sea of Thieves just grabbed me with its visuals and the gameplay footage of unscripted, yes, that’s right, unscripted gameplay made it look all the more better!

There was another game that also got me excited and it wasn’t any of the Triple-A game franchises. It was the game that was shown to promote the Xbox Game Preview feature for next month… which makes it a Game Preview preview? Anyway, the game is called We Happy Few. I wouldn’t actually say it looked creepy but the tone does make it seem that way. The story looks interesting enough to warrant a future look.

Of course, the biggest announcement for this year’s E3 was the reveal of Project Scorpio, Microsoft’s new console! Now, they were very light on details as they didn’t even show what the thing was going to look like. However, this new console will have a bevy of features, such as 4K resolution graphics, a consistent framerate, powerful enough to support Virtual Reality systems (imagine playing Fallout 4 in VR!) and, get this, backwards compatibility with all Xbox One titles! Yes! I always feared backwards compatibility was a thing of the past ever since Sony decided to take out the PS3’s ability to play PS2 titles! But it looks like Microsoft actually listened to gamers that said they wanted this feature back! Thanks, Microsoft!

Oh yeah… almost forgot! Halo Wars 2 is now in beta! And, if you have an Xbox One, you can go get the beta right now! Pretty sweet!

Those were the good… now here come the bad!

The Bad

The majority of the gameplay demos once again suffer from feeling too scripted, making them look so unnatural. The Gears of War 4 trailer may have stunning graphics but the people playing the game made it look ridiculous! There was one particular sequence where they had to push a weapon in its upright position while under heavy fire… and the enemy with perfect position just missed everyone! The Final Fantasy XV demo where Noctis and company had to fight a giant/titan was just plain confusing! I had no idea what was happening on the screen! Even the “massive” boss fight from Scalebound looked really lame!

But the worst demo had to be the Minecraft gameplay! This was the worst scripted demo ever shown on an E3 stage! The acting was totally unnatural and I cringed throughout the entire thing! Okay, it may not be worse than Cammie Dunnaway’s “performance” during the 2008 Nintendo E3 Press Conference… but this Minecraft thing is soooooo close!

Microsoft wasted a few precious seconds promoting new controller skins. First, they featured a new Gears of War 4 controller which looked… okay, I guess. But they also showed a video promoting their Xbox Design Lab, where you can customize the colors for your Xbox controller. I mean, are we really that vain that we need our own personalized controller? No thanks!

And, honestly, that’s all of the really bad stuff from Microsoft this year! Color me impressed! But even though there weren’t that many cringeworthy moments this year, there were a lot of times the Microsoft Press Conference just left me incredibly underwhelmed, which made me just say… meh!

The Meh!

Like every E3 show, Microsoft’s show had a lot of trailers. Not as many as previous years but there were still a lot of them. There was a trailer for The Division’s new DLC, Underground. A new property called ReCore, where you partner up with different robot buddies. They showed the return of Frank West to Dead Rising 4. But the weirdest trailer for me was the inclusion of Gears of War’s General Raam to the cast of Killer Instinct. Why? Because they didn’t really see him in action! Essentially, Raam runs up to Jago and shanks him. If he’s that powerful, they should ban him from tournaments!

They also announced a standalone version of Gwent, the card game you play in The Witcher. You can now play online with friends. Okay… I guess. But really? Should I be extremely hyped for this? Shouldn’t they just make it a DLC patch to The Witcher instead? Why make it a standalone game?

Final Thoughts

Overall, Microsoft took a hard stand this year. It seemed like they were going on the offensive and avoiding all the missteps they made with the announcement of the Xbox One a few years back. The good stuff absolutely outweighed the bad. The huge announcement of the Xbox One S as well as Project Scorpio definitely made me feel something I had never felt for a Microsoft console before: excitement! I’m actually thinking of getting an Xbox One S… or should I wait for Project Scorpio? Geez, I can’t decide!

This year was a great press conference and Sony and Nintendo have their work cut out for them this time around.

What did you think of Microsoft’s E3 performance this year? Let me know in the comments section below!

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