E3 Day One: Microsoft and the Xbox One
This week brings gamers around the world to the E3 conference in Los Angeles
Now, to look at what is coming in the months ahead for the three major consoles. We will be reviewing the highs and lows of the conference presentations, and what we at Trueblue are looking forward to spending our hard earned money on in the future!
Microsoft Xbox One
Phil Spencer opened this year’s Microsoft presentation with this statement- the only thing they would be focusing on for this year’s conference would be games. This is a very different strategy for Microsoft, as they have tended to lean on showing off the potentials of their system’s interface, and connectivity with other Microsoft products in the past.
He kept his promise- none of the presentation was taken up with the Kinect, or integrating the games with Microsoft tablets, it was pure gaming, through and through.
But were the games worth the time?
- Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Full disclosure- I have never really been a big fan of the Call of Duty franchise. I love the look of it, and I have been impressed with the scope and the introduction to technology these games have offered in the past, but every gamer has their strain, and military games has never been my biggest love.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare certainly begins with a bang- like every other game, you are dropped directly into the battle, with an impressive cinematic that hurls you straight down into a ground level street fight. With advances Call of Duty and Tom Clancy games (more on that in a moment) have offered gamers, it is no surprise this game comes off more science fiction than actual reality. The envelope has been pushed so far, the realistic warfare of past games has developed into what appears more akin to The Matrix.
The game is, of course, visually stunning. The streets are littered with destruction, and the constant explosions and gunfire creates a visual overload which would ensure, for me, getting killed a lot as I try to take in everything around me! There are some really cool aspects to the game; like ripping car doors off, and using them as weapons, a perfect targeting system, and a gun with very little recoil, to allow for continuous on target shots. The weapons are not entirely unique- your standard bullets and rockets, though there are some interesting opportunities (like the hovering grenade).
The difference between this exclusive to Xbox One game, and Tom Clancy’s The Division (available on other systems as well) need to be noted. The Division’s in-game play was a stunning work of what many games should offer: a map which appears around the character in the game, instead of a pop-up, or opening to another screen; a curious function to view past events around you in a frozen tableau of action; streets scenes so brightly lit, it looks like an average Wednesday, and not the doom world of grey skies and smoke. Both games offered drone grenades, and both games offered awesome cover and multi-player opportunities. Call of Duty, however, appeared to still rely on the dark shading of a grey world, and they enemy weapons seemed almost ridiculous- a giant drone snake which seriously looked like it had dropped out of the Matrix movies.
- Forza Horizon 2
Oh, how I love driving games! The challenge, however, is how to improve on previous games. Sure, as technology advances, the driving capabilities improve, and the look and feel of the in-car experience increases, but what can you do to get people to continue purchasing? Forza Horizon 2 has some great aspects to consider when investing in your next driving game.
First, the open world. Sure, the first Horizon game was open world, and Need for Speed has been open world for a while- but Horizon 2 has made it a thing of beauty. Great surfaces, a stunning full daylight cycle, and dynamic weather bring a world I can’t wait to explore. Now with car clubs being able to have up to 100 members, and no lobbies or waiting, the multi-player opportunities are great.
- Sunset Overdrive
I’ll admit, open world arcade games are fun. If you are a fan of crazy weapons, lots of explosions, and gore, plus humour in design and game play, Sunset Overdrive will take care of everything you need. With a lot of style taken from games like Infamous, and the Saints Row series, Sunset Overdrive offers a world of constant smashy-smashy and tons of stuff to blow up. The story is cleverly simple- an energy drink has made most of the humans into mutant monsters, and what’s left of the non-affected are marauders looking to destroy. Parkour your way around the city, slide on rails and power lines, and shoot everything around you. All the same things you would do in any other game of this genre, but the unique weapons, brightly coloured environments and crazy challenges will probably keep you engaged. For how long, I am not sure, I could see the game becoming repetitive after a while.
- Halo Master Chief Collection
Wow! They have really gone all out with Halo this year! Available this winter- the Master Chief Collection compiles all of the Halo games into one disc, and offers some incredible opportunities for hardcore fans. Halo 2 has been fully re-painted, and offers some incredible visuals. The original co-op for Halo 2 returns- the original! Players will be able to create their own “best of” world, selecting levels from all of the Halo games to create whatever hybrid gaming experience you wish. Over 100 maps will be included for the multi-player (all of the maps of all of the Halo games will be accessible). The entire game (all levels) will be playable in full HD, and pre-orders will include the beta for Halo Guardians. Added to all of this is the six part Ridley Scott series entitled Halo Nightfall, which will lead players into the new Halo when it launches next year.
Other games, including the exclusives Crackdown, and Scalebound showed off what the Xbox One is capable of doing, while their announcement of ID@XBOX gave us a sneak peek into the exciting opportunities independent developers now have to create games.
Strangely, I found myself more drawn to the games which are not exclusive to Xbox One: Assassin’s Creed: Liberty has to be in the running for game of the year. The first multi-player Assassin’s Creed experience is absolutely stunning, with some of the most beautiful graphics I have ever seen in a game, NPCs filling the screen, and a stealth and attack game I need to play right now! For fans of Elder Scrolls Online, there is a good chance you will forget about it before it even arrives on consoles after you view Dragon Age Inquisition. After playing ESO for the past few months, I would absolutely toss it out to get into this game!
There were plenty of other titles presented, but the one that really stood out the most for me (with a great deal of surprise) was The Witcher 3: Wildhunt. A hunting and tracking game (which, for open world fantasy players is a real gift), I not only loved the world, but was astounded by the game play. From tracking giant monsters, to completing side quests along the way, the openness of the world feels so organic, and the fighting is an amazing combination of weapons and magic.
Overall, I think Microsoft did a great job of presenting their games, though I am a little taken aback by what I feel is a somewhat weak exclusive content. If I am a new purchaser of a next gen console (and there are many, many people who still have not decided), there seems to be little to really push the Xbox One into their hands.
Tomorrow, Sony’s PS4. Will they be able to deliver exclusive content, or will I just be sitting once again in awe of Assassin’s Creed once more?