Microsoft gave us its opening salvo for this year’s E3. Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft’s Xbox division, led things off. He made a point to concentrate on gamers specifically, shifting focus from the other media aspects of the Xbox One highlighted in last year’s panel. “Today we are dedicating our entire briefing to games,” Spencer stated, leading to uproarious applause from the audience.
The lineup from Xbox is truly diverse. Sledgehammer Games began the show with an extended look at Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.
We take the POV of Mitchell, with a team flying in futuristic aircraft, and crash landing in a city. It transitions seamlessly from cutscene into gameplay, with lifelike animation of the NPCs, great dynamic lighting, and a hive swarm of drones. In many ways, this seems to be the campaign mode many gamers wanted out of EA’s Titanfall.
COD:AW is a completely different type of gameplay from previous entries, more in line with sci-fi shooters like Halo or Gears of War. The presentation concluded on a stark story beat, with a soldier sacrificing his life and Mitchell losing an arm. Call of Duty has always had intensely emotional scenes throughout its various franchises, and this seems to be no different.
Dan Greenawalt, creative director of Turn10 Studios, was up next.
“Twelve years ago, we started with a mission,” he said, to ignite gaming passion in car lovers, and car passion in gamers. “We’re committed to creating your home for racing on the Xbox One.”
Ralph Fulton, also of Turn10 Studios presented Forza Horizon 2, coming September 30th.
2K Studios and Turtle Rock Studios presented Evolve, a brand new take on multiplayer games, as you join a four-person squadron hunting a monster played by a fifth gamer. This is an exciting new take on cooperative shooters, with different classes including the beast itself.
Vincent Pontbriand, sr. producer of Ubisoft, presented Assassin’s Creed: Unity, set in 1789, during the French Revolution. Marking the first time you can work in concert with a “brotherhood” of players. The gameplay shows a concerted effort of four assassins to grisly dispatch a squadron of troops to get to a Marquis. The rioting mob make short work of him.
Developers recounted their favorite games and first games during Xbox’s social media campaign, #MyFavoriteGame, alongside celebs like SNL’s Taran Killam and Kumail Nanjiani from HBO’s Silicon Valley.
Ted Price, Insomniac Games Founder & CEO, gave the crowd a look at Sunset Overdrive. The trailer started off like a standard shooter until the real hero shows up with a bevy of zany, cartoonish graphics. A contaminated energy drink turned everyone into mutants in Sunset City. Sure, I buy it.
It shows the same sense of personality Fuse did when it was known as “Overstrike.” Hopefully, it withstands the development process that turned Fuse into a generic, boring shooter. With sound graphics a la Adam West’s Batman, unconventional weapons, and a grinding mechanism straight out of Jet Set Radio, Sunset Overdrive seems like the game to shake up the Xbox line-up.
Dead Rising 3 has a new game mode called Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade Remix Hyper Edition EX Plus Alpha that sends up Capcom’s own penchant for re-releasing iterations of their hits. The trailer has to be seen to be believed.
Alex Rigopoulus, CEO of Harmonix ,presented Disney’s Fantasia: Music Evolved and Dance Central Spotlight, out in September for Xbox One.
David Eckleberry, game director of Lionhead Studios’ Fable Legends, showed off the game, playing off of the Unreal Engine 4.
“We want to create an experience unique in multiplayer gaming,” said Eckleberry. Fable Legends allows you to play the villain, with a bird’s eye view like an evil overlord, adding enemies and obstacles. It’s nice to see games like this and Evolve playing with the structure of multiplayer, and shifting the dynamics of skill and acumen.
Project Spark is an open-world game maker, where players create their own sandbox games and invite friends to explore. Conker, from Rare Studios, is also a featured character.
Moon Studios’ Ori and the Blind Forest, is a lovely piece of indie game platformer art, showcasing a silhouetted beast with a glowing white mask, befriending a bio-incandescent sprite.
HALO HALO HALO HALO HALO HALO HALO HALO HALO HALO
The chant says it all. We see a remaster of Halo 2, recreating a key scene of the first stage. It’s the 10 year anniversary of one of the biggest games in Xbox’s history. Keith David returns as the voice of the Arbiter, or someone doing a really good Keith David impression.
Bonnie Ross, 343 Industries’ Studio Head, came onstage to highlight the return of Master Chief’s biggest adventures. “He was questioning everything, his role, his purpose, who and what he was fighting for,” said Ross. “This is about Master Chief’s journey, his past and his future.”
On November 11, 2014, you, me and everyone can play Halo: The Master Chief Collection, including HD remasters of Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, 3, and 4. November marks the 10-year anniversary of Halo 2, and the original multi-player will be exactly as it was shipped ten years ago, along with the remaster.
“It’s not just a celebration of our past,” Ross continued, “it’s about laying a foundation for the future.” Blur Studios will be handling the remastered cutscenes.
Dan Ayoub, executive producer of The Master Chief Collection, came onstage next. “The collection features a single unified interface,” he said, allowing gamers to create custom-game playlists, combining stages and pieces of each of the games.
They play Ascension, one of my favorite Halo 2 maps. It brought back memories; that’s how deeply ingrained Halo has become in the minds and hearts of gamers. It will be 1080p on dedicated servers.
The presentation also gave us a glimpse at the live-action digital series Halo: Nightfall, from Ridley Scott and Sergio Mimica-Gezzan (Battlestar Galactica), leading up to Halo 5, whose Multiplayer Beta will also be offered this holiday.
“Halo was a cornerstone on Xbox 360,” said Phil Spencer, as he returned to the stage. “You’ll be able to play everything you’ve seen on the Xbox One this holiday.”
Inside by Playdead Studios, the creators of Limbo, looks to bring indie ingenuity to the console this fall.
Chris Charla, director at ID@Xbox program, providing developers with free developer kits and supporting the indie game community. Highlights included Aztez, Knight Squad, Earthlock, Cuphead, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, and many many others.
Ryan Barnard, game director for Massive Games, showed off Tom Clancy’s The Division. It featured an awesome holographic map interface, nuanced banter between characters emulating how gamers talk, and very tense gameplay.
Hideki Kamiya, game director of PlatinumGames Inc., brought out Scalebound, and David Jones, co-founder of CloudGine, marked the return of Crackdown.
Phil Spencer came onstage to bid adieu to the audience. “Thank you for helping us shape the future of the new Xbox.”
Join us here on Nuke The Fridge as we cover E3 and bring the next stage of gaming evolution to the masses. And you can follow me at nivekj1 to find out where video games are headed next. Or not, you totally don’t have to follow me.