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Sunday, May 19, 2024

E3 2013: Microsoft Press Conference – Good News and Bad News

Xbox-Briefing-E313-Date

The first major keynote presentation of E3 2013 has just finished and what a presentation it turned out to be. Keen to do away with the negative press and disappointment caused by rumors of mandatory Kinect, always-on Live connectivity and expensive used title licensing as well as the lukewarm response to last month’s #XboxReveal event Microsoft were on the warpath today to prove that their allegiance lies with gamers and that Xbox One will first and foremost be a games machine.

A new smaller, lighter and quieter model of the Xbox 360 is available from today.
A new smaller, lighter and quieter model of the Xbox 360 is available from today.

The Good: Continuing Xbox 360 Support and Xbox Live Gold bonuses

Oddly for a manufacturer looking to push forward their new console, Microsoft’s Yusuf Meddhi actually started this presentation by pledging Microsoft’s promise to continue to support their extremely popular Xbox 360 platform.

Firstly, a new model of Xbox 360 has been launched in the US and Canada today and from tomorrow in the UK, Europe, and Australia. This new model has been designed to resemble the Xbox One and is reportedly smaller, quieter and more power efficient than ever before.

Microsoft also announced that from now until the Xbox One launch, new and existing Xbox Live Gold subscribers will receive 2 free games each month which will remain theirs to keep indefinitely. This month’s free titles will be Assassin’s Creed II and Halo 3. Additionally, hundreds more titles are currently scheduled to be developed and released for the 360 throughout the remainder of it’s life cycle. These include a free-to-play port of PC game World of Tanks which has been tuned and customised for the Xbox platform and will be available this summer, Dark Souls II which is due next March and family friendly platformer Max: The Curse of Brotherhood. Whilst it’s likely that Xbox 360 releases will become significantly less exciting over the course of the next 12-18 months, it’s still good to know that Microsoft will continue to fully support their platform for the foreseeable future.

The  Good: Xbox One exclusive titles and lots of them…

Microsoft campaigned in full-force today to prove to the world that 3rd party developers are committed to the Xbox One as well to express their own commitment to funding smaller independent studios and indie teams. Any worries that Microsoft had lost the plot after the #XboxReveal went straight through the window and if Xbox One early adopters do have any problems this winter then it’s unlikely to be a lack of games to play.

Forza 5: So, so shiny.
Forza 5: So, so shiny.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Microsoft’s presentation actually started with a trailer for this game, mostly constructed of seemingly in-game footage. Metal Gear maestro Hideo Kojima took to the stage to say that “Xbox One will make Metal Gear shine” although both Kojima and Microsoft shied away from suggesting that the game is an Xbox One exclusive. The trailer itself suggested inspiration from western military games and Red Dead Redemption and presented an open-world game which will redefine tactical espionage and feature deeper stealth, real-world time and dynamic weather effects.

RYSE: Son of Rome

A Crytek-developed Xbox One exclusive hack and slash featuring quick time events and some particularly gruesome kill animations. This was one of the few Xbox One launch titles which is confirmed as currently being playable on the E3 show floor but carries slightly more than a light resemblance to a certain PS3 exclusive, only with an emphasis on historical events rather than mythology.

Killer Instinct

RARE’s Nintendo-exclusive fighting game has been risen from the dead and will be released exclusively for Xbox One. The game looks like pretty standard fighting game fare but retains Killer Instinct’s trademark extreme combos and glossy visuals.

Insomniac's Sunset Overdrive looks like it could be a great new IP.
Insomniac’s Sunset Overdrive looks like it could be a great new IP.

Sunset Overdrive

Formerly a Sony-exclusive independent studio, Ratchet and Clank and Resistance developers Insomniac Games have made the switch to Xbox with this brilliant-looking Xbox One exclusive. An open-world and insane action title, the game play looks similar to Crackdown and promises to change interactively based on audience feedback. Definitely one to watch as the Xbox One launch date approaches.

Forza 5

I’m no massive fan of racing sims but it is difficult not be left in awe by this game. Developed by Turn 10 studios, Forza 5 promises to be the “Beginning of a new era” which will revolutionise the way that driving games look and feel. The game does away with traditional AI and instead introduces the brand new ‘drivertar’ system which will learn how the human player functions on the fly and adapt its own behaviour accordingly. Whilst the player is offline the player’s own drivertar will also work around the clock, racing online against other human and cloud-powered opponents and any credits earned will be added to the player’s profile when they get back online.

Turn 10 and Microsoft definitely seem to be hedging their bets with this one and are making a lot of big promises but if their marketing-speak becomes reality then the likes of EA Criterion and Polyphony Digital could have their work cut out for them.

Minecraft: Xbox One Edition

Everybody knows what this game is and it’s being ported to Xbox One, presumably as a way to apologise for a lack of backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 Live Arcade titles. If Microsoft really want to apologise though then could give it away free to owners of the 360 version.

Project Spark looks like it could be the biggest thing in console user-generated content since Little Big Planet
Project Spark looks like it could be the biggest thing in console user-generated content since Little Big Planet

Quantum Break

Remedy Entertainment’s exclusive and episodic adventure title that was announced at last month’s #XboxReveal. Remedy Creative Director Sam Lake took to the stage to say that the game will “revolutionise entertainment” and “blur the lines between TV and gaming”. Like this year’s experimental MMO Defiance, the game will be accompanied by a TV series which will apparently impact upon how players play the game. It is yet to be confirmed whether the TV series will be on Xbox Live or an actual TV network though.

A demo of the game was shown and revolved around a desperate hero who survived a failed experiment to slow down time. The demo was short but effective and included some impressive visuals as well as , if I’m not mistaken, the voice over talent of Amelie’s Audrey Tatou.

D4

Xbox exclusive from the creator of cult survival horror hit Deadly Premonition. Not much was shown of it much it was cited as being proof of Microsoft’s commitment to smaller development studios.

Project Spark

An extremely unique title which looks like it could be this generation’s answer to Little Big Planet. Project Spark is essentially a game about making games and allows players to create and customise their own game worlds on the fly using the Xbox One, Kinect sensor and Smart Glass. For sure this will be another one to watch out for.

The latest sequel in the Dead Rising franchise is an Xbox One exclusive and will feature more open-world elements than ever before.
The latest sequel in the Dead Rising franchise is an Xbox One exclusive and will feature more open-world elements than ever before.

Crimson Dragon

Some technical issues prevented the sound from being played alongside this demo but the game is a flight combat title from the creator’s of Panzer Dragoon.

Dead Rising 3

I was never a fan of the original Dead Rising and less-so it’s sequel but this Xbox One exclusive looks like it could be interesting. Set in the fictional city of Los Peridos 72 hours after a zombie outbreak, the game offers a rich and open world with no loading times between areas and the same density and scale as you would find in any real-world city. The zombie horde will react to every move but Dead Rising 3 introduces multiple ways to distract or dispense with them as well as completely customisable weapons, vehicular combat and smart glass integration.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The newest episode of CD Projekt Red’s RPG saga will be released on Xbox One. The game will feature a dark, mature and non-linear story to create a truly next-gen open world RPG.

Microsoft have confirmed that Master Chief will be making a return on Xbox One.
Microsoft have confirmed that Master Chief will be making a return on Xbox One.

Battlefield 4: Second Assault

Definitely the lowest point of the conference, EA DICE’s latest iteration will be on the Xbox One as well as current-gen platforms and will feature dynamic gameplay running at 60 FPS and Xbox One exclusivity on map packs and downloadable content.

Below

Top-down indie RPG from Capy, the creators of Sword and Sorcery.

And last of all….

Halo

Microsoft announced that a Halo project for the Xbox One is currently under way in case anybody hadn’t already guessed.

The Good: New and Improved User Interface and Dashboard

Microsoft’s Mark Whitten took to the stage to introduce the features which will be introduced in the Xbox One’s brand new Operating System and dashboard. Players will be able to use Smart Glass apps for mobile phones and tablets for social interaction and to see realtime updates on games currently in progress.

The all-new Upload Studio app for Xbox One will record game content on the fly and allow players to edit, upload and share the videos with the friends and the world. Microsoft also announced a partnership with Twitch which will enable in-game live streaming on a console for the first time.

The Good: Points will be replaced by local currency and Xbox Live Gold Sharing

Xbox One will use local currency for online purchases and micro transactions instead of the Microsoft Points system. Additionally, families will only need one Live Gold subscription per console to enable online play and Gold features for all accounts on that system.

At £429 in the UK, heaven ain't cheap.
Launching this November and at £429 in the UK, early adopters will probably want to start saving now.

The Bad: It’s all going to cost you…

When closing the presentation today, Microsoft announced that Xbox One will be released in all major territories this November at the price of $499 or £429 for customers in the UK. Whilst this is certainly a lot less than the cost of a high-end gaming PC, it is a massive mark up on the £279 Xbox Live launch price in 2005 and is sure to put the console out of the reach of many fans for the foreseeable future.

It is highly likely that Microsoft are trying to do-away with the Xbox and 360 era of the manufacturer massively subsidising the console hardware to get more paying users on board. Indeed, Microsoft has already managed to accrue a massive following, especially in their home market of the US, so it is likely that they are looking for Xbox One to become profitable as soon as possible. We will not really be able to put this pricing into perspective until Sony announce their pricing for the PS4, most likely later this evening, but it will be interesting to see what percentage of the record breaking number of UK preorders is cancelled over the course of the coming weeks.

 

What did you think of today’s announcements? Are you looking forward to the Xbox One or do you plan to wait and see or does it all just look like more of the same to you? Let us know in the comments section below or via Facebook or Twitter.

Sai Mealing
Sai Mealinghttps://www.geek-pride.co.uk
A proud member of the Geek Pride video games editing team, Sai can currently be found trying to get through his Christmas games backlog (and failing miserably at it).

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