E3 2014: Microsoft draws first blood with Sunset Overdrive and more
How did the Xbox company choose to present its video gaming roadmap for 2014 and 2015? Simple: by reviving the old and adding in newBy Jonathan Toyad 10 Jun, 2014
Microsoft obviously knew that its Electronic Entertainment Expo showing last year was lackluster, to say the least. So it chinned up, took notes from feedback, and decided to just throw a megaton punch. The company presented a fine balance between triple-A blockbuster games and indie offerings for the Xbox One, and it paid off big for video game fans.
There’s a lot for everyone with different gaming tastes. Looking for something trippy and colourful, yet a lot of familiar shooting and insane acrobatics? The upcoming Sunset Overdrive (pictured above) will be out this October 28, featuring a campaign mode and a huge multiplayer Chaos Squad mode where eight players can form clans online to team up and fight each other in many bouts of deathmatch/capture-the-flag/territory-type modes.
If you’d rather stick to something almost familiar with a neat sci-fi twist, the opening Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare showcased a future where grenades can home into people, nano-bees exist and can be blocked by makeshift shields from car doors, and copying Command & Conquer: Tiberium Sun units can make for a rather unique and admittedly fun shooting experience. All that along with Kevin Spacey’s mug will be out November 4, with all its DLC coming out first on Microsoft’s console.
Want something that looks like Monster Hunter? Maybe Platinum Games’ Scalebound can pique your interest; think the action game craziness of Devil May Cry and Bayonetta, except with tropes and settings from How To Train Your Dragon. From the teaser, the main hipster protagonist can do fancy action moves, command his pet dragon, and even borrow parts of its hide as temporary armor to kill more things with. If you’re nostalgic for the days of the original Xbox, a sequel to Phantom Dust was announced; think Devil May Cry again but with card-collecting mechanics ala Magic The Gathering.
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Players who are more nostalgic for the days of the Xbox 360 instead will be excited at the latest Crackdown game, an open world title featuring super-powered cops taking down drug lords of different shapes, sizes and ethnicity. Like Scalebound and Phantom Dust, there’s no release date for these games save for a possible 2015 release, but at least it’s painting a bright positive picture for Xbox One’s gaming future, catering to the hardcore gamers who stuck around with the brand since early 2000.
Let’s also not forget the plethora of indie titles coming into the fray thanks to the ID@Xbox programme, starting with a 2D artsy puzzle game called Inside. It’s made by the Playdead team who is responsible for Limbo, a stellar indie classic, and it retains its rather foreboding and hauntingly atmospheric look and feel from its spiritual predecessor. There’s also mention of Below, Grave, White Night and a heckaton of others, but Microsoft got the message and apologised in kind for snubbing out indie devs in last year’s presentation. Personally, that music-heavy trailer of Ori and the Blind Forest was enough for many indie game lovers to just flush out their wallets for the system.
As for those who want more of the Halo shooter franchise, they’ll have to wait until next year for Halo 5: Guardians, but they can tide themselves with the Halo: Master Chief Collection. It’s a collection of all four main Halo games, complete with reworked graphics, a live-action Halo Nightfall show, and a beta key to Halo 5: Guardians. This one collection that maintains the Microsoft status quo will be out November 11.
Yes, even amidst plenty of shooters to cater to the Xbox dudebro demographic, at least there were other fares like the multiplayer-heavy Fable Legends, where you can play as the world-controlling villain to thwart opposing hero players, and Witcher 3 which hopefully retains its moral ambiguity and choice consequences from its past games. It’s hard to showcase that sort of thing within 10-minutes, so we’ll have to make do with that time used to show off main character Geralt tracking and murdering an ugly-as-heck griffin in a prettily-rendered wilderness. There’s also a new Dead Rising 3 DLC that crams in so many Capcom references and easter eggs, it’s more of an overblown tribute than anything. For the family and casual users, Harmonix announced Dance Central Spotlight (next-gen dancing in front of the Kinect) and Fantasia: Music Evolved (be a maestro and wave your hands in front of the Kinect to music).
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While the presentation proved that Microsoft can eat humble pie and say sorry by delivering an invigorating roadmap, it also heralds the official end of Xbox 360; there was nothing in sight for last-gen. Skeptics may say that it’s just following on the success of Sony’s past E3 presentation last year, but if copying a tone means giving people what they want, who can argue with the customers? As Asia gears up for the official release of the Xbox One (which should be cheaper now that the motion sensor Kinect is optional), the jump to next-gen is looking mighty rich, thanks to a boatload of end-of-the-year releases.
Also, a few things to note from this morning’s big-as-heck opening act:
– At the end of the Project Spark trailer, there was a teaser showing Rare character Conker (from Conker’s Bad Fur Day) as nothing more than a throwaway for the open world game. That will rub nostalgic gamers the wrong way.
– Before the show started, Xbox brand guy Larry “Major Nelson” Hryb was doing a pre-show that was one quarter rapid-fire words, one quarter awkwardness, and one quarter hyper-yet-not-that-authentic-enthusiasm. Three cheers to the man for balancing all three for our amusement and judging.
– “So THAT’S what happened to the Titanfall single-player campaign mode” was probably the best quote I heard from Twitter regarding Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.