E3 2013: 10 Thoughts On… The Microsoft Press Conference

After their colossal PR meltdown following last month’s Xbox One reveal, Microsoft had a lot to prove at E3. Not only did they have to show off actual games coming out for the system (since their initial announcement was all talk of television and… that’s about it), but they also had to clarify the complex DRM policy they had implemented into the Xbox One’s architecture. Let’s see what they managed to pull off.

1. The conference opened with Hideo Kojima presenting Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain which aims to be an “open world stealth game.” Highlights included Snake hanging off the side of his horse as he rode past some soldiers and creeping around a desert base. The trailer culminated in a reunion with Master Miller before the game’s title showed onscreen.

2. A few Xbox 360 titles were shown, though there were an alarmingly low number of them. PC title World of Tanks was among them, along with Max The Curse of Brotherhood (a follow-up to indie title Max & The Magic Marker), and the sequel to the ultimate in masochism gaming: Dark Souls II. No Gears, No Fable, No AAA exclusives. Microsoft seems eager to leave the platform behind.

3. An original IP in the form of Ryse was shown off that looked like the video game form of 300. It seems like your typical hack and slash complete with high end visuals and active time prompts. Fellow spartans could be called in to create a shielded wall in which to deflect arrows as well as launch spears in order to counter attack.

4. While it had been floating around the rumor mill for some time now, the reveal of a new Killer Instinct was no less surprising. A battle between a roided up Jago and Sabrewulf was shown, plus Xbox One’s Twitch TV integration was showcased using the game. I overheard quite a bit of excitement among patrons in the conference, though given Rare’s track record as of late, I would take a “I’ll believe it when I see it” approach with this one.

5. Also shown were Forza 5, D4 (wow), & Quantum Break. The latter of which was probably of biggest interest to me following its initial announcement during the Xbox One reveal. I’ve enjoyed every other release done by Remedy and I suspect I would probably dig this one as well.

6. A small portion of Project Spark was demoed, a title with Kinect functionality that seems to focus on creating a world and then playing various scenarios within it alongside other players. This actually seems like a great game that’s worth keeping an eye out for.

7. Capcom announced Dead Rising 3, a title that takes place in a much more open environment than the shopping malls of the past. The main character can drive over zombies (and in doing so risk getting pulled out by one), craft hybrid weapons on the fly, and even call in airstrikes. There didn’t seem to be any word on whether a cooperative mode would make a return.

8. Two trailers were shown without sound. Crimson Dragon, a spiritual successor of sorts to Panzer Dragoon, was originally announced as a Kinect game for the Xbox Live Arcade. It has now made the transition to Xbox One. Battlefield 4 was also shown in limited capacity, with the first DLC being a timed exclusive.

9. Two first-person shooter powerhouses got to show off their latest projects. 343 Studios had a brief teaser trailer for a new Halo title that showed a cloaked Master Chief crossing a desert. Why he needs a cloak to cover himself while wearing armor I’ll never quite understand, but I guess whatever you have to do to create suspense. Respawn, made up of former Infinity Ward employees, announced Titanfall; a FPS featuring large mechs.

10. Perhaps the biggest news of it all was the price. Xbox One will be debuting at $499 this November. Microsoft also stated they would be getting rid of Microsoft Points and will lift the current 100 friend limit. While the removal of the friend cap is certainly a good thing, it was a long time coming considering the reason the original Xbox’s servers got shut down was to achieve this (and that occurred ages ago). I know people are excited about not having to contend with Microsoft Points either, though the flip side is that the currency will not go on sale to the degree that it does now (after all, you’re more likely to see retailers sell 1600 MSP cards on the cheap than they will cards that state $20 on them). It’s also clear to me that Microsoft has the attitude of “price is no object, gamers will pay anything for our console” like Sony did this past generation.

While the focus on games certainly generated some buzz, there was an alarming silence surrounding Microsoft’s convoluted DRM scheme. While I don’t suspect they’ll break the silence on that anytime soon, as most gaming companies seem to subscribe to the “stay quiet and they’ll go away” style of PR, this holiday season will be the ultimate test of that philosophy. Be sure to stay tuned to Diehard GameFAN for more E3 2013 coverage!



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