E3 2015: Xbox
By Sean Molloy
E3 2015 is now in full swing, this morning Microsoft held its annual press conference where it laid out the plans for the next year for its Xbox One, Windows 10 and PC plans. Here were the highlights.
Bonnie Ross from 343 Studios was on hand to show off more of Halo 5: Guardians. The first thing that needs to be mentioned about Halo 5 is the new graphical engine and fidelity the game is displaying. With being the first Halo game on current gen, it’s clear that the developers are harnessing all power from the Xbox One. In particular look at the facial mapping tech being used, Nathan Fillion is back as Buck and it really does look like a splitting image of the actor. The demo starts with the new playable character, Locke, hunting down the Master Chief through a Promethean controlled city. Instead of going about the game solo like in previous titles, players will be in charge of a 4-crew team through the campaign. The chatter is fun to hear go on in the background and the camaraderie element to these characters comes through exceptionally. Josh Holmes, also from 343, wanted to emphasize that with this squad play, other players can seamlessly drop in and out of your campaign at any time. Any Halo presentation wouldn’t be complete without mentioning multiplayer. Halo 5’s MP features include a rise in player number to 24 at a time, a campaign crossover which hasn’t been detailed yet and maps that are roughly three times the size of others. A new MP mode called “Warzone” was shown off that includes elements of MOBA styling as well as the tagline, “everything is possible.” Not much more was said of the mode. Halo 5: Guardians is out on Xbox One October 27, 2015.
Keiji Inafune is working on a new game called “Recore.” An early trailer gave us a young female protagonist and her robot partner, whose form can be changed by swapping out his core to new and more powerful forms. The game releases sometimes in 2016.
Xbox One will now have backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 games. Details were scarce on whether or not this will be digital feature only or if he gamer can simply put in a 360 disc and have the title emulated to work on the new console. What is known though is that all Xbox One features will work including snap, photo capturing and achievements.
A new controller was also announced for the Xbox One dubbed the Xbox Elite Controller. This new gamepad was designed for the hardest of the hardcore gamer. Hair trigger locks, swappable components, button mappings and new paddles will be included. It launches later this year.
Fresh off a strong showing at last night’s Bethesda conference, Todd Howard took the stage to talk more Fallout 4. A new gameplay trailer was shown and it emphasized the newest weapon to the Fallout arsenal, the laser musket. The biggest news to come out of Howard’s stage time was the announcement that all mods that players create with their PC will be transferable to the Xbox One version of the game. Also, all players who buy Fallout 4 will get a copy of Fallout 3 to play on their Xbox One.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 was officially announced. The game is going to “tap into the heart of the original while introducing new characters and locations. Coming Spring 2016.
Channeling the excitement of the Ford family and their racing pedigree with the Ford GT, Forza Motorsport 6 was announced. The racing simulation is going to feature 24 real world locations, 450 cars, 24 player online racing and more. It releases September 15, 2015.
The first frightening, and moody trailer for Dark Souls III was shown from From Software. The game is in line with other titles in the series, promising to be punishingly hard but incredibly rewarding. It was also said this is going to be the last game in the Souls series. It releases early 2016 for Xbox One, PS4 and PC.
Tom Clancy games were also given a significant amount of time on stage. A new CG trailer for The Division was shown cementing the fact that players are going to need to squad up in order to succeed in an online environment. The Division is going to have an open beta exclusive to Xbox One in December. Rainbow Six: Siege was shown in a trailer that mixed both CG and in game footage. From early showings, the in game engine still looks very rough and needs to be cleaned up before its release this Fall. What is cool though is that when you buy Rainbow Six: Siege, Rainbow Six: Vegas and Vegas 2 will be included in the package.
More footage from the independent game, “Cuphead” was shown. The game uses an art style that comes right from 1930’s Disney animation. The game releases in 2016.
The “Xbox Game Preview” program was also detailed. If you are planning on buying a game digitally, this function will allow you to try before you buy. It was s feature that the old Xbox Arcade was famous for but was noticeably missing from the Xbox One .
Next up, Brian Horton from Crystal Dynamics was on hand to show off the first gameplay footage from Rise of the Tomb Raider. The footage had Lara climbing the side of a massive mountain as an avalanche challenged her every move. A rope and swing mechanic was shown as well as those painful jumps from ledge to ledge in a completely visceral experience. The trailer attached to the demo showed off new locations such as a jungle backdrop and gave us glimpses of the tombs we will be raiding this fall. Rise of the Tomb Raider comes out December 2015.
Rare studios was on hand to reveal two new games coming to Xbox One. The first is a collection of 10 classic games called Rare Replay it includes such titles as Battletoads, Banjo Kazooie and Perfect Dark. The game is going to have a 10,000 Gamerscore attached and releases August 4, 2015 for $30. The second game is going to be an online, pirate themed adventure, called Sea of Thieves. The in engine footage looked gorgeous and should scratch the itch of anyone wanting to captain his or her own ship on the high seas.
The Augmented Reality device, HoloLens was shown off with a Minecraft themed demo that displayed the tabletop mechanics that the device can do. It’s an impressive piece of tech that has no release date or pricing attached.
There was no surprise when the Xbox conference wrapped up with two different Gears of War related announcements. The first is the official confirmation of the remake of the original game, Gears of War Ultimate Edition will have 60 frames per second gameplay online and offline as well as a public beta that starts tonight for Xbox Live members. The game comes out August 25, 2015.
Simply titled Gears 4, was finally unveiled with a trailer that really brought back feelings from the original game. A focus is going to be on the horrific and haunting environments the franchise is known for. A new blonde haired lead character named JD was the focus on the trailer as he and a partner infiltrated a small down in chase of a monster of some kind. The vibe is spot on for what the new game is aiming to accomplish. Gears 4 has a tentative release date of Holiday 2016.
I am going to have more coverage from EA, Ubisoft and Sony throughout the day. Stick around!