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Microsoft E3 2014 recap and thoughts

Phil Spencer
Phil Spencer
Cory Wells

For E3 2014, Microsoft has been adamant that it would focus on games. Last year, a lot of controversy surrounded them for limiting games and pushing entertainment with the Xbox One. Looking to redeem itself, did Microsoft offer enough this year? Well the changed focus was certainly there, as the only feature mentioned for the Xbox One, itself, was a new custom Achievement setup. Via Xbox One’s Snap option, achievements can quickly be viewed and even sorted to push your bigger accomplishments to the top.

The conference opened up with the announcement of Killer Instinct Season 2. The first new character announced was TJ Combo. Gameplay was shown for this, as the game will most definitely relinquish its integrity for fans of the first game.

Microsoft’s biggest support comes from Activision with the Call of Duty series. The newest edition, Advanced Warfare, is looking to change it up a bit from past incarnations. A gameplay trailer was shown off where a helicopter falls from the sky and your team ends up on a rooftop. Moving through the building to the streets of New York, gunfire and explosions begin to go off everywhere.

Once on the street, you will notice futuristic cars and ads everywhere. While running through a corridor of piled cars, a giant, four-legged robot climbs above and across you. Soon after, a swarm of some sort of alien bugs attacked the team. Different weapons were shown in action such as a laser and floating grenades that change modes on-the-fly. The game will look to continue its 60 frames per second. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare will release November 4th.

Turning to its racing franchise, Turn 10 announced that DLC for Forza 5 was announced today in the form of the full Nurburgring track. Not only was it announced, but this is now available, and it is free. So any Forza players need to jump on this.

Sticking with the Forza series, Forza Horizon 2 was announced last week (a bit early). The first iteration on the Xbox 360 was highly successful, as it focuses on the open world aspect of racing. Forza Horizon 2 will feature a few things that its older brother lacked. Day-to-night transitions will be in the game, along with dramatic and dynamic weather changes. Car clubs will be in the game and will support up to 1000 players. Horizon will initially feature 200 cars and 1080p graphics. Fans can pick this up on September 13th.

Next up was Evolve, the upcoming 4vs1 shooter from the guys behind Left 4 Dead. With four different classes to choose from, the idea is to hunt down the player controlled monster. The gameplay shown took place in a dark cave as you could hear the monster roar. The monster shown resembled one of the Aliens from the series of movies. Open beta will be available this fall, and Xbox One will get exclusive content.

Ubisoft has announced Assassin’s Creed: Unity. Not much information has been unveiled until today. The main protagonist is shown during a revolt in France in 1789 (I’m not a historian, but possibly the French Revolution, don’t quote me). You see the protagonist platforming and stealth killing until he reaches the crowd. All of a sudden, to the right, an icon pops up as all of a sudden you are teamed up with someone. What is eventually unveiled is a cooperative experience with four different Assassin’s all wielding different weapons. The idea of a co-op Assassin’s Creed has all the makings for success.

Next up was a fairly short trailer for Bioware’s Dragon Age: Inquisition. The trailer showcased vast environments that were vibrant in lighting and color. Disturbing monsters and enemies were shown as a female archer and a soldier attempted to take them down. Different dragons were also shown as it looks like there will be a lot expected from the third incarnation.

Sunset Overdrive is an exclusive for Xbox One. The trailer began with a standoff between four men in masks and a soldier. All of a sudden, a punked-out character crashes through the door and shoots everyone. This gives an idea of the comedic-side of things to come for the game. The gameplay demo showed off mutants being splattered by ridiculous guns and melee’s. Overdrive will feature character customization with an open world environment that takes place in Sunset City. Towards the end, a giant mutant appeared as he was blown up on a pier. The game will also feature an eight player chaos squad multiplayer mode. Sunset Overdrive will release September 28th.

Fable fans will be getting something new to play with Fable Legends. Most certainly a bit different than past titles, Legends will feature up to four players with different abilities. The other side of this will be the ability to play as the villain. Those players can drop enemies and obstacles on-the-fly from a top-down perspective. The game has a cartoony and animated. There will be a multiplayer beta coming this fall.

In a game that looks to be a sad fairy tale, developer Moon Studios is making a dark 2D platorming title known as Ori and the Blind Forest. You play as a small animal progressing through a beautiful world. The plot seems like the animal is trying to save its mother or watcher. With sad piano music playing with a dark background, it changed everyone’s mood in the arena.

The biggest news for Microsoft began with a CGI Halo trailer. The Halo Master Chief Collection will be all about Master Chief’s journey. This will be relived with updated lighting and textures for Halo 1-3 and Combat Evolved. Everything will be unlocked at first, and will allow custom playlists of chapters. The game will feature a single, unified interface all one disc. The game will run at 1080p and 60 frames per second. It will also feature the multiplayer from Halo 2 with all the maps included. There was a gameplay demonstration of one of the classic maps, and it has certainly been updated. Also announced with the collection is a Halo Nightfall live-action series that leads into Halo 5 Guardians, which will offer beta in December.

The last few notes for Microsoft involved the announcement of a new Tomb Raider in 2015. There was also gameplay for Witcher 3 that showed the environment and a really good draw distance. Ken Lobb came out and announced a reboot of a cult classic from the original Xbox called Phantom Dust, which seems to be a fighting game. The Division was shown as it maintains its integrity from initial gameplay. These include the detail of glass breaking in windows of cars as you focus on cover. You can scan the area and get information, even memories and how old they are, to help along the way.

A new IP was announced called Scalebound, which seems to feature a character akin to Devil May Cry’s Dante. The difference is once you attack an enemy, you absorb the skin of that enemy. The show closed out with a dedication to a ton of indie games coming. It officially ended with a trailer for Crackdown. Crackdown was an early Xbox 360 title that was open world. This looks to be a large open world with tons of explosions, but the trailer was CGI.

While Microsoft clearly focused on games, there are a few negatives to take from its conference. It certainly made amends for last year’s “mess”, but it’s obvious that the Kinect is being left for dead. There was no push (other than Disney’s Fantasia) to incorporate the camera into any upcoming games. While people might have been happy about the Master Chief Collection, there was still no gameplay for Halo 5. You would think Microsoft would push this system seller since it was announced last year, but the game isn’t due out until at least 2015. Lastly, a lot that was shown were third party titles. There are a few exclusives in there, but not enough to do justice to separate itself from the competition. Either way, Microsoft at E3 2014

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