But What About Television?! Microsoft's E3 Event

microsoft-xbox-oneI imagine in the lead-up to Microsoft’s E3 press conference, management were playing that video from the previous Xbox One reveal – you know the one I’m talking about – because this event had nary a mention of teevee, spawts or collar dooty. It was all video games, all the time.

Aside from the games, we have some new information about the Xbox One itself. The console will be released in November 2013 for $US499, €499 and £429 (the latter of which translates to about $700 Australian as of writing [Update: Microsoft Australia has confirmed that the Xbox One will retail for $AU 599]). Microsoft also announced a partnership with Twitch for players to stream games and upload clips a la the Playstation 4 and Livestream.

And then there were the games. So many games.

The conference began with a five-or-so minute trailer of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, showing off some more of the game’s new features: Open world gameplay, enhanced stealth and combat and Solid Snake’s rather decent Jack Bauer impersonation brought to you by Seiko®. Not to mention the graphics, which look really pretty.

Microsoft then introduced the “New” Xbox 360, a mild redesign of the console available from today (in America, anyway). It also announced a Playstation Plus style system giving Xbox Gold members two free games a month, the first of which being Halo 3 and Assassin’s Creed 2. We also saw a number of trailers for games to come out on the console, including: A port of the free-to-play tank battle game World Of Tanks; Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, a sequel to the PC and WiiWare platformer Max and the Magic Marker; and Dark Souls II, featuring a foreboding sub-Linkin Park track.

From then on, it was all Xbox One, all the time, beginning with a gameplay demo of Crytek’s hack ‘n’ slash Ryse: Son of Rome. They showed off some of the game’s combat and soldier controls, which all eventually devolve into Quick Time Events; they might as well have called the game Shenmue: Rome. It does look pretty, but.

We also got a look at Forza Motorsport 5. Turn 10 emphasised the game’s living graphics with almost pornographic description [insert picture of Jeremy Clarkson heading to his bunk] before highlighting the game’s new feature: Drivatar. It will learn your racing style and create a ghost that’ll race against other racers (and earn credits) while you’re away. It also looks really pretty.

After showing off trailers for Insomniac’s new title Sunset Overdrive (so that’s where Fuse’s art style went), Minecraft for Xbox One (really taking advantage of those next gen graphics, guys), Quantum Break (yes, please!) and D4 from Swery65, things moved on to Project Spark, Microsoft’s expanded take on LittleBigPlanet and community-driven gameplay experiences.

And then the internet exploded in a collective high-pitched squee as Rare announced and played a new Killer Instinct game. We still know little of the title, aside from the fact that MadKatz will release a fight stick to coincide with the game’s launch. I hope I’m wrong, but nothing could match the hyper-inflated expectations that game will have going into it. It doesn’t even look the most pretty.

CD Projekt Red went on stage to talk about The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and its Kinect/Smartglass features, and Capcom provided a demo of Dead Rising 3, which appears more open world than previous games, with no load times and more freedom with driving.

EA also took the opportunity to demo Battlefield 4. Eventually. Throughout the presentation, there was sporadic audio mixing issues, occasionally leaving only ambient crowd noises to score highly crafted trailers. But then as EA prepared to show off Battlefield 4, the audio failed to work for an agonisingly long time, leaving EA vice president Patrick Soderlund just…standing there with no idea what to do but to stand there and stretch for time: “I’m fine,” “I guess we’ll see it later.” In such a highly scripted event such as this, it was a fantastic relief to see some humanity thrust upon proceedings.

It was a fleeting pleasure, though: Once a new audio guy was hired and the sound finally worked, we returned to the land of the highly scripted, with stock-standard FPS gameplay, albeit with dynamic environments and physics. Though my word, it looks pretty.

More trailers, then, with Crimson Dragon, from the makers of Panzer Dragoon; Below, a roguelike from Capybara, an untitled metropolitan stealth game from the newly minted Black Tusk studios; and Halo – not Halo 5, just Halo (I coulda sworn that game was released 13 years ago…)

To close things out, Vince Zampella from Respawn Entertainment demoed his company’s upcoming mech/FPS Titanfall. The game will feature dynamic traversal, with wall-running and jetpacks on offer, as well as mechs that players can pilot to lay waste on the battlefield. It’s good to see that Respawn aren’t just making another Call of Duty, that they’re trying something more dynamic than ‘shoot that guy.’ And yes, it does look pretty.

With so many games announced, it seems like Microsoft’s conference was an answer to the criticisms to the Xbox One reveal a few weeks ago. Sure, we are still left with many questions regarding used games, internet requirements and privacy, but at least we have a rough date and, to an extent, a price. We also have more than a handful of games to keep an eye out on. They aren’t going to set the world on fire, but at least we’ll have more to do on our potential Xbox Ones than watch TV and Call of Duty dog. Things are looking pretty interesting.


Headline inspired by this Alice Clarke tweet

This article was updated to reflect the confirmation of the Xbox One’s Australian pricing