Thoughts on Microsoft’s Xbox E3 Press Conference

Xbox One

I gotta say, after the disappointing, and frankly, frustrating, Xbox One reveal, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Microsoft’s E3 conference. They’ve let me down in the past by focusing on Kinect or third-party rather than the core games that would, and eventually did, convince me the Xbox is a console worth owning. Well, I don’t think they disappointed today.

I think Microsoft did exactly what they could’ve done, and they did it well. They focused on games, not TV. They gave us glimpses of not two or three, but literally dozens of games that were mostly exclusive to the Xbox One. I don’t think the word ‘TV’ was even mentioned once to be honest, and that’s a very good thing.

While there were some low points, such as the awkward thirty-minutes talking about the Xbox 360 and the sound problems during the conference, as a whole I walked away from the conference impressed. The gameplay I saw looked fun and technically astounding, and the teasers for upcoming games were both intriguing and exciting.

The standout for me though has to be toss up between the reveal trailer for Remedy’s Quantum Break and DICE’s gameplay of Battlefield 4. Remedy is the developer behind my personal favorite Xbox 360 game Alan Wake, and while we only saw a CGI trailer for Quantum Break, I have to say the premise behind it has definitely piqued my interest.

Quantum Break has my complete attention.

As for Battlefield 4, well, it was pretty awesome. As far as gameplay trailers go, that was one of the best I’ve seen in awhile, and while I’ll have to wait and see if the narrative has enough depth to hold my interest (which is where Battlefield 3 failed for me) I can say with confidence this is a game I will be playing at some time.

One of the things that really stood out to me, however, was the seeming quality of the games Microsoft showed off. In addition to the games I just mentioned above, they showed gameplay for Dead Rising 3, an open-world zombie action-RPG that looked technically astounding, the revival of classic fighter Killer Instinct, a new Forza and Halo, gameplay for the brutally violent hack ‘n slash Ryse: Son of Rome, and the first gameplay for the long awaited Metal Gear Solid 5.

Phew, that’s a lot. Not all of that was great, but still, Microsoft’s focus on games is much appreciated. But not everything was as great as I’m sure Microsoft intended it to be. For example, there were two instances of the sound for the game trailers just cutting out for long periods of time, which was incredibly awkward, and a few of the game reveals fell a little flat.

Battlefield 4

Will Battlefield 4’s story be as impressive as it’s visuals?

Some of the games that missed their mark, in my opinion, were be Ryse: Son of Rome, Minecraft, and pretty much every announcement for the Xbox 360. While Ryse looks amazing, and as a lover of Roman history immediately had my attention, the over-use of quick-time events in the gameplay trailer killed my excitement (of which I expressed openly on Twitter) pretty quickly.

And as much as I like the idea of Minecraft on a next-generation console, what’s the point? It’s better on a computer as of right now, and the only improvement I can imagine they’ll make to the game, without disrupting it’s visual style, is it’s fluidity and world building. Once again, cool idea, but I don’t think it’s necessary.

The same can be said for the focus on the Xbox 360 for the first thirty-minutes of the conference. The announcement of a new Xbox design being released today seemed out of place and poorly timed, and while it’s a great idea to give Xbox Gold members two free games a month, it’s nothing new for PS3 gamers like me, as we’ve had that, but bigger, with PlayStation Plus for years.

Xbox-One-Green

Simple yet slick, I like the design for the Xbox One.

Microsoft ended the conference with the announcement of a price point and a gameplay trailer for the upcoming game Titanfall, developed by Respawn Entertainment. One of these was great. Can you guess which one wasn’t? Yeah, same here.

Launching in November of this year, the Xbox One will cost $499. That’s a lot. I’ve been telling myself that the most I would pay for a next generation console is $450, but if Sony follows Microsoft’s example, then I’ll be more hesitant to buy either the PS4 and Xbox One. I mean, five-hundred dollars is a ton of money, and that’s not adding any games! I can only hope Sony goes lower than that, but I doubt it. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

With that said, however, I’m still excited for the Xbox One. Titanfall looked superb (who doens’t love flying jet-packs and controlling giant mechs in combat?) and while, as a longtime PlayStation fan, I felt a little back-stabbed that Insomniac Games is developing a game exclusive to the Xbox One, Sunset Overdrive still looks like a great time and I’ll always love Insomniac’s games.

And while the Halo games haven’t ever totally blown me away, I’d be stupid to not be impressed with the reveal trailer for 343 Industries’ upcoming Halo game. There wasn’t any gameplay, but man did I love that trailer. They nailed the look and feel, but also made it look like something new for the franchise, and that intrigues me.

Titanfall

Titanfall looks like quite the explosive game.

So was Microsoft able to make me forget about all the bad hype surrounding the Xbox One’s reveal and the specifications of the console? Sort of. They did what they were supposed to and focused on the games coming out for the console, and for the most part they were truly impressive. But I’m still not completely sold.

The awesome games don’t change the fact that the Xbox One has strict online functionality requirements, ridiculous rules regarding used games, and a high price point. But, it does give us consumers some pretty good incentive to make the jump and buy the Xbox One.

I doubt I’ll be picking one up at launch, but can almost guarantee that when it gets a price drop, I’ll be at the store picking one up. And with all the good hype Microsoft generated this afternoon, I am immensely curious to see what Sony has up their sleeve with their conference tonight. Regardless, I think this next generation of games will be pretty awesome.

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6 responses to “Thoughts on Microsoft’s Xbox E3 Press Conference

  1. I think the Xbox One sounds awesome. 😎 Especially some of the new games for it, such as Spark. However I’m disappointed about it not being backwards compatible. 😦

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