E3 kicked off E3 with its media briefing early this morning. Unlike last year where Microsoft was introducing its new Xbox One console, this year the focus was exclusively on games. No hardware news (although they independently have recently announced the new non-Kinect Xbox that is being released for $399) and no non-gaming media (music, movies, streaming, etc.) news. With the games from and center, it was a steady stream of old favorites and new properties for a full 90 minutes. These were some of the highlights for us.
Assassin’s Creed Unity (Ubisoft, Ubisoft)
Billing ACU as the “next-gen evolution” of the franchise with a new game engine, the focus was clearly on the four-player co-op gameplay (although of course there is a full single-player campaign). This installment takes place during the French Revolution, where the “cobblestone streets run red with the blood of commoners who dared to rise up against the oppressive aristocracy.” We’re all fans of the series, and are looking forward to the next installment. It did not look like it will disappoint. ACU will ship October 24th.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection & Halo 5: Guardians (343 Industries, Microsoft Studios)
The Master Chief Collection is a massive re-release of Master Chief’s entire story is brought to the Xbox One. It brings together “Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary,” “Halo 2 Anniversary,” “Halo 3,” and “Halo 4” (a total of 45 campaign missions and more than 100 multiplayer maps) all remastered at 60 fps. The Master Chief Collection hits the stores in November, and paves the way for Halo 5, which will have a multiplayer beta this holiday season, with a full release slated for 2015.
Rise of the Tomb Raider (Crystal Dynamics, Square Enix)
A short trailer was shown for the next installment of the rebooted Lara Croft. It looked a lot like the prior release – which is a good thing. According to the Xbox press release the next chapter “will take gamers to multiple locations around the world filled with exploration spaces that are some of the most beautifully hostile places on earth.” Generic? Sure. But we’ll be pre-ordering anyway for the 2015 holiday season.
Forza Motorsport 5 & Forza Horizon 2 (Turn 10 Studios, Microsoft Studios)
Forza Motorsport 5’s news was the release of the long asked for Nürburgring track. It will be available later this month for free to FM5 owners. Forza Horizon 2 is being released on September 30 and takes the graphics (and cars) of Forza and places them into an open world setting. The Forza trailers looked great as always in 1080p.
Sunset Overdrive (Insomniac Games, Microsoft Studios)
Coming in October (exclusively on Xbox One) is the highly stylized open-world shooter of Sunset Overdrive. This is a trailer that needs to be seen to understand what you are getting into. With crazy locations and even crazier weapons, if running around (or jumping, bouncing and sliding around based on the trailer) and killing mutants is something you are looking for this is the game for you. You can also checkout a teaser trailer below.
Evolve (Turtle Rock Studios, 2K)
Evolve is being billed as the “next generation of multiplayer shooters where four Hunters face off against a single, player-controlled Monster in adrenaline-pumping four-versus-one matches.” Certainly the ability to play as the monster adds a new and unique dimension to this game. Evolve is being heavily promoted at E3 from what we’ve already seen. It is being released in October, so not a long wait if this is your type of game.
Fable Legends (Lionhead Studios, Microsoft Studios)
Fable Legends announced a multiplayer beta for this fall. Here again there is the opportunity to play as not only one of the four heroes in cooperative mode, but also as the Villain, who plays a more strategic, top-down, game trying to defeat the heroes. The Villain aspect looked the most interesting, being able to strategically place different enemies or even walls, in certain places to trying to split up the heroes or funnel them into a trap. Whether Lionhead can get the balance right in this regard will be the true test, but certainly the upcoming beta will be instrumental in that regard.
Those were highlights for us, although a host of other games were showcased, including Scalebound, Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade Remix Hyper Edition, Tom Clancy’s The Division, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Crackdown and Killer Instinct, among others. You can see a montage that the Xbox team put together below.
Overall, Microsoft delivered a solid briefing. While nothing was particularly earth shattering, after last year where at times it felt like the games were taking the back seat, this time they were front and center – which was a nice way to kick off E3.