By: Andrew Lister
Anyone who knows me understands that I'm not an XBox fanboy. I was raised in the age of Nintendo, and I spent much of my later years playing on PC and Playstation consoles. That said, I do pay attention to what Microsoft puts together for their E3 presentation each year, and there are normally a number of positive things that come out of it.
Last year Microsoft unveiled the XBox One X, the most powerful non-PC gaming machine out there. Even though it had a confusing name and was marketed with buzzwords like teraflops (I'm still not sure what that means), it was clearly a console that was capable of producing the best graphics and game play of The Big Three.
This year Microsoft had a lot to prove. Despite having the most powerful gaming console on the market, the games just weren't there to support spending $500 on a suped up version of the original XBox One. Microsoft exclusive titles have been few and far between, and the ones they did recently release, such as Sea of Thieves, have been met with harsh criticisms.
In short, their rivals Sony and Nintendo came into this conference already touting a large number of exclusive games, and Microsoft desperately needed to catch up.
And boy did they play catch up this year. During Microsoft's press conference on Sunday, June 10th, they not only revealed a whole slew of games exclusive to the XBox and PC brand, but they also showed off world premiere trailers for a number of multi-platform games.
You see, going into the show, Sony stated they would focus on a much smaller number of games, including the new Spiderman, Death Stranding, and The Last of Us 2. This means that other major gaming companies had to find a place to announce new information about their upcoming games.
This is where Microsoft came in used their nearly two hours to show the world game after game after game, and they did more than just show us the expected new Halo and Gears of War titles. We received a wide variety of information on new games, from smaller publishers to major ones, from first person shooters to JRPGs.
Below are a number of games debuted or expanded upon at Microsoft's press conference that really made this the best year for Microsoft at E3 yet. Keep in mind that my list can't cover everything shown, so if you want to a full rundown of what was shown, go watch the conference for yourself.
Halo Infinite & Gears 5
I don't have a lot to say about either of these two franchises, but I feel that I'd get a ton of hate if I didn't at least mention them right off the bat. I've never been one for first person shooters in general, and I've only played a small amount of the original Halo a long, long time ago. Despite this, I understand how monumentally popular the Halo franchise is for its fan base and for the XBox.
I won't even begin to understand what was going on in the actual trailer for Halo Infinite, but I'm sure it will be something the fans will enjoy. Microsoft puts a lot of effort into those games, knowing that it's one of their core franchises.
Speaking of core franchises, we saw not one, not two, but three new games in the Gears of War series. Among them, strangely enough, was a weird mobile game that blends the world of Gears and the marketing Juggernaut of Funko Pop. Yeah, there's going to be a new Gears of War with Funko Pop characters, soulless black eyes and all.
What elicited the biggest pop (pun intended) of the entire show was a lengthy trailer for the brand new Gears 5 game, which seems to take the game in a much different direction. This time around you'll play as Kait Diaz, who breaks from her companions to take on a journey of her own. The graphics, as expected, looked amazing with gorgeous renderings of much more lively natural environments. I won't be playing it, but judging from the trailer and the reactions of the crowd, Microsoft is going all in on the Gears series going forward.
Hours before Bethesda took the stage in their own conference, Todd Howard showed up on Microsoft's stage to give Fallout fans like myself more information on their upcoming game Fallout 76. This game was recently revealed on a unique Twitch stream that spanned more than a day of fans watching a Vauly Boy statue and waiting for whatever announcement was to come.
So in a bold move, Bethesda showed off yet another trailer at Microsoft rather than wait until their own E3 conference. When you think about it, it's actually pretty smart as Howard was able to playfully remind the crowd that they had their own show across the street later that day, and I'm sure we'll get even more information about Fallout 76 there as well.
During the introduction and the trailer, we found out that the new Fallout game is indeed the earliest setting for the entire series and will take place in West Virginia. We also were told that the world of Fallout 76 was going to be four times larger than that of Fallout 4. Let that sink in for a moment. Four. Times. Larger.
The central idea of the story is to colonize and give the world a fresh start. Aside from that, there are still a lot of unanswered questions at this time. Is the game going to be cooperative as it rumored? Will it be influenced by survival games like Rust? I guess we'll have to wait and see.
Kingdom Hearts 3
Not only did Microsoft get to show another brand new trailer for the much awaited Kingdom Hearts, but they got to gloat that the game would be making its way for the first time onto the XBox.
I've only played the first game, and the amount of lore makes my head spin when I try to wrap my brain around what's actually going on. However, this trailer did show off a number of new Disney properties that are now going to be part of the main story. Among those worlds that Sora and company will visit are the winter wonderland of Frozen, Andy's bedroom in Toy Story, and outside of the tower in Tangled.
Things have come a long way for Square Enix, who once only published their biggest works on the Sony Playstation. Getting Kingdom Hearts on XBox and seeing the game with the highest possible graphics could be a selling point for more One Xs.
The Division 2, Devil May Cry 5, and Cyberpunk 2077
I could fill this article up with every single game that Microsoft debuted tonight, but then I'd be trying far into Bethesda's conference. Three more games I wanted to touch quickly upon are the brand new Tom Clancy game, the newest Devil May Cry title, and one of the coolest looking games ever, Cyberpunk 2077.
Again, I'm not a fan of shooters, and I've never played a single game with the Tom Clancy branding. However, after watching the trailer talking about the world being driven into another World War followed by really engrossing cooperative gameplay, I actually wanted to pick up an XBox controller and give this game a shot.
My buddy Josh from Tooning Japanese probably still has a massive hardon after seeing the video on the brand new Devil May Cry game. I don't know much about the series, but this looks like another blood-pumping action game that will feel right at home alongside the other games in the series.
And finally, there was Cyberpunk 2077, which closed the show. I don't want to even waste any words. Just watch the video below. Seriously. Do it.
That's it for now! What did you think of Microsoft's press conference? Leave your comments below or join our Discord, head to the Video Games channel, and strike up a conversation! I'll be back with more E3 coverage throughout the next week, so thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more coverage.
By: Andrew Lister
It's that time again: E3 is upon us once more! I'm going to try and throw out some of my biggest take-aways from this year's event, which spans the next six days.
Just like last year, EA kicked things off early with their press conference on Saturday, June 9th. I'll be completely up front before I delve into my thoughts on their conference. I'm not a fan of sports games, and a lot of what they have to offer falls under the categories of FIFA, Madden, and NBA Live. On top of that, their conference has some well known cringe-worthy moments, and this year was really not all that different.
As easy as it would be to bash on EA (Who isn't these days?), I want to instead focus on my favorite aspects of EA's conference each year: their independent developer partnerships. In 2016, EA revealed their EA Originals program, which is a partnership between their company with smaller independent game developers. The great thing is that EA doesn't take any money from these developers, but they do work alongside of these companies to provide them a much larger stage and resources to help develop their dream works.
My first experience with these EA Originals was a charming game titled Unravel. It was a 2D platformer staring an adorable little protagonist (Yarny) made entirely of yarn. I've played the game, and it's really a charming and surprisingly emotional experience.
This was followed up last year by a look at the cooperative game A Way Out. It's focus was on couch co-op, split-screen gameplay, where you and a friend needed to find a way out of prison and get back to your real life that was taken away from you. I haven't yet played this one, but the game has gotten a pretty positive response.
This year we were given a look at two different EA Originals games, one of which was a surprising sequel to an earlier Originals game, and the other an interesting look at social isolation and depression.
Unravel Two: Finding Your Spark With the Help of a Fiend
First, let's talk about Unravel 2. Yes, we are getting a sequel to the creative EA Original from just a few years back. The trailer they revealed shows our red and fuzzy protagonist Yarny lost at sea, where his thread snaps, and he loses his glowing spark. From there he washes up on shore, seemingly lost and depressed. Things look dark, but then out of a satchel comes yet another Yarny! This blue yarn dude with bigger, horn-like ears becomes your companion, and they combine the ends of their yarn before starting off on a brand new adventure.
Now that you and your new friend are attached to one another, you have a wide range of new abilities at your disposal, including pulling one another up onto ledges, tying your string to two different spots to create a trampoline, and helping one another swing over obstacles. This addition of a second player adds quite a bit of creativity to what might otherwise feel like yet another side-scrolling action game.
Now that we have two sentient yarn balls running around, you have two options for gameplay. Obviously, this opens up cooperative gaming with a friend, but you can also play the game on your own, utilizing both characters to navigate the many puzzles you'll come across. When playing on your own, you either combine the two into a Frankenstein-esque amalgamation to get from Point A to Point B. When you need to get through a specific area, you can take turns switching between both of the connected players.
This game looks like it will explore the themes of friendship and/or love and finding true happiness, and the much more visually-appealing and playful style will make for an intriguing way to explore these core ideas.
Sea of Solitude: Fighting Against the Darkness Within
A second EA Originals game was debuted that focuses on a very different tone and theme. Sea of Solitude (also known as SOS) is being developed by a small German gaming studio, Jo-Mei Games.
In this game, you play as a young woman that lives in a completely isolated, flooded world. The trailer shows you navigating an eerie environment in a small motorboat, but we also get the idea that the main character is actually some sort of monster herself, which is a manifestation of her depression and loneliness.
Personally, I've wanted to delve into games that personify parts of what it means to be human and things that people struggle with on a daily basis. Games like Night in the Woods and Celeste take heavy subject matter and explore it in very unique ways. This looks like a game that will follow in their footsteps and deliver a scary, enlightening experience.
What do you think of these two games? What stood out to you from the EA press conference? What are you most looking forward to during E3 2018? Leave your comments below or join our Discord, head to the Video Games channel, and strike up a conversation! I'll be back with more E3 coverage throughout the next week, so thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more coverage.
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