E3 2013 – Microsoft

So, that was Microsoft. A pretty decent showing and they actually kept their promise and made it games only. While there are some quality exclusives, it may be a bit telling that they chose to start the conference with a demo of Metal Gear Solid 5 along with a split second appearance by Kojima. Also, stealth horse. You have to see it to believe it.

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There was an unveiling of an Xbox 360 redesign, which is quite nice and appears to have the same visual identity as the Xbox One. Unfortunately, no price cut, so not sure how this will resonate with the consumers. World of Tanks is apparently coming to Xbox 360 as well.

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Crytek’s Ryse was showed next. Unfortunately, I came away rather unimpressed. The demo appeared to be highly scripted (which is okay) and consisted mostly of Quick Time Events (which is less okay). While some people may be excited at a prospect of a game set in ancient Rome, I just wish that they went about it in a different way.

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Battlefield 4 also got some stage time, resulting in a demo which while nice, was not particularly surprising. Dead Rising 3 was also shown off and it looked pretty fun and quite interesting really. The problem I had with it was mostly due to its much bleaker tone, a departure from previous games which were colourful, wacky and allowed you to dress you character in hotpants. Forza 5 demonstration was quite strange, starting with an unveiling of a sports car, which nonetheless got a reaction out of the crowd. It is quite unclear for me why that deserved time and attention of the attendees. The game itself looked quite nice, as racing games go. The “Cloud” capabilities of Xbox One were pushed to a forefront in this demonstration. Apparently player data is collected and it can create digital avatars of the players that adopt their gameplay habits. It sounds like an interesting idea, but I am not quite clear on how it is going to be implemented. Halo of course was also unveiled, or rather something relating to Halo.

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Rare’s Killer Instinct was one of the games unveiled. Due to my unfamiliarity with previous Killer Instinct games, I cannot say much on it. However, I did find the presentation that they gave quite perplexing due to a “rape-ish” joke used by one of the presenters and emphasis on the Smart Glass. Quantum Break by Remedy was interesting as I am quite a fan, however the trailer they showed failed to explain anything regarding the game’s connection to episodic TV content. A game by SWERY also had a mention, which is incredible by itself. Project Spark appeared to be Microsoft’s answer to Little Big Planet, and aside from awkward banter, it looked quite impressive. Titanfall was a big announcement, or would be if the news weren’t leaked few days ago. Nevetheless it looked quite good. The action was fast, exciting and I am sure that it controlled well. What I am less sure about is whether a multiplayer centric game which is also an exclusive can do well in a market which is oversaturated with other multiplayer shooters.

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The Witcher 3 was also presented which was a bit of a blow to me due to CD Projekt’s insistence on no DRM in their games. However, I understand that they cannot ignore any potential customers and must act accordingly. The trailer looked great, although I am a bit hung up on some aesthetical choices that were made. Insomniac’s Sunset Overdrive felt as a breath of fresh air, with its bright colours and whimsical design. No gameplay trailer however, but I am afraid that it will end up being a ho hum shooter with some coat of paint on it.

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Microsoft chose to end their conference in a rather abrupt fashion, not discussing any current concerns about DRM or used games. Their price point was $499. While this cannot be compared with PS3’s beastly $600 price mark, this is still quite expensive and I remain unconvinced as to whether I should buy an Xbox One. With their stance on DRM combined with this price Xbox One is rather unappealing to me. Along with this, their exclusives appeared to focus solely on the more meat and potatoes shooting rather than something more experimental like what Sony does (Beyond, Heavy Rain, etc). Which is an okay thing for some, but not something I enjoy as much. Another concern is Microsoft’s conduct in the past. While there was a string of strong exclusives at launch, this dried up by the end. Is that going to happen again? It is still to soon to tell. Regardless, no conclusions can be made until Sony unveils PS4 and discusses its price along with their position on DRM.

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