Microsoft E3 Press Conference 2013 - recap and impressions
Welcome, Internet! E3 2013 is in full swing, and all three competitors have shown their intentions for their current and next systems. Each has brought some good things, some bad things, and lots to talk about, from Smash Bros for 3ds and WiiU, featuring two brand new characters (one of which has lots of people hyped up) to Microsoft and their slew of great games. Well, they had some great looking games, but they also had some questionable practices. Then there's Sony's press conference, which has tons of people taken back. Without further ado, let's get to chatting!
First, we're going to take a look at Microsoft and their press conference. The first thing they showed us was some new metal gear solid footage. You wouldn't think this was metal gear solid footage at first, especially if you're not very well acquainted with the series. It starts with the protagonist riding on a horse, which isn't like any metal gear solid I've ever seen. The gameplay, on the other hand, seems much like other Metal Gear Solid games. Microsoft seems to make it look more like an ad than a video game trailer, fast-forwarding certain scenes of the same area and adding small messages of the features which pop up in a timely fashion, but it seems to help itself better than it helps them. It was a great way to begin their press conference. Though.
First, I should point this out. The crowd is silent while the speaker, Don Mattrik, was talking about the games for Xbox one. This is good. Usually, when a crowd hears something they like, or are excited for, they'll cheer and clap, right? I say this because don himself had to start clapping before the crowd did. Not relevant to the conference, but moving on. The newest version of the xbox360, which many gamers know and love, is going to be designed based on the Xbox one. Is this a problem? You be the judge. I don't like the idea very much, and I don't think many gamers want the idea of that receiver box anywhere near their game cabinet, or under their tv, or wherever they put consoles. On the bright side, it was immediately available. This means if you do want your xbox 360 to look like it's future incarnation, you can do just that.
If there's one really good thing to take from this, it would have to be the deal they gave xbox live gold members. From the time of that conference, to the release of the xbox one, gold members will get two free game downloads per month. This is an unquestionably good idea. Good job, Microsoft. Then came another good idea. These guys plan on adding tons of games in the future. Even better, guys! Another game coming to the 360, World of Tanks, was originally a PC game, but we see that they wanted a new frontier to explore. I'm starting to think the 360 will outshine the Xbox one...Oh, wait. You can only play World of Tanks if you're an Xbox live gold member. Guess it won't be outshining it's future yet.
Ryse, Killer Instinct, and Forza Motorsport 5. A good start, sure.
Next came Ryse: Son of Rome. It looked pretty good, but the combat seems kind of hit or miss.I say that because the player seems to occasionally get locked into quick time events, which aren't a good thing when put with the combat system. If it were solving a puzzle, or progressing in some other form, that'd be okay. But no, you seem to get them during combat. Hopefully that's just an option. I will give the game credit where credit is due, however. It looks wonderful. There's a great level of detail, and it sets a very intense mood. Not great, but very good.
Next, they introduce Killer Instinct in a very cool fashion. I think they could have lightened up with the tone of the announcer, but It seemed to match the tone of the game, so I won't argue too much. The game looks great as far as fighters go. And now, I'm scared. Why, you ask? No, not because of Killer Instinct. Do you know Insomniac Games? They're the guys who made the Spyro series, Ratchet and Clank, as well as some more recent releases such as Fuse. They're working on a game specifically for the Xbox One called Sunset Overdrive. The game itself looks awesome, to say the least. It really shows what can be done on the Xbox one. The problem is it's an Xbox One exclusive. This means I have to compare my desire to play the game with my discontent at actually dealing with all of the questionable things about the Xbox One. The question is: Can I deal with restrictions on used games, having to connect to the internet once a day, and the Kinect always watching me? I can't. Can you? That's your decision.
After my moping about how I can't afford the long term effects of an Xbox One, I saw Forza Motorsports 5, which was shown at their reveal, as well at this conference. I should first mention, you can decide for yourself on the graphics at this point. I'm less than concerned with them at the time of writing this. I am, however, concerned with the gameplay, which just got interesting with Forza here. When you play, you have what is called a “Drivitar” which learns and analyzes how you race, and then drives for you while you're gone, earning you medals based on how you drive, and what you do in those races. This is something that should be in racing games. My problem is the fact that this thing acheives for me while I'm gone. Do you know what a super guide is? Remember New Super Mario Bros. Wii? If you failed a level too much, Luigi could do the entire level for you, showing you exactly what to do. That's the idea behind a super guide. This Drivitar system doesn't seem to do that exactly, but it does your work for you, it earns things for you. This doesn't bring gamers a sense of achievement. Often, this can insult a gamer, like someone telling you “you suck too much, give me the controller”. The idea of it learning your style is good, but the idea of it earning and achieving for you is bad, so take it as you will.
(an) indie game that we all already know, Game design made easy, and technology fails us on the internet!
So, now we move on to Indie Games...Okay, now onto the indie game (singular). They brought Minecraft to the Xbox One! You're...you're not surprised, are you? It's their most popular Xbox360 downloadable title. My problem here is that they said they were leading in indie games, and supporting them. So far, this is the only one they've talked about. Microsoft, I'm calling your bluff! Immediately after Minecraft for the Xbox One, they began with Quantum Break, a game I'm still not sure I understand. Apparently, some experiment with time screwed up, and now it freezes and jumps randomly. That's about all I can gather from the story. On the bright side, It looks okay. Then came another trailer of a game I couldn't quite wrap my head around, D4. Much like Quantum Break, this game does look good. I like the art style put into it, but they didn't give people much else to work with.
On to Project Spark. This is something I am undoubtedly interested in not only as a gamer, but as an aspiring developer. It's a sandbox-esque game where you can design your own worlds, program inanimate objects to do relatively anything you want, alter the enemies to be monsterously difficult, insanely easy, or something in between. This is the kind of thing that inspires kids to become game designers, showing people these interesting things that actually go into the game, and showing how they go into the game. This is one exclusive that gets me excited at the Xbox One.
No more new games for quite a bit. At this point, they began showing off the Xbox Smartglass, which connects your tablet to your games. They displayed some actual gameplay of the Killer Instinct that they showed beforehand, but they seemed to use it more for the purpose of advertising than to show off the game. That was a shame, considering the game looked wonderful. I'm no expert at fighting games, but I would jump into Killer Instinct any day. If only they had shown more than two people broadcasting themselves on twitch. This idea isn't bad, but they should have focused on the game.
Okay, Back to the games! You know about Panzer Dragoon? It's one of the most interesting rail shooters I've seen in my time. This game, called Crimson Dragon, LOOKS a lot like that. I say looks specifically because the entire trailer was silent. All the gameplay, mute. It would seem M-soft had some Technical Difficulties back there. That's okay, guys. I'm not happy about it, but I'll forgive you if you dispense with the used game idea. No? Sorry 'bout that then!
"Deadrising" in front of the "Witcher 3" going down "Below"...and Halo
I won't lie: I found Deadrising 3 Boring. Of course, I find zombie games to be boring anyway, so what do I know? Zombies aren't overrated, right? All jokes aside, it's a visually nice game. The other Deadrising games looked nice too, so I'm pleased in that respect. Look on the bright side: you can improvise two weapons to make other weapons, use flare guns to distract zombies, and call in air support from your phone...Wait, if you can call in a plane to drop bombs from your personal smartphone, why can't you call a plane to pick you up...?
Witcher 3! I've never heard of the Witcher series, honestly. I do like this game, though. It's got interesting visuals, I enjoyed what I saw of the Gameplay, and they really sold it with the trailer. This appears to be another potential selling point for the Xbox One. After the Witcher came Battlefield 4, with a brand new engine, improved graphics, and some more technical difficulties with the footage. After the difficulties, though, We did get to see some footage. For me, it was...underwhelming. It was good, yes, but not great. It seemed like your basic shooter, running around with a target in the middle of your screen while all kinds of crazy things happened that would interfere with your aim. I just didn't see it to be as interesting as the other games shown here.
A game that wasn't very underwhelming was something called Below. Visually interesting, but if hyper-realistic visuals are your thing, well you might not be agreeing with me on most of the things here, then. But the game has little information to it other than how it looked, which piqued my interest more than most of the games at this conference. After Below, Micosoft talked shortly about how they were catering to the developers, as if they need to tell people. They showed two things, an ad for one such developer, Black Tusk Studios, and then a Halo ad. Even the most hardened halo fan wouldn't have thought this was a halo game if they saw the first three seconds. Also, Why does Master Chief need a poncho in the middle of the desert? While he's in his armor? I like the Halo series, don't get me wrong, but...that just confuses me.
Finally, time to wrap things up!
Close to the end, they gave us the price tag. How much were you expecting? Well, it turned out to be priced at a questionable $499 USD. They finished up their conference with one last exclusive, Titanfall. This gave me a genuine interest in shooters. I'll admit, I like Mechs. These giant robots which can do loads more than a normal person can. Mech seem to be one of the biggest parts of this exclusive. On that note, it seems like The Xbox is mixing it's questionable practices with as many exclusives as they can get their hands on. I just thought they were going crazy from the stress of being a big gaming company, but they were at that point when the 360 came out (not that it was a bad system. Let's be reasonable, these guys are kind of crazy).
All in all, I wasn't particularly blown away by Microsoft, but they did a good job of catching my attention, and making their fans feel proud of themselves, and proud of their system. Will people buy the console for these games? Of course they will. I'd be more surprised if they didn't, but will people who are on the fence as to what their preferred console is be persuaded to join the Xbox fandom? Maybe. That's a definite possibility. It's for those people, and those people alone to decide, though. No matter how something looks, how it feels, or how well it's received, It's the decision of you, the consumer, to choose what you're okay with, and what you're not. Are you okay with connecting your console online every day just to play your games? Are you okay with the Kinect always being on, and possibly spying on you? Are you okay with the increased difficulty to share your games with your friends? Personally, I think these games are great. I don't however, think they're good enough for me to overlook all of these things. You have to do your research as a consumer, or you will always be suckered into something you didn't know you didn't want. Next time, We're going to talk about the Sony E3 press conference, where they show off their lot of games, and the console itself, which is yet to be seen. So, with that, see you guys soon!