Microsoft’s E3 Press Conference 2014

Today saw Microsoft set out their plans for the upcoming year in gaming with their annual presentation at the E3 conference.  While there was little in the way of big surprise announcements, there were plenty of big games announced and showcased that are making their way to the Xbox One in the next year or so.

Instead of the usual Microsoft offering, which showcases new features to their console as well as games, it was only new titles and updates on upcoming releases that were shown.  It was a great ploy considering one of the main criticisms of the Xbox One so far has been that it featured little in the way of blockbuster titles.

The first title, as per tradition, was the new Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. It was a typical E3 demo for the franchise, with a little bit of the new action abilities that the game features being shown, such as Titanfall-esque boosters that let you jump higher and grenades whose function can be changed on the fly.  Advanced Warfare looks like Call of Duty’s final step into sci-fi territory, with an exceptionally futuristic look that was rather new but still with the feel of the series.  The combat shown was very traditional too.   It’s early days yet for the game, with its main focus being multiplayer, but it’ll be interesting to see how Sledgehammer’s solo debut in the Call of Duty series develops.

Next up was Forza.  After announcing the Nurburgring for immediate availability for Forza 5, they announced Forza Horizon 2 – an exclusive sequel to the successful open-world entry to the series.  It’ll boast 200 cars, a day/night cycle, dynamic weather all hosted on dedicated servers without the need for lobbies.  The game also allows you to create clubs for as many as 1000 people to join to race together.  Horizon 2 is slated for release on September 30th this year.

One of the most exciting upcoming games at the moment, and the big hit of the Microsoft conference is Evolve.  From Turtle Rock Studios, the developers behind Left4Dead, the game has been in development for over 4 years and was revealed with a fantastic trailer a few months ago.  The game looks to break boundaries in games with a unique 4v1 concept – with co-operative class gameplay for 4 players against 1 human-controlled monster.  This game looks really interesting and a real step forward for co-operative gameplay.

The next-gen Assassin’s Creed Unity made an appearance in Microsoft’s conference next.  Set in 18th century Paris during the French Revolution, the game has the biggest playground ever for the series as well as the introduction of co-op for the first time.  You can play with up to 3 friends in traditional Assassin’s Creed combat, with a demo in the conference showing 4 players helping to capture a palace belonging to one of the nobility the people of Paris were rising up against.  It looked much like a predictable step forward for the series, with much of the same gameplay but just with more detail, more capacity for movement and more visceral action.

My personal highlight of the conference was Insomniac’s Sunset Overdrive.  The creators of Ratchet & Clank showed their Xbox One exclusive with a typically fun trailer.  The game is cartoony, but a little more grown-up compared to Ratchet, and with gameplay a little more geared towards traditional third-person action.  It looked like great fun, with the Insomniac arsenal of wacky weapons there too, and like a game that I’d enjoy playing.  Ted Price, Insomniac’s founder, also announced an 8-player co-op mode for the game called “Chaos Squad”, which could be great fun.  Sunset Overdrive is slated for release on October 28th this year.

Capcom announced the first Dead Rising 3 add-on, in the tongue-in-cheek style of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon, bringing back old protagonists of the series for an arcade 4-player co-op experience, available immediately on Xbox Live.  The best part about it is its ridiculously unabbreviated title: Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade Remix Hyper Edition EX Plus Alpha Prime.

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