Microsoft Press Conference

Microsoft knew one thing going into their press conference at this year’s E3, and that was the need to impress gamers with titles that make them want to buy the Xbox One. To do this, Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox, promised that their entire 90 minute show would be about nothing but games, and he delivered.

The show started off featuring a demo of Activision’s latest Call of Duty title by Sledgehammer Games, Advanced Warfare. This look into the future of war started off with the main character and his squad crashing into the middle of a futuristic Seoul, Korea, turned into a destructive war zone. After deploying and connecting with the local command, the game took viewers into the heat of battle where the characters had to use everything from fancy hologram projecting weapons to booster packs that make long drops livable. While fighting the enemy forces, we got to see the player toss out an interesting variety of grenades. One set painted targets to make them more visible to your HUD, while another, labeled Smart, flew around until it found a foe and then blew up in his face. The scene ended with a rather traumatic event for the main character, but if what we saw was only how the game starts, then it looks like Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is going to cause a lot of excitement. The latest COD game is slated to be released on November 4th.

Afterwards, Dan Greenwalt of Turn 10 Studios took to the stage to talk about Forza Motorspot 5’s newest DLC available now. Turn 10 made painstaking efforts to exactly duplicate the famous Nurburgring track as it exists in Nurburg, Germany. After talking about the DLC, Greenwalt then let the talk move towards the franchise’s newest game, Forza Horizon 2. The new title boasts over 200 cars, dynamic weather, an open world to drive in and seamless multiplayer integration. You can also build your own driving club and use the license’s Drivatar feature first seen in Forza 5. Forza Horizon 2 will hit streets September 30th.

2K Games also had a new title they wanted to share. In the gameplay video for Evolve, we didn’t get to see much, but what we saw appeared to be a Team Fortress 2 style multiplayer shooter game. As with games of this nature, your class and load-out matter a lot, and Evolve enumerated its classes to be Assault, Trapper, Medic and Support, but it also had a surprise playable role of "The Monster," a beast that seems to be more than just a casual Lovecraftian nod. Look for Evolve this Fall.

From there, the press conference shifted to a demo of the new Assassin’s Creed: Unity. Taking place during the French Revolution, ACU adds a new feature to the game in four-player co-op. Now you can "build your own brotherhood" and invite three friends into your game to take on the assassination at hand. In the demo we saw, the assassins had to create a diversion in order to make it into a Marquis’ palace. The quartet of killers scaled walls, slinked through halls and balanced on flag poles in order to get within sight of the target, but once he was in their hands, there was no mercy.

Later, Ted Price of Insomniac Studios took the stage to show off Sunset Overdrive, a fast-paced shooter that seems to do everything but take itself seriously. In a world where energy drinks have turned most of the world’s population into mutants, you must run, climb, zip and shoot your way through hordes of enemies in order to save Sunset City. In classic Insomniac style, you will have a variety of unconventional weapons at your disposal to take out the bad guys in an amusingly wide variety of ways. As Price played through the level (one that took him through a fairway in order to get to a roller coaster), he fired off weapons that more than had great sound effects, but great visual effects too. When he froze a group of mutants, the word "BRRR" splayed over their heads in icy blocks. When a massive explosion occurred, "BOOM" is in the fiery mushroom cloud. The game itself looks fun and full of energy, but these little touches are going to be just the extra bit of polish to really sell the experience.

From there, Capcom announced a new DLC for Dead Rising 3 that puts an arcade spin to the game. This new content lets you put on the skin of many of Capcom’s characters and perform a lot of their special moves. The video was rather crazy, so it’s hard to tell exactly what you can do in it, but it did promise power-ups and bonus stages in the styles of the company’s other games. This new DLC is already available for download.

Harmonix took a little time to tease at a new title called Disney Fantasia Music Evolved, but their main focus was on the new Dance Central: Spotlight. This newest dance game will be a digital only title for the Xbox One and it not only promises a lot of songs to dance to, but with the help of some new tools, Harmonix claims that they will be able to keep Dance Central: Spotlight up to date with new DLC putting the hottest hits of the moment out week after week.

Afterwards, David Eckelberry of Lionhead took the stage to talk about Fable Legends. We saw some gameplay footage of this title as the party struck out into some overgrown ruins looking for an artifact. While the four heroes made their way through the environment, they were attacked by wave after wave of various foes and it seemed like there was a ton of co-op friendly attacks like one hero freezing an enemy, while the other deals the final blow. What looks really interesting about Fable Legends is that there is a new option - you can play as the villain and take time to set up the arena with monsters and traps. So where the heroes' side of the fight has a very Gauntlet feel to it, the flip side might come off more as a tower defense style game. Think Dungeon Master type of control over what the heroes will face.

The Microsoft press conference also featured a segment on Project Spark, a game maker software for the PC, Xbox 360 and Xbox One. This segment showed the wide variety of games that have been developed for this platform and talked a bit about the community that has come from the short time the software has been in beta. It also ended with a rather strong hint that a new Conker game was being developed under Project Spark.

Of course, one of the biggest topics at the press conference was Halo. While not much was revealed about Halo 5: Guardians itself, what was revealed was the November release of Halo: The Master Chief Collection. This set will be the first time Halo 1 through 4 will be playable on the same system. Not only does this collection include every multiplayer map, but it also allows access to the Halo: Nightfall live action series and a Halo 5 beta. Also, since its release corresponds to the 10-year anniversary of Halo 2, the classic sequel is getting a graphical overhaul. Every level and location has been touched and updated, but if you liked the classic look, you can toggle between the two styles at the touch of a button. The developers at 343 Industries have also used this opportunity to make a Greatest Moments feature that lets you go through a playlist of major events in the game.

In the demo for The Witcher 3: The Great Hunt, we saw Geralt, the main character, hunt down a griffin. When he first approached the large beast, an initial attack alerted the creature to our presence. Even though it flew off, the character was able to use his abilities to track the trail of blood it left on the forest floor. The hunt was interrupted though when the trail lead through a clearing where a fight was happening. After dispensing with the ruffians and saving a damsel in distress herbalist, the woman’s store became available for later use. The developers explained that missions frequently cross over open world events and give you the opportunity to do more than just the immediate goal.

The press conference also featured a demo of Tom Clancy’s: The Division. In this gritty, near-future world, we saw a group of four players dive into combat with some interesting gadgets and visual effects. Little details like the holographic map that appears around the player’s feet, plus what appears to be a fairly easy talent changing system were just a couple of details that look like they will give The Division a bit of unique flavor in the world of near-future urban war zone shooters that seem to be coming out right now.

The last two titles that Microsoft had on stage were Platinum Game’s Scalebound and a new Crackdown game. Both seem to focus a lot on scale... as in size, not the armor found on dragons. That being said, Scalebound does seem to focus on dragons. In the video we saw, the main character apparently uses a massive dragon to fight other large creatures in the world. The video had the character directing the dragon as well as using his own weapons against a monstrous crab beast. When the fight was over, he jumped on the dragon’s back and took to the air after an even bigger monster. This time though, three other dragon-riding characters appeared alongside him, each with a distinctly different color scheme - could this be a hint at four-person multiplayer?

As for Crackdown, there was no evidence of gameplay footage, but if the actual game has even a sliver of the energy and scale that was shown in the video, then Crackdown promises to bring the license to a whole new level.

The Microsoft press conference also featured video footage of games like Bioware’s Dragon Age: Inquisition, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Phantom Dust and a new IP called Ori and the Blind Forest, a sidescrolling platformer that reminds me a lot of a darker version of Rayman Legends.