Reviewing E3 2015: Microsoft Press Conference

Generally, E3 starts the day before the doors actually open on the convention center. This year, we had Bethesda do a press conference two whole days before, but the show really starts on Monday. And the first press conference on the big day is Microsoft.

The conference starts with a montage of several first party Microsoft properties. There’s Halo, Gears of War, Fable, Forza, and Tomb Raider. And from what I can tell, this isn’t scenes taken directly from the game, but rather clips made specifically for this montage. This is really cool, and it’s the kind of respect for it’s own brands that you usually only see from Nintendo. It is a little weird to see Fable up there now with the recent closing of Lionhead Studios, but at the time it made sense.

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Bonnie Ross gets things started

Bonnie Ross from 343 Industries takes the stage. After declaring the Xbox One’s 2015 line-up as the best in Xbox history, she fires up a lengthy demo of Halo 5: Guardians. It’s still a gorgeous game and a lot of fun to watch, but it’s inherently less exciting to watch now, just because the game is out already.

Next, we get a CG trailer for a new IP called ReCore. It seems to be an action game with a female protagonist and her robot dog. From what I can tell, robots in this universe have their memory stored in large balls which can be placed in multiple bodies. The trailer ends with the dog sacrificing itself to destroy a bunch of enemies, but the woman takes the dog’s ball and put’s it into a larger robot body. It’s being made by Armature Studio, which is awesome since those guys worked on the Metroid Prime series. Keiji Inafune is also working on it, which is pretty cool, except that we’re still waiting on Mighty No. 9.

Phil Spencer is next to come out, and he drops a bombshell. Backwards compatibility is announced for the Xbox One, and the crowd goes wild. I remember this moment as being one of the most exciting of the conference. Unfortunitly, like when I talked about Fallout 4 last week, this is something that has become less exciting with time. The actual library of Xbox 360 games available to play on the Xbox One is currently pretty underwhelming, and it’s been almost a year since this announcement.

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Phil Spencer’s best duck face

Speak of the devil, Todd Howard is back to talk about Fallout 4 again. He presents a lengthy, pre-recorded demo of one of the early missions in the game. My opinion is basically the same as it was last week, it was cool at the time, but now that the game is out, not so much. He then announces that mods made on the PC can be transferred to the Xbox One version of the game. That’s pretty cool. I’m pretty sure that’s not currently in the game though, and it’s been out for several months.

It’s EA’s turn, and unfortunately, Peter Moore doesn’t have a whole ton of exciting news to share. He mostly just pimps EA Access, talking about how Madden and Need For Speed will be released early on the platform, and then announces Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2. Not bad, but nothing mind-blowing either. Maybe he’s saving it for the EA press conference? (find out next week!)

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The Dark Souls III trailer is pretty neat

Next, a car lowers down from the ceiling. Cool? This leads into a CG trailer for Forza Motorsport 6. It’s a lot of car-porn, but that’s okay. That’s kind of what you expect from a racing game trailer anyways. Immediatly following is more CG trailers. One for Dark Souls III just kind of comes and goes. Then one for The Division and one for Rainbow Six: Siege, with a little bit of announcements in between them. Basically, if you buy Rainbow Six: Siege, you get both Rainbow Six: Vegas games for free via backwards compatibility. Pretty neat.

Looks like it’s indie game time, as we get a montage of a whole bunch of games. Then Chis Charla from ID@Xbox enters the stage. We get little presentations of a few of those games. These include Tacoma, Ashen, Beyond Eyes, and Cuphead. Cuphead in particular stands out, with it’s amazing 1930’s cartoon style. Chris Charla then announces the Xbox Game Preview program, which is basically early access on console. Thankfully, all games in the Game Preview program include a free trial.

Next up, Crystal Dynamics shows off Rise of the Tomb Raider. Visually, the game looks great, although the demo is showing mostly set piece moments, where you’re pretty much running forward while cool stuff happens around you. Still, it’s all pretty neat, and it reminded me that I have a copy of it sitting on my shelf that I haven’t gotten to yet. Might have to try it out ahead of the PS4 release later this year.

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YEAH!!

Now we get to the real good stuff. Rare Replay gets announced, which is thirty of Rare’s classic games for only$30. I lost my mind at this a year ago when this was new. And you know what, even after release, it’s still exciting now. Rare Replay is exactly what it should be, and it’s something that every Xbox One owner should have. But that’s not all the Rare news. Sea of Thieves is announced, but unfortunately, there’s not a lot I can gather from the trailer. It’s a pirate themed multiplayer game, and that’s about I got. But, Rare is making a new AAA game, and that’s more than enough reason for me to be excited.

Kudo Tsunoda is up next with the biggest bummer of the show. Some quick information about Fable Legends, which was recently cancelled. Well, at least it was short. Kudo moves on to talk about the Hololens. The demo is pretty cool, showing a new version of Minecraft that is displayed on the surface of a table. The effect is really cool, although I wonder how much this really matters in practice.

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The future of video games

For the final segment, Rod Ferguson, announces Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, an HD update to the original Gears of War. But, then he actually plays Gears of War 4. This demo is awesome. It’s dark and moody and has an almost survival horror feel to it. I haven’t been excited for this game, but re-watching it now reminded me of how much I’ve enjoyed this series.

Almost a year ago, this was an outstanding start to the day, but this series is about re-watching the press conferences in 2016. So, how does Microsoft’s stack up? Well, it’s okay. Still some legitimately cool moments, but definitely not as exciting as it once was.

Oh, and as you could probably tell from the watermarks in my screenshots, I watched IGN’s video of the conference, which you can watch right here. Come back next week to see how Electronic Arts’ conference holds up.

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