Microsoft Xbox One E3 Press Conference – What We Saw
Wow. That was amazing. If you just tuned in from the live stream of Microsoft and Xbox One’s E3 press conference, you’ll know what we’re talking about. If you didn’t, here’s our rundown of our best picks from the amazing lineup of games we just saw. Here are what we think are the five most significant ones we saw, and by the way, this is just the games for Xbox. We’ll have more coverage coming for other consoles, plus individual developers such as Electronic Arts (EA) and Ubisoft, every couple of hours.
Metal Gear Solid 5 – The Phantom Pain
First up was a preview of the intense new stealth/freerunning/action hybrid from the Metal Gear Solid series. The preview showed sidekick character Revolver Ocelot seeing protagonist Big Boss off at the start of the game. Big Boss is all set to build his private army in Afghanistan, starting off by mounting his trusty steed.
Modes of transport don’t just include horse riding, but also vehicles, including mainstays such as tank, truck and jeep. The game is set in an arid and hugely detailed open world, with realistic passage of time and realtime weather. Armed with an array of gadgets, binoculars and a brand-new cover and stealth system which includes freerunning, plus an original ‘dynamic’ CQC (close quarters combat) feature, survival veteran Big Boss shouldn’t have much trouble in this immense wilderness.
Of course, it’s also a Metal Gear Solid game, so expect some strange and wonderful character driven storytelling, with the usual lineup of slightly wacky characters, such as Otacon’s father, a pretty lady with a huge gun, plus some briefly teased ‘fire ghosts’.
Ryse – Son of Rome
The preview of this third-person Roman-themed hack and slasher got underway in epic fashion, similarly to the opening of Gladiator. This hugely detailed period piece showed Roman legionnaires jumping off triremes to meet a barbarian foe, who apparently had taken over a massive stone city.
Dodging falling rocks and arrows, the Centurion character got stuck into barbarian foes, with satisfyingly gory combat including both classic button mashing controls and slo-mo button prompt quick time events within the fight, allowing him to fight multiple enemies at once by quickly pressing buttons.
Later on the Romans moved as a unit with their trademark large and curved shields, defending themselves from burning arrows in the classic tortoise formation as ordered by the player. Once the Romans got close, the player ordered them to throw javelins as the enemy archers reloaded.
Leading up to the imminent release of Halo 5 Guardians, 343 Industries are to release a complete bundle of all 4 Halo titles so far – on the same disc. On November the 11th the entire saga, halo 1-4, will be available on Xbox One on one disc, known as the Master Chief collection. All games are to be seamlessly connected on the disc, with custom multiplayer playlists allowing gameplay between all 4 games, now on dedicated servers.
Additionally, Halo 2 is to be remastered, just like Combat Evolved Anniversary, but of course with the original multiplayer kept as it was. However, 6 Halo 2 maps are being recreated for Xbox One in 1080p. All games in the collection will run in 1080p, and astoundingly, we have learned that they will run on their original engines.
Developer 343 Industries also revealed that the collection will include achievements worth a whopping 4000 gamerscore… that’s a lot of cheevos. Just in case that wasn’t enough, also included will be Halo Nightfall – a live action series produced by Ridley Scott which leads directly up to the beginning of Halo 5 Guardians.
Halo 5 itself was also revealed to run multiplayer on dedicated servers, plus the beta is available in the Master Chief pack. A preview for Halo 5 showed our old friend the Arbiter making his return to the series, a sidekick long missed by fans. The Arbiter is guiding mysterious Agent Locke in a search for a rogue Master Chief, who, after the loss of best bud Cortana, has gone walkabout, questioning the very nature of his existence.
The Witcher 3 – Wild Hunt
Gameplay footage showed the Witcher Geralt of Rivia putting his enhances senses to the test, tracking a large Griffin through a massive open-world setting. According to the developers CD Projekt, every viewable location is traversable by the player, claiming that yes, you really could go over those mountains in the distance, and beyond.
Aside from the huge Griffin, easily a match for Geralt, the player found some random enemy encounters to pass the time following the monster’s trail. After fighting some bandits and rescuing a comely wench, Geralt got right back to the task of tracking the foul beastie.
Movement is a lot more streamlined than previous games, even including a little bit of freerunning. Once the Griffin was downed by one of Geralt’s gadgets, what looked like a launcher which threw multiple spikes at the diving foe, bringing him down. Once the monster hit the ground Geralt set about hacking and slicing at the monster in a strong reminder of the Monster Hunter series. The game seamlessly lets you use an array of gadgets, swords and spells to face down your foes.
The video ended with Geralt taking the monster’s head back with him to a hugely detailed village setting, presumably to get some kind of reward.
Tom Clancy’s Division
This shooter, set in New York, features a dilapidated city where the player must traverse the results of mass rioting and looting due to outbreak of a deadly virus, released on Black Friday. Now, several hostile factions control the city.
The player can use an interactive overlay map, which augments the third person view, to plan and scout ahead routes, while fellow survivors interact with the player in a number of ways, such as using an ‘echo’ to show the events of previous days, again overlaid over the game’s environment.
On their way to a new base of operations, the player came across some of the game’s highly realistic particle effects, uninterrupted by the very minimal hud which constantly floats on one side of the player. Upon meeting some enemies, the game’s smart cover system came into play. Hiding behind an obstacle, the player started by changing their active skill, just like Crysis.
During the firefight, the player’s AI squadmates reacted dynamically to in-game events, chattering away in the background as enemies were dispatched, and alerting the player to dangers in a way that seemed totally seamless. The player’s skills are hugely varied, we saw them blind a man using a drone with a flashlight, and then a teammate burning an enemy to a crisp using a small flamethrower gadget which stuck to some cover.
In this author’s opinion, the games released for Xbox One on launch do not measure up to the titles previewed at E3 2014. With the coming of a cheaper Xbox One, it may be time to seriously consider the console, or at least getting your hands on a next gen machine, be it console or PC. These games looked fantastic, seemed very fresh in terms of gameplay, and in the case of Halo and Metal Gear Solid, faithfully carried on the epic legacy of classic titles.
Stay with us for more E3 coverage.
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