Chris: In years past, I’ve looked at E3 as having the potential to be the biggest day of the year for video games. It’s like Christmas, right? But that road only led to disappointment, especially the last couple years. I’m trying a new approach this time around: setting the bar as low as humanly possible.
So it’s appropriate that we’re starting our coverage with Microsoft, which solidly occupies the lowest spot on my caring totem pole. Last year, Microsoft decided it would be a good idea to hire monkeys to run its public relations staff, and it completely missed the mark on its new console’s release date, price, Kinect obligations, focus on TV integration, social media campaign, and so on, and so on.
This year? The focus returned to games, finally.
Let’s be clear up front: There weren’t any stunning surprises. Even if there had been, someone on NeoGAF leaked almost all of the details of Microsoft’s press conference before it happened, which is interesting.
But a lot of what you would expect was there. The Halo Master Chief collection will probably be big news to people who love the Halo MP experience, with 100+ maps spanning the four major titles of the series. Halo 5 is still a thing.Crackdown 3 looks like it will be expanding its co-op. Fable Legends will let you team up as many as four heroes — or play as the villain, which could be fun if the combat and menu systems are better. There’s a new Dance Central game, so…yeah. And some other titles like Sunset Overdrive and Phantom Dust looked interesting.
Any other big announcements are sure to be multiplatform, so we can’t give Microsoft too much credit here. Assassin’s Creed Unity showed off a four-player co-op demo (I’m noticing a trend here…), although it was essentially similar-looking gameplay with four people in cloaks and hoodies instead. Dragon Age: Inquisition and RIse of the Tomb Raider will be exciting news for fans of those series.
Oh, and something something another Call of Duty game this year, but we certainly won’t be talking about that.
Still, for simply moving the focus back to games and not worthless peripherals and incompetent marketing, Microsoft did okay in my book. Grade: B-
Shaun: Like Chris said, Xbox One had a lot to prove this year. I don’t know if the outlook for Xbox has been bleaker since the original’s launch back in 2015. To make matters worse, they had to convince ME to stop being bitter that months after buying into their Kinect bulls***, they dropped the price. Thanks for screwing over your early-adopters. Great business plan.
Suffice it to say, the Xbox One E3 presentation had a lot riding on it, but I think it managed to deliver thanks to one thing in particular–the focus being back on games, like it always should have been.
Now, while I agree that third party games is cheating, at this point, it’s hard to care when in years previous, these announcements were largely ignored in favor of silly Kinect functionality and the pursuit of an “All-In-One Living Room Experience” that no one really cared about.
While I couldn’t care less about the new Assassin’s Creed: Unity (which, for the record, is starting to get so many generic secondary titles it’s hard to keep track), and the Mass Effect “announcement” was pretty disappointing in that it literally told us nothing new about the game that fans didn’t know already, there was still a lot to be excited about.
Dragon Age: Inquisition is shaping up to be stellar after a disappointing second entry, and I will buy the hell out of the Master Chief Collection to replay through the series in anticipation for Halo 5 (now they just need to announce with this the Mass Effect Trilogy and I’ll be pleased as punch). Plus, it’s hard not to get excited about the possibilities for more Crackdown on a next gen system, especially when the team responsible for the original is returning.
It’s also worth noting that for the first time….ever (?), I’m interested in playing the next Call of Duty. The trailer was fantastic, and I love me some Kevin Spacey.
I also appreciated the focus on unique, more artsy game endeavors, which is a play Microsoft pulled from last year’s Sony presentation. So it’s good, but at some point, Microsoft needs to pioneer SOMETHING again, right? Or is it enough to just keep copying ideas?
Probably the announcement I was most excited about (not sure if that’s a good or a bad thing yet) is the Xbox One exclusive Scalebound from Platinum Games. I love these guys, and if they can deliver on this game like they’ve done in the past, it’s going to be a huge win for the system.
Overall, there was nothing earth shattering, no one announcement that made me hold my hands in my face and cry softly while whispering “See? This is why I bought you,” but it was solid nonetheless. It’s nice to see this tonal shift from Microsoft, but even nicer that their marketing and PR department appear to have gotten their act together, and their finger back on the pulse of what matters to games.
I don’t know if you can give super high scores for Microsoft avoiding the progression of the “Great Gaming Decline” like they did last year, but it’s a step in the right direction.
I agree with Chris. Grade: B-