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E3 2013 – Sony Press Conference: Guess Who’s Back

With the amount of bad karma surrounding the Xbox One reveal, and the strong showing from Microsoft earlier in the day, things could have gone either way with Sony’s press conference. They would have to acknowledge the consumer buzz surounding the Xbox One and come out strong with a healthy game showing and enough new information to reassure consumers that they are there for them. They pretty resoundingly managed to do that, and it’s pretty safe to say that Sony should be feeling pretty self satisfied and smug right now.

Sony started by reminding people that the Vita is a thing, and assuring everyone that they know it is still a thing. They did release some interesting statistics on software attachment, where each Vita owner has bought around 10 games, with 60% of all games sold coming digitally from the Playstation Store.

Rather than announcing a bunch of new titles right off the line, they announced a bunch of “remasters” including God of War, Final Fantasy X and X-2, Flower and Dead Nation. They also mentioned that the recently teased “400 Days” DLC for the first season of Walking Dead would be part of a Vita bundle that includes the first season. If you haven’t played it (GameEngineStart Game of the Year 2012) you really should.

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PS3 was up next, with a reel of new trailers for the games coming before the end of the year. Last of Us still looks amazing and is out at the end of the week, Beyond: Two Souls focused on the CIA agent part of Jodie’s life which hasn’t been seen before, Gran Turismo 6 sure looks like a pretty driving game, and Batman: Arkham Origins is another slice of DC goodness. Two games that were anounced last year made a reappearance, with the Ico like title Rain, with an invisible boy as its main character, and Pupeteer, a game that I still don’t know what it actually is.

Finally the Playstation 4 section of the conference started, and started strong with the reveal of the hardware. The console looks great, a parallelogram shaped Oreo of a box with blue flashes reminiscent of the
Playstation 2 slim redesign with a mix of matt and gloss black. It looks very Sony, while not being too overstated.

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We knew that at some point in the conference Sony were going to take some time out to touch on the media aspects of the Playstation 4, which went on a little too long for my liking. A representative from Sony Pictures Entertainment came out and said … nothing really, only saying that SPE would be providing some exclusive TV programming and have some special association with some music artists to put their content out on the network. It felt like a token gesture showing that the vision for a “single” Sony, with all of the separate parts feeding into each other. They confirmed that Sony’s Video and Music Unlimited services will carry over to the new console, along with their NHL coverage and recognising that the PS3 is currently the #1 Netflix device.

Shuhei Yoshida then took to the stage to talk games. The Sony first party studios have been busy, with 20 titles in development and 12 of them being new IP. The first of them comes from Santa Monica Studios and Ready at Dawn with their new title The Order : 1866, showing a steam-punk London filled with Zeppelins and electricity guns. The in-engine footage looked phenomenal, although we were just shown non-interactive footage, with no indication about what the game actually is in terms of genre or perspective.

Sony made a smart move by just showing some new footage from the games shown at their announcement back in February, with actual playthroughs being available online. Killzone looked a lot more colourful than the initial demo, Driveclub was still a sharp driving game, and Knack could potentially be an enjoyable little platformer. All three of these games were also announced to be launch titles. Infamous: Second Son will follow in the first part of 2014, and had some superb character animation and fantastically expressive character faces.

Quantic Dream showed off a sneak peek of a 12 minute demo named The Dark Sorcerer running in real time on the PS4. The level of detail shown in the footage was staggering, looking finally close to what David Cage’s studio have been aiming for for all these years.

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Adam Boyes ran the indie section of the event, leading with Bastion developer Supergiant Games next title, Transistor. The game looks really unique, taking the best parts of Bastion and expanding them into a more technology based world and some amazing music. Sony then dropped a laundry list of newly announced titles, all of which were making console débuts on the PS4. Amongst this included some already released PC titles such as Don’t Starve and Octodad, along with some brand new names such as Mercenary Kings and Secret Ponchos, a remake of the original Abe’s Oddesy and confirmation that the first person horror game Outlast will be coming to PS4. Sony were not messing about with their indie commitment, and from the sounds of it their move to allow indies to self publish on the platform could pay dividends.

Square Enix had a recorded message for the audience, with the developer of Final Fantasy Versus XIII showing off a new trailer and footage from the game. Very much showing a darker more modern style that reminded me of the Advent Children movie, the trailer and in-game footage were very difficult to discern. It’s still unclear how the third person game actually plays however, but still showed impressively with the series stable of extravagant combat scenarios and visual effects. At the end of the trailer it was revealed that this is now Final Fantasy 15, a big deal considering the titles divergence from what series fans will be used to. As a final “one more thing”, Square Enix dropped a trailer and in game footage from the much rumoured Kingdom Hearts 3, which looks as great as you would expect from a next gen title from
the series.

Assassins Creed IV was wheeled out again for the third time in the day, and finally showed some in game action. The demo was fraught with technical difficulties however, freezing multiple times during the playthrough, before locking up completely. I can only imagine the amount of frantic running around and shouting that was going on back stage while a single poor developer was out in front with a controller and a look of defeat on his face. The sections that did work however, showing the lead tracking a target through the jungles of the West Indies to then escape on a boat and take part in the genuinely exciting looking naval battles, looked really great and might convince me to try that series again.

Another repeat showing today was Watch Dogs, with another impressive gameplay demo, featuring the required amounts of driving, hacking and choking dudes out with a baton that you have come to expect from the game. The new footage showed Aiden hacking phones and cameras to spy on the surrounding areas without having to expose himself, and some great moments such as blacking out what looked like complete city block to escape from the police. The real new feature in this demo was the ability for the player to “call for help”, which brought another person on stage wielding a tablet to assist in the escape from the police by hacking the surroundings without needing the console players input.

There was another quick flurry of announcements, with NBA 2K14 looking suitably next gen, Elder Scrolls Online bringing multiplayer Skyrim to fans and a trailer for a Mad Max game from Avalanche Studios, the developers of the Just Cause series.

And then Sony started to completely obliterate the audience.

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Jack Tretton returned to the stage to deliver the first of the big bombs, that the Playstation 4 will not have any restrictions on used games at a platform level, and was met by a resounding mix of cheers and standing ovations. His next hit was a direct shot at Microsoft, saying that the console does not require an on-line connection and does not need to phone home every 24 hours. The words of the latter statement was chosen very carefully, as there were multiple ways to phrase it, and they decided to go with one directly targeting their competitor. This was a fantastic “hearts and minds” move for Sony, surely winning over a large proportion of the consumer base that was in a real bad mood with Microsoft since the Xbox One reveal a few weeks ago

Sony are also expanding the benefits of the already fantastic value Playstation Plus program. They announced that current Plus subscriptions will carry over, and the same priced subscription will cover Playstation 3, 4 and Vita. Driveclub will also be available through the service soon after launch, although the nomenclature of “Driveclub: Playstation Plus Edition” suggests that it may not be the full title.

The one back step that Sony made in the midst of the hysteria erupting on the floor after the used game and connectivity announcements was that multiplayer gaming on Playstation 4 will require a Plus subscription. Sony are making an excellent case for the service with their stellar support for it so far, so hopefully it will not be a terribly hard pill to swallow.

For their final title of the presentation, Sony showed the first gameplay footage of Destiny. I feel like I have been saying this a lot over the past few days, but this is a visually stunning game. The dynamic lighting especially looked great, after the player launched a “ghost” drone which illuminated the pitch black surroundings, throwing shadows everywhere. Being the new title from Bungie the DNA of the original Halo games is definitely present, with new loot and cooperative mechanics layered on. A taste of the MMO nature of the wider game was shown when the demo group stumbled into a public event where a “Devil Walker”, a huge turtle with attached guns, was dropped from a ship, leaving the group of now four to five players to take it out. This game looks like a fantastic experience, and I really hope the community that surrounds it will not be the usual Call of Duty levels of moronic when dealing with in game chat. Oh and jet bikes, the jet bikes were awesome.

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Sony briefly talked about Gaikai streaming technology, and how it will be used on all three of their platforms to stream PS3 games without requiring a download, which I assume is their reply to those who were disappointed by the lack of backwards compatibility in the Playstation 4. The technology has not been the most usable in the past, due to internet speeds and the inherent latencies incurred by sending input over the internet, but Sony sound confident that they have solved the problem. The system will roll out in the US first in 2014

In a resounding “drop the mic” moment, Sony followed Microsoft’s lead and announced a price for the console, undercutting their competitors by $100, with a $399/£349 price point to be released in the holiday season this year. This was a surprise to many as the hardware inside the console is inherently more expensive than their competitors, with DDR5 memory not exactly coming cheap and them packing 8Gb of the stuff in there. Again this prompted a huge applause from the audience, and rightly so as this rounds out the barrage of punches they had been swinging at Microsoft throughout the presentation.

When Sony came out in February and said that they had been listening to consumers and talking to developers, everyone rolled their eyes. This presentation showed that Sony are serious. Hitting the big titles, the indies, and the services, while exploiting the flaws in the Xbox One’s game plan shows that Sony are back in the next generation in a big way. The super competitive price was just the icing on the cake. More information about both of the consoles are sure to come out over the rest of the week and in the months up to launch, but I am sure there a lot of Xbox gamers looking longingly over the fence at the competition, and a lot of them might be looking to jump it.

E3 2013 – Nintendo Direct: One for the Fans

With Nintendo choosing to forgo the normal extravagant affair of an E3 press conference this year, they instead decided to hold a more intimate Nintendo direct livestream event for its fans.

What we got was a selection of games that anyone could have guess Nintendo were releasing.

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Mr Iwata opened the day with gameplay of Pokemon X/Y, announcing the rumoured Fairy type to be true. They showed 3D battle scenes, and the ability to pet and share interact with your pokemon via facial expressions. More pokemon for you budding trainers out there to look forward to on its release of the  12th of October this year. Enjoy!

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Next was Mario`s turn to shine, showing 2 new games from everyone`s favourite Italian plumber. First was a new 3D mario platformer, Super Mario 3D World for the Wii U out in December of this year. Gameplay looked much like the 3DS instalment, including a brand new Cat Suit for Mario, allowing him to jumper higher and pounce mid air.

The second was Mario Kart 8, a new kart racer for the Wii U next year. New to the race is the addition of hover karts, allowing you to race on walls or upside down on the track. Mario kart is always good fun with groups of friends, stay interested if that sounds good for you.

Both Wii Party U and Wii Fit U were then discussed, saying that Nintendo needed more time to add features and make the games as good as they can be. They simply stated that Party U will be out later this year, and Wii Fit U will be out at some point.

Inspired by some of the fantastic drawings on the Miiverse, Iwata then announce a new Art Academy game. The interesting feature is a special mode which allows direct uploading of drawing to the Miiverse. If all those pencil drawings of Yoshi and the sheep from Funky Barn suddenly become more fantastic works of art, this seems like a great idea to me.

Wii U was then given some love by third parties, by have a whole stream of named titles coming tot he platform. These ranged from Assassin`s Creed 4, to Deus Ex: Human Revolution to Watch Dogs. Any support that the Wii U gets can only be good for the console.

To show Nintendo are committed to nurturing the online space, several eShop titles were also announced, including the new Ducktails Remastered game, and the Xbox Live title World of Keflings. Good to see Nintendo is giving more developers a chance on their consoles.

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Good news for Zelda fans, Wind Waker HD looks absolutely gorgeous. Nintendo announced that they are adding new changes to aid in exploration of the world, i presume this is fixing the sailing so it isn`t really boring half the time. Coming in October of this year, people should probably play Wind Waker, it is one hell of a Zelda game.

More from Platinum about both of their Wii U exclusives then followed. The Wonderful 101 showed off its “Unite” power, to turn massive groups of characters into swords, guns and other marvellous creations to defeat large monsters attacking their town. They also showed the chaotic looking multiplayer, showing 4 players controlling individual groups of people. Releasing August 23rd, this seems like a fun time to be had on your Wii U.
Bayonetta 2 then had its gameplay reveal, showing the titular dark witch fighting massive creatures in a space-like environment. She also appears to have had a makeover, styling a new costume and shorter hair. Bayonetta 1 was a lot of fun, so I would say this is one to watch in 2014.

A new Donkey Kong game was then announced for 2014, Donkey Kong Country Tropical Freeze. Vikings have invaded DK`s island, and so he, Diddy and Dixie Kong must venture out to find new islands, presumably filled with Bananas. Gameplay looked much like a Donkey Kong Country game, only now with adaptive camera angles.

The next reveal was the new game by Xenoblade Chronicles developer, Monolith Soft for the Wii U in 2014.The game, simply called X, is an open world action game, feturing mechs which the player can control at certain points. It was one of the most interesting things on the stream, so I will defiantly be looking for new information as it comes.

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The stream ended with the news everyone already knew, a new Super Smash Bros game is coming to both 3DS and Wii U. The gameplay footage shown looks like the 3DS version has slightly cell-shaded style graphics, and the Wii U version looks more traditional. Along with the reveal that, yes, it looks like it plays like a Smash Bros game, two new characters were announce. A villager from Animal Crossing, and Mega Man. Both look like interesting additions, however, with Mega Man`s ability to use a selection of his collected boss weapons from previous games, he appears to be a very interesting fighter to play.

This was a chance for Ninentdo to show us what was coming in the next year for fans. What they showed is exactly what most Nintendo fans want, more of the same. New iterations of the franchises they know and love.

While it would have been a real treat to announce new IPs, or a price drop for something, I can`t say I am surprised by Nintendo`s decision.

E3 2013 – Ubisoft Press Event: Growing Up

Last year, Ubisoft shirked their usual position as the “oddity” of the show to come out with a great selection of
games and killing it at the end with the first unveiling of Watch Dogs. They apparently realised that people were
not laughing at them in 2012, and took that template and ran with it, almost to the letter.

Aisha Tyler made a wonderful return to the stage, and whether she was acting or not she provided the suitable
illusion that she wanted to be there while not being completely insane. Every time Ubisoft manage to get a host that
doesn’t make the audience cringe every time they open their mouth (see Mr Caffeine from E3 2011) can be counted as
a massive win for the company.

Shown first was yet another trailer for Splinter Cell: Blacklist. For a game due out in a few months, the lack of
actual gameplay that has been shown so far is worrying to say the least. The trailer they showed was very slick
however, making full use of the expansive theatre screen at the venue, however there was nothing new to impress me
about the game.

The much beleaguered Rayman Legends was brought up to bring some lightness to E3, with their trademark style and
gorgeous 2D worlds and animation. The game should have been out by now, but until it is finally released in
September I will suffice to just watch the happiest game on the planet in both (both!) of the trailers they showed.

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The first new blood came in the form of the wonderfully named The Mighty Quest For Epic Loot, a Pixar esque fantasy
game heavily inspired by the classic PC Dungeon Keeper games. Mighty Quest currently has the trailer to beat for E3
so far, a legitimately funny Team Fortress 2 style trailer which is well worth a look. The game is free to play for
PC, currently in beta, and I will definitely be taking a look.

South Park: Stick of Truth made another appearance at the presentation, and looks very much like the interactive
episode that a fan would be looking for. The trailer opening with fart based humour, and ending with Cartman in a
wizard hat talking about video game release dates really encompasses what Obsidian are trying to do with the game.

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Yves Guillemot made an appearance to talk about a new IP from Ubisoft, the co-op driving game The Crew. Much like
the new Need for Speed shown at EA, The Crew is attempting to merge single and multiplayer games into one, where
every mission in the game can be taken on in a group with other people. Players who are currently playing all over
the game map, which was revealed to be a styled rendition of the whole USA, can meet up to start taking on
missions. Another theme of the conference continued with the ability to customise and mod your car on your other
devices. A lot of this sounds great in theory, but more information is needed to see how this ambition will pan
out.

Watch_Dogs had a remarkably small showing, considering how much buzz there is surrounding the title. Ubisoft showed
another fantastic CG trailer which served the intended purpose of setting the mood for the game, although the lack
of in-game demo was surprising. Hopefully this means there will be more in the Sony conference to see.

Ubisoft showed a trailer for Just Dance 2014. That happened.

The Rabidds made a return in an unexpected way, with the announcement of an interactive animated TV series from
Ubisoft Motion Pictures and Nickelodeon, Rabbids Invasion, exclusive to the Xbox One. The exact form this would
take was not clear, as the interactivity shown looked very much like we are going to get a Rabbids FMV game. This is
not necessarily a bad thing.

Continuing to pay the Ubisoft CG trailer department their due celebration, another impressive Assassins Creed 4
trailer was shown, with all of the required pirate based features you would expect. With no gameplay demos, we were
simply left with in game footage and the need to go Google the music in the trailer, something that seems to be
happening more and more with Ubisoft reels.

After an announcement of two new Trials games, Fusion for next gen and Frontier for mobile devices, Ubisoft did it
again and ended with a show stopper.

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Tom Clancys: The Division is a next gen open world third person tactical shooter with RPG leanings, with a
fantastically sinister premise and a visually stunning dystopian world. It hit all of the points that it needed to
hit, tightly knit cooperative gameplay, some gorgeous UI and interface work and some really interesting and varied
approaches to dealing with a situation. With elements of surviving in this world through scavenging equipment and
gleaning informations from your surroundings, and more dynamic integration between single and multiplayer and the
ability to participate from a tablet through drones, this is a fantastically exciting game, and by far the highlight
of the show.

Ubisoft managed to pull of a great show with another fantastic show-stopper to end on, something they are starting to
make a habit of. Their new IP looks great, but the lack of actual in game demos was really disappointing. While I
am consistently impressed by the quality of Ubisofts trailers, I hope that in the future they make full use of the
stage their are given to show what their amazing stable of IP can actually do.

E3 2013 – EA Press Event: Expect the Unexpected

There was an initial worry that EA would have had their thunder stolen by the Microsoft conference mere hours before, with their big titles already being announced. Instead EA used this as an opportunity to expand on what had been dropped, and managed to get a few surprises in there

What started as a predictable move with EA leading with Battlefield 4, turned hilariously into a reveal for Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare. Separate from the recently revealed Plants vs Zombies 2, Garden Warfare is a Frostbite 3 powered class based third person action game, which is a selection of words I would never have imagined I would use to describe a title from the Plants vs. Zombies franchise. Coming for Xbox 360 and Xbox One, this looks legitimately fun and would be one to watch.

Oh, and Peggle 2. The dude on stage was really excited about that.

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EA then moved onto Titanfall, which the rightfully put forward as their big next gen title. From the ex-Infinity Ward developers, this sci-fi shooter manages to incorporate a single player experience into multiplayer, via characters, scripted sequences and a narrative woven through the games. Players have a lot more manoeuvrability than are normally afforded to FPS avatars, with jet packs and wall running combining together to allow characters to travel much more fluidly than expected from the genre. Taking the best parts of Battlefield, Call of Duty and big stompy mechs, this game looks extraordinary and could finally provide some real competition in a genre that is currently a one horse race.

The first surprise from EA came and went very quickly, with the announcement that Star Wars: Battlefront is still alive, against all media predictions. A great surprise trailer showed enough Hoth and Snowspeeder action to excite everyone who needed to be excited, and showed that EA might actually be listening to what gamers are looking for

Need for Speed is always a staple at EA press events, and this year is no exception. Need for Speed: Rivals showed the second of the next gen driving games, looking as detailed and smooth as it should. They also pitched the merging of separate peoples single player experiences into a single multiplayer event, though they were short with details on how that will work.

After a brief mention of the Need for Speed movie (starring Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul), EA then dropped details on the next in the Dragon Age franchise. The trailer appealed to fans, with multiple returning characters and races giving way to the usual RPG claims of your choices having influence of the world. Time shall tell when Dragon Age is let out in Fall 2014

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EA then started their annual sports run down, with lots of digital basketballmen, footballmen, soccermen and UFC…men. EA are currently winning the award for most incredibly stupid names for proprietary tech. NBA Live 14 has BounceTek, Madden 25 has True Step Locomotion, Fifa had too many to name. To add to the surreal nature of the sports section, EA brought out a lot of celebrity sports names which were subject to a barrage of uncomfortable questions from the hosts. Someone actually stood on stage and asked Kyle Irving to explain to the audience “why dribbling is important to basketball”. We also received the revelation that Drake (yes, the Drake) is a fan of Fifa. Thanks for that one EA.

Joking aside, the EA Sports Ignite engine looks to be a great foundation for EA Sports to bring all of their sports titles to the next generation. Fantastic levels of fidelity in the visuals, and the physics systems they are talking about look like they could really change the way these games play.

Battlefield 4 was next up, with a great 64 person live demo of a multiplayer match. Veterans of the series will be glad to see a return of the Commander mode, with the added ability to pass out orders to your team from a tablet. Again, the Frostbite 3 engine looks great, with destructible environments back in force. The map that was being played on looked expansive, with lots of verticality as well as vastness. All in all, this is a return to form for Battlefield.

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Finally, EA rounded off by announcing Mirrors Edge 2 to resounding applause. This game has been rumoured for years now, with information coming out that it had been canned over and over again. The in-engine footage that was shown looked stunning running on next gen hardware. Personally, being a massive fan of the first game, I cannot wait to play this.

All in all, despite the flirting with levels of awkwardness only seen in Ubisoft press events with the celebrity endorsements and gimmicky stage shows, EA had a reasonably strong showing. Titanfall looks like it could pull some people away from Call of Duty, Battlefield did the impossible and made me care about it again, and Mirrors Edge 2 and Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare were truly great surprises.

E3 2013 – Microsoft Press Conference: Microsoft Play to the Gamers

E3 has now begun. First out of the gates of today’s press conferences was Microsoft. After so much controversy and rumour after the Xbox One reveal event, Microsoft had a lot to prove. Initial statements from Microsoft Game Studios General Manager Phil Spencer says that “this is a gamer`s show” helped to focus our minds on the event to come.

And man,  Microsoft  did not disappoint.

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This was a conference about the games, pure and simple. No TV, no social media integration, just exclusive announcements and demos. Putting their strong foot forward, the conference started with the first ever Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain gameplay demo. It showed the usual protagonist, Solid Snake, in a desert like environment, doing such things as riding a horse, and using said horse to hide from a a group of guards. This is all in aid of Kojima`s idea of unparalleled freedom in stealth, allowing for new movement and combat options deal with situations how you see fit. We also got to hear the first samples of Keifer Sutherland as Snake, replacing the usual David Hayter that fans have come to know and love. In all honesty, it is hard to tear his voice away from that of Jack Bauer, but i am sure he can bring a lot to the role. The demo was very impressive, showing the capabilities of the new console to render detailed characters and stunning backgrounds.

This was then followed by a quick mention of the future of the Xbox 360. This brought news of a console redesign, to make it look more like all the other indiscriminate black boxes in your room, and it is available to buy right now. They also revealed some 3 new games coming to the 360. The first two were the very popular free to play tank combat game World of Tanks, and a follow-up to the indie game Max and the Magic Marker called Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, a Pixar-esque style third person puzzle platformer, much like its predecessor. The final game shown was the sequel to the much loved Dark Souls. From the looks of the trailer, if you like Dark Souls, you are sure to like this one.

The conference then shifted into Xbox One gear, giving us a look at some of those 13 exclusive games that they announced at the reveal event.

First off, Ryse: Son of Rome, a game announced as Ryse at E3 2 years ago as a Kinect first person hack-and-slash. It now appears to be a 3rd person action game that can really only be described as “Call of Duty :Rome” A very cinematic gameplay demo of a Normandy beach landing style city siege. Lots of quick time event kills, and not really a lot else. It was a demo that was very visually impressive, but didn’t not have a lot of sustenance in the gameplay. It did not look like something I would want to play, but that could change as more information comes about the game.

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Next up was the announcement, finally, of the Killer Instinct reboot. There was Jago, there was a lot of punches and kicks and ultra combos. Looked very much like an HD Killer Instinct. If that appeals to you, it looked like a lot of fun.

The stage was then taken by a surprise guest, Insomniac Games. The previously Sony exclusive developer of the Resistance and Rachet and Clank series, showed a stylish shooter by the name of Sunset Overdrive. The trailer showed characters with gamertags above their heads, suggesting co-op multiplayer, lots of parkour motion, and improvised weapons such as a vinyl record launcher. It looked like it could be a lot of fun but had shades of Fuse, formerly Overstrike, which started as a stylistic shooter and ended as a bland 3rd person team shooter. I hope this does not happen second time.

Turn 10 studios then showed their latest racing simulator, Forza 5. In keeping with the fashion of showing car games for new consoles, Forza looked stunning. Realistic car models, detailed backgrounds and accurate racetracks. The interesting point was the introduction of the Driveatar, a stupid name for an excellent concept. Driveatar is an AI which learns how you drive as you play the game, eventually being able to simulate your driving style while you are not playing the game. This means that the drivers you see on the track are Driveatars of the people on your friends list, and they will see yours in return. This is a really great concept that they are dubbing “the end of AI” .

The conference then took a slower turn, as Microsoft talked about idea for indie games on Xbox One. This was spearheaded by the reveal that Minecraft will be coming to Xbox One. Why is Minecraft coming to Xbox One? Your guess is as good as mine, but it is most likely because it sold over 6 million copies on Xbox 360 and they want to earn money one the new platform. Microsoft also showed the new game by Swords and Sworcery developer Capybara Games. This was a rogue-like hack-and-slash called Below. With a minimalist art style, and music by Jim Guthrie, this looks to be a game to keep an eye on.

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Remedy then showed more from their interesting Quantum Break, shown at the Xbox One reveal event. It looks like this is the TV show that Remedy has always wanted to make, with a complex story that adapts and changes depending on the players choices in the game. I`d keep  close eye on this one

To show just how many developers Microsoft have gotten to work on the Xbox One, what followed was presentations by a slew of varied developers from all over the world. This included Deadly Premonition developer SWERY65, showing an “episodic murder mystery” simply called D4. Not much was shown, but I will play anything that that man wants to put out on game consoles.

A follow-up to the dragon shoot-em-up Panzer Dragoon was also shown, Crimson Dragon. It looked very much like Panzer Dragoon. Not very next gen, but a lot like Panzer Dragoon, if that is your cup of tea.

Capcom Vancouver then showed us the next entry in the Dead Rising series, Dead Rising 3. An outbreak in the city of Los Puridos leaves protagonist Nick in a struggle for his life. Several Dead Rising tropes were shown, including craftable weapons like a saw with a sledgehammer on the end, but this was an all round grittier take on the Dead Rising universe. In my mind, Dead Rising was always pretty goofy, and that was part of its charm. I`m really not sure how I feel about the change, but I will tentatively keep an eye on it.

In real surprise, CD Projekt took to the stage to show The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The trailer shown looked absolutely stunning, much like The Witcher 2 before it, and told us that the game is a vast, truly open world. Exclusive Kinect commands are included in the Xbox One edition, however we are not sure what this entails as of yet, however.

Battlefield 4 then took the floor, showing gameplay which looked like a very pretty modern military shooter. Not really all that exciting, but hey, guns and headshots am I right guys?

The conference wrapped up with 3 trailers from 3 studios. The first, a developer trailer for Black Tusk Studios. A splinter cell like spy rappels down a glass building and fired a future gun. No game announcement, nothing. It looks alight though, so i hope what they have is interesting.

As a shock to no one, 343 announced their next Halo game for Xbox One. The trailer revealed Master Chief`s helmed face from under hooded robes in a desert by a giant robot coming out of the sand. More Halo on Xbox, who would have guessed?

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The final showing from Microsoft was the, leaked game from former Infinity Ward employees Respawn Entertainment, Titanfall. This was an excellent gameplay demo, showing the Titan mechs themselves in action, free-running first person shooting, and fantastic looking scenery and animations. It was the only game at the entire conference that looked like it was actually being played, and that impressed me immensely.

In non games announcements, the integration of tablets, Smartglass, into the Xbox experience was better explained. We saw the viewing of friends progress in games, the initiation of single player games from the tablet, and the browsing of multiplayer queues while in game. This means that you can queue for a multiplayer match in Halo, while you play The Witcher, and transfer between the two. The Twitch TV partnership was finally confirmed as well, with what Microsoft are calling “Game DVR,” which records games as you play, and allows you to stream your games, or use the Upload Studio to upload your clips to the cloud.

There was also the first look at Project Spark, a game creation tool which seems to be Microsoft`s answer to LittleBigPlanet. There were programmable items, and seemingly easy to use interfaces, integrated with Kinect voice commands. This could be an interesting one if the more creative of us get their hands on it.

The news that everyone was waiting on, however, was price and release date. Microsoft answered one of these questions by announcing $499/£429 as the price-point for the Xbox One, releasing some time in November of this year. £429 really seems a bit steep to me, but it really all depends on what Sony announce for the PS4 later today.

In all, it was an excellent showing from Microsoft today. They did not forget the core gamers, with several high profile releases and exclusive, sure to make a variety of gamers happy. What was not so good, was the constant mention of “the cloud” as some mystical entity that does magical things in several Xbox One games, but no mention of exactly what “the cloud” is actually doing in our games. Left me quite confused as to what is actually going on. We also cannot forget the legitimate outrage the internet has brought down on the console over the last 2 weeks. 24 hour internet connection checks and games essentially becoming nothing more than license that you own are a very real issue that worries several people. If you can get over concerns for just a little while, Microsoft did a great job at showing us the Xbox One as a machine for gamers.