Highlights from Microsoft at E3 2014

Highlights of Microsoft at E3 2014

Boy, what a way to start out Day Zero of E3 2014. Microsoft really brought the heat with this one. It just dropped game after game, most of which included actual gameplay. If it just involved pre-rendered cinematics, then we’d have a real problem here (see: EA conference and this zinger by Justin McElroy).

Of course, it was rather strange that it included no hardware announcements. Or rather, it wasn’t that strange but equally unfortunate that there were no mentions of future plans for the Kinect, especially considering Microsoft recently removed it from the lower priced bundles. And then they highlighted Harmonix, a studio whose last two and two upcoming games require the Kinect. Seems incongruous is what I’m saying.

Also, can we get a shoutout or an lol at the fact that this presser was leaked almost in its entirety months ago? And while the light-up bracelets were pretty cool, it’s super distracting when you’re sitting there in the dark trying to watch a similarly dark trailer and you’re being blinded on either side of you.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

Whether I think Call of Duty is a worthwhile franchise or not, this is a hell of a way to kick off a press briefing. Nine whizzbang minutes of shooting and being in the future and stuff. There’s nothing we really haven’t seen before (guy you’re playing as dies or get seriously injured, press button to kick down door, etc.), especially since we’ve seen more engaging mobility from a first-person shooter by way of Titanfall, but it was fun nonetheless.

Those smart grenades seem pretty, well, smart, though. Comes out November 4 for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC with all DLC on Xbox first.

Tom Clancy’s The Division

While guttural in its ability to engage and excite, this gameplay demo for Tom Clancy’s The Division really only highlighted one thing: teamwork in real online multiplayer is a supreme shit show. Not once, even when I’ve played with friends of mine that are similarly committed to our ephemeral, digital cause, have we been as communicative and effective as this AI-driven team.

I’m not saying it can’t or hasn’t been done (professional gamers do it all the time), but it’s a bit of a disconnect once you realize these computer fellows are better at talking than your friends. Still looks pretty cool, though. Expect it sometime in 2015 if there are no more delays.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

No, you were not the only person to think that Rise of the Tomb Raider‘s title is awfully close to Rise of the Triad. But you were also not the only person to think this looks like a supremely interesting setup, not least of all because it humanizes a video game character (and a traditionally vapid one at that) in a challenging and compelling way.

And you can thank writer Rhianna Pratchett for that. She is indeed back for this one, though I’m sure we’ll still be treated to an unfortunately mismatched body count once more because it, after all, a video game. Releases holidays 2015.

Inside

Umm yes. Like, YES. Playdead Studios, for those of you who don’t know or have perhaps forgotten, is the team behind 2010’s Limbo, one of my all-time favorite games. And now they’re back with Inside, a strange little game that shows a child running through a desaturated, terrifyingly homogenized and robotic world, has some aesthetic similarities to Limbo but also seems to want to set off on its own path. Look for it in the first half of 2015.

Sunset Overdrive

Pretty nice mislead with the opening bit. Although I guess the hulky-looking enemies and the art style could easily lead to the conclusion that it’s not what it seems. But this gameplay demo video makes Sunset Overdrive at least look pretty neat. Expect it on October 28 of this year.

Halo: The Master Chief Collection

You know what? That haunting Halo opening chorus still gives me chills. Has there ever been a more iconic, single second of video game music than that? Well, probably, but that doesn’t change the fact that that low, rumbling, growing aahhhh is fairly iconic at this point. And even though you’ve already played what Halo: The Master Chief Collection has to offer (Halos 1 through 4), it packages it in a way that puts all other game compilations to shame. Releases November 11 for the Xbox One.

Assassin’s Creed Unity

I love this Lorde over in this cinematic trailer, though it strikes me as odd that a game about the French Revolution would feature a song with lyrics like “everybody wants to rule the world.” But I guess it was intended to convey the troubles of seeking power, so it works.

Anyways, we’ve gotten off-track here. Assassin’s Creed Unity, despite looking exactly like more Assassin’s Creed, has be interested precisely because of the co-op. Comes out October 28.

Scalebound

Hey guys. Scalebound looks nuts. Just thought I’d throw that out there, but what else do you expect from Platinum Games? Exclusive to Xbox One, but no release date yet.

Ori and the Blind Forest

Here’s what we know about Ori and the Blind Forest: it’s from Moon Studios, it probably is a 2D action platformer, and it’s likely going to make your eyes happy and your heart cry. Good luck to us all.

Crackdown

I am ready. (To collect a million agility orbs.)

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