Ryse: Son of Rome
Platforms: Xbox One, PC
What does Microsoft have up its sleeve this year?
For all of its initial success – and yes, anything that can sell millions and earn revenue in the millions is a success (losses to the division notwithstanding) – Microsoft’s Xbox One has seen perhaps the largest number of about-turns, U-turns, 180’s, double turns, what have you for any console manufacturer in the last 20 years. It started out as a console that spurned used games and encouraged sharing them at a price; spurned the indie community and told them on no uncertain terms to get with a publisher or get out; spurned controller users by requiring Kinect to always be-on; spurned sense by requiring online authentication every 24 hours; and then seemingly spurned any good will it could have accumulated with Don Mattrick saying you should get an Xbox 360 if you can’t get online, nerds.
The console has seen numerous changes since then, including the decoupling of Kinect which puts its price in direct competition with the PS4. It will take more than appealing to mass opinion to effectively win the console war, much less E3 (which is logically not possible to win for any console manufacturer). However, we will see a very strong media briefing from Microsoft this year compared to the last.
Expected Game Appearances
That’s because Microsoft will be bringing out the big guns. Rumours are rife that the next Gears of War, developed by Black Tusk Studios, could be teased at E3. It also seems that after hyping TV shows for the same, Microsoft will finally focus on Halo video games at their media briefing. We doubt there will be tons of details for the recently announced Halo 5: Guardians but expect some kind of teaser and story nuggets.
Master Chief will apparently be debuting on the Xbox One sooner than that though, with Halo: The Master Chief Collection rumoured to be releasing this year. The Collection will include Halo 1 to 4, updated in HD, for the Xbox One. What does that mean for Halo 2 Anniversary which was leaked in the same information dump that exposed Halo 5 releasing in 2015? We’ll have to wait and see how Microsoft plays this.
Other than that, you can expect far more information on Sunset Overdrive including a release date for this year (or early 2015 even). Quantum Break will likely receive a release window as well along with indie rogue title Below. Will Ryse: Son of Rome 2 actually be announced by Crytek or will Project Grave take the stage and release exclusively for the Xbox One? At this point, the latter seems more possible than the former especially considering the less than stellar sales and reviews of Ryse. Deadly Premonition developer Access Studios could also show more D3 this year though a release date seems unlikely. Project Spark will also likely have a release date for the Xbox One finally. And it’s all but obvious that Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare will be at Microsoft’s media briefing.
Say what you will about Microsoft’s incessant TV ramblings but it admittedly put some real thought into procuring some great content.
Halo The Television Series and Ridley Scott’s Halo feature are obviously the biggest names, though neither Steve Spielberg nor Scott have exactly delivered in recent times. Spielberg’s success rate with TV shows that he’s executive produced – Falling Skies, Under the Dome, Smash, Terra Nova and United States of Tara being his most recent endeavors – is decidedly hit or miss. Scott has delivered horrible films like The Counselor and Prometheus in recent years. Hopefully, Microsoft’s creative direction means both men will have their sci-fi chops in order. Halo mini-series and features have been fairly good thanks to this approach and we expect it to continue on Xbox Originals.
Other interesting series include “Signal to Noise” which explores small-time tech stories and myths and how they influenced the world with the first episode focusing on Atari’s E.T. game. There’s the stop-motion show Extraordinary Believers which comes from the makers of Robot Chicken; Deadlands, which features sorcerers, undead cowboys and crazy science in an alternative Wild West; Gun Machine, based on Warren Ellis’s best-selling novel; the UK adaptation of Real Humans, titled “Humans” which is being handled by the same production house that created awesome shows like Broadchurch, Utopia and The Hour; and much more.
We’d hate to say it but we wouldn’t mind finding out more about all of these properties at E3 along with Microsoft’s plan for the service. It hopefully won’t take up too much conference time, unlike, say…
It’s nice that Microsoft wants to continue supporting users who already have the device – and make no mistake, there are those who like it – but given the lackluster sales of Xbox One Kinect titles like Kinect Sports Rivals, it might not be best to emphasize on them too much.
Nonetheless, expect Microsoft to reveal some new updates that could be heading to Kinect, tying in some new functions with the Xbox One UI (akin to the snapping and multi-tasking commands shown last year). Expect the new Just Dance and Kinect Sports to make appearances as well because why not?
We also expect Microsoft to reveal when you can pick up Kinect separately and the price range.
Cloud Gaming, Price Drop and Games With Gold
It’ll be sad when Microsoft eventually brings up how successful the Xbox 360 still is and how they’re supporting it with so many games – when in reality, it’s the third party studios that are releasing Xbox 360 versions of their cross-generation games. We expect to be reminded about the success of Games With Gold though along with a reminder on three free games for June as opposed to two.
Games With Gold for the Xbox One will be also be touched upon, especially with regards to when exactly consumers will be able to receive Max: The Curse of Brotherhood and Halo: Spartan Assault. Since the Xbox One without Kinect will go on sale from June 9th onwards, which is the day of Microsoft’s E3 media briefing, expect that to be hammered home as well.
With regards to Cloud gaming, even with games like Forza Motorsport 5 and Titanfall that heavily rely on Xbox Live Compute, we have yet to see any revolutionary implementation of the same. That’s unlikely to change at this year’s E3.
Microsoft’s E3 media will be held on June 9th, 9.30 AM PST. What are you looking forward to? Let us know in the comments.