E3 2013: Microsoft Press Conference Recap

Today, Microsoft hosted their annual E3 press conference, this year focusing largely on their new console, the Xbox One, and a large slate of newly announced and (some) exclusive titles coming at the system’s launch or shortly after.

We’ve got the entire stream of stories right here, right now, in order of appearance, and with well-balanced dollops of sarcasm and purebred excitement to tie it all together. Let’s kick it off.

TL;DR Xbox One Launch Details

  • Releasing in November 2013 for $499
  • Microsoft Points replaced w/ real money
  • You can now have way more than 100 friends
  • Lets you stream directly to Twitch instantly
  • Automatically records chunks of your gameplay
  • Xbox One/360 has timed-exclusivity on Call of Duty and Battlefield post-launch DLC

Kinect Sports Rivals Announced

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WDX1Jqnfww

Microsoft began the day with a small Pre-E3 showcase from Rare focusing entirely on something that’s not one of their historic IPs, Kinect Sports. Announced exclusively for Xbox One, Kinect Sports Rivals is the next-generation iteration in the flail-your-arms-and-legs-and-pretend-like-you-were-actually-picked-for-a-sports-team game series, in which players will use the new Kinect hardware to participate in rounds of soccer, rock climbing, jetski racing, bowling, target shooting and tennis.

The game will be out this November at the Xbox One’s launch.

Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain Coming to Xbox One

As a sort of kick-off for the actual press conference, a lengthy in-game trailer for Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain was shown in all of its next-gen glory, and it looked pretty fantastic throughout.

The game focuses on Snake riding a horse through the desert of Afghanistan, and also on blowing your freaking mind.

Containing real-time weather patterns and time-passage, new stealth mechanics on horseback, and characters old and new, all topped with higher fidelity visuals, the game is shaping up to be a great showcase for the true next generation of games in both the visual and gameplay innovation departments. Fingers crossed.

World of Tanks Announced for Xbox 360

Wargaming West, the Chicago-based remote studio for free-to-play phenomenon studio Wargaming, announced that they’re hard at work on World of Tanks for Xbox 360. Much akin to its PC counterpart, World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition pits you in the shoes (or treads?) of a tank, one destined to roam fields and towns shooting other tanks.

The game will remain free-to-play on console, and its beta is said to be scheduled soon after E3 concludes. So, expect to be blowing up other dudes and their respective tanks this summer on your console.

Mmmmm, microtransactions.

New Xbox 360 Hardware Announced, Out Today

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An updated hardware SKU of the Xbox 360 console was announced very quietly today during the press conference, and is, by technical standards (at least according to Microsoft), smaller, sleeker and as “quiet as ever.”

They say it’s a console designed with a “modern look and feel” that’s based around the Xbox One (see: VCR) design.

The console is available starting today. A price point wasn’t announced, but we’ll update this segment of the story as it develops and we learn more.

Xbox Live Goes PS Plus, Offers Two Free Games a Month Now

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Starting July 1, existing and new Xbox Live Gold members will receive the added benefit of two free select games per month: with July featuring none other than two games you probably have already played, Halo 3 and Assassin’s Creed 2.

Microsoft’s Yusuf Mehdi announced the program at the tail-end of the Xbox 360 segment of the conference, and didn’t clarify what games would be coming in the future, or if they’ll be full retail or a XBLA titles as well.

But hey… you’re getting added benefit to something you (may) already pay for, and that’s always appreciated.

Crytek’s Kinect Game ‘Ryse’ Shown on Xbox One

Though it was shown years ago as an exclusive for the original Xbox Kinect, Ryse, from the creators of Crysis and Far Cry, is releasing exclusively on the Xbox One with both controller and Kinect support. Though that support has yet to be detailed, the demo looked largely controller-centric on-stage, as it was filled with much in the way of buttons, mashing, and button mashing.

We’ve got a preview of the game scheduled for later this week, so be sure to check IG for that later on. It looked like a hyper-cinematic gameplay visualization of moments from movies like ‘300’, ‘Spartacus’ and ‘Gladiator’, and a lot less fun than that original Kinect demo from years ago. Again, fingers are crossed that it’s good when it hits on Xbox One.

Dark Souls II Footage Shown

See above. It’s incredibly exciting, and no more of my commentary will add to it.

Insomniac Games Announces Sunset Overdrive

Insomniac Games, the team behind Ratchet & Clank and the newly multi-platform shooter, Fuse, announced a new Xbox One title titled Sunset Overdrive. Though no gameplay was shown, the target render (CGI, cinematic, etc) featured a goofy set of multiplayer pals free-running around a large city with zombie-monsters galore.

It’s mega colorful and wholeheartedly goofy, and it looks like Mirror’s Edge took some pills its mom told it not to take together, then unleashed a zombie apocalypse and decided that he and his friends should dress up and act like the Scout from Team Fortress 2.

The dev describes it as an open-world shooter that hosts new gameplay experiences on a daily basis.

Well Insomniac, here’s my money. Show us gameplay of this hopefully-not-going-to-go-quiet-and-eventually-cancelled-like-all-cool-games video game gem.

Killer Instinct Reboot Coming to Xbox One

Rare’s “historic IP” Killer Instinct is coming to Xbox One exclusively, Microsoft announced today. No, you didn’t misread that — it’s not Banjo-Kazooie. You can quit rubbing your eyes now.

Microsoft Studios corporate vice president Phil Spencer teased this very announcement last month after the initial Xbox One reveal, and boy were some people wrong and some people right. I was of course in the former group (which we will now refer to as the “pity party”), but nonetheless, the game still looks viscerally entertaining in a uniquely (and suitably) Killer Instinct sort of way.

No release date, price or platform (digital or retail) was made clear. We’re bothering Microsoft about it later.

Minecraft Coming to Xbox One at Launch

Yup. Minecraft: Xbox One Edition.

Moving on.

Forza Motorsport 5 A.I. Detailed, It Wants to Get to Know You

Microsoft allocated an interestingly lengthy segment of its press conference to showcasing the new artificial intelligence behind upcoming racing sim, Forza Motorsport 5. Entitled the ‘drivatar’ system, the a.i. creates a simulated version of enemy drivers so that it not only learns how you drive, it makes other drivers react instinctively and drive not like AI, “but like people.”

As our own Lawrence Sonntag puts it, it means the other drivers will likely be putting your rear into the wall at every possible chance they get. Let’s hope they’re more gentle “Sunday afternoon” drivers when the game launches — at least in my version.

D4 Announced, New Episodic Game from Deadly Premonition Developer

It was announced today that developer Hidetaka “Swery64” Suehiro is working on a new game series called D4 for the Xbox One. It will be episodic in nature, and likely focused around survival, horror, and puzzles as Deadly Premonition (one of the developer’s previous games) was. There’s a short video above to give you a glimpse.

No release date or price was given.

Quantum Break Game Sequence Shown, Both a “Personalized TV Show” and Game

Quantum Break, the recently teased upcoming title from Alan Wake developer Remedy Entertainment, was shown today in semi-CGI form (no gameplay here, folks), and was pitched as both a game experience and a “personalized TV show.”

The game is about time and how it freezes and slows down, and one of the game’s characters, who’s currently nameless, is able to unfreeze these frozen physical objects and people he touches. But he has to continue holding them. Interesting.

As Remedy tends to spin their words in this way, phrases like “new type of storytelling” and “changes your entertainment experience” were tossed around (and not lightly). The experience itself seems cool enough in its own right, but we’ll have to hear more and see it in action to really get a grip on the reality of it.

Project Spark Game Making Tool Announced for Xbox One and Windows 8

Not unlike the PlayStation-exclusive franchise LittleBigPlanet, Project Spark is a game about making games that are shared between you, your family and your sad, sad little game designer friends. Microsoft’s Dave McCarthy announced the game on-stage this morning, and followed up with a demo showcasing level design and AI attributes that are customizable “line-by-line” in-game.

It makes use of hardware peripherals like Kinect voice commands and Smartglass, but it was not clear whether those facets are fundamental to the play/control experience. You can check out the demo above and judge on your own accord.

You Can Use Smartglass to Track Your Friends on Xbox Live

You can use your tablet to track achievements, messages, game progress, leaderboards and more through built-in timelines that don’t sound all that dissimilar to Facebook.

That’s about it. We’re pretty sure you’re in the “oh that’s neat, but let’s move on” boat. So are we.

Microsoft Points Are Gone, Long Live Real Money

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Yup. No more funny money on Xbox One. It’s all real currency from your real country. As it stands, there doesn’t appear to be plans to make this change on the Xbox 360.

Sources say they’ve simply printed far too many 2000 MS Point Cards for your local Walmart to go back now.

Dead Rising 3 Announced, Timed Exclusive

After years of waiting, the third official installment in the Dead Rising franchise, Dead Rising 3, was announced, and will be an Xbox One exclusive this holiday. It will come to PS4 not long afterwards, so don’t sweat it, PlayStation buyers.

The game is set in an open world (with no load times) three days after a colossal zombie outbreak occurs in Los Perdidos. It stars a new Hispanic protagonist, Nick Ramos. As far as we know, he doesn’t have a daughter to protect and procure medicine for (a ‘la Dead Rising 2), but he can craft weapon combinations anywhere, hijack cars, and maul hordes and hordes of zombies continuously.

In fact, if you look at the video above, you can see how many deadgum zombies are being rendered at once. It’s pretty nuts. No, wait… very.

Crimsom Dragon Announced for Xbox One, Timed Exclusive

Announced today for the Xbox One was Crimson Dragon, a dragon aerial combat game in development for the Xbox One (and PS4 later on). It was originally a Kinect game from 2011 under the codename Project Draco, and brought to you by Yukio Futatsugi, creator of the Panzer Dragoon games.

No release date or price was given.

Microsoft Partners with Twitch for Livestreaming on Xbox One

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All Xbox One games will support livestreaming through a built-in broadcasting feature in the Xbox One, brought to you by livestreaming site, Twitch.

Microsoft showcased a demo of this feature with Rare’s Killer Instinct reboot, which was shown being streamed live with a comment stream in-tow. Users will also be able to edit and upload their own footage with fancy title cards and simple graphics – though that feature itself was less represented.

So not only is this cool, it’s a huge deal – Twitch and Microsoft are two very large and very popular companies. Microsoft dominated the console space against Sony last generation, and nailing a partnership with Twitch, a community far larger than that of UStream, Sony’s livestream partner for the next generation, is like I said, a huge deal.

The feature is, however, exclusive to Gold subscribers, expectedly.

‘Below’ Announced from Capybara Games for Xbox One

Capybara Games, creators of Superbrothers Sword & Sworcery, announced their exclusive new Xbox One game, Below. It looks a lot like if Journey was viewed from a top down perspective, but you can probably gather that from the trailer above. Or you could totally disagree altogether.

It’s also something of uncharted territory for the company, as the game is pitched as a “creative take on roguelike gameplay” in a “mysterious world” that’s packed with secrets. You can check out their site for more, but we’ll have a preview of it soon, as the game is being shown this week at Microsoft’s booth.

New Halo Game Announced, Just Called “Halo”

Announced with a prolific and totally-misleading-at-first teaser trailer on par with that Halo 3 trailer was Halo. Yes, Halo. It’s not called Halo 5, which either indicates the lack of a current title or a reboot for “the next-generation of gamers” as general manager at 343 Industries Bonnie Ross stated on-stage.

The game will run at 60 frames-per-second and will take “full advantage” of the Xbox One hardware, with cloud features honorably mentioned.

Seriously, go rewatch that trailer if you haven’t. So cool.

Xbox One Owns Timed Exclusivity on COD and Battlefield DLC

Like in the past generation, Microsoft will have early timed exclusivity for Call of Duty: Ghosts DLC on its console. And unlike past generation, where Sony had that claim to fame with Battlefield 3 DLC, all Battlefield 4 DLC will release first on Xbox One.

TitanFall Announced, New Game from Respawn Entertainment

The game that everyone’s been waiting to hear about, TitanFall, was officially announced during today’s presser. It’s being made by Respawn Entertainment, the studio established with EA by previous Infinity Ward heads Jason West and Vince Zampella.

It’s an online multiplayer shooter that features mechs, incredible visuals and some pretty crazy-good sound design. Give the above smashing trailer a watch. Smashing.

That’s It Folks, Go Home!

That’s it until we post our coverage of the Electronic Arts, Ubisoft and Sony press conferences. Enjoy, and leave your thoughts/sarcasm below.

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