June 10, 2013, 9:30 AM
Galen Center, University of Southern California
The pre-E3 coverage started last night with the Disney Infinity hands-on, but today is all press conferences. Microsoft is kicking off the pre-E3 media day with its annual press conference. Unlike last month's hardware reveal, today's event is focused on the games.
"Let the legend come back to life!"
With those words, the first game demo appeared on the big screen, showing off Konami's new Metal Gear game. Running on the Fox Engine, it's Metal Gear Solid with open-world gameplay. The trailer showed off various snippets of play, such as driving vehicles, using stealth by hanging off the side of a horse, and scouting out terrain.
The trailer promises "deeper stealth action" while also showing off product placement. It seems that Snake will be using a Seiko watch in-game. Female sniper Quiet (who appeared in a leather bikini top) ensures there will be no shortage of boobs in the new Metal Gear, while Skull Face promises to fulfill the "weird character" quotient.
It's obvious that Konami is going for a theatrical feel with the trailer, as the booming music is provided by a female vocalist (think James Bond-style opening) while the trailer shows off a montage of action shots and explosions.
Don Mattrick came out to thank Hideo Kojima and announce 13 Xbox One exclusives. Before getting into those, however, it's time to look at updates and games for the Xbox 360.
The first news is that a redesigned Xbox 360, in Xbox One style, is available today.
To thank Xbox Live Gold members, every month between July and the release of the Xbox One, all Xbox 360 Gold members will get two free Xbox 360 games. The first two confirmed titles are Assassin's Creed II and Halo 3. To start the party early, Fable III is available for free as of today.
Unlike PlayStation Plus, the free Xbox 360 titles are yours to keep.
Moving onto the Xbox 360 games, Microsoft Studios announced that it is bringing World of Tanks to Xbox 360 in conjunction with Wargaming.net.
World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition will support 15-on-15 team warfare. It is also free-to-play for all Xbox Live Gold members.
After the World of Tanks announcement, Microsoft showed off a trailer for Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, an upcoming XBLA title that looks to be a cartoon-styled action adventure.
Getting back into the mature realm, From Software kicked up the bass with Dark Souls II. The trailer focused on a knight kicking ass in a hellish netherworld. It looked oddly like an extremely high-resolution version of King's Field.
Moving into next-gen software, the first Xbox One trailer was shown. Ryse: Son of Rome's trailer didn't offer up much, but the in-game sequences got into a little more depth. The demo started off with a rousing speech by a Roman warrior before an entire ship of them jumped into the water and assaulted a beach.
This isn't just typical hack-and-slash. Combat is bloody and realistic looking, with fellow soldiers falling to arrows (one took one right in the eye) and cinematic slow-motion occurring when you take damage. Combat appears to be in real time, with fighting using a combination of attack and timed parry moves. Gathering the soldiers for an attack, the group had to make up ground by using shields to fend off enemy arrows.
Skipping ahead to the tower assault, we saw multiple QTE-style finishing moves. While the lack of real-time combat here is a little disappointing, the choreography behind the QTE bits is impressive enough for casual watchers to appreciate. Ryse is developed by Crytek.
And the crowd goes wild as Microsoft announces that Killer Instinct is back as an Xbox One exclusive.
The Killer Instinct trailer quickly ended, making way for Ted Price to take the stage and announce Sunset Overdrive as an Insomniac Games Xbox One exclusive. Again, the trailer was short, but it looks like Insomniac decided to do an extremely Kawaii-styled take on zombie invasion games.
After a few short trailers, Microsoft went big by bringing out a McLaren P1 super car to announce Forza 5 on Xbox One. The demo video started with a high-resolution video of the virtual McLaren. It then switched to a demo of Forza 5's Drivatar feature. This cloud-based feature tracks your gameplay to create a customized AI based on you. This AI can then race against your friends, even when you're offline. The idea is that by racing against Drivatars created by others, all of the cloud-powered opponents will feel more "real" than typical AI has in the past.
The Forza 5 demo closed with a montage video showing off in-engine racing, as well as real-time damage and car deformation.
Phil Harrison took the stage to announce Minecraft: Xbox One Edition with a short trailer, but there was little in the way of detail.
Sam Lake of Remedy (the studio behind Alan Wake) came out to show off the company's new Xbox One title, Quantum Break, with a real-time scene. The "hook" in Quantum Break is the "zero state" that can stop time in a localized area. This discovery both gameplay elements and drives the story forward.
After Quantum Break (which looked pretty impressive), Microsoft showed off a quick trailer for D4 before moving on to Project Spark.
Project Spark is a Kinect-based world editor. It allows you to create a world and terrain simply by telling the game what you want, such as rivers or mountains. Move detailed editing can be done with a Smartglass device. After the world is created, you can insert items, building and characters. It looks like most items can have triggers added to create game logic.
Jumping into a pre-created Project Spark world, we saw an army of AI goblins attacking, while our heroes used real-time terrain deformation to create cover. A little rock man was then upgraded to Rock Mech to kick butt.
While the demo was obviously pre-scripted, the potential of Project Spark is huge. It is basically a game creation kit that is designed to be easy to use. It looks to allow for creativity without requiring a great deal of programming knowledge.
Smartglass on Xbox One looks like a more integrated revision of the existing version. It seems that all games will have Smartglass integration. One element shown off is that Smartglass will allow you to play a single-player game while waiting for a multiplayer match to get set up. We saw someone playing Ryse before switching directly into a Killer Instinct match.
After the Killer Instinct match, we saw a quick demo of the Game DVR editing features, which allows you to edit and upload gameplay clips. Additionally, Twitch.TV live streaming is integrated directly into the Xbox One. You can broadcast any game, any time.
Xbox One includes a move to Xbox Live Gold sharing (only one Xbox Live Gold account is needed per console for all Xbox Live accounts to get the benefit) and real money transactions.
Crimson Dragon was confirmed as an Xbox One exclusive (sorry Xbox 360 players), with a trailer that was sound challenged. The crowd didn't seem to care, as they spontaneously added their own sound effects amongst cheers.
Capcom took the stage after Crimson Dragon to show off real-time Dead Rising 3 gameplay. The footage climbed up to the roof of a building and looked around, showing the impressive detail of the city. Most notably, the draw distance seemed to go on for blocks, with no noticeable drop in quality or pop-in.
Zombies are attracted to noise, as well as anything shiny. One way to distract a crowd is to fire a flare off to the side. The ambling crowd then wanders off to check out the flame, leaving you room to escape. When the gun ran low on ammo, our hero picked up a sledgehammer. After bashing a few zombie heads, he found a saw and created a sledge-saw.
Jumping into a muscle car made it easier for take out a horde of zombies, but it didn't make the hero invincible. One zombie managed to grab the driver's side door and had to be fought off. After getting out of the car, the goal seemed to be swarming with zombies. The solution? Use Smartglass to call in an artillery strike. With that, the demo was over, and it was time to move on to The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
The Witcher 3 is promising 100 hours of gameplay, with both Kinect and Smartglass support. An in-engine trailer showed off some basic combat as well as different scenes from around the world. As for the story? That'll have to wait.
EA's Battlefield 4 will be running at 60 frames per second on Xbox One. When the EA guys tried to switch over to the trailer, sound was once again missing. Unlike Crimson Dragon, which still got cheers, the crowd took the EA failure as a chance to heckle the producers. It gives you an idea of which property has more built-in goodwill.
After a few minutes, EA got the sound issue resolved and the demo began. Instead of showing off a trailer, EA was showing real-time Battlefield 4 gameplay. This wasn't the prologue footage that was shown at GDC, but rather one of the actual game levels. It started out inside an aircraft carrier, which was being attacked. As the tower got blown apart, the fight moved onto the listing deck, where damaged planes created a natural hazard as they slid down the incline.
Racing through the water on a speedboat looked suitably impressive as the wave broke all around. At that point, the demo ended, and EA announced that the first Battlefield 4 map pack, Second Assault, will launch first on Xbox One. This is similar to how all of the Call of Duty DLC launches first on the Xbox 360.
Going back to a smaller title, Microsoft showed off a short trailer of the roguelike dungeon crawler, Below. Below will be playable at Microsoft's booth, so the trailer was lacking much in the way of detail.
A trailer from Black Tusk Studios was shown, highlighting an unannounced game that looked like an action version of Splinter Cell.
After that, it was time for another trailer. This one started out with a hooded figure walking through the desert, sort of like a high-resolution version of Journey. Suddenly, the ground shook and an extremely large alien ship rose up from the desert and unfurled, looking like something out of a JRPG. The hooded figured was revealed to be Master Chief as Microsoft announced Halo for Xbox One.
Halo for Xbox One is coming in 2014 and will run at 60 frames per second.
The Xbox One console has a release date of November 2013 and a price of $499.99 USD/€499.99/£429.99.
Microsoft wrapped the presentation with a trailer for Respawn's new title for Xbox One, Titanfall. It looked vaguely like Mechwarrior crossed with Halo in terms of aesthetic and action. After the trailer, we were shown some real-time gameplay as a group of ground soldiers led by a team leader in a mech suit deployed for an assault.
The goal for this battle was to take out an opposing enemy mech (which are called Titans in-game). Those inside a Titan have superior firepower but lack the maneuverability of the standard ground soldiers. Hopping into a Titan changes the visual display slightly to indicate that you've taken control. The weapons are nice, though you can eject at any time if extra maneuverability is needed.
The demo closed with the player ejecting from one Titan, landing on the head of another, ripping off the panel and shooting its occupant.
With that, the Microsoft conference officially wrapped. We'll have more detailes on the games once we hit the show floor later this week.
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