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Impressions: Microsoft E3 Press Conference

Following the big XBox One announcement a few weeks ago which showed very few games, Microsoft was under some pressure for their E3 press conference. Gamers wanted to see what blockbuster games were coming to the next gen console and with the press conference in the books, a few key areas stood out:

1. Project Spark looks amazing. This is a brand new intellectual property that Microsoft announced which not only allows players to create their own world, but their own entire game. On top of just creating worlds, other players can join your world apparently at any given time, meaning that you can potentially be manipulating your game world while other players are simultaneously battling enemies on the battlefield. I’m always a huge fan of games with a deep, rich creation tool (like Little Big Planet and Trialsand from the clips that are shown quickly in the background of the demo, it looks like Spark‘s system will be able to create original game ideas as well as seemingly recreate past games. There is a lot of potential for great games to be created within Project Spark‘s online community.

2. More extreme player movements in FPS games is the next thing. There were a handful of FPS games shown throughout the press conference, but something almost all of them had in common was a more extreme form of player movement. In Insomniac’s new title Sunset Overdrive, the main character is jumping off buildings, from rooftops, riding hanging wires, and killing enemies on the fly. Sunset Overdrive has a more playful feel to it which could lend itself very well to over the top action (demonstrated by the fact that one character was decapitating people by shooting vinyl albums at them).

On the opposite end of the spectrum was Titanfall, what I believe will become the staple XBox One title. Titanfall is from Respawn entertainment, the company that was founded by Jason West and Vince Zampella, formerly of Activision and the Call of Duty franchise. Titanfall has a more serious undertone than Sunset Boulevard, but features similar player movement styles including wall run and long jumps. However, once done jumping around the environment, Titanfall gives the player a mech to blast away at the opposition. The online multiplayer will no doubt be incredible based not only on what looks like fantastic gameplay, but also based on the history that West and Zampella have with creating compelling online multiplayer modes.

3. Some IPs with great potential were shown. Although a lot of games announced were not accompanied by stage demos or actual gameplay even, there is a lot of potential for the new, exclusive IPs for XBox One. Obviously, the new Halo title was a big announcement. No details were given in regards to the plot or new gameplay mechanics, however, 343 Industries proved capable of producing successful with Halo 4, so they’ll have a lot of supporters for their next title within that universe. The contrary title to Halo is the new Metal Gear Solid V which is finally making an XBox debut. This is a big step for Konami to bring MGS to XBox, and could introduce the franchise to entirely new consumer market that the company can benefit from. Quantum Break looks incredible to me. The brief gameplay clip that was shown introduces from really interesting gameplay mechanics that are unlike any game to date. With time momentarily stopped, but the player being able to move through the environment freely, some truly fantastic moments could be created. Hopefully, Quantum Break continues to impress after more details are learned. The final game that stood out was Ryse: Son of Rome. Ancient Rome by itself creates a great video universe full of plot options. From the gameplay shown, not only will the player get to fight one-on-one with enemies, but will also get to lead troops into battle.  Crytek has created new fighting mechanics (featuring slashing attacks combined with quicktime events every kill) while simultaneously tapping into war strategies actually used in Ancient Rome. The combination of deep fighting mechanics and strategies, coupled with a rich story give Ryse a bright future.

4. Microsoft stayed true to its word at the beginning of the press conference in that it was entirely about games. They didn’t mention the new entertainment value that they pushed so hard at the launch announcement, and honestly, I think they did the correct thing in terms of press conference focuses. Gamers are going to watch E3 press conferences no matter what, but average consumers won’t necessarily stop and watch a Microsoft press conference; so Microsoft used their first announcement to try to capture a wider audience including the everyday consumer. Subsequently, Microsoft spent E3 focused on the games because that’s the market that tunes into E3. In terms of market share, Microsoft went after the family audience in the launch conference and the true gamers in their E3 conference. As much as gamers complained about the first announcement, I actually think Microsoft played their cards well with each in terms of overall business strategy.

Lucas has evolved in his video game preferences. With a foundation in predominantly sports game, action adventure games are now his favorite to play. He is a competitive swimmer and likes to play volleyball, basketball, and golf.

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