E3 2013: Microsoft’s Xbox One Plays Games but for a Big Price
After getting all of the ugly business about DRM, used games, TV, apps and always-connected Kinect out of the way before E3, Microsoft got down to the business of trying to actually trying to sell the upcoming Xbox One as a gaming console.
For their E3 press event, Microsoft came at us with scads of games, both multi-platform and exclusive to the Xbox One to make us forget about all the bad press about the last few months leading up to today’s big showing. Well, until they announced the launch price.
The press conference started with a gameplay trailer for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain which looked like Red Dead Redemption as it showed Snake riding a horse while promising us the first open-world MGS game. But Red Dead Solid looked absolutely fantastic and I’m very excited to play this on PC… Even if Kiefer is voicing Snake.
The first exclusive that Microsoft showed off for the Xbone was Ryse: Son of Rome which featured Roman warriors storming a beach to take down some catapults and capture a fortress. It looked very promising until the gameplay footage showed that combat was just a series of QTEs. Rather than put any thought into combat, it was just one massive thud.
Killer Instinct, an old Rare-developed fighting game, was unveiled as Rare’s new Xbox One exclusive offering. The game looked okay in action but it’s a 2D fighting game and there’s only so much that you can do graphics-wise with that. The proof will be in the gameplay.
If you ever wondered what happened to that weird game Insomniac was planning called “Overdrive” that ended up becoming focus-tested into Fuse, Microsoft has actually done something good and come to the rescue. Insomniac is developing an XB1 exclusive called “Sunset Overdrive” which is an open-world stylized shooter. In other words, it’s a lot closer to Overdrive than Fuse ended up which can only be a very good thing.
The other impressive Xbox One exclusive was Project Spark. It’s an odd sort of thing that really takes advantage of the controls available to the Xbox One. It allows you to create a world and bring it to life as a sort of dynamic game that can be changed on the fly using the controller, Kinect voice control and Smart Glass. If this was actually being demonstrated live, and I have my doubts (though it could have been an audio sync issue), everything worked very well.
I should mention that people will be excited about Dead Rising 3 which is also an XB1 exclusive. While the crazy crafting and zombie killing combat is still there, the colour palette has been reduced to shades of brown and Smart Glass was shoehorned into the game in an almost Smart Glass to win type of way.
Other exclusive shown were Forza 5 which will include cloud gaming (Yay! Always-online Forza!) to create AI drivatars to compete as you when you’re not gaming, Quantum Break (or an in-game cinematic that doesn’t show what it’s about), the episodic murder mystery game D4, and Crimson Dragon from the creator of Panzer Dragoon. There was an unnamed new Halo game announced for 2014 but all we got was a teaser without a name or number at the end. That h
On the multiplatform front, we saw first looks at Dark Souls II, The Witcher 3 and Battlefield 4. Remedy Entertainment’s Titanfall was also shown off for the first time. That’s exclusive to the Xbox consoles but is also supposed to get a PC release.
On the less newsworthy front, World of Tanks is coming to Xbox 360 and Minecraft is getting an updated version to bring it onto the Xbox One. Not surprising since it’s the top-selling indie game in Xbox history.
Much to no one’s surprise, Microsoft officially announced the end of Microsoft points on Xbox Live. Instead, the store will use real money.
What was a surprise on the Xbox Live front was that Microsoft announced that they are giving away two free Xbox 360 games a month until the Xbox One launch to Xbox Live Gold members. They also announced that some Gold membership perks would also be available to family members using your console, such as online gaming. That’s an actual line from the presentation. In other words, you’ll still have to pay for a Xbox Live Gold membership to game online. Welcome to the future.
And Microsoft waited until the end for the big kicker. They announced that the Xbox One would be coming out in November for only $499. That’s $100 more than the launch price of the Xbox 360. I guess that DRM costs a lot of money to implement. At that price, I believe most people’s wallets would be Xboned, especially since Sony is expected to launch the PlayStation 4 as low as $399. Also, if you’re in Britain or Europe, your prices work out to about $660 USD using today’s exchange rates. You’re Xboned as well.
At the end of the day, while Microsoft had some nice games at their big E3 event, I don’t think this should be enough to undo all the damage of the DRM and used games BS of the last two weeks. These games, and that includes the exclusives, aren’t enough to justify the $500 price tag, especially when paired with all the other problems with the Xbox One that you’ve been (justifiably) brow-beaten to death with by the gaming press.
What still scares me is that the core gamers, who should still be pissed off at Microsoft for their BS, are going to look at all of these pretty new games and say “All is forgiven Microsoft. I don’t know how I could ever be mad at you.” Microsoft’s dirty DRM and used games policies shouldn’t be forgiven because this thing plays some good-looking games when the PlayStation 4 and PC will do the same without the same DRM BS.
Now we wait for Sony’s PlayStation 4 event and for November to find out if Microsoft can be saved from the nightmare that they’re causing for gamers. Even with some of the very cool things Microsoft has shown off, all Sony has to do is not screw it up tonight and they’re the clubhouse leader heading into fall’s next-gen console launches.