The most common questions after every major E3 press conferences are: “How was the overall conference?” and “Who had the best conference?” While we still have yet to see Sony and Nintendo’s press conferences, this morning Microsoft pulled out quite a few punches with their press conference. Was it their best press conference ever? Possibly. Read on to find out why.
Microsoft is pulling a page out of Sony’s playbook by showing a much larger outpouring of love towards the independent developer community. Not only did they tout “over 1,000 independent developers” working on titles for the Xbox One and PC, but they also gave substantial time to a few independent developers to show off their work during the main event. Fullbright, the developers of Gone Home showed off their upcoming title Tacoma. While not many details were shared, it seemed to be a promising first person adventure game based in a sci-fi world. Some other titles shown include a unique fantasy game known as Ashen, a unique game about a blind girl titled “Beyond Eyes”, and classic sidescroller called “Cuphead.”
One of the biggest challenges in the console war is keeping console buyers satisfied with a steady stream of titles. Historically, every year each company faces a number of droughts during which there are not many titles released. Sony has proven that by supporting a number of independent developers, they can provide that added stream of titles during the drought of triple-A titles. The gesture has also been accepted as a general act of goodwill towards the gaming community and has helped foster the “For The Gamer” tagline that has assisted in much of Sony’s recent success. Hopefully, Microsoft will experience some of these same benefits by better embracing indie developers.
Historically, Sony is well-known for having the stronger line-up of exclusive titles. With games such as Uncharted, The Last of Us, Rachet and Clank, and quite a few more; Sony has always had the upper hand. Microsoft made it clear that they are attempting to differentiate themselves this year with a wide variety of exclusive titles.
Last year they announced that the Tomb Raider Successor, Rise of the Tomb Raider, would be an Xbox One exclusive; much to the disdain of Sony fans. They also showed a number of their staple exclusive titles such as: Halo 5, Gears of War 4, and Forza 6.
Finally, their wholly owned studio Rare shared a few exciting details for any of you Goldeneye, Perfect Dark, and Conkers fans out there. First shown was Rare Replay, a compilation of 30 classic Rare titles that will be bundled together for only $30 dollars. Additionally, Rare showed off what they touted as their “most ambitious title to date”, a pirate game called “Sea of Thieves” that looks quite decent.
A Pro Non-Modded Modder Controller
The best of the best FPS players in the community typically mod their controllers to move various controller inputs to the back side of the controller. By doing this, they can do things like crouch, jump, and reload without ever taking their hands off of the control sticks. Microsoft announced the Xbox Elite controller which comes with fully customizable paddles for your pointer fingers on the back of the controller for the remapping of such buttons.
Some of the other features they touted were hair triggers, improved accuracy, modular components, and mini-triggers. Considering the number of modders there are in the gaming world, it’s surprising that it’s taken this long for a console maker to create an official controller for such purposes. Hopefully Sony will follow suit! (Take notes Sony)
What probably received the most buzz after Microsoft’s show was their demo of Minecraft that was developed specifically for play on their upcoming AR headset, the Hololens. This mind-blowing feature allowed the player to place their Minecraft world onto the player’s coffee table in a hologram. Then using voice commands and hand gestures they were able to manipulate the world. (See our write up on this)
This display has definitely received our innovation award thus far. We will see if Nintendo or Sony can top this display of incredulity.
Overall, it was an incredible press conference from Microsoft. The company has been redeeming themselves year over year since their misstep when they first announced the Xbox One at E3 in 2013. 2015 could just be the year of the Xbox!