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The 5 Biggest Surprises Of Microsoft’s Xbox Conference

Posted by on June 10, 2013 at 1:24 pm
A lot of predictable announcements, but plenty of gems to examine here.

A lot of predictable announcements, but plenty of gems to examine here.

There’s something magical you get when you attend a platform maker’s press conference. Yeah, sure, televising them everywhere has sort of diminished the point of being there a bit, but it’s where platform holders like Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo can make crazy announcements about the future of gaming. Rumors and speculation took the air out of some of Microsoft’s announcements, but there were some that caught our eye. Here are just a few of the big ones.

Crytek Can Make Games That Aren’t Shooters

Ryse, a game unveiled two years ago for the Xbox 360, finally finds its way home as an incredible-looking Roman siege game. At points, the game looked like a cinematic from a current-gen triple-A title with particulate flying everywhere, explosions that were dynamic and beautiful and not a single alien to be seen. It’s nice to see the house that made Far Cry and Crysis branch out with their talents, although the QTE-based combat seemed a bit hand-hold-y to make it a great game.

Sunset Overdrive

Holy hell, this game. During the conference, I called it “Borderlands meets Jet Set Radio Future” and it’s now easily my most-anticipated game for the Xbox One. Gliding along rails in a big open-world city while blowing away creeps with orange soda-powered weaponry, the game is colorful, violent and with the help of cloud gaming, dynamic on a daily basis. It’s everything I wanted JSRF to be a decade ago and it’s a version of Infamous that won’t make me want to kill myself after a game session.

Teleprompters Foreshadow Hyperbole

Yeah, okay Dan Greenawalt, you really like what your team is doing with Forza Motorsport 5, but there’s no need to lap in the river of hyperbole to sell your point. “We don’t need higher resolutions and poly counts anymore”, yeah I get his point, but it doesn’t matter how wonderfully you’ve crafted the rare beast that is the McLaren P1, you’ve made a racing game.

Adding to that – and you didn’t see this in online presentations – was that we were watching the teleprompts on three massive screens in the back of the arena where we had a sentence or two head-start on the speakers. I don’t know who writes this stuff, but it was all even worse to read than it was to watch.

Microsoft Doesn’t Give A Fuck About Used Games

Heading into the weekend, a contingent of gamers were pretty put off by Microsoft’s abrupt announcement as to how it handles online connectivity and renting and loaning games, which you won’t be able to do. There was a lot of sentiment that Microsoft’s position was either made or broken by how well they followed up to their message board and podcast inquiries. Microsoft then spent zero seconds talking about it and maybe it was the spectacle of the thing, but we didn’t really care about it, either.

Microsoft’s Game Offering Looks Bigger And Brighter Than Sony’s

After seeing Sony’s two hour press conference and being at Microsoft’s, I can honestly say that I’m far more wowed by what Microsoft is bringing to the plate from its exclusives than anything Sony is doing. Yeah, I groaned at a new Halo so soon (yeah, I admit that I was wrong on that count), but I also groaned at a new Killzone. I’m more excited about what Sony’s doing for indie developers, but none of their big titles are doing it for me. Let me see how that changes when I see the Sony conference tonight.

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