Microsoft E3 Review

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While E3 didn’t quite begin with Microsoft at the helm (thanks to Bethesda’s strong showing the day before), it really did set the pace for what was going to be a relatively smooth E3 – but not one that was astounding.

Microsoft played things pretty safe throughout their presentation, but they did have several surprises that were worth mentioning.  We’ll get to that later, however, as it makes more sense to tackle things in an upward trend.

There weren’t really any truly weak spots in their presentation.  However, the power players that you would have expected to really shake up the conference hall didn’t really seem to appeal as well as you thought it would have.  Games like Halo, Gears of War and Fable were appreciated, but there wasn’t really that “wow” factor that you expect from them.  Forza, Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, Rainbows Six – even Tomb Raider really couldn’t get too much off the ground as far as getting people excited.  I’m interested in Rare’s new game, Sea of Thieves, which looks like a glorified Pirate simulator, but it remains to be seen what it becomes.  And I’m going to pick up some of these other games, but there wasn’t really that pizzazz that I wanted to see from them.

They did roll out some interesting pieces of their presentation though.  New games like Recore, from Keiji Inafune, and the indie title Cuphead, which looks like it’s got clever Steamboat Willie graphics, really went over well with the crowd.  The Division is continuing to impress people, and it sounds like it will be out this holiday season.  And Dark Souls 3 was formally announced in an awesome display.  Microsoft also displayed their Elite Controller, which lets you hotswap buttons – it’s an incredibly precise piece of equipment.  The only downside?  It’s $150.  I don’t imagine that will be a hot commodity to anyone but the most diligent of gamers, but I’ve been known to be wrong before.

But Microsoft did have a selection of bombs that they dropped.  They came to let people know just how invested they are in making sure that there is a future in store for the XBox brand, and their first big bomb was backwards compatibility with the 360.  It isn’t something that’s coming right away, and it won’t be every game all at once, but it’s an incredibly smart thing to do during a generation when hot titles are far and few between.  It’s a little bit tough to really get too excited for it because the 360 didn’t have too many knockout titles – even now the top 10 most wanted games are saturated with Call of Duty titles – but it is a very generous offer to fans (and it’s one that Sony is not prepared to match).

Though Fallout 4 is not a Microsoft exclusive, there are some great things that they were prepared to show at E3.  First of all, only on XBox One, when you buy Fallout 4, Fallout 3 is included.  Now, not many people have missed the boat for that first game, but that’s an incredible offer.  Not only that, but XBox One will be the only console that you’ll be able to install Fallout 4 mods on – a real game breaker in the console community.  Mods make the PC Bethesda games that much more attractive, and now that you’ll be able to do it on a console…

Bethesda wasn’t the only one that was making a splash at Microsoft’s event though.  Rare also had some pretty awesome news.  Coming out in August, you’ll be able to get 30 of the developers titles for $30, only on XBox One with Rare Replay.  It’s an incredible offer, and one that covers the last 30 years of history.

Probably the most exciting thing at Microsoft’s E3, though, was what they showed of their HoloLens. Microsoft once again showed their Minecraft demo with the HoloLens property, and it went over with a huge set of pops at the conference.  The idea that you’ll be able to play Minecraft (and probably other games) without a television is an awesome concept, and what they showed of the idea at E3 was completely amazing.  Sure, it’s still kind of proof-of-concept, but if this is a little shadow of what we can expect of our future, count me in.

All in all, Microsoft had a steady show.  There weren’t too many blockbuster moments, but it was a fun time, and it showed us what we can expect next year.  Thankfully, they showed us some stuff that we can look forward to within the next six months as well, with Rare Replay, their backwards compatibility catalog, and third party releases like Fallout 4.  I’d give their presentation an 8 out of 10.

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