E3 is such a magical time of year for us gamers, much to the same way WrestleMania is the greatest time of year for a wrestling fan. Companies pull out ALL the stops to produce the most jaw-dropping games and features for gamers. Some go over well (Final Fantasy 7 Remake), others not so much (The entirety of Nintendo’s event, sans muppets). Xbox I feel, followed through on a promise to deliver one of their best E3 line-ups ever, so let’s take a brief look at some of those highlights.
Hololens – Whilst a technically impressive tech demo is rarely indicative of a product’s final quality (and as various hands-on demos from other journalists have attested to), what we can establish for Hololens is that the potential is there for something extraordinary. As what appears to be the unholy fusion between virtual and augmented reality, Hololens has a real chance to be more than Kinect ever hoped it could be, possibly becoming the next must-have gaming peripheral since a Guitar Hero controller or that vibrating pad thing that came with a copy of Rez. The key theme there is peripheral, as I’m still unsure of the viability of headset gaming as a platform unto its own, but time will tell on that front.
Rise of the Tomb Raider – Despite the awful generic name, which could only really be topped by the announcement of a Tomb Raider: Revelations, I’m happy with the way this looks. More of the same but bigger is usual such a negative tag to attach to a sequel, but the first game of this Tomb Raider reboot was such a joy to play that more of the same is welcomed here. My real concern here comes from the potential for further character development. It appears that Lara might have tried to shun that side of herself that emerged on the island, and this game deals with her embracing it, but I just feel that it might not hit as hard as the courageous fight for survival. We’ll wait and see…
Rare Replay – Anyone who says that this isn’t a good deal is probably choking on their sour grapes right about now. £20 for 30 games from a beloved development house, including some true classics like Banjo-Kazooie and Perfect Dark, along with a handful of previous generation titles? How could anyone be negative about that? A masterstroke on behalf of Rare and Microsoft. Bravo!
New IPs Galore – in an age of sequels and reboots, it’s nice to see Microsoft chucking money at original AAA titles. Yes, the indie games are original and awesome too, and I love the look of Cuphead more than I do certain members of my family, but I find true beauty at big companies taking a stab at something different. Games like ReCore and Sea of Thieves show me that Xbox is committed to new potential franchises, not just sticking with Halo and Gears. Speaking of which…
Halo 5: Guardians – Yes, it’s a sequel, going directly against my previous point, but I’ll always have that Halo soft spot. What’s interesting to me is how cinematic they’re pushing for the experience to be. Complaints will arise that the series is becoming Space Call of Duty, but if 343 can find a balance between the open combat and the awesome set pieces, we have a winner on our hands. Also, Warzone is already a contender for biggest devourer of my free time just on concept alone. Just don’t talk to me about micro-transactions.
Backwards Compatibility – the announcement equivalent of Phil Spencer flopping his dick out on stage and requesting that Sony ‘Suck It’ DX style, we were also informed that any games we’ve already purchased digitally or have on disc that are part of the backwards compatibility program will be available at no extra cost. This is a huge win in the so-called Console War, further proved by a Sony executive Shuhei Yoshida declaring that, basically, no one would use it. Sounds a little like jealousy to me. COME AT ME FANBOYS! (Disclaimer: Sony had some great announcements, so good job all round I guess. We all win, enough said.)
Xbox Preview – A bold as brass move on the behalf of Microsoft and Phil ‘Suck It’ Spencer, the adoption of an Early Access style system is akin to someone urinating on your face; you either like it or you don’t. In this instance, I am rather positive. Bolstered by the pre-release release of Elite: Dangerous and that each game will offer a free trial version before you make any full commitment, I’m super excited to see where this program goes from here.
Gears 4 – New characters, a potentially new setting and an almost different overall tone and play style, judging by the initial trailer, Gears 4 could mark a refreshing departure from the adventures of Fenix and co, though we’ll probably see them knocking about eventually. The game looks fundamentally the same as usual, but no game does cover shooting like Gears. Also, bonus points for the “announcement” of Gears of War: Ultimate Edition. We’ve known for weeks, but thanks for trying anyway.
Fallout 4 Mods – If the console war is one thing, the struggle against the PC Master Race is another one entirely, and whilst it’s the most minor of minor victories, the ability to say that “Xbox One will have mods” fills me with so much joy that it cannot be quantified in words, and Xbox could not have picked a better vehicle for this scheme than Fallout 4. Bethesda games often produce the most active modding communities, meaning that Xbox gamers receive a ton of mods, whilst allowing Microsoft to test the capabilities of console mods. Win/win, for console gaming at least.