Microsoft seem to have caught on that the point of a games console is games. If there was one message they wanted to send at Gamescon, it’s that they are bringing us some games. I wasn’t expecting much from the briefing, especially since I don’t even own an Xbox, but Microsoft had plenty to show. There were still a couple cringe-worthy moments on-stage, but so much was shown from so many angles, from eSports to indies, it was easy to overlook the minor detractions. It was a great showing, and after the solid effort the put out at E3, Xbox is looking pretty sweet right now.
The briefing opened with Quantum Break, which is looking very different from when we saw it last year. Shawn Ashmore has taken over the lead role, and Little Finger (aka, Aiden Gillen) has joined the cast as the creepy bad guy. It’s as though Remedy saw him cast as the creepy bad guy in some other show… Anyway, we also got a glimpse at the in-game live action show being made, but even calling it a glimpse is generous. It’s the most we’ve seen of the game in quite some time though, and it’s looking a lot better than the Alan Wake clone from the last Gamescon.
That guy from Fringe will be in it too! Yay! Actors!
Up next came Crackdown 3, which played the “100% destructible environments” card before anyone had time to change pants. While there was no gameplay demo, there were snippets of gameplay footage showing off the scale of destruction, which is currently looking magnificent. The multiplayer was mentioned too, utilising the computing power of the Microsoft Cloud to deliver unrelenting carnage without chugging the server. It looked nuts, but what really caught my interest was Scalebound.
When I first saw the trailer at E3, Scalebound looked like the dumbest executive on the planet got the dumbest artists together, pumped out the dumbest idea they could, and then made a trailer for it. Now that I’ve seen some live gameplay, I still think it looks obnoxiously stupid, but I want everything that it it is and ever will be right now. The game looks like an open-world version of DMC in a fantasy setting, complete with pet dragon, giant monsters and DnB. I was totally sold on it from what was shown, even if the main character looks like a 14-year old with too much money on his hands.
Looks so stupid. Looks SO good.
After that came the obligatory “Your Xbox can DVR shows!” tomfoolery from Microsoft’s head of platform engineering, but then he announced something a little stranger: A chat pad. It looks like a Blackberry keyboard for your controller, which sounds really good and weird. I can see how it would be useful if you wanted to type literally anything on your Xbox, but will it make the controller feel weird? I didn’t think about it too hard because, you know, I don’t own an Xbox, so I just waited for the games to come back.
After the announcement that Rash from Battletoads would be a playable character in Killer Instinct, the briefing shifted to indie games, and this was where I aged 12 years from cringing. There were some cool games to look forward to, like Bloodstained and Thimbleweed Park, but barely over 10 seconds of each game footage was shown via micro-trailers. On top of that, the ID @ Xbox guy would not stop saying, “Aw man, that looks awesome,” like we needed to be told that, yes, it looked awesome. This was probably the biggest slump of the briefing, but after this, the presentation got back into the swing of things.
Confirmed for actually happening
After pulling the wrinkled flesh back from my eyes, we got to witness a quick look at a Squenix made tech demo for DX12. I thought it looked pretty good right up until it zoomed in on a character’s lips, at which point I threw my camera away because photos had been made redundant. After my mind was blown, Mojang announced Minecraft was coming to Windows 10 (who’d a thunk it?) followed by trailers for Cobalt and Homefront: The Revolution. EA came out for about 10 minutes to peddle FIFA16, but then the presentation turned into an eSports match.
To show off Halo 5, Microsoft decided to get two eSports teams to play a match and have a couple commentators talk over it. Don’t get me wrong, I like eSports, but it was a bit jarring to suddenly be thrust into watching a 10 minute CTF match during a media presentation. I thought it was nice enough for the first few minutes, but it lost it’s allure very quickly. Afterwards, it was unveiled that there would be a Halo tournament with a $1 million prize, showing that Microsoft were dedicated to the eSports community. It’s great that another eSports tournament exists, but the announcement didn’t need to be prompted by a match.
It’s not until you put them in a setting that demands conciseness that you’re forced to realise how much these guys fluff about
After feeling conflicted, there were a few more trailers for Forza, Just Cause 3 and Rainbow Six, but none showed any real gameplay footage. Thankfully, we got an extended live demo for Tomb Raider after the trailers, and it’s looking pretty rad. After that was the announcement for Halo Wars 2, which caught me by surprise, as well as the announcement that it was coming to Windows. I think I’m excited, but I don’t remember Halo Wars being particularly good either, so we’ll see how it plays out. With that, the presentation ended with one clear message:
… Yeah? Well, maybe. We’ll see.
On the whole, the presentation was pretty damn excellent. Microsoft have finally pulled their head out from under the rocks they’ve been sleeping under for the last couple years and delivered some damn good looking games. I didn’t know how hyped I could get for a console I don’t even own, but man, there are some sick games a comin’. Microsoft finally get that great games make a great console, and while there were a few cringey moments in this presentation, we definitely saw that some great looking games are coming. Grade: B+