E3 2014: Microsoft Press Conference Hits All the Right Notes

Last year, Microsoft had a simply disastrous press conference for E3. The only time a company had a worse run of luck with a system announcement was Sega when they announced the Saturn was AVAILABLE NOW. And it had all of half a dozen games and most of those had serious issues that could’ve been ironed out to at least some degree with testing. Last year, Microsoft announced the Xbox One – a name that made little sense, and focused on the TV functionality with little in the way of gaming. Sure, you had Dead Rising 3 and Forza 5, but it seemed like the focus of the company was on the device as a home entertainment product and not a gaming machine. In the year since then, we’ve seen MS own up to a lot of mistakes and show that they’re willing to change when their vision isn’t getting the desired response. Their DRM plan was a dud, so they nixed it. The Kinect wasn’t knocking people dead, so they made it optional and dropped the barrier of entry for the console down to $400. Today, we saw the culmination of a year of the company’s learning experiences with the Xbox One come to fruition. Phil Spencer said he’d be all about the games, and he lived up to that moniker today.

We were able to bear witness to timed-exclusive content for the next Call of Duty, some quick footage of the latest Dragon Age and Assassin’s Creed games, as well as see a reboot for Phantom Dust and Crackdown. The ID@X video showed off Limbo’s successor alongside a ton of interesting indie games in short snippets. Sunset Overdrive was a highlight of last year’s E3 and remains one now with so much gameplay being shown off. It’s like Loadout mixed with Jet Set Radio and Ratchet and Clanks weapon-crafting, and it should deliver the best third-person action gameplay out there when it launches in the fall. Halo’s Master Chief Collection was a personal highlight of the press conference, and that’s with me not being a huge fan of the series. I loved Halo 2 though, and seeing that its MP maps will be featured in this game along with every other MP map from the mainline games has me excited. For $60, you’ll get every major entry in the series, plus a beta for Halo 5: Guardians, and the Halo show with Ridley Scott at the helm. It’s an incredible value, and after a year of people trying to justify their $500 expense six months ago, Microsoft gave people many reasons to be glad they took the plunge.