Hey folks! With this year’s annual avalanche of gaming related goodness that is E3 2015 set to kick off in just under two weeks, we thought it would be a grand idea to take a peek at what all the big platform holders and publishers have up their sleeves for the show.
Even the most die-hard PlayStation
zealot supporter would be hard pressed to deny that Microsoft’s Xbox One is now a much more viable competitor now than it ever has been. Ever since the Redmond based giant decided to ditch the concrete feet that Kinect 2.0 gave the Xbox One at retail, sales figures have been on continually on the up for Microsoft‘s third home console.
Coupled with a much broader selection of first-party titles when compared to their immediate competition, an improving indie offering and all coming at a time where Sony has let their balls hang low (Sony‘s first party lineup is expected to be quite reduced this year), this is the clearly the time for Microsoft to swing a foot between their legs seize and the momentum.
What might they have up their sleeves then? Let’s take a peek shall we?
- The Obvious Stuff –
Straight off the chuffing bat we can expect Microsoft to lead in strongly with Halo 5: Guardians. The arguable centerpiece of the Xbox One‘s first-party offering, Microsoft will be keen to regain the faith that they lost with the hilariously borked Halo: The
Disaster Master Chief Collection. In addition to single-player and multi-player reveals on the highly anticipated title, expect Microsoft to also divulge their extensive DLC plans for the game in addition to retail pack ins with the recently announced 1TB edition of the Xbox One console. The Halo 5: Guardians showcase should also put to rest a number of rumours too, such as the suggestion that it will get fifteen free DLC maps, which if true, will be toweringly brilliant and go someway to washing that Master Chief Collection stink off.
Further strengthening Microsoft‘s first-party line-up at the show will be Forza Motorsport 6, the racing sequel to, well, Forza Motorsport 5. Naturally, as this is the run up to E3 there has been a whole slew of details that have been supposedly leaked regarding the title. According to the mill of rumours, we can expect shiny 1080p/60fps visuals, 450 customisable cars with full damage modelling and full wet weather with more puddles and streaky rain than you can shake a copy of DriveClub at. In short, it’s sounding fantastic and if even half of this crap is true, Xbox One owners will be in for a wicked ride when Forza Motorsport 6 releases later this year.
Not to be outdone by the Nathan Drake Conference, we should all expect that Rise of the Tomb Raider will be present to stick two fingers up to the competition with an extended gameplay demo and release date announcement. Given just how salty the PlayStation massive were about the lack of Lara Croft on their machines this year, we can, and really should, expect Microsoft to rub it in so hard that Sony fans end up drowning in their own froth.
Away from the confines of ancient tombs and snow-capped mountains stuffed with death, we come to Lionhead Studios Fable Legends. After its shift to a free-to-play business model, word on the co-operative action RPG has been muted to say the least. Look for that to change at E3 2015 where Microsoft will outline some incentives to get players interested in the game ahead of its launch later this year. Of course, Fable IV would be lovely but alas, players can’t be choosers eh?
Much like how Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare was a timed exclusive for Xbox One and Xbox 360, so too will the recently announced Garden Warfare 2 find a special place on Microsoft‘s console hardware. Likely ditching the last-gen Xbox 360 for singular Xbox One development (the game is touted to run on a version of the Star Wars: Battlefront engine, after all), we should expect Plants Vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 to make a splash, especially as a recent teaser ties the reveal of the game to Microsoft’s E3 presser.
Speaking of EA, it seems like an obvious thing that Microsoft will look to cement their relationship with the super-publisher at the show. With the success of EA Access on the platform (not to mention Sony‘s ignorance of it), the smart money is on the big M getting all snuggly with EA and announcing yet more exclusive content deals for Xbox One.
- The Likely Stuff -
Although Microsoft has yet officially acknowledge the existence of a remastered version of Gears of War, the handful of Xbox One beta testers who got their ass banned for leaking it, certainly have. As far as what to expect from the game itself, the leaked footage alongside earlier tidbits of information suggest that the title will run at 1080p/60fps with more detailed textures, remastered cutscenes and an expanded multiplayer offering to boot.
Of course, a remastered Gears of War should only really be an appetiser for the main course; a full-blown continuation of the Gears of War franchise. Here, I would expect Microsoft to play it similarly to how they did with the Halo: Reach announcement back at E3 2009; we’ll get to see lots of gameplay from the remaster (the equivalent of this being Halo 3: ODST back in the day), but only a CG trailer of the next proper Gears title to keep us salivating like a bunch of lobotomised degenerates.
Finally, in terms of likely things that will feature in Microsoft‘s E3 press conference, their HoloLens technology seems like quite a sure bet if this official techie blog post is anything to go by. Aside from giving the audience a glimpse at a prototype of the technology, we’ll hopefully not only hear Microsoft talk about the games applications for the device but also show them in action as well. Let’s just hope we don’t get the 2015 equivalent of this, because I don’t think my poor heart could take it.
- What Won’t Be There -
Folks who have been looking forward Remedy‘s time-bending third-person shooter making a splash at this year’s E3 will sadly have to retreat to the nearest corner and begin sobbing uncontrollably. The reason? Remedy recently announced that the shooter would not be shown at this year’s event and that it would instead release sometime in 2016. If you’re starting to feel some horrible swells in your bowels, much akin to the ones that occured when Alan Wake (another Remedy game) was delayed so long it took five years to actually come out, then know that you are not alone.
The Phantom Dust reboot that was so gleefully announced by Xbox‘s Ken Lobb at last year’s event will not be appearing at this year’s event, despite a year of silence in the interim. The reason? Microsoft basically fired the entire development team (Grounding Inc) for not meeting deadlines and as the development of Phantom Dust was intrinsically tied to the fate of the team behind it, the thing went limp and quitely died in a dark room somewhere.
Elsewhere, after being announced at last year’s E3, the new Crackdown reboot has been put on hold until Gamescom according to Philly Spencer. Another game that was announced at Microsoft’s E3 presser last year and then was promptly forgotten about for twelve months was Scalebound by Platinum Games. While the popular Japanese developer recently said that they would be reveal an unannounced title at E3 next week, it stands to reason that they’ve had all this time to beaver away on Scalebound meaning that we should at last see the fruits of their labour next week – except that we actually won’t because Mr. Spencer has said that Scalebound will also join Crackdown in being shown off properly at Gamescom later in the year. Frack.
Something else that probably won’t be there in any sort of capacity are games that utilise Microsoft‘s Kinect motion tracking camera system. With tearing Kinect away from the Xbox One at retail and with the general level of apathy regarding the accessort, it stands to reason that basically nobody with any sort of sane mind will have anything in the works for the device. The whole situation will likely be compounded by Microsoft shifting focus onto their developing HoloLens technology too, leaving Kinect out in the cold even more as a result.
And though this is sort of stating the obvious, expect Xbox 360 to support to be thin on the ground at best because, well, that ain’t where the money is. Dolla dolla bills, yo etc.
- Possible Surprises -
Slap bang at the front of the Possible Surprise Brigade is Twycross based developer Rare, who, for the better part of the last ten years have found themselves relegated to crapping out titles that barely touch that impressive caliber of their considerable legacy on Nintendo systems. I imagine that might change at this year’s event however, as in addition to the new Battletoads game that Phil Spencer has been none-too-discreetly hinting at (not to mention the trademarks that have been registered for it).
Elsewhere, I would hope that Microsoft wouldn’t just be putting all of their Rare eggs in one basket with Battletoads either and would, in addition, bring either a resurrection of other older properties to the table, or, (god forbid) show off some new non-Kinect flavoured IP.
And finally, we should just expect a metric ton of surprises. Why? Because Microsoft’s marketing boss said so: “Expect a lot of surprises,” Greenberg explained. “Expect us to talk a lot about games. And if you’re an Xbox owner, I think you’re going to leave really, really, really happy in the investment you made. And if you’re undecided, we hope that you will look at what we deliver on games and want to buy an Xbox.”
Get hype. Get excited.
So, what do you think? Do those predictions match your own for Microsoft’s press conference? Let us know in the comments below!
- This post is dedicated to Joe Cammisa. A dearly departed member of our editorial team who (while still quite alive) is not with Save/Continue to cover the Xbox conference at E3 this year. Gone, but never forgotten. –