E3 2013: Microsoft impressions

Unfortunately, work got crazy at the exact moment that Microsoft’s press conference started, so as a result I didn’t get a chance to watch much of the livestream, and so I missed a lot of the shittiness (1, 2).

General reaction on Twitter seems to be almost comically negative, even more so than during the initial reveal of the Xbox One (which was already pretty negative).  The disappointment during that first conference seemed focused on two things:  1) there were no games being revealed, and 2) the general ambiguousness and/or perceived awfulness about MS’s policies regarding DRM/always online/privacy/used games/etc.

Microsoft does not appear to have made any appreciable upswing in their PR messaging during the interim between that first conference and today, either.   I can’t speak to any of that, though; almost none of their quote-unquote “disastrous” policies appear to conflict with my personal gaming habits, as I generally only buy new games and my consoles are always connected to my router.  (Of course, the used-games business makes my Gamefly account look pretty worthless, which is a bummer).

As for today’s news, well:  the biggest news (for me, at any rate) is that Microsoft is FINALLY adding value to an XBL Gold membership by giving away two free games every month (which is, of course, what PSN has been doing for a while  now).  The bigger question is:  will any of those free games on the 360 re-appear on the Xbox One?  Since the Xbox One comes out in November (at $500, which, yikes), this “free game” business doesn’t necessarily have that long a life cycle.

And as for the games?  Here’s what they talked about today (some 360, some One):

  • World of Tanks
  • Metal Gear Solid V
  • Dark Souls 2
  • Ryse
  • Killer Instinct
  • Sunset Overdrive (Insomniac)
  • Max: Curse of Brotherhood
  • Forza 5
  • Minecraft (?!!!)
  • D4
  • Below
  • Witcher 3
  • Battlefield 4
  • Quantum Break
  • Dead Rising 3
  • Crimson Dragon (no audio, but still looks really good?)
  • Halo… something
  • Titanfall (Respawn)

Well, that’s some games, and – to be fair – a decent amount of new IP.  But mostly lots of shooting and guns.  The only bit of the livestream that I was able to catch was of Ryse, which looked boooooooooring.  QTEs?  Really?  Ugh.   I’m reluctantly intrigued by the open-world MGS5, and I’m very curious to see what Sunset Overdrive is about.  Below might be the title I’m most interested in, being that it’s made by the Swords & Sworcery people.

Still:  $500 is no joke, and there’s nothing here that I feel like I need to have on launch day.  So I’m inclined to wait it out a bit longer.

I’m very, very curious to see what Sony has up its sleeves.  I’ve seen some Twitter comments that basically amount to Sony only needing to come out, not tell any rape jokes, and announce a launch price of $400 in order to “win” E3.  I’m not sure that Sony is in any sort of financial situation to be able to do that, however, and they certainly need to do some clarification of their own with respect to those same DRM issues that have dogged Microsoft.

Honestly, it’s the third-party press conferences (EA, Ubi, etc.) that I’m mostly concerned about.  I’m hoping we can see some stuff that doesn’t involve shooting FOR ONCE.

XboxOne reveal impressions

It’s hard to not be a little disappointed that there weren’t more games announced at today’s XboxOne reveal, even though I think we all knew, deep down, that today’s reveal was about the actual box itself, and that if they blew their wad on game announcements today, there’d be nothing left to surprise us at E3.  Even the vague announcement of 15 exclusive games, including 8 all-new franchises, doesn’t necessarily inspire confidence – those 8 all-new franchises could very easily be new Kinect titles, which nobody will care about.

And it’s also just been revealed, via The Verge, that XboxOne will not feature backwards compatibility.  Not necessarily that big a surprise, but still.  The PS4 won’t feature back-compat either, but they will offer PS3 games via their cloud; it’s unclear if Microsoft will offer something similar.  (I bring this up specifically because the lack of a PC version of Red Dead Redemption means that the 360 is the last place I’ll be able to play one of my favorite games of all time.)

Still, though – it’s a good-looking device, and that new controller is sexy as all get-out.   If I’m less-than-crazy about the name, it’s because I already refer to the original Xbox as Xbox1.  But then again, I have no idea how to refer to my 3rd generation iPad, either.

The TV stuff – eh.  If it helps me to eventually be able to get rid of Time Warner Cable, I’ll be thrilled.  The snappiness of the Kinect functionality was impressive, though it’s unclear if that was real or not.  (I speak as someone who’s been using Kinect voice functionality to watch HBO with a baby in the room, and while it’s very nice to be able to say “Xbox Pause” when the baby needs attending to and I can’t find the remote, it’s also a little annoying when I say something to my wife and my Xbox starts fast-forwarding for no apparent reason.)

It’s too soon to pick a winner between PS4 and XboxOne until they start revealing games and release dates and prices.  Watch Dogs, which accompanied the PS4 reveal, has been confirmed to be an XboxOne title (as well as Assassin’s Creed 4); the Call of Duty stuff that closed out the show doesn’t interest me in the slightest.   And I’m not that big a fan of any of the 4 EA Sports titles they talked about (although, if they can introduce some of that new tech in Tiger Woods 16, I’ll be happy for the year delay.)  When they talked about the new cloud service and the 300,000 servers that will be powering this thing, they also seemed to imply that XboxOne would be able to handle MMO experiences; this bodes well for stuff like Bungie’s Destiny, but I wonder if they they are also ultimately talking about games like Dota and League of Legends.

(It’s also too soon to pick a winner, because we’ve yet to see the Steam Box.  And if I had to pick one, it’s entirely possible that’s the one I’d pick.)

What did you think?

%d bloggers like this: