Microsoft’s heavily hyped E3 media briefing this year was always going to be about redemption for the put upon platform holder. With new gaffer Phil Spencer attempting to turn around the organisation’s image, the press conference was filled with phrases aimed directly at fans. “Thank you” was a statement that seemed pre-programmed into each presenter’s speech, while the firm was also eager to point out how consumers have shaped and will continue to shape the future of the brand, which is now dubbed “new Xbox”.
The conference was certainly filled with content. It opened with Sledgehammer Games’ next-gen focused first-person shooter Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, and went on to show Assassin’s Creed: Unity – a series which has historically been linked to the PlayStation platform. Both releases showed well, with the latter in particular introducing a co-op dynamic which looks set to revitalize the stealth franchise’s tired formula. The manufacturer continued to push timed exclusive content hard, with Dragon Age: Inquisition, Tom Clancy’s The Division, and Evolve all receiving add-on packs first on Microsoft’s machine.
However, for all of the firm’s early bluster, the most meaningful announcements came later on. Halo: The Master Chief Collection will certainly give the Redmond-based firm an ace this Christmas, collating all of the mainline entries in Bungie and 343’s property on one gigantic Blu-ray disc. Meanwhile, as was heavily rumoured last year, Platinum Games is working on an exclusive for the Xbox One, in the form of tongue-in-cheek dragon slayer Scaleborn. Meanwhile, Panzer Dragoon director Yukio Futatsugi’s classic Xbox exclusive Phantom Dust is making a comeback, while fan favourite Crackdown will return in the future, too.
The pace of the press conference was fantastic, with announcement after announcement expertly cramming every second of the manufacturer’s 90 minute allotment – but the software seemed some way out. While the Redmond-based organisation will point to its holiday offering of Sunset Overdrive and Project Spark, its other announcements seemed pushed forward, as evidenced by the real lack of gameplay on display. The majority of its reveals employed cryptic CGI trailers, and while this will definitely still excite fans, the platform holder appeared pressured into revealing its hand in order to make up ground against the PlayStation 4.
Of course, with such a wealth of content on display, it’ll be interesting to see if Sony is able to counter at all. With the likes of Guerrilla Games and Media Molecule unlikely to be on stage, the Japanese giant may struggle to match the sheer girth of its competitor’s conference. However, while the PlayStation maker may not have as much software on hand, we still feel that there is opportunity for it to show more meaningful content. Gameplay demos for Uncharted PS4 and Project Beast would not only prove that the manufacturer has great content in the pipeline, but also that said titles are far enough along to be properly presented to the press.
Whatever happens over the course of the evening, it’s clear that Microsoft is once again prepared to battle for the gamer’s heart. But while its roster of indie titles – including Limbo developer PlayDead’s next game – and consumer re-focused mentality are all appreciated, it feels like it’s merely treading the same path that Sony walked last year. The big question is: will it be able to make up ground, or will the Japanese giant once again prove that it’s several strides ahead during its own show in a few hours?
What did you think of Microsoft’s press conference? Has it convinced you to pick up an Xbox One? What can Sony do to topple the Redmond-based firm’s show? Let us know in the comments section below.
Do you think Sony can topple Microsoft’s E3 show? (65 votes)
Yes, I think the Japanese firm will have more content that appeals to me
Hmm, I’m going to wait and see
No, the Redmond firm had a wealth of content that will be difficult to top
Please login to vote in this poll.