Microsoft’s E3 2013 event was a conference concerned with the latest hardware and entertainment apps — albeit one delivered rather poorly — the company’s 2014 show delivered what matters most: games. Microsoft and third-party developers highlighted more than 20 titles throughout the company’s hour-and-a-half show, premiering a slew of trailers and showcasing game footage from some of the most anticipated titles of the year, including The Witcher 3, The Division, Halo 5, Sunset Overdrive. There was no mention of the company’s forthcoming lineup of original programming, nor did it address its recent announcement regarding the Kinect-less Xbox One, but there was plenty of beautifully-rendered cinematic and handclaps to go around once the newly-appointed Phil Spencer took the stage shortly after 9:30 a.m. PDT. Check out the brief rundown of the event’s takeaways below, complete with tentative release dates.
Update on 6-09-2014 by Brandon Widder: Added confirmed titles such as ‘Halo: The Master Chief Collection’ and ‘Assassins Creed Unity,’ along with recently-announced games such as ‘Rise of Tomb Raider’ and ‘Inside.’ Added and expanded content to 20 Xbox titles in all.
Fable Legends (2015)
It’s not surprising Microsoft showcased Fable Legends during the company’s E3 2014 briefing given Lionhead Studios head John Needham already said it would be a huge force at E3 2014, at least according to attendee CVG. A divergence from the traditional Fable makeup and set 400 years prior to the first title in the series, the game is essentially a dungeon crawler, one primarily rollicking in four-person co-op in Albion. Characters will acquire quests in a central hub with one player acting as a villain working directly against four other players from a top-down perspective, taking control of various creatures, minions, and environmental hazards in the process. The game will supposedly have a 10-year lifespan given it’s coupled with Microsoft’s cloud features, and though exact details are scarce, there is an open beta set for later the fall.
During its press conference, Microsoft showcased a glimpse look at the title’s co-op gameplay, offering a quick look at the questing hub and how the villains will interact with the other four players. The visual flare and combat remain distinctly Fable, while the new top-down mechanics offer something very intriguing in the vein of real-time strategy titles.
Sunset Overdrive (Oct. 28, 2014)
Set in 2027 in the fictional, open world of Sunset City, Sunset Overdrive was first announced at E3 2013. As evident in the first official gameplay footage, it’s a frantic and stylish third-person shooter in which you traverse a mutant-infested world in an effort to undermine the malevolent beverage manufacturer Fizzco. As we’ve seen thus far, the Xbox One exclusive encompasses a vivid and colorful world filled with customizable characters and weapons in the Ratchet and Clank vein, along with zip-lines and plenty of parkour-abetted questing.
Though Microsoft merely showed an announcement trailer during last year’s event, this year it announced an official release date for the title and offered an in-depth look at the kind of high-octane action player are set to experience come Oct. 28, 2014. As evident from the trailer, there’s sure to be plenty of combos, humor, and mutant-bashing debauchery to go around.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection (December 2014)
Engadget has fueled rumors for several weeks about an upcoming compilation package with HD remakes of the first four Halo games for the Xbox, beginning with 2001′s Halo: Combat Evolved on through Halo 4. Microsoft confirmed such claims with the announcement of Halo: The Master Chief Collection during its E3 press event, additionally bundling Ridley Scott’s Halo: Nightfall live-action series and exclusive access to the Halo 5: Guardians beta along with it. The collection will include the first four numerical games in the series, each featuring updated visuals along the lines of what Sabre Interactive managed to pull off with Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, as well as the ability to instantaneously revert to the original graphics. Furthermore, developer 343 Industries showcased Halo 2 multiplayer footage of a revamped Halo 2 level, complete with dual-wielding and rotating staircases.
Halo 5: Guardians (Fall 2015)
Helmed by 343 Industries and first shown in a brief cinematic trailer at E3 2013, the recently-confirmed Halo 5: Guardians is slated for a fall 2015 release. The Xbox One exclusive continues Master Chief’s long-running story as part of the “Reclaimer Trilogy,” following the abrupt ending to Halo 4. The newest cinematic trailer for the highly-anticipated title, shown during Microsoft’s conference and embedded here, offered few details about its plot. Apparently, the character featured in the suit is digging through the Master Chief’s past, looking for clues to his whereabouts in order to — wait for it — save everyone. It spurs far more questions than answers, but it’s nice to see a brief glimpse of the plot before the aforementioned beta kicks off in December.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Nov. 4, 2014)
First confirmed with Kevin Spacey and hover-bikes, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare seems to mark a new age for the franchise. Microsoft wasted no time showing off the Sledgehammer-developed title during the early moments of its press conference, debuting in-game footage where the player must traverse a futuristic Seoul, South Korea, amid mech suits and hovering drone swarms. Spencer also announced the Xbox One and Xbox 360 will be first to receive downloadable content.
Phantom Dust (2015)
Microsoft published the original Phantom Dust in 2005 under the direction of Yukio Fatatsugi, but the possibility of a new title in the series has long been discussed. During its E3 media briefing, Microsoft teased a new title in the classic card-action-strategy series, once again named Phantom Dust. Given Microsoft merely previewed the announcement trailer, it’s unclear whether the upcoming game is a remake of the original or a new game. Dust still appears to coat Earth’s surface either way, even if the title it’s poised to be “a reimagined version of the beloved classic with all-new gameplay and graphics.”
Forza Horizon 2 (Sept. 30, 2014)
Forza Motorsport 5, the latest installment of the series, launched alongside the Xbox One to rave reviews last November. Despite the somewhat-recent release though, Microsoft and developer Playground Games has already confirmed Forza Horizon 2 will launch this fall. Set in southern Europe and built upon a refined version of Forza Motorsport 5’s Drivatar system, the game will follow a similar arcade-style akin to the original Forza Horizon and feature hundreds of new cars, like the 2015 Lamborghini Huracán. The upcoming title, confirmed for the Xbox One and Xbox 360, will also make use of an intricate weather system, and in-game music and seamless multiplayer will be a pivotal part of the game. Turn 1 has announced a release date of Sept. 20, 2014.
Inside (early 2015)
Playdead Studios’ Limbo was a fantastic title, and as such, it was only a matter of time before the development team announced its next venture. Unveiled during Microsoft’s E3 event with a brief trailer, Inside appears to be a sidescroller in similar vein to the studio’s previous title. As suggested in the gameplay trailer, players take on the role of a young man as he trudges through a gray and dismal world teeming with robots, marches, and somber soundtrack. The game is set to debut on the Xbox One, and though the environments remain rendered in 2D, they’re adorned with a splash more color for a fuller effect.
Evolve (Oct. 21, 2014)
Evolve, the anticipated co-op first person shooter from Left 4 Dead developer Turtle Rock, is one of the most promising tiles of 2014. Given the developer has already announced the release date and shown plenty of in-game footage for the upcoming title over the course of the past few weeks, it’s not surprising that the studio didn’t showcase a revolutionary amount of new material other than a new trailer featuring the previously-detailed classes, and a tentacle-adorned enemy. However, it did reveal that Xbox One owners will be the first to play the game via an exclusive beta this fall.
Tom Clancy’s The Division (2015)
Ubisoft may have delayed Tom Clancy’s The Division until 2015, but that doesn’t mean the company hasn’t been hard at work. Massive Entertainment’s Ryan Barnard showcased new gameplay footage during Microsoft’s E3 briefing, providing a closer look at the post-apocalyptic scenario plaguing New York City and taking players through beautifully-rendered subway tunnels and the game’s co-op mechanics. The game initially impressed us back at E3 2013, and given the time its developers have had to hone it, it looks even more impressive than before.
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