Microsoft at E3: Xbox to focus on multiplayer, co-op and Xbox One exclusives

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Microsoft tonight unveiled a plethora of new games during their keynote presentation at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles.  E3 is the biggest gaming showcase in the world, where all the major publishers and developers unveil their new titles and dish out information about forthcoming titles.

Before the show kicked off, Xbox’s Major Nelson highlighted a new Xbox One app that will allow you to track achievements in a snapped mode. If you use the snap mode on Xbox One, you will be able to snap the achievements app to the side of the screen while you play.

To make things easier, you will be able to sort them by how close you are to completion, and track them in real time. You can also rearrange them so that you can keep track of certain ones. One of the best features is the option to select an achievement you’re struggling with, and search the internet for help.

Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox, opened the official showcase by welcoming everyone and reaffirming that gaming is the fastest growing industry in the world. Even though the Xbox One is only launching in South Africa in September, he thanked the millions of gamers who already bought the console.

First Up

The first title that he showed off was Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, which will launch on Xbox One in November this year. Spencer played through about five minutes of a level, giving players a glimpse of what they can expect in terms of weapons, shields, grenades and in-game graphics. The most interesting aspect of his weapon of choice is that it had no recoil.

Dan Greenawalt, Creative Director of Turn10, took to the stage soon afterwards and revealed that the Nurburgring track is now available for Forza 5 for free. The Turn10 team also highlighted the new features of Forza Horizons 2, which will incorporate players’ drivatars, no lobbies (meaning players won’t have to wait to join multiplayer games), and they can create drive clubs of up to 1000 people. They revealed that the game will launch on 30 September.

Vincent Pontbriand of Ubisoft gave a better glimpse in Assassins’ Creed Unity, the forthcoming game from Ubisoft. Before showing a world premier video highlighting how the game plays, he announced that players will be able to form their own brotherhood in multiplayer mode. Effectively what that means is that players will be able to complete missions and objectives in co-op mode – which will be a first for the franchise.

EA’s Dragon Age Inquisition was up next, debuting a trailer of the content that will first be making its way to the Xbox One.

The whimsical Sunset Overdrive made a comical appearance, with the main character in the game telling players what the game is all about. “In Sunset Overdrive, you are the hero!” proclaimed Insomniac Games’ CEO Ted Price, before launching into a gameplay session to demonstrate the technical aspects of the game. Interestingly, multiplayer supports up to eight players.


David Eckelberry, Game Director from Lionhead Studios demoed Fable Legends, which has amazing graphics. He ran through the title, detailing the story and the different weapons and abilities that the different characters use. He also revealed that players can be the villain from a top-down view, who can add enemies to hinder the other players. “You decide who and how to target your enemies. Play as the main characters, or as the villain – the choice is yours,” he said.

One of the most anticipated games of the year, Halo Guardians proved to be incredibly popular with the audience in the arena. The exclusive video took viewers through an emotional narration of the title’s plot, while highlighting the stunning graphics.

Bonnie Ross, studio head for 343 Studios revealed that they think of the characters as real, and try to bring that to life in the franchise.  Ross also revealed that players will be able to play through the entire Halo franchise (four games) in November on Xbox One in the Master Chief Collection. Halo 2 will also be receiving the full anniversary treatment, by being released on current generation consoles with updated graphics. It looks amazing! The beta for Guardians will launch this holiday.

After the major announcements and trailers, Spencer returned to the stage to detail how Microsoft is investing in new IPs and indie studios. He showed off a title called Inside from Danish game studio Playdead, a side-scroller resembling the black-and-white Limbo. Afterwards, Independent Developers @ Xbox ([email protected]) showed off some of the new Indie games that will be making their way to the Xbox One.

Tomb Raider received similar cheers as Halo did, once it was revealed in a new world premier video. The trailer showed Lara Croft in a session with what is presumed to be a psychologist, interspersed with scenes of her exploits. Rise of the Tomb Raider is yet to get a solid release date but it looks fantastic.

CD Projekt Red was up next, delivering a new and brutal exclusive demo of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The previous title was incredibly well received, and this one is sure to provide gamers with the same action-packed scenes.

For the next big reveal, audience members got a glimpse of Tom Clancy’s The Division with another world exclusive video. The purpose served to show off the graphical capabilities, the combat mechanics and how players need to work in a team to complete levels. The title will launch in 2015.

In what was leaked last week already, Crackdown is officially back as Realtime World’s David Jones showed off a new trailer.

Closing Off

To close off the show, Spencer returned to the stage. “Thank you for joining us, and we will continue to add new features, new creators and we will continue to listen to the community. We are making the Xbox for you, and that is a commitment from the Xbox team. Thank you for shaping the new future of Xbox.”

Through all the game trailers, new releases and independent developers, one thing is clear from Microsoft’s press conference: there is a huge focus on co-op and multiplayer games. But there is an even bigger focus on Xbox One exclusive titles, great news for gaming in general but not particularly exciting for South Africans who have yet to see Microsoft’s latest console for themselves. The acid test for how much of this resonates with South African gamers will come once the console launches here in September.

Honourable mentions during the show

  • Evolve to feature new characters
  • Super Ultra Dead Rising 3 Arcade available as  DLC
  • New dancing title Disney Fantasia Music Evolved
  • Dance Central Spotlight available as a download-only title
  • Project Spark coming to Xbox One “this holiday”
  • Ori and the Blind Forest to launch on Xbox One
  • Phantom Dust to be remastered with all-new gameplay and graphics
  • Scalebound coming from the studio that made Bayonetta, MadWorld, and Anarchy Reigns
Charlie Fripp

Charlie Fripp

Charlie started his professional life as a motoring journalist for a community newspaper in Mpumalanga, Charlie explored different journalistic angles since his entry into the fast-paced world of publishing in 2006. While fostering a passion for the arts, Charlie developed a love for technology – both which allowed him to serve as Entertainment and Technology Editor for an online publication. Charlie has since been heavily involved in consumer technology for various websites and publications. He thoroughly enjoys World War II films and cerebral documentaries; aviation; photography and indie music. Oh yes, and he also has a rather strange obsession with collecting coffee mugs from his travels.