Microsoft held its Xbox E3 Media Briefing on Monday where it opened with Halo 5: Guardians for the Xbox One, and that wasn't even the biggest announcement. The shift in focus from the console's debut three years ago to today could not be any starker. Did it pay off? Let's look at the good, the bad, the ugly, and the missing from the Xbox One E3 event.
Microsoft called this the best lineup in Xbox history, and while that is debatable, it was definitely the best line-up of games for the Xbox One yet. Not only were there established sequels like Halo 5, Forza Motorsport 6, Fable Legends, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and even Gears of War 4. However, there were all new titles announced to get excited for including ReCore from Keiji Inafune, ION from DayZ creator Dean Hall, and the shared world pirate fun-fest, Sea of Thieves from Rare.
Microsoft's ID@Xbox initiative also had some fun moments with more from Cuphead along with the touching Beyond Eyes, about a blind young girl coping with her lack of sight. It's the kind of unique concept combined with stylized graphics game that has been missing from the Xbox line-up.
It wasn't just with first-party titles that Microsoft had good news to share, it was also with some third-party titles too. Fallout 4 for the Xbox One will support importing mods created for the PC, which is something that gamers have long begged for. Meanwhile, Rainbow Six: Siege on the console will come with both the original Xbox 360 titles along with Rainbow Six: Vegas. That leads us to…
Backwards compatibility with the Xbox 360 was a high early mark of the Xbox E3 media briefing and earned the largest applause during the show. One can argue that this is a feature that should have been available on day one, but when the competition doesn't offer it without charging for streaming, it's a win for the Xbox One as Microsoft has something to check off in the feature column that the PS4 doesn't have to attract all of the existing Xbox 360 owners who haven't upgraded to the new console generation yet.
The jaw-dropping moment of the press briefing actually didn't have anything to do with the Xbox One. Minecraft for the Hololens augmented reality glasses stunned as it showed the game world being created in 3D on the player's coffee room table. He was able to manipulate the game room, peer into structures, and take a peek underground to help his fellow player in the game world.
The Xbox Game Preview program is the Xbox One version of Steam's Early Access program. The first games available will hit Monday evening with Sheltered, DayZ, The Long Dark, and Elite: Dangerous. It's a smart move and allows developers to fine tune games on the console before wide release. Just note that if you are not comfortable with acting as a game tester, you don't want to buy these games until they are fully released.
Oddly, it's Gears of War 4 that had a bad moment during the Xbox E3 media briefing. It's great that the demo was live gameplay, but it was so dark that it was hard to tell what was going on at certain points during the demonstration. Now throw on top of that that it isn't until the very end of the five-minute demo that we see the classic Gears kind of battle.
The announcement that Windows 10 will work with the HTC and Steam VIVE virtual reality headset was good news. It was lacking in details though coming off the Oculus Rift announcement from last week. Support is needed, but it just felt like it was given a bit of the short shrift.
The Xbox One Elite Controller is for those that like their controllers full of options and with fine-tuned quality. The $150 price reflects that. That's all fine. What I'm not a fan of though is limiting the ability to map the controls to just the Elite Controller. This needs to be available to everyone and I hope it is a feature that Microsoft brings to everyone.
I've got to give credit to Microsoft for not having an ugly moment this year. Their conference was smooth and there were no embarrassing or awkward moments.
The no show of Quantum Break, Scalebound, and Crackdown was expected as Microsoft already announced that those titles would get heavy attention at Gamescom. The decision appears to be the correct one though as the E3 media briefing was already packed and it gives fans something to look forward to.
The biggest no show though was Call of Duty: Black Ops III. Think about it. A Call of Duty franchise has played a central role in every Xbox E3 presentation since Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. There are rumors that Microsoft either let the timed exclusivity deal for DLC lapse and/or Sony picked it up. We'll have to wait for Sony's E3 press event to find out.
[Images via Xbox]