Now this one was really uneven. On one hand, it has a lot of the typical PR stuff like bringing on people to talk up your stuff, so that’s a strike against it. It felt very typical… but had some genuinely nice and surprising announcements!
Some Gears of War 4 gameplay was shown, but it just looked like more of the same with some added focus on the environment being a threat. It was also announced that the game would be coming to Windows 10, which was a surprise, given that this is one of the Xbox’s killer apps. General Raam was also announced for Killer Instinct… yay? This entire segment made me feel like Microsoft really, really overvalue Gears of War as a brand. As someone who played it a decent bit on Xbox 360, I can say that it didn’t really have staying power. The aesthetic is bland and the shooting pretty generic. None of the characters were memorable, nor was the world. I’m completely over this franchise and I think a lot of people probably feel the same way.
Forza Horizon 3 disappointed me mainly because of it’s setting — Australia. I live in Australia, and part of why I liked Forza Horizon 2 was that is had a very nice “European road trip” theme. But Australia? So lots of dirt roads, thick forests and beaches? Yay… But hey, at least it’s also coming to PC!
ReCore looked very… I don’t know, unfinished? Nothing really looked like it had good feedback, and some of the assets like the sound of guns and the fire looked up to par. The animation in particular looked kinda meh. I was hopeful for this, but it looks like a Ps2-era platform-shooter, like Ratchet & Clank, except without the same charm. All of that combined with the EDM music — using an admittedly fun song — really didn’t help the game that previously seemed more like a cross between Journey and a typical “boy and his dog” kind of thing. It’s also coming to PC, so that’s nice, but I’m just disappointed.
Final Fantasy XV looked fine, aside from some bad textures on a boss and the endless combat dialogue that had the characters cracking jokes while fighting an enemy over one hundred times their size. What is it with people and this tension breaking, Joss Whedon-style dialogue? Stop trying to be The Avengers and/or Buffy! Still looks good, but nothing new, really.
We Happy Few was revealed and creeped me out. It has a weird, pseudo-cartoony aesthetic (think a more stylised Team Fortress 2) that’s really unnerving with all the masked people around. It seems to be an adventure game set in a world where everyone is controlled by a pill that alters their perceptions, and your character decides not to take the pill, which leads to his perception of reality shifting. Looks really cool, and I’ll probably try it. It’s coming out July 26 this year, so I’ll probably grab this.
Tekken 7 was announced for an early 2017 release, given a cinematic trailer which then transitioned into actual gameplay. I like the style of the trailer, though I could’ve done without the weird blood splatter effect on the screen during the cutscene; it didn’t add anything and made it too busy and was just distracting. It seems Tekken will be crossing over with Street Fighter. I’ve never been a big Tekken fan, despite being good at it, but this at least looks nice. With Injustice 2 probably coming out around the same time, I doubt I’ll pick it up. It’ll be out on consoles and PC.
Scalebound was announced for Xbox One and Windows 10, with a 2017 release date. I… did not like it. It looks like God of War, but with some awful character design and voice acting, and really, really slow combat. The main character looks like a try-hard version of Dante, the original one, with his stupid headphones, and his voice was obnoxious and the combat looks like it lacks real impact and speed. There’s co-op, which will shake things up, but otherwise it looks average, at best. I think there was some hype around this game, but I’m gonna avoid it like the plague. And seriously, main character’s design and voice are awful.
Sea of Thieves was teased. It’s a first-person pirate game from Rare. At first I didn’t dig the aesthetic, if only because I’m sick of this cartoony style and I like my pirates to be more realistic looking, but it grew on me. The game is about a you and your crew, which are other players, pirating a ship and just getting into shenanigans. Ships are sailed by the team lowering and raising sails, and damage to the ship can also cause water to leak in. That’s all I can tell you, because the trailers were awful. The first was just a frozen scene that the camera flew through. The second was a bunch of Let’s Players shouting stupid things while playing and was really, really unfocused. It was basically the opposite of those tightly choreographed and professionally voiced Ubisoft gameplay demos.It’s coming out in 2017 on Xbox One and Windows 10.
Halo Wars 2 was also announced with a pretty awesome trailer. I mean, apparently the Brute and UNSC commander are both channelling the Speed Force, but I don’t even care, because it’s just really, really well done. I lost interest in Halo a long time ago, but I heard mentions of the original Wars cast finding themselves on the Ark? I mean, cool, but that means this is a weird mid-quel thing. Cross-play was announced, but I have no clue how that’ll work and how PC players won’t be at a huge advantage. Coming to Windows 10 and Xbox One.
The Division is getting some kind of expansion. I’m sure all 10 people who still play it are ecstatic. There was also cross-platform comparability announced for Minecraft, but that entire segment was the most cringe-worthy thing ever. Like, they acted like they were talking to 10-year-olds, so this game’s playerbase, but to a crowd of people in their late twenties and early thirties. As if to gain some credibility back, they even got John Carmack to say how awesome it is, and it just made things worse. Inside got a trailer that told us absolutely nothing about anything. Gwent was announced to be a standalone game and I hated it just that little bit more. The uncanny valley cosplay of Geralt did not help. Speaking of things I don’t care about, Dead Rising 4 was announced and I did not care, but it will also be available for Windows 10. Speaking of zombies, State of Decay 2 is coming exclusively to Xbox One and Windows 10, so yay another zombie survival game.
We were shown the Xbox One S, a smaller and better Xbox One. I don’t even use my regular Xbox One for anything beyond Netflix by this point, so I gave no fucks. This was devalued with the announcement of Project Scorpio, which seems to be the Microsoft equivalent of the PS4.5 Neo that they said they wouldn’t do. There will also be customisable controllers so you can make some truly ugly controllers, even with your text on them for some reason! Expect a lot of broken controllers from exes, I guess.
The overall idea that you’d get the Windows 10 version of a game with the purchase of its Xbox One version is a nice feature, and this conference as a whole seemed to be Microsoft saying “we do support PC gaming” and putting their money where its mouth is. The “Play Anywhere” initiative was the best part of this entire conference. Everything else was pretty average, We Happy Few being the only real standout to me. The presentation as pretty typical, what with presenters explaining stuff to us and being at least slightly cringe-worthy constantly.