Against the backdrop of the E3 video game conference and show in Los Angeles this week, Microsoft unveiled 13 new games for its upcoming Xbox One video game console.
While the company had offered a peak at the hardware behind the system a few weeks ago at its Redmond, Wash., headquarters, its press conference at the Electronic Entertainment Expo press conference on Monday was almost solely about the games.
“It was a lot to process,” video game industry consultant N’Gai Croal told TechNewsWorld following the nearly 90-minute presentation. “It is still early, but this looks like a strong line-up.”
Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain
Among all the possible adjectives to describe the rapid-fire press conference, “loud” is the first one that comes to mind.
Kicking things off was the photorealistic Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain, the latest in the popular third-person action game. As the series has typically been heavy on prerendered cut scenes and lengthy cinematic elements, it was difficult to tell where the prerendered began and the game play started. However, it showed up stunning visuals in an open world with dynamic weather.
That was just one of several such upcoming experiences that gamers can look forward to playing when the system arrives on November 21 for US$499.
“This is an exciting day for our teams,” said Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. “We’ve been promising it is all about the games.”
Reaffirming the Xbox 360
While E3 always maintains a focus on the new, Microsoft did take a past move from the Sony playbook and noted that it will still support the aging Xbox 360, which was introduced eight years ago.
Most notably, Microsoft will offer an updated version of the system.
“We have updated the system with a modern look and feel that is based on the Xbox One design,” said Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president of the Online Audience Business Group at Microsoft.
In total, Microsoft demonstrated 13 games for the Xbox One, including also Dark Souls II; World of Tanks — Xbox 360 Edition; the fighting game Killer Instinct; the third-person, historically based Ryse: Son of Rome; and the open world zombie survival game Dead Rising 3.
Perhaps the biggest offering from an outside publisher, meanwhile, was the demo of Electronic Arts’ Battlefield 4, which suggests yet another shooter showdown as rival Activision has already announced Call of Duty: Ghosts.
In any case, this fresh commitment to games suggests that Microsoft is going to its core fans again. While it previously announced some entertainment and streaming options, little was actually noted about those during the Monday press conference.
“I’m glad it was all games,” said Paul Semel, editor of Electronic Gaming Monthly. “This gave us a sense of what the games will actually look like on the system.
“Microsoft needs to attract those hard-core fans as it goes up against Sony this holiday season,” Semel told TechNewsWorld.
It is going to be a showdown between two giants, in other words, and that’s notable in that it is the first time that Sony and Microsoft have duked it out in the same holiday season.
Lights, Camera, Action
At only one point during the press conference did Microsoft offer any other discussion between game announcements, and that was in a brief segment about the role of Xbox Live, Smart Glass and Upload Studios, which can record game play.
That functionality, which allows players to save videos and upload them via Twitch, essentially transforms the game console into a social media device.
‘A Very Good Move’
“This takes away some of the Wii U’s thunder, that’s for sure,” independent video game analyst Billy Pidgeon told TechNewsWorld. “The Twitch partnership is a very good move.”
Either way, the focus on action games specifically — with the exception of the kid-friendly Max: The Curse of Brotherhood — further suggests that Microsoft was going for the very hard-core gamer with the Xbox One.
“It was very much either hard-core games or the cutie titles, and that has been the trend with Microsoft,” Pidgeon added. “That’s a questionable strategy given that casual gaming has gotten so big. Microsoft is clearly betting on the action games.”