Today, Microsoft held their E3 Media Conference to discuss Xbox 360, and Xbox One. OVer the course of two hours we were shown many upcoming titles, mostly for the Xbox One. They didn’t talk much of the Xbox One features, since they covered a lot of the media features when the did the console reveal a few weeks ago. But they also didn’t try and clarify the used games, always online, kinect watching you things that people have been getting riled up over on the internet lately.

Today I’m joined by Brandon (who will be typing in wonderful BLUE) to help sort through and get some thoughts on what Microsoft presented to us today.

Let’s start with the Xbox 360, since for many people that will be their console of choice even going into the new generation.

Microsoft released a new Xbox 360 design, one that plays to the design of the Xbox One. Apparently it’s available today, which is surprising that it wasn’t leaked earlier. It looked ok, and supposedly is quieter which is something. I don’t think it’s a reason to upgrade your old 360 though.

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I wonder about the release of a new Xbox 360 design when the Xbox One hits in just about 5 months. Is there really a market for a newly designed system that most players have had for 8 years now? Spent hundreds if not thousands in games and accessories? Who’s going to spend another $200-300 on a new version of what they have? Not me.

Well, some people out there won’t have an Xbox 360 yet, and might not afford an Xbox One so it becomes a more viable option for them. But you won’t upgrade your Xbox 360 to match an Xbox One you’ll maybe buy at some point in the future?

I don’t care if it matches or not. If I had the extra money laying around then maybe, the integrated wifi and a quieter system with little to no chance of red ring might be nice though. But I can’t afford to spend another few hundred dollars now, and then another $500 down the road for the One.

Fair enough. Something else mentioned but not very well explained was that until the release of Xbox One, every Xbox Live Gold Member will be receiving two full Games on Demand game downloads. They specifically mentioned Assassins Creed 2 and Halo 3. Which, while a nice gesture, are pretty old titles that aren’t backwards compatible with the new Xbox One anyway.

Yeah, actually if you looked at the screen in the background when he said that, it said two PER MONTH. I never got into the Assassin’s Creed games, but depending what else is there for “free”, I’d consider it I suppose.

You are correct, two per month. And it starts in July, so that’s four or five months, which means eight to ten free games. I think it’s mostly just a bonus for sticking with them I guess, and a reaction to Sony’s Playstation Plus program. And if it’s nothing but older titles I don’t know how much value I put into it. But other than that we saw three new 360 titles, World of Tanks, Max and The Curse of Brotherhood, and Dark Souls 2. Any interest in either of those?

I think that World of Tanks could be fun actually, I think the console is the right place for it too, easy to casually jump into something. I briefly tried it on PC and I hate having to sign up for every single free to play and have all sorts of accounts and emails, etc.

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Dark Souls 2…I never played the first one, it’s kind of up my alley, medieval time era kind of stuff you know I love!

But’s it’s a series built on difficulty and getting better at your skills, so I hope that’s also something you’re into. For me, I briefly tried Demon Souls (the originator of the first Dark Souls) and never stuck with it long enough to get into it. I hear if you can cope with the difficulty it’s a fun experience. Something more akin to old school gaming, but modernized.

Sounds interesting. What I play is greatly influenced by what I have time and money for, and who I’m going to be able to play it with though. More and more I see myself headed into the multiplayer or co-op focused games, playing with other people is just more fun to me now.

Sure, and we can use that as a segue into how Microsoft is going to handle your Gold Account in the future. So, we know that Xbox Live memberships are sticking around, and will still hold a cost to them. But it’s almost more of a system account than a personal account. So if Sarah is on my system, she can play online because I have a gold account rather than her needing her own.

Yeah that is really nice. I am also looking forward to no more MS points! It’s nice to be able to look at a price, know what that means instantly, and decide. Instead of, hmm 2000 points is how much actually? I like that they are doing away with the points system. Also I hate entering long codes with a console controller.

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Well, you might still have to do that, but maybe with Smart Glass you can use your phones on screen keyboard instead. Speaking of Smart Glass, I liked the new features they showed using it with Xbox One, but I still don’t see myself using it very often. It’s great I can check up on where my friends are at in something but I usually don’t find myself going “man I wonder if Brandon is further than me here!” and need a way to check.

Yeah I can’t see using it too much either, I guess it could be nice to check and see who’s online doing what. Say I get home from work, don’t have plans, I can look and see, “Oh Carl is playing Pickle Bandits 2, I’ll jump in that game!” I did find it interesting in the Dead Rising 3 footage near the end, he used his Smart Glass device to call in the air strike. I think things like that are more appealing and would be great in FPS games. Need backup? You gotta pull out for walkie (phone) and actually call for backup. Would be an interesting integration.

Yeah, that was an interesting use, but it’s also got the problem of having to put the controller down, picking up a phone or tablet, starting the app, and then using it. But you mention Dead Rising 3, which was announced at the conference as an Xbox One Exclusive. In fact, a lot of Xbox One Exclusive titles were announced today which helped make up that lackluster Xbox One Reveal.

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Dead Rising 3 is still a zombie game, so I was a little disappointed until I saw it in action. It’s open world looks beautiful and I love that they said there’s no load times between zones or anything like that. I also really liked that the new hero of the game, Nick, was able to combine his weapons on the spot and didn’t have to find a bench to do it at. I know that felt like a big upgrade to me. But no mention of co-op play was disappointing.

Definitely looked very appealing! I completely agree that the on the spot combining weapons is a great change to that franchise. Yeah..no mention of ANY kind of multiplayer on that reveal is disappointing.

One reveal that was very interesting to me was Project Spark. I feel like a lot of games that say, “Build your own world etc. etc.” can deliver that, but the inputs to do so are complicated map making software or something of that sort. Their quick little preview looked really intuitive and easy to use.

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Yeah, Project Spark looked to be Microsoft’s version of a game like Little Big Planet. Where you can create, share, explore and all that stuff, but in a 3D world instead of a 2D platformer. Thought it looked like people could make 2D platformers or twinstick shooters or all kinds of crazy games. But yeah it all comes down to how easy is it to do everything. With Kinect and Smart Glass it might not be too bad.

They didn’t really go into what could be made in Project Spark, just said, “You can do anything” and that is a very broad statement. You got a glimpse of those platformers and other game types within’ the game very briefly. All in all Project Spark looks like it could be something pretty fun to get into, especially with a close group of friends.

I agree, Little Big Planet developed a really good community of creators so I’d love to see something like that come to Xbox.

But lets jump to some titles that looked more single player. I was glad to see more of Quantum Break, even if it really didn’t show me anything about how the game played. I think the title looks graphically very well. The facial animations were really well done. And the concept of time manipulation gone wrong could be incredibly interesting. I just wish we had seen more to get a good feel of it.

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We did see quite a bit of RYSE: Son of Rome, an action game by CRYTEK(?) that puts you in the boots and armor of a Roman soldier. You sounded pretty impressed by that one Brandon.

So I thought Ryse had incredible visuals. The detail on the armor of every soldier on screen, even the maille armor looked pretty amazing in it’s detail. All the edges were super crisp, and I really like that. The game play looked like it could be fun, but…at the same time I am kind of sick of the slow-motion super close up “quick hit this button” to do a finishing move. They seemed to almost showcase that action. For me, a giant “B” or “X” popping up above a guy kind of pulls me out of the game to remember that I have to do something in the real world to make this work. It was too frequently used in my opinion. I will say I’d have to play it myself to decide whether it was a deal breaker for me or not. It looks fantastic, but it has to play fantastic as well.

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Yeah, I thought there were too many Quick Time Events as well. And I even noticed some of those death animations repeated themselves within this limited demo, and that sucks. Nothing like watching a guy get stabbed in the neck over and over again. I also felt at first that the developers were thinking “How can we do the battle of Normandy Beach again, but not have it be a World War II game?”. Thus, the opening of the RYSE demo. It did have some really nice lighting and smoke effects though!

I noticed the repeat of some of those events as well, and I am pretty sure I can guess one in particular that was repeated that you noticed.

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Some of the other titles that were announced, Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Below, Minecraft for Xbox One, Titanfall, Crimson Dragon, Forza 5, D4, Below (or, What Lies Below?),  Sunset Overdrive, Killer Instinct, Battlefield 4, a new Halo title.

I thought Crimson Dragon looked cool, but thats because I loved the old Panzar Dragoon titles. And Sunset Overdrive was a nice break from gritty shooters by being a more cartoony multiplayer game. Looked like it was pretty zombie inspired, but maybe using mutants will be something to spice that up. D4 was also different in it’s cel shaded style, and the fact it’s by Swery65 makes it something I’ll have to check out (I loved Deadly Premonition). Anything really grab you?

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Not too into Crimson Dragon type games, so…not much to say there, just not my style of game really. Sunset Overdrive I actually do like the look of. You know me, I’m pretty much into the FPS, dirty, gritty kind of games… but just from the quick preview of Sunset Overdrive…it had a goofiness that I enjoyed watching which makes it appealing to me. The monsters or whatever they are reminded me of Crackdown, and even the snippets of the character running around, jumping and bouncing off things reminded me of Crackdown, which I had a lot of fun playing in the past. I don’t know who Swery65 is, so that has no effect on me. Oops!

Of course I am really looking forward to Battlefield 4. I play Battlefield 3 almost daily at times, and at the very least a few nights a week. If the footage of B4’s single player campaign carries over into the multiplayer, well, I’m just excited as hell. One huge thing I noticed was multiple sights on a single gun. This is just awesome if it’s in multiplayer. One aggravating thing for me in multiplayer is I frequently change up my tactics. I might push a map really hard, or I might help out defensively, or hang back at distance. But I’m a terrible sniper. Being able to switch from a close range sight to a 4x scope in just a second or two would be incredibly helpful. Not to mention from a 8x or larger scope to iron sights on a rifle. The game also looks incredible and I really hope I get into some beta testing. I have seen it confirmed that Commander mode is making it back, and was amazed to see that Commander could be played from a tablet device, with no PC or console connection. Very exciting for the FPS genre.

One new title that caught my eye was Titanfall. First person shooter but you can use a giant mech suit. This game looked good, but there really weren’t a lot of details about it. Looks like it would be a great multiplayer game with objective based combat. Mech suits are just awesome too, who doesn’t love mech suits?! I will be keeping my eye on this one.

But after finally seeing a selection of games that will be at release or later, they finally fit us the price point and release month. Kind of surprised they didn’t announce the exact date of release, we just now know that it will be available in November for the retail price of $499.99.

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That’s a hundred dollars more than the Xbox 360 Pro launched at in 2005, and this time there is no cheaper “arcade” option to go with. I’m not saying that for everything packed into the box it’s not worth it. I mean the redesigned 360 retails for $299.99 for a 250gb hard drive system with a kinect. For $200 bucks more you’re getting a newer upgrade Kinect, Controller, and more powerful hardware. That’s not a bad deal, but it’s still a lot of money. I was hoping for a max price of $449, and a wish of the $399 price point the Xbox 360 launched at.

I agree the $499 price tag might be a little steep for a lot of people, including myself. College students and kids under 18 who might not have jobs or a reliable source of income might struggle to get their hands on one for awhile maybe. Launch is 5 months away so I think I can manage to save $100 a month, but who knows if I’ll need $500 for something else by then. It does seem like the hardware is pretty snazzy, and it’s a good deal as Carl said. Add a possible second controller, nice headset, and a few games… you’re easily up to $650 or $700. If this platform ends up being the big thing for the next 8 years, the upfront price is likely worth it.

So after all is said and done, I’m still not sure how excited I am for the Xbox One. The games showed looked impressive, and some of them look quite entertaining. But I didn’t see a system seller to my tastes (a Fable 4 would have done that for me) and that’s why I’m waiting for Sony’s conference tonight to see what the PS4 is going to offer games and price point wise. Then I’ll have a better idea what will take over my living room this holiday.

I’m not sure either to be honest, obviously Battlefield 4 tickles my fancy, but I am pretty firm about playing that on PC and not console. As you said there are some titles so far that look really promising and would be great fun, but none of them really make me say,” I have to have a Xbox One for THAT game.” It certainly is an investment, we’ll have to wait and see what else is coming.

 

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