Microsoft recently held its press conference at Gamescom 2014, and packed in plenty of big announcements. The most significant among them is that Rise of the Tomb Raider is Xbox One exclusive, but there are loads of other news bombs to check out too.
Here is a breakdown of everything that happened during the 90 minute show. Some awesome and exciting, some dull, some baffling--but overall this was a vintage showing from Microsoft, and a tough act to follow. Your move, Sony.
It all started with... a revolution
Microsoft kicked off their show with a brand new trailer for Assassin's Creed Unity. Little new info in there, but boy does it look pretty. GamesRadar will have a full Unity preview going up later this week, with hands on impressions and everything. For now, just know that the game is looking properly new-gen, and that Microsoft is keen to make you play it on Xbox One.
Then came FIFA and Peter Schmeichel
Look, Gamescom is in Germany. The Germans won the World Cup 2014, so FIFA 15 news is a big deal. All you need to know is--again--we've got a full preview of the game going live tomorrow. For now, the news is that Microsoft is doing a FIFA 15 bundle this September. It's £349 for the console and game. Also, the Legends mode in Ultimate Team is exclusive to Xbox, so if you want all those classic players, you'd better be playing on Microsoft's console.
Invasion of the indies
Next up, Microsoft showed off its ID@Xbox titles. These are looking mighty fine, and show that Xbox is now on a par with PS4 when it comes to indie support. Highlights from the showreel include Cuphead and Goat Simulator (yes), but Microsoft chose to showcase five specific games separately. You can read more about them here. Don't want to click the link? How lazy are you? Ok, they're Space Engineers, Super Hot, The Escapists, Smite, and Below. They all look pretty amazing in their own, unique ways.
Next up... COD Advanced Warfare
Microsoft's long-standing relationship with Activision continues. The Gamescom presser brought fresh single-player footage from Advanced Warfare of PMCs battling each other on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Inevitably, there's loads of shouting, and the bridge eventually collapses. It looks genuinely great, and the addition of EXO suits (and the fact they have jet-packs) means that the action has a new dimension, with players able to jump up and around each level to do their murdering more efficiently.
Also, there's a Call of Duty bundle coming. It's due in November and contains a 1TB Xbox One console with a fancy bunch of decals, a proper headset, and a copy of the game. How much? It'll be £429 / $499. Seems good to me.
Evolve was... underwhelming
Hey, Evolve was at Microsoft's press conference. It still looks and plays like a beautiful, Lovecraftian nightmare, but its showing at Gamescom was... poor. Narrated by a man with The Most Irritatingly Enthusiastic Voice Ever TM, and showing a couple of minutes of dark, confusing footage, this was a low-point of the show. Strange, as Evolve was voted Game of the Show at E3 2014.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is Xbox One exclusive
Yeah, then this happened. Crystal Dynamics took to the stage and dropped the megaton announcement: Rise of the Tomb Raider--the new, proper Lara Croft adventure--is a timed exclusive for the Xbox One. Impressive stuff.
Quantum Break brought slow-mo murder
Gamescom brought the very first gameplay footage of Quantum Break, the Xbox exclusive action-noire from Remedy. And... it looks a lot like a Remedy game. There's a proper breakdown of the footage right here, but for now you should know that it's all about time manipulation and breaking virtual jaws. It's very atmospheric, there is heaps of bullet-time, and explosions look super-cool when slowed right down. That is all.
Screamride was announced and looks very cool
How cool can rollercoaster games be? Turns out, the answer is: much cooler than you previously assumed. Screamride is a new game from Frontier, and it's all about creating theme-park rides that test the laws of physics. You're actually building monstrously big rollercoasters to see how far you can push the human body / laws of engineering before they break. There's a first look right here. Torturing innocent people by subjecting them to insane thrillrides? Yes please.
Forza Horizon 2 is much improved
There are some cool features in Forza Horizon 2, which will allow players to explore the huge, open game-world together. The cars look shiny, and the AI is made more realistic by Drivatar. If you want a full, hands-on preview just click right here, buddy. There are six new, free cars for Forza 5, by the way including the Rolls-Royce Wraith. Grab the update for that... now. Go!
Ori and the Blind Forest brought the whimsy
Microsoft is positioning Ori as its key indie game, and it's easy to see why. The new demo looked amazing, and saw Ori charging up the screen in an attempt to flee some supernatural-looking blue mist descending from the floor. Hardly the most exciting thing, but it's looking visually striking, and at least it isn't just some chiselled space-marine with a gun.
Sunset Overdrive showed more attitude
Ted Price from Insomniac was on hand to single-handedly fail to announce another Resistance game. He did, however, give us another cheeky look at Sunset Overdrive. The lead character is the sort of plucky, mouthy underdog that will probably grow annoying after a couple of hours, but the game world looks wonderfully colourful. Aaaand... there's a Sunset Overdrive bundle coming in November. It's £349 / $399 for a white Xbox One console, plus the game. Very reasonable.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection resurrected Sanctuary
Microsoft showed off some gameplay from Halo 2 Anniversary, and it looks boss. The difference between the original game and the remastered version is striking, although the gameplay remains largely untouched. The demo was painfully brief, but Microsoft also took the opportunity to announce the Halo TV Channel for Windows PCs. It's a hub for all things Halo, and you can launch MC Collection from it, so that pretty much confirms a PC version, right?
Also, there was a quick match played on the reimagined version of Sanctuary, the classic Halo 2 map. It looked massively frantic, but retained the spirit of the original. Excellent news.
And there was a little news about the Halo 5: Guardians Multiplayer Beta
So, put a date in your diaries: the Halo 5 Beta--available via the Master Chief Collection--will run from 29 December 2014 until the 18 January 2015. During that time, you'll have access to seven maps, three different modes, and eleven weapons. There will also be item and armour set-ups, and you'll be able to carry a few things (rewards, I'm guessing) over to the full game. Winning!
There you have it--Microsoft's Gamescom briefing in a nutshell. The final piece of news is that Xbox One will get pre-orders and pre-downloading, starting with FIFA. Exciting? Not really. What are your thoughts? Bowled over by the Tomb Raider exclusivity? Can't wait for Halo? Leave your comments below.
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