Halo there, Germany!
Microsofts press conference has just kicked off Gamescom 2015 in Cologne. After a pretty strong E3, it was always going to be a show with great potential for the house of Xbox, particularly if it could follow through on the promise of the big hitting games only touched upon in LA (or in the case of Remedys Quantum Break, not shown at all).
Did it deliver? Are the Battletoads coming back? Is Scalebound that rarest of dragon-based games, the one that actually manages to be shock! good? Is Halo 5 having yet another identity crisis? Click on, and you shall see, for weve collected together, right here, every major happening you need to know about.
Quantum Break still looks fantastic, now has a big-name cast too
Its all change for Remedys time-warping follow-up to Alan Wake, at least on the storytelling level. Last years gameplay snapshot still rings true in todays demo, by way of a relentless rampage of temporal glitches, impossibly fast sprinting, time-frozen enemies (being peppered with bullets), and exploding scenery hanging eerily in the air. A distinctly Remedy shooter, it looks splendid, equal parts Max Payne, Alan Wake, and Inception. But today we also got out first proper look at the narrative side of things, which will bolster Quantum Breaks gameplay both in-game and by way of the integrated live-action TV show that will launch alongside the game.
Aiden Gillen (Littlefinger from Game of Thrones) and Dominic Monaghan (Merry from Lord of the Rings) fill out the supporting cast, but just as interestingly, lead character Jack Joyce has had a total head transplant, now played by Shawn Iceman Ashmore of the X-Men series. The game will be released on April 5, 2016.
Crackdown 3 is focused on HUGE-scale destruction
Crackdown 3s relatively brief appearance (by way of many, many shots of bearded dev staff clicking earnestly away in the studio, alongside a Rockstar-style Clinical Female Voiceover) left a hell of an impact, despite its brevity. You see it seems that high-flying co-op carnage is no longer the sole focus of Crackdown. Now, Crackdown is part open-world shooter, part urban domino rally.
Using cloud computing to apparently utilise processing power 20 times that of the Xbox One, levelling entire buildings, even city blocks in delicious, physics-driven detail is now very much a thing. Throw in four players, and things are going to get messy.
Killer Instinct: Season 3 is coming, Battletoads are playable now
Battletoads are in Killer Instinct. What, you need more details? Okay, Rash from Battletoads is in Killer Instinct right now. KI: Season 3 officially starts in March 2016, bringing another few months of new characters and expansion to MS increasingly successful, ever-growing sequel to Rares gleefully brutal fighting series. Arriving today as a preview though, is Battletoads Rash. Because why the hell not?
How does he play? He looks like a hoot, to be honest, bringing authentically cartoony moves from his own series, including spontaneously expanding fists and feet, and the ability to turn into a wrecking ball and swing across the stage. Though yes, we do have that damn song running through our heads now too. Sorry. But hey, Battletoads.
Scalebound is Devil May Cry meets The Last Guardian, and it's coming in holiday 2016
Cocky, blonde hero? Check. Pounding electronic fight soundtrack? Check. Slick, rangy melee combat against large swathes of enemies, with optional long-range options? Yup, that too. Blood gems exploding all over the place when you defeat a big enemy? Youd better believe it. But how about if you add a bloody huge great dragon to that as co-op buddy? How about if that dragon can be directed to attack certain groups of enemies as you see fit, with the action playing out not in enclosed arenas, but across the wide, verdant fields of an open-world RPG?
And then there are the boss fights, in which tiny, cocky man and giant, riproaring lizard must fight as a single unit to take down massive, towering beasties. The primate part of the partnership can throw in traps and sticky mines to amplify attacks while the lizard goes crazy with the claws and fire. And it all looks as youd expect from yet another startling fresh combat model designed by Platinum insanely cool and pretty. All that, and theres four-player co-op too. Holy crap.
Halo 5 wants to be an eSport so badly it might cry
Hard to tell whether this is a swift reaction to Halo 5s distinctly mixed reception throughout its various preview showings, but Microsoft is now pushing the game as an eSport. Hard. Very, very hard, in fact. Halo 5s entire Gamescom presentation was built around a (too long) highlights reel of a full, competitive Capture-the-Flag match (played by pro teams), commentated live by a far-too-enthusiastic pair of shoutcasters. Make no mistake, MS is determined to put Halo 5 on the grand eSports stage even if it has to do so by just keep aggressively telling the world that Halo is an eSport until we all give up and let it be one.
In fact its going one step further than that, making its own eSports tournament to prove it. The first Halo World Championship is happening this winter with a prize pool of over $1 million. See? Halo 5 is an eSport now.
Theres a new, 1Tb Halo 5 Xbox One console
Its a couple of different shades of silvery grey. It is released on October 5, but is available to pre-order now. Thats about it.
Lara Croft has well and truly lost her shit
The new Rise of the Tomb Raider demo does not imply that Lara has calmed down any since the trauma of her first rebooted adventure. In fact if you were hoping that her stunningly quick desensitisation to cold-blooded murder might have worn off by now, you might want to look to a more chilled-out game. Like Doom.
Feeling like a tight blend of latter-era Splinter Cell (hello, stealthy, painted-on, multi-target, auto headshots!) and The Last of Us (Lara is basically now Fem-Joel, all distraction driven guerrilla warfare and hastily cobbled-together nailbombs), RotTRs Gamescom demo was one most certainly focused on shadowy, kill-em-before-they-kill-you violence and rapid, shotgun-churning escalation. Fear not though, as Crystal Dynamics was keen to reiterate that actual tomb raiding is very much going to be a thing this time around, so all the carnage should be nicely balanced by large swathes of exploratory platforming.
Halo Wars 2 is a thing that is happening!
Believe! Despite being, well not very good, or a particularly big hit, Xbox 360 RTS Halo Wars is getting a sequel, due out in Fall 2016. We know very little about it, bar the fact that it has a very pretty CG trailer and definitely exists. Though one very promising piece of knowledge is the fact that its being developed by Creative Assembly, they of Total War and Alien: Isolation fame. CA does RTS well, and CA is also very good with other peoples worlds, as evidenced by both Alien and the upcoming Total War: Warhammer. Second time lucky? Could just be.
Backward compatibility is coming in November, will apply to the free Xbox 360 Games with Gold
Yup, from November onward, every free Xbox 360 game given away via GwG will be fully compatible with the Xbox One. That is one hell of a way to launch backward compatibility, and a double-hell of a way to rapidly expand the Xbones (at least sort of) exclusive game collection.
Backward compatibility will launch with 100 games compatible off the bat (just stick in the disc and download an Xbone-friendly version from the store), with Bandai Namco, Square-Enix, Bethesda, and Warner Bros. all signed up.
Homefront: The Revolution is coming in Holiday 2016
Remember Homefront? Remember its sequel? No, wed mostly forgotten too. But Homefront: The Revolution is still real, and in development at Dambuster Games, the current configuration of endlessly resold and rebranded British developer Crytek UK (previously Free Radical Design, creator of TimeSplitters, which in turn was an off-shoot of Rares Goldeneye team).
How does it look? A lot like a military version of Dying Light, actually, all rapid traversal of beige urban landscapes, nippy, springy motorbikes, and clusters of nippy, guerrilla combat. Also, you can drive an RC car bomb under a truck and blow it up. Its coming (like many things shown at Microsofts Gamescom conference) at the end of next year, so theres plenty of time to find out more.