Jason Nawara: After years of MMA events it’s pretty funny experiencing my first major videogame showcase in quite a while. It’s the little things that add up into a very different experience. The cigarette smoking of the videogame media forms clouds around professional nerds, discussing texture resolutions and release dates while draped in their XXL shirts that are brandishing their favorite franchise. While MMA media is more concerned with getting to the buffet and connecting to wifi in preparation for violence. The collected MMA media are superfans of the sport, and the egging on of the Microsoft camera crews to scream into the cameras and act wild is a weird reminder that when it really comes down to it; we are a stinky group of adults playing with toys.
That doesn’t make the experience any less awesome. But to the guy with the camera crew who told me to do an impression of Master Chief, and when I told him ‘How, Master Chief wears a helmet?’ your leaving in a huff was uncalled for. Learn something about the billion dollar franchise you’re representing bro.
We were ushered into the halls that Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart used to roam into a cool auditorium with the most baller stage I’ve ever seen. This is the equivalent of a weigh-in, with about a million bucks of production value behind it. As Zeus and I waited patiently, finally the lights went down, and the Kojima logo came up on the screen.
Jason Nawara: I had goosebumps as I saw the logo appear, and I have goosebumps typing this. The Metal Gear franchise, to me, is the pinnacle of gameplay and narrative. Kojima is still so far ahead of the game it’s fairly depressing. The Psycho Mantis boss battle in Metal Gear Solid is still the greatest example of breaking the fourth wall in gaming ever, and there’s a good chance it will never be topped… Unless Kojima himself tops it.
The trailer itself is gorgeous. You could tell what they are showing us is in-game footage of MGS 5, running like a charm. The entire world is open now, and the desert environment looks like Red Dead Redemption on steroids. The idea of a MGS game in an open world only makes sense. I love the real passage of time, and the limitless scenarios that YOU THE PLAYER can create. Finally, a sandbox (pun intended) for Snake to play in.
As far as the plot is concerned, as the trailer shows, this is Snake and Ocelot working together. Or is it Big Boss? Could this be Zanzibarland? Metal Gear 2’s (NES) setting? Obviously the Snake we know and love from the MGS series died at the end of 4 (yes, he did), so is Kojima moving back to the series’ 1999 setting? I can’t wait to find out. Like always, Kojima puts together an amazing trailer.
Jason Nawara: Next up we got a few looks at upcoming games for the Xbox 360, which may still have a few years of life left in it, which makes me happy. I’m glad Microsoft isn’t pulling the plug so to speak on the system, like they did almost immediately with the original Xbox.
World of Tanks is coming to 360, AND IT’S FREE TO PLAY. Very, very nice.
They show a trailer of Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, which features a small boy being tortured. It looks like, a good platformer though.
Dark Souls II is shown, I get frustrated by simply watching it.
Then we learn that Xbox Live Gold members will get two free games a month. Whether you’ll get to keep those two games when your Gold expires is the question no one answered. So in other words, they’re just following in the footsteps of Playstation Plus. And furthermore, Assassin’s Creed II is cool and all, but I don’t want Halo 3. You shut off the servers when Halo 4 came out, Microsoft. You blew it. Thanks for giving us a product that’s 70% incomplete ‘for free.’
Jason Nawara: The first Xbox One exclusive (and launch title) was shown next. It’s a Crytek property called Ryse: Son of Rome, which takes place in Rome with you as a soldier in the glorious army that relies solely on contextual button pushes. The game looks beautiful running in real-time, if not a bit choppy (hey, it’s surely an alpha), but — the gameplay looks like absolute crap. It’s violence porn for the sake of violence porn and I have little interest playing a game that is full of ‘push X now’ moments. Seriously, I don’t think I saw any ‘real’ gameplay. Oh well. It looks nice, and it looks like the typical launch title that is last gen’s gameplay mixed with next gen graphics.
Zeus: This game has everything needed to anger 100% of every conservative family activist organization in America. I think from the demo we witnessed seven deaths via sword directly in trachea, along with a move in which the main character impales someone, picks them up and then impales them again. Ryse is loud, violent and has a pretty decent grasp on large-scale battles while not getting overly chaotic. As you take on your enemy, finishing moves are broken down in timed, single button responses instead of complex analog stick movements. It’s a pretty cinematic game that may do justice to all the ridiculousness Spartans had to put up with back in the day. Still, I’m not sure why the protagonist has an English accent. Rome is in Italy, not Manchester.
Jason Nawara: We sit in our seats, expecting the next new IP, then suddenly KI appears on the screen, a c-c-c-ombo breaker opportunity is missed (they should’ve had a trailer with all the years that have gone by since the last Killer Instinct then c-c-c-ombo breaker… Why aren’t I working for these people?
We get some gameplay, and we learn Rare isn’t making it, which immediately turns me off. We get to see how you can record your battles and upload them for friends to see, which is cool, but no Rare. I guess they are working on avatars or something. I wish a new Viva Pinata was being announced…
Zeus: I was literally talking about the Killer Instinct franchise last week without the knowledge that it was going to be revitalized with the new Xbox One. The classic characters seem to be there, the ungodly combo moves are definitely still in the game. The graphics on the other hand — not that impressed. When Killer Instinct came out for arcade, it blended ultra-realistic 3D renders with the fluidity of a 2D fighter. This incarnation seems to be more on the cartoony side. Regardless, a giant LOL if you think this will deter me from rocking this game on my Xbox One like it’s my first born — whatever that means.
Jason Nawara: Next we saw the reveal of Crimson Dragon, sans audio. Which was awesome with the improvised ‘pew pews’ and ‘aaargh’ noises coming from the crowd in attempt to dub the trailer live. I loved the Panzer Dragoon series, but at the same time that was a game firmly rooted in the gameplay of two generations ago, and this game looks to be a pretty version of those games. If you remember, Panzer Dragoon and it’s sequel: Orta came out on the Saturn and Xbox. Good games, if you like on-rails action. I will not accept on-rail gameplay in 2013 and beyond, however. Call me a grump.
Zeus: Meh, I never played Panzar Dragon — or any game that had the word ‘dragon’ in the title. I actually owned ‘Dragon Age’ on the Xbox 360 and then gave it to Jason Nawara when I realized it was just Mass Effect with dwarfs. The game looks cool, if you’re into that sort of thing. Unfortunately the sound didn’t work for the demo so people in the audience were making their own amusing sound effects.
Jason Nawara: The technology pushing the Xbox One into true next gen territory is the integration of Twitch media and the gameplay recorder. Now, my expectations are tempered considering Microsoft didn’t announce the hard drive size of the Xbox One, so let’s hope and pray it’s over a TB or two, and if they aren’t, well, that cloud that they seem to love talking about better work perfectly, or I hope the Xbox One can connect to my Windows machine for storage. The Twitch media integration will allow players to live stream their gaming, which I could tell you will change the way we do Sunday Night Fights when EA UFC comes out, but I also want to know the implications of this being integrated with the platform.
For example: will there be ads? Will we as players be able to monetize our viewership? If you haven’t heard, those ultra-popular ‘let’s play’ videos on Youtube have been getting shut down by companies (like Nintendo) who want a cut of the cash pie that is the ad revenue on their games. Will we be making Microsoft cash by playing their games on a livestream, or will they go the Google route and give it’s users a slice of the pie? Also: will this be available at launch, etc.
Zeus: The ability to record your gaming and let people watch as you stream it live is well overdue. There’s nothing better to do on a Friday night than to watch superior plays beat a level that you can only dream to achieve. This is a huge selling point for the Xbox One. However, as we’ve seen in the PS4 reveal a few weeks ago, Sony is utilizing similar technology.
Jason Nawara: For years they’ve worked exclusively with Sony, but now Insomniac is taking their Ratchet and Clank and Resistance chops to the Xbox, where they showed one of the weirdest games in recent memory: Sunset Overdrive. Basically, it looks like a violent Jet Set Radio. I also don’t believe anything I saw in this trailer was in-game. But, Ted Price, president of Insomniac said something pretty cool,
Price: We can introduce new weapons, levels, and more daily, inspired by our players. Exclusive to Xbox One.
Zeus: This game is bonkers — I’m not even sure what to make of it. Big guns, dark humor, unrealistic violence — it’s basically like every episode of The Walking Dead.
Jason Nawara: I nod to myself and try to tweet out my thoughts and feelings, but the Los Angeles Convention Center has a protective bubble that’s killing my phone reception. The next thing I know, the lights have dimmed, smoke is spewing forth, and Zeus’ jaw is on the floor: a really, really fancy car has risen on the stage. Forza 5 is here.
It will be available day one, and it looks simply gorgeous. Under the hood (once again, pun intended) Forza 5 shows off it’s real innovation — Drivatar, your in-game avatar, will upload your play style to the Xbox One cloud, effectively making you an AI for other people to play against. No longer will you play against the computer, everyone on the course will have the habits of real people who play the game, and when you’re not home, it will be driving for you, earning credits for you to put towards your garage. Very cool. I don’t even really care about driving games, and this was damn cool. The graphics, it must be said, are stunning. You can see the imperfections and reflections on the ar’s coat of paint. Truly stunning. I will play this.
Zeus: Undoubtedly the most seductive game revealed at the Xbox E3 2013. Whenever you marvel at the perfected imperfections of a paint job on a car that you will never be able to afford, something remarkable is at hand. However the most impressive part of the new Forza game is the ‘cloud intelligence,’ which virtually eliminates the need for AI. In short, Forza will learn how you play the game and when you’re not at home, Forza plays the game for you.
Yeah, it’s beyond spooky.
When you’re playing Forza Motorsports 5, your opponents are either actual human beings are the ghost of people in the form of highly-complex algorithms that mimic the playing styles of actual people. Now put that in your pipe in smoke it — and don’t forget to share.
Jason Nawara: Minecraft: Xbox One edition is revealed next, which kind of bums me out, because I don’t want to buy Minecraft for the third time, but I know I will. For those of you who know me well, a few MiddleEasy community members, family members, friends and Dave Walsh of LiverKick.com have created a rather intimidatingly large and dense world on the Xbox, and now I guess we have to start all over. I just hope when it launches it’s COMPLETELY up to date with the PC version. Otherwise, meh.
Zeus: Folks, listen to me. LiverKick’s Dave Walsh and Jason Nawara are obsessed with Minecraft on Xbox 360.
They have a dedicated Xbox that’s always on so that they can work on their town of ‘Wiggleston’ at every waking hour. I’ve never seen people so dedicated at constructing blocks inside of a virtual universe. It’s unreal. Dave Walsh has managed to build a fully operational plumbing system inside of their town — complete with working showers and toilets. They will absolutely be buying this game for the Xbox One.
Jason Nawara: Remedy shows off Quantum Break, which technology-wise looks really incredible, but it’s based on a TV show, in conjunction with a TV show. So what happens when that TV show gets canceled? Does the game get canceled. It’s my rule of thumb to never buy a game based on a TV show or movie, so I will stay clear of this. As far as my experiences have shaped me, TV execs are pretty much the most clueless group of powerful entities outside of politicians and police officers, so I don’t trust this at all.
Zeus: This game is going to coincide with a television series in which elements that you decide in the game dictate how the show will turn out. It’s best not to fully comprehend it, your brain will only hurt.
Jason Nawara: The Smart Glass enabled Spark looks like Microsofts answer to Little Big Planet, with a focus on meta game creation within the game. Using Smart Glass and the Kinect, you can simply build an environment and interact with objects around you in a kind of game -creating sandbox. It looks cool, they showed Spark versions of what looked like DOTA, Geometry Wars and an action RPG. It has promise… If it works. It should be mentioned that Spark is coming to Windows 8…
The Smart Glass integration looks pretty cool when used correctly. The Xbox Upload Studio could be a great tool. Let’s hope it works.
Zeus: Trials meets Little Big Planet meets Minecraft in one huge orgy of gaming goodness.
Jason Nawara: Dead Rising 3 was introduced to us next, and it looks rather incredible, with a completely open world, and an entirely destructible environment that we have come to expect. Gary LapLante blasted DR3 for it’s lack of oddball and slapstick humor, but I think it’s too early to tell. For right now, we have a really nice looking next-gen zombie game that extends and extrapolates upon the original classic. I will play it, and I believe I will enjoy it.
Zeus: I cranked up ‘State of Decay’ a few days ago and after looking at Dead Rising 3, it’s simply going to put every zombie simulation to shame. Imagine running around a zombie apocalypse using anything you find as a weapon. I was also impressed by the sheer number of zombies Dead Rising 3 managed to fit on one screen. We’re not talking hordes, more like waves of zombies — each one ready to rip out your spleen. I may buy the Xbox One just for this game.
Jason Nawara: Ah, Geralt of Rivia is here. I absolutely loved Witcher 2, and I loathed it’s crappy port to the Xbox 360, but this, this looks like it will stand toe to toe with the PC version in terms of graphics and scale. I personally thought Mass Effect and Witcher 2 were the best roleplaying games of the last generation, and I can’t wait for a wider audience to dive into the dark fantasy world. This is one of those games, especially if it comes out for launch, that could absolutely steal the season. My love for Witcher 2 (Witcher 1 was meh) is no hyperbole. The action is great, the branching plotlines are incredible and the story is extremely memorable. There are boobs, too.
I can only hope this comes out this holiday for the Xbox One.
Zeus: Jason tells me The Witcher and Mass Effect are the two greatest RPGs of our time. He’s right about Mass Effect, so I can only assume he’s correct about The Witcher.
This game is massive in Poland. Heck, even KSW’s Mariusz Pudzianowski is in the game. I’ve never played it, but it looks extraordinary — especially at 60 frames per second.
Jason Nawara: EA takes the stage to debut Battlefield 4 gameplay, running at 60 frames per second and looking gorgeous with lots of loud explosions and the usual set piece battles.
Now, full disclosure: I’ve been a huge Battlefield fan since the orignal, but I was going to skip BF 4 if this was just going to be another meat grinder shooter, and this Angry Seas trailer disappointed me greatly. It looks like the Call of Duty-fication of the premiere EA franchise. Set pieces exploding, a shooting gallery of waves of faceless enemies. It’s something I’ve experienced for years.
But later in the day, when they showed off the multiplayer game with the Commander position coming back and using your tablet if you want (yes!) my fears were soothed. And most importantly, 64 players on the console. It has been decided: I will still be getting BF 4. For PC (bwahahaha!)
Zeus: Undoubtedly the greatest selling point of Xbox One, despite it not even being an exclusive. I’m just happy this game is going to finally put an end to people believing Call of Duty is the best military shooter. Tim Kennedy, I hope you know those words were meant specifically for you. There aren’t enough adjectives to describe how amazing this game is.
Jason Nawara: Then we saw a trailer showing Master Chief being dramatically revealed in a trailer for Halo 5, which will come out on Xbox one in 2014 and moving at 60 FPS, which is cool. I totally called that it was Master Chief under that robe. Ask Zeus. I’m so awesome.
The real takeaway here is how the new Halo is ‘enhanced by cloud computing,’ whatever that means. Oh yeah, and a new Halo game is coming out for Windows 8. I still strongly suggest not upgrading, no matter how great that game is.
Zeus: Got to admit, Jason called that this preview was Halo 5 within three seconds of seeing it. Impressive.
The only reason why I’m bitter about this game is because I still have so much to do in Halo 4. ‘So much’ is another way of saying humiliate you on Dominion mode online. We’re not sure when Halo 5 is launching, but hopefully in late 2014. There’s just too many good things going on in the next few months.
Jason Nawara: The lights go down one more time, and Infinity Ward’s ousted father in Vince Zampella takes the stage in Respawn Entertainment’s long awaited new IP: Titanfall. Basically, it’s a shooter, with mechs that feature an extremely obvious design flaw. If you jump on the mech’s back, you can just open the engine and shoot it, blowing it up.
Put a lock on that thing and you may not have a game…
Nah just kidding. It looks like a pretty straightforward shooter moving at 60 fps and delivering an infantry/mech mechanic that doesn’t seem very fresh. Color me unimpressed. I told Zeus I thought the game would fail if it didn’t come out at launch, then we’re told it will be out spring of 2014. We’ll see if I’m right, but in a gamespace that has had faceless shooter after faceless shooter, why do I care? Also: environments that aren’t destructible on the next gen seems so, so wrong. I saw a grenade thrown during the demo that explodes against a wall and does nothing, Call of Duty style. Come on.
Zeus: Jason said if this doesn’t launch on Day One, then it’s a failure on Xbox One’s part. Perhaps.
Jason Nawara: Xbox One is coming out in November and will cost $500. It’s pretty much the sweet spot I figured it would hit, and Microsoft employees whom I relayed this message to a few days ago, now I know why you were so coy. I see quite a bit of complaining on the internet about this price tag, but I think it’s fair. It’s pretty much exactly what I was expecting in fact. And it’s kind of a steal with the Kinect coming packed in, even though it’s always on and looking at you… Scary.
A November release date is fine, but GTA V comes out September 17th, so I see no real reason to buy the new Xbox when I’ll be playing what will probably be one of the best game experiences of the decade. But I digress.
All in all it was a good showing. I think Microsoft is headed in a solid direction with the Upload Studio and Twitch integration, but everything else went pretty much exactly how I thought it would.
Like anything good, the Xbox One has me imagining my experience two or three years from now, not just the day after launch. I can’t wait to broadcast Sunday Night Fights live on Twitch for the MiddleEasy community, and I look forward to beating up Zeus in Killer Instinct and uploading it for all of you to marvel at my c-c-c-ombo breaker.