Last year, after the big three gave their press conferences, I shared my thoughts on what they had to show. This year, I’m just taking them as they come, starting with Microsoft. They didn’t do much for me last year, and with their Xbox One reveal last month, they drove my interest in the new platform straight into the negative.
The simple fact of the matter is, I’ve already been anti-Xbox One. This isn’t about bias against Microsoft, as I still own, enjoy, and intend to continue playing my Xbox 360 for as long as it holds out. This is about the business practices they’re employing to basically invade and control every facet of the user’s experience, from how they enjoy the games to requiring a camera, online check-ins, and the whole used game rigamarole. I might be able to forgive one, or even two of these slights, but all together? It’s just too much.
So was there anything at their E3 2013 press conference today that would change my mind? Short of a retraction of some of these stupid policies, of course not. Some of these games may pain me to miss, but so it goes sometimes. That said, let’s see how they fared this year.
For those curious, I’m looking to GameTrailers this year for the recaps, which they have listed individually, so my apologies if the chronology of reveals is slightly off.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain – I have to admit, this was a very strong way to kick things off. At first, I thought I was looking at full-motion video, much like the Quantum Break trailer shown at the reveal, but no– this was just Kojima’s crew being their usual incredible selves, perhaps realizing the potential of the next generation’s graphical capabilities in ways no one else is even touching yet.
Xbox’s Major Nelson decided to give everyone a scare on Twitter by saying that it would be an Xbox One exclusive, but fortunately for us (and unfortunately for them), that’s not true. It should also be arriving on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4 as well. In that regard, it’s kind of a failure– they basically just sold me on looking at the game anywhere else. If you’re getting an Xbox One, it’s a good title to have, but not exactly a system seller.
New Xbox 360 Design & Gold Bonus – Since the Xbox One can’t play Xbox 360 games– of any kind, including Xbox Live Arcade– what’s a gamer to do? Buy a new Xbox 360 that is “smaller, sleeker,” and designed after the upcoming Xbox One. Yay?
Despite being the “One” box to rule them all, it’s remarkable how many other boxes you need to work with it: Your cable box, an external hard drive if you want more memory, and of course, an Xbox 360 if you want to make use of the library you’ve invested in. But at least your Xbox Live membership carries over!
On that note, they announced that Gold members will be receiving two free games per month, “yours to keep,” in an apparent effort to compete with PlayStation Plus. Leading the way are Assassin’s Creed II and Halo 3, which are some pretty strong offerings.
They also went on to make a commitment to “hundreds” of new games still to come to the Xbox 360, which may be a good move, as I imagine there is going to be some reluctance to move to Microsoft’s next generation. At the very least, it’s good to know they aren’t just flipping the “off” switch on it as quickly as they did the original Xbox.
Max: The Curse of Brotherhood – One of the games coming soon to the Xbox 360, this one looks more like my kind of game. The opening looks like a Dreamworks or similarly-styled film, and has a character and charm you just don’t seem to see as much of on Xbox.
Dark Souls II – Another for Xbox 360, and one I’d like to give a go. Actually, I never got to play the original, but in either case, I’ve heard great things about it, and hopefully this one can build upon what everyone loved about the first.
Ryse – Their third Xbox 360 reveal; this looks kind of neat, in a way, but it might have too much in the way of quicktime events for my liking. I’m… interested, but uncertain. Still, it feels kind of fresh, so it has my attention for now.
D4 – Moving back to Xbox One, we have D4. Contrary to what the name may lead some to think, this has nothing to do with Dungeons & Dragons or the like. It has a neat cel-shaded style, but beyond that? I honestly don’t know what to think of it.
Sunset Overdrive – Now here’s something interesting! From Insomniac, the studio behind the Ratchet & Clank series, is a colorful, over-the-top action game which, according to IGN, is exclusive to the Xbox One. All said, this makes a stronger case for the system as a game machine in my eyes.
Killer Instinct – Oof, this one got me as soon as I saw the initials. Apparently, though, Rare is working with Double Helix Games to make this one happen– and the latter doesn’t exactly have the most impressive resume. Will this be the one to let them break out?
World of Tanks: Xbox 360 Edition – Back on the Xbox 360, we have World of Tanks, which allows for 15-on-15 tank combat action. The best part? It’s free to play. The worst part? That only applies if you have a Gold membership.
Well, that counts me out. Too bad, it looked like it could be fun, too. Oh well. Easy come, easy go.
Minecraft: Xbox One Edition – Because…?
Okay, I won’t begrudge putting Minecraft on Xbox One; that would just be silly. But what actual benefit is there to it for us, the gamers, that makes it a “let’s buy an Xbox One” thing, rather than a “as long as we have an Xbox One, why don’t we go ahead and get Minecraft?” thing.
Forza Motorsport 5 – I don’t remember the last time I played Forza. It’s a neat driving game and all, and it’s a good choice to bring to the Xbox One, but it doesn’t do much for me, either.
Twitch and Smartglass with Killer Instinct – Being able to stream and show off your games as you play them is a cool feature, one I’m sure “Let’s Play” creators– and perhaps until now, would-be “Let’s Play” creators– will surely eat up. It seems competitive with what Sony is offering on the PlayStation 4, at any rate.
Incidentally, having one of your people get thrashed on stage and admit “no, I don’t like this” is probably not something you want said when trying to sell someone on your new product. Just saying. And I’m not even touching that other remark– I’m sure plenty will come of that in the next few days.
Battlefield 4 – Looks good, not my thing. Next!
Dead Rising 3 – Utter disappointment. Dead Rising has gone from being a zany and fun take on the zombie genre– one of the few I could actually stand, given how overdone the whole thing is– to looking like everything else. One person pointed out to me that it seems like Dead Rising 3 is trying to eat The Walking Dead‘s lunch, so to speak, but in the process, the very thought makes me want to lose mine.
When they called for backup at the end, I was hoping maybe we’d at least get a giant robot stomping through and kicking zombies away by the dozen, Metroplex-style, but no– just a bombing run. It’s sad to see Dead Rising go from being a “look at me” game to “look at me, too!”
Oh, and this one is an Xbox One exclusive, as it turns out. They can have it.
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – This looks like a neat one I could get into, if I ever got the chance, even though I’ve not played the first two. That said, it’s also available on PlayStation 4 and PC, apparently, so this is little incentive to go for an Xbox One.
Below – Okay? Might be neat, but we don’t really get a good idea of… anything about this, except that it’s made by the guys behind Sword & Sworcery. I never played that, so I can’t really comment, but at least it’s good to see Microsoft showing some indie love.
Titan Fall – I didn’t think much of this one at first, but the mechs? That could be enough to keep me interested.
Untitled Black Tusk Game – Why was this here? There isn’t even enough of anything to get a clue about what we’re supposed to be excited about– something of a trend today, I’m noticing.
Okay, so if nothing else, they managed to prove today that “hey, we still care about making games, too.” That’s terrific, but unfortunately, the pool has already been contaminated by their prior announcement and other information. Really, they should have shown the games first, then made us question what we’re doing with our lives by introducing their DRM, online, and other crud.
They showed off some nice games today, to be sure, but several weren’t exclusive, which doesn’t really encourage a purchase here. After all, why go Xbox One if you can get the experience without it on the PlayStation 4 (pending more information, anyway– as it is, Sony has time to react to this). At least the Xbox 360 is still alive and kicking, so that’s some solace.
Then we come to the price: $499. Right… I don’t think so. This could bode well for Nintendo, and possibly even Sony, since they aren’t likely to be shoving a $100+ Kinect sensor equivalent in with the PlayStation 4.
So half a grand with restrictions out the wazoo, and simply put: Not enough compelling software. There are some good games there, but many are on other platforms, and what’s left isn’t worth purchasing the platform to me. Sorry, Microsoft, I’m just not convinced. Change some of those restrictions, and then maybe we’ll start talking.
Ironically, one of the more persuasive arguments (at the moment– let’s see how it turns out) to me is in Killer Instinct, which kind of ticks me off. We’ve been asking for this game for how long now? Since the beginning of the Xbox 360, at least, possibly as far back as when Microsoft first picked up Rare in the first place. And only now do they finally give it to us, but stuck on the Xbox One.
As an Xbox 360 owner/supporter, it kind of feels like a stab in the back. At the same time, I totally get why they’re doing it: It’s a great business move, so long as the quality is up to snuff, but it still feels rather cheap– especially since visually, it doesn’t look like it’s doing anything the Xbox 360 couldn’t. Oh well.
So, those are my thoughts on Microsoft’s conference. I feel better about sticking with my Xbox 360, and am in no way convinced that I want or need an Xbox One, though there are a couple of things I’d like to check out should that ever change.