Microsoft Press Conference Games Impressions: : Safe But Sound

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All things considered, Microsoft put up a strong showing this year and are successfully working towards re-building the connect with the core gaming audience that they all but self-destroyed during the infamous launch of the original Xbox one.

It was a good-enough show, well-anchored by a confident Phil Spencer that served as a refreshing respire from something that was as mind numbing like EA’s conference. A lot of variety was on display here from 2D games to MMOs to FPS to survival games and of course Bioware’s new title, Anthem. Here is what we think about the games that were displayed:

Forza Motorsport 7

We already knew that Forza Motorsport 7 was coming before the actual announcement, and not being a racing enthusiast, I can’t really talk much about it. Have a look at the trailer below:

Metro Exodus

Metro’s atmosphere is so distinct that the first glimpse of the gameplay reveal itself gave away the title. The Metro games are known for their highly linear, atmospheric storytelling. A lot hasn’t  been shown in the gameplay reveal, but this has definitely gotten the fans of the series excited. The previous two Metro games were pretty good, though I would personally love to see some improvement in the gameplay department, the shooting did feel floaty at times in the previous games.

Assassin’s Creed Identity

Ubisoft, oh Ubisoft. There was a leak before E3 I think that revealed that AC Identity will be shown at the Microsoft conference and surely it did and my reaction to it was “Meh”. The modern Assassin’s Creed games feel devoid of any emotion at all. Not only were the character designs indistinct, even the voice over for the character was monotonous. I had expected the Eagle to be a drone and Ubisoft made it exactly that. The game’s movement system looks like an improved version of Assassin’s Creed 4. While the Drone disguised as an Eagle, has been taken from Watch Dogs 2/Ghost Recon Wildlands, the in-game UI and archery seems to has been lifted from Horizon Zero Dawn. I am not sure if some developers at Guerrilla Games are best buddies with developers at Ubisoft because it sure does look like they share game design ideas with each other. Look at the compass on top and how arrows get added to the player’s inventory. The menu UI seems to be a combination of AC4 and a typical modern game with RPG elements because of all those damage variation indicators. The melee combat does have some improvements, but overall I feel that this is just another Ubisoft sandbox game with some new gimmicks that make an already easy to play franchise, even more easier.

Anthem

My reactions were mixed on Anthem. The whole ‘flying around like Iron Man’ felt extremely fresh, especially that scene where the character seamlessly dives into water and keeps “flying”, but the rest of it from UI to environments to shooting felt like it had been taken from Mas Effect Andromeda. I am not trying downplay Bioware, but everything after Mass Effect 3 has been a new low for Bioware under EA.

The Darwin Project

From what was shown at E3, The Darwin Project looks like some kind of hybrid between Overwatch and Player Unknwon’s Battleground. It is not really surprising to see hybrids of games these days, but this really seems like an fascinating combination. It’ll be interesting to see how this game pans out and hence I am going to keep an eye out for it.

Dragonball FightersZ

I am still not sure why Phil Spencer called a DBZ based game “hilarious”, but this 2D fighter by Arc Systems looks fantastic. Fast paced, frenetic action, sharp character design and oh that music, damn it was good. I am not an avid fighting gamer, but give me DBZ and I’ll gobble it up.

Sea of Thieves

Sea of Thieves didn’t have me previously interested, mostly because it felt like a first person version of the Naval Combat mini game from Assassin’s Creed IV. This year’s E3 presentation though made me excited for the game. The whole dungeon exploration along with the pirate banter, various gameplay elements and of course the distinct art style really is tugging on me.

Ashen

Ashen seems to be taking inspiration from Dark Souls to some extent with it’s grim world and combat. What sets Ashen apart though, is the art style, which is sort of an in between of watercolor and low poly art style. Not much of the game had been shown till now, but this year’s E3 had a good chunk of gameplay and has gotten me somewhat excited. I do hope that we get a playable demo this year at Gamescom to know more about the game.

Ori & The Will Of The Wisp

Ori & The Blind Forest is arguably one of the best games this gen which needs to be experienced by all. It’s puzzles, world, gameplay mechanics, characterization and most prominent of all, the music combined together to make one of the best experiences in recent times. The Will of The Wisp, from what we saw in the trailer is seemingly following the same game design philosophy and has easily become one of my most anticipated games alongside Cyberpunk 2077, System Shock 3, Blackroom and Shin Megami Tensei 5. (That theme music still gave me goosebumps.) The moment Ori reached for the shoulder in the last seconds of the clip, with the rise in the piano music, it felt like time paused for a second.

Now there were quite a few games that were shown less, already shown before or have migrated from PC, which we will list below:

  • State of Decay 2
  • Deep Rock Galactic
  • Black Desert Online
  • The Last Night
  • The Artful Escape
  • Code Vein
  • Cuphead
  • Shadow of War
  • Life Is strange
  • Super Lucky’s Tale
  • Crackdown (Counted it in this section because we didn’t see much of the ‘fully destructible world’, which is it’s major pulling point).
  • TACOMA

Overall I think Microsoft had a decent presentation, with a slew of games that have migrated from the PC and some new games that show potential, but need more footage to determine whether people would be excited for them. Ori & The Will of The Wisp was the show stopper for Microsoft and was easily one of the best reveals at E3 this year.

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