Monday, June 10, 2013

The Mute Dragon: Microsoft's E3 2013

Microsoft had a lot to prove coming into this conference. Their reveal event left them with a lot of ill-will over DRM and the image of a company ready to abandon the core gamer. With this event it was clear they were trying hard to alleviate one of those concerns. Putting on a show filled almost entirely with games did heal some wounds, but were any of these games interesting? Let's go deeper.

The show opened with Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. I had, before this trailer, decided I was sort of over Metal Gear Solid. But damn, that was a badass trailer. Metal Gear looks a lot like Red Dead these days, and I'm OK with that. An open world stealth game is a great idea. The video featured another Bond-esque theme song (ala Snake Eater) and it was fantastic. I couldn't help but wonder though, if the game wouldn't have been better off as a new IP. It's such a weird new thing, and the Metal Gear fiction is already bloated as all hell. And it would have given Kojima a chance to pretend like he's not just the Metal Gear guy again. Zone of the Enders was a long time ago. Oh well. Looked good, but it's decidedly not an Xbox exclusive, so what was next?

"Dat ass."

Some 360 stuff. There's a new smaller model, there's some facsimile of Playstation+ and there's a free to play tank game. No one gives any shits about any of these.

Our first look at a Xbox One exclusive came in the form of Ryse: Son of Rome. We were treated to a Roman recreation of the D-Day scene from Saving Private Ryan, complete with a dude looking for his arm. Following this was a series of melee fights, all of which relied very heavily on the use of QTE's. This game looked positively decent, but nothing that made me yell "DA POWA OF DA ONE!"

Press X to Game

Next we finally got to see which historic Rare franchise was to be revived on Xbox One. It was..........Killer Instinct. Fuck. That's the one goddamn game I was hoping it wasn't. Those games sucked then, they suck now, and the only reason anyone cheered was because it reminded them of that thing they played before they were old enough to appreciate good game design.

I mean shit man, where the hell is Nuts & Bolts 2?

C-C-C-C-C- no seriously, screw this damn game.

After that we had the surprise reveal of an exclusive Insomniac game, Sunset Overdrive. It definitely looks more like an Insomniac game than the recent dud Fuse did. We weren't treated to any real gameplay, but it seems like a stylized open world freerunning monster sandbox action adventure.

Oh god, please don't just be Crackdown 2.

Following that, there was Forza 5, and yeah, it's Forza. Other than the word Drivatar, which is the dumbest thing I've ever heard, there isn't much to say here. Looks nice I guess.

Next, Minecraft. Same deal, it's Minecraft. You get to buy it again. Yay.

At last, the first of the exclusive One games I'm truly interested IN was shown. Quantum Break, from developer Remedy, is sure to be a great game. I'm assuming. Because they made great games in the past. The trailer they actually decided to show was a lot of nothing.

Still. A Remedy game. Woo!

Yeah this explosion is pretty neat a--hey, is that a nickel!?

Following that was just about the only other exclusive One game to make me pop a boner. A new game from Swery65, the mind behind one of the this generation's most memorable games in Deadly Premonition. D4 is an episodic murder mystery game, and even with little to no real details I've been fist pumping the air for over an hour.

Project Spark appears to be Microsoft's answer to the question "Hey, do we have a LittleBigPlanet game". It's a game creator of sorts, and it looks like very creative people will be able to create some very interesting things.

After that was some Smartglass nonsense, some uncomfortable sexual innuendo, and Twitch support (which I imagine is a big deal to some people, but I can't summon any shits to give).

After seemingly falling off the radar, Crimson Dragon appeared (minus sound) as an Xbox One title. That's bullshit, because I've been waiting for that game for years. It still looks great, but hopefully they axed the Kinect only requirement.

Sound will be post release DLC.

Capcom took the stage to reveal Dead Rising 3. It's actually pretty damn interesting. If the game came out three years ago, I would have salivated at the very idea. It's the zombie GTA I had always wanted. I'm long past caring about zombie games at this point, but the game still looked fun in that same lovably wonky Dead Rising way. And it appears there's no time limits, which is where those games went from great to annoying. Also I would be surprised if this wasn't simply a timed exclusive.

Next was a trailer for The Witcher 3. Goddamn it looked great. I was perhaps a bit cool on the idea of an open world Witcher game, as The Witcher 2's strength lied in its wonderfully and carefully crafted story, but darn it if that world didn't just look beautiful. Here's hoping it's not miles and miles of empty wasteland you have to traverse to get from quest to quest.

I have no idea what is happening here, but it's no doubt Epic™.

Battlefield 4. Oh god, what a disaster. After audio problems with Crimson Dragon, the show had another screw up with DICE's trailer for its upcoming game. The company man stood in silence as the crowd heckled the goof, before trying to leave the stage and being brought back. It was absolutely painful to watch. Luckily for the troubles we got to see Battlefield 4's campaign, AKA the part of the game zero people will ever see.

Not long after, it was announced to absolutely no surprise to anyone that there will be a Halo game on the Xbox One. A lot of vague buzzwords were thrown out, but little actual information was given.

The final game on show was Respawn's Titanfall, an Xbox exclusive online first person shooter. Despite a lot of flash and decoration (mechs and parkour), it looks remarkably like COD and other modern online FPS'. It seems absolutely like a neat game, but given the way the minds behind the game transformed the industry with COD 4, I was expecting something a little more...revolutionary.

Time will tell I guess.

And lastly, the price and launch month were revealed as $500 and November, respectively. That strikes me as pretty damn expensive.


There were plenty of interesting games on offer, but if the goal of the show was to convince me I need an Xbox One, it wasn't quite up to the task. It was by far their best show in years, but I'm still firmly in the "kiss my ass, Microsoft" camp.

Some notes:

  • "Open world" and "freerunning" seemed to be the theme of the show.
  • Almost every game made mention of the Cloud. That is not good, as a game requiring the Cloud reads to me as "always online".
  • Barely any mention of Kinect. Microsoft isn't totally oblivious.


  1. I see...

    I'll have to wait for more information and a price drop, for sure.

    1. Me too... Especially on the price thing.

      PS4 @ £350... Xbone @ £430?

      No choice, really.

      That MGS game looks insane though!

  2. Gorilla Licking Heads On A StickJune 10, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    I didn't know today was E3. Is that Swery game on the Xbox only? I guess I'll ask more questions to either you or Vonn, on the brand new forum

  3. *Bear-hug tackles Gorilla from behind!* Hey handsome, woah, Swery game? I just looked at a bunch of videos of E3 clips and missed that detail. Just looked up a trailer, count me as interested. I also thought The Evil Within footage looked badass, I'm surprised to not hear much talk about it. Anyways, back to my State of Decay group of survivors, later folks :)

  4. Oh yeah, B- is probably the grade I'd give the conference also. Hate to admit I was expecting the absolute worst we got a pretty decent showing of brand new stuff along with some wanted sequels.