Wednesday, June 12, 2013

E3 2013: Microsoft Conference Impressions

E3 is happening this week, and sadly I won't be there.  I didn't really expect to be, but I figured I would give my impressions of what I saw from the streams and whatnot.  If you've read my reviews or heard any of the XGR podcasts, you may know that my opinions are a bit different from the 'norm'.  Don't get offended if I don't agree with other people or if I'm not excited about the 16th Call of Duty game.  Anyway, first up: Microsoft.

Let's just start with everybody's favorite hot button issue with the Xbox One: the always on and the DRM stuff (I know this more from the reveal, but it's important so I'll just talk about it here).  Honestly, the always on isn't that big of a thing for me personally.  I'm OCD about having dates on my achievements (I realize this isn't actual OCD), so I only play my 360 when it's connected to the internet.  The only reason my PS3 isn't always connected is because it bumps me offline a lot.  It's not my ISP that does it, just the system.  I don't really play the PS3 online, so maybe that might be why.  Regardless, I try to keep it connected anyway, so that's not a deal killer to me.  I have had times when my internet is crapping out and I can't connect for an hour or a day or so, and completely understand why some people have issues with that.  I do think a lot of people are overreacting, though.

The DRM (digital rights management) sounds just like PC games' DRM (like Steam).  I'm not really happy with it, but again, I feel most people are overreacting.  I've honestly seen people comment that they don't like having to be online to play and not being able to resell, so they will just play PC games...*shakes head*.  Anyway, since the game disc just installs on the system, I understand why they have the check-in every 24 hours.  Is it the best solution?  Not to me.  I try to buy new games anyway, since I want to support the industry of my main hobby, but it doesn't seem like the best move on Microsoft's part.  I feel that they check-in is to combat people modding their systems, since those people won't connect to Xbox Live so they don't get the system/ account banned.  The silver lining is that you can designate people as "family" and they can also play the games you paid for.  I'll need this as my children get older and begin to play more games.  That was my biggest concern with the DRM.

The price for the Xbox One is $500.  High?  Yes.  Fair?  Yes.  For a new system that includes the Kinect, five hundred seems like it's an appropriate price.  I believe the 360 was a similar price at launch, so it's not unexpected.  It's still too expensive for my budget and I won't likely get one unless there is a sale or a price drop.  If there's a game that I really want, I'll get that cheap even if I don't have the system, as I've done with other games.

Microsoft is also doing away with Microsoft Points, or MSP for short.  I know people have wanted that for awhile, but I didn't.  The conversion isn't too hard (points # is 20% less than the dollar value), and you could find good deals on the point cards.  It's much harder to find deals on the PSN and Wii/3DS cards, which use  real currency.  Everyone knew they would change it one day, but I don't think it's a good thing.

Now that all of that is out of the way, let's go to what matters the most on a games console: the games.  Minecraft will be ported over.  One of my fellow Xpound members remarked that it didn't look different from the 360 version, and we tried to explain that is what the game always looks like and it shouldn't look different.  Anyway, I'm looking forward to that since the massive memory upgrade will benefit Minecraft.  I doubt it, but it would be nice if they didn't charge owners of the 360 edition to get the Xbox One edition.  Either way, I'm sure I have to get that game for my son alone.

Unlike the reveal event, they actually showed some games.  Most of them were just CG trailers that contained little to no gameplay (this is a theme from every company every year at E3 it seems).  Halo and Forza were shown, but I have little interest in those franchises.  They showed some of the next Battlefield, which will make a few of my friends very happy.  A trailer for World of Tanks for the 360 was shown...again, not that interesting to me.  The trailer for Titanfall had me somewhat interested, since riding around in mecha is definitely something I like.  It will probably be just another competitive FPS game that I won't play, but I'll at least look into it closer to launch.  Quantum Break at least showed something this time, unlike the lackluster trailer at the reveal.  I still don't know much about the game, and wish that they would show how it plays instead of "look how pretty it is", but we'll have to wait and see.  Sunset Overdrive looked interesting (Dead Rising meets Borderlands?), but again, I wanted to see actual gameplay.

Now on to a few games that I have some interest in.  Crimson Dragon looked kind of fun.  I played a little bit of Panzer Dragoon Orta, which this is the spiritual successor to I believe.  That game was ok, so I will probably at least try Crimson Dragon.  Capcom's Dead Rising 3 is exclusive to the Xbox One.  That surprised me.  Again, they switch protagonists (I still prefer Frank West, no matter how many times they try to ditch him), but the rest of the game looks fun.  Honestly, the demo of State of Decay seems more like what I want the Dead Rising games to play like, so maybe I'll stick with that once it goes on sale.

Killer Instinct?!  Wow, that I did not see coming.  So much nostalgia thinking about watching my friend play that game, with his team of all TJ Combos.  Good times.  Well, this game looks nice and has flashy effects, but almost looks to fast.  The Jago redesign isn't the best, but I really like Glacius' look and I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the cast.  It is also coming out as a free to play game, where only Jago is unlocked.  You will have to buy any other characters you want to use.  You can apparently fight any of the other characters, so there will still be some fun to be had in the free version.  It's a pretty interesting idea for a fighting game, so we will see how that (and the new Tekken game) do in sales.

Another game at the conference was Ryse: Son of Rome.  Besides the obvious inspiration from God of War, I looks like and is presented like Gears of War.  So, I guess it's double "GoW".  It actually looked pretty interesting, so I look forward to trying it at some point.  The quick timer events look shorter than the God of War ones, which is a plus.  There were also ones where the hero would kill two targets in the same QTE.  That looked pretty cool and gives it at least something different from Kratos' adventures.  While it looks interesting, I don't think it will be a system seller.

Project Spark was a game that showed actual gameplay.  It looks like a third person action adventure version of Little Big Planet, and it looked fun.  You could design a world as quickly and easily as you design a track in Modnation Racers, but could set enemy and pet/helper AI like the LBP games.  It was one of the few things showed that I was really interested in trying out as soon as I can.  Too bad I don't have a tablet (or smart phone) that can likely integrate with it.

In an effort to compete with Playstation Plus, Microsoft will give out 1 or 2 free games to download for XBox Live Gold members.  In theory it's pretty cool, since free games are always nice.  The first game is Fable III, which isn't that good of a game.  The other two games mentioned are Halo 3 and Assassin's Creed 2.  Not bad, but they are pretty old.  I also own all three so there's no need for me to download them.  They are only giving away games for the next 5-6 months, so it's a pretty short time frame.  Available immediately, they also announced a new Xbox 360 design that looks similar to the Xbox One.  I guess it looks fine, but I already have a 360 and the only other design I want is the Star Wars R2D2 bundle.

I'm hoping that the system and some of the games shown will be playable at PAX Prime so I get a chance to check them out first hand.  If they are, you know where I'll post my updated impressions!

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