Tagged: Xbox One

E3 by Me3: Microsoft

That’s E3 by Me, Me, Me because all I’m doing is writing how I feel about the show. I’m not giving each company a “report card” and I’m not declaring that anybody “won E3”

Microsoft’s show made owning an Xbox One for the past three years feel like a huge mistake. Coming off of the beloved 360 they stumbled their way around an always-on future that they ultimately redacted and they’re just now back on point. On top of previously announced games (that still aren’t out) they had quite a few titles at this year’s E3 conference that I labeled in my notes as ‘YESYESYES’.

The show opened with this year’s worst kept secret, the Xbox One S. While the reduced size is immensely tempting, I’d be a fool to buy one having played so few games on the current Xbox One and with Scorpio looming on the horizon. I think I’ll just invest in one of the customizable controllers instead. Like this one.

I was surprised to find Forza Horizon 3 winning me over with each passing minute of its demo. For whatever reason, Horizon 1 and 2 never grabbed me despite my love of arcade racing action and the very comparable Test Drive Unlimited series. But the combination of Australia, Lamborghinis, off-road trophy trucks and more of those race-a-flying-thing events added up to a YES in my book.

Now we skip over more stuff like Recore, The Division and Battlefield 1 to the next big innovation: background music. The crowd’s roar at this upcoming “feature” was amazing. For a company that defined custom soundtracks it’s really sad that they’ve taken this long to work it into the console. Xbox Live’s other new features, however, are totally not my thing. Arenas, Clubs and “looking for group” sound really useful for people who play multiplayer with lots of different friends. But I’m the single player, loner type who isn’t even interested in talking to Cortana who’s also coming in a Dashboard update.

The Minecraft news was astounding and awesome even though I don’t play much anymore. Honest, congrats to them! Inside, whatever that actually is, continued to look fascinating (and will be the next thing I play on Xbox) in just a couple of weeks. Next up was Chris Charla with the ID@Xbox montage. This was one of the only times at E3 that I raised my hands and whooped and it was at the sight of FAR. One of my top twenty from the IGF this year, the game had gone silent and I was starting to worry. Seeing it couched next to Slime Rancher, Bloodstained and Below was a happy surprise. It was also nice to see them focus on fewer titles than in previous indie reels, though most of them I wasn’t interested in.

The one indie game they spent a chunk of time with was We Happy Few. It’s like Fahrenheit 451 fell into BioShock and dragged itself through a pool of smarmy 1960’s UK sarcasm on the way in. I get the narrative “walking simulator” vibe from it as there wasn’t a whole lot of interaction but I’m into whatever it is. In exact opposition was the ludicrous fight scene between Street Fighter’s Akuma and Tekken’s Heihachi in the reveal of Tekken 7. I’m not liable to ever buy it but I’m happy to see Tekken is still kicking around.


Now we enter the zombie block, the most overwrought modern day game design trope that I somehow never tire of. Frank West’s return in Dead Rising 4 has reignited my interest in the series after skipping the last several entries but I’m really most excited for State of Decay 2. Not much was shown but the core looks to be intact and can only be expanded upon which is plenty enough for me.

I went into Rare’s Sea of Thieves demo ready to write it off as something I never want to engage with. As soon as it reminded me of ArcheAge, though, I started to change my tune. The teamwork involved to man a pirate ship looked cool and had potential to be hilarious with friends. I really liked the scrambling to get the ship ready when the players spotted a distant enemy. The ship-on-ship battles also looked fun and frantic and I love being able to patch up holes to keep the ship from sinking. As long as there’s exploring and looting as well I could maybe get real deep into this!

I’ve been out of the Xbox ecosystem for over a year but Microsoft’s showing this time around won me over in a lot of ways. It’s not going to be my main console anytime soon but there are now as many exclusives coming to Xbox One as PlayStation 4 that I want to play and that’s a very welcomed E3 surprise.

E3: Road Rage puts its own spin on Road Rash


Road Rage was just revealed among Maximum Games’s E3 lineup and may brandish the Road Rash torch even better than the long-in-development Road Redemption (which I’m still waiting to be a finished product). Everything they’ve shown so far is merely target renders and PR copy but it sounds promising and the developer, Team6, has loads of past experience with irreverent vehicle-based antics.

The most important component of a good Road Rash-alike is melee weapons. Road Rage promises “insane weaponry” but so far they’ve shown the requisite bats, chains and pipes alongside the moderately unexpected axe, katana and hockey stick. I mean, a hockey stick is practically the sniper rifle of melee weapons and that’s kinda insane, right?

What’s most promising for me are 42 missions that the PR copy labels as “story-driven” with the promise of open world exploration. In past Road Rash titles there was just enough story to string together a little internal narrative as the races unfolded. I don’t know that I need someone attempting a Fast & Furious caliber storyline but putting meaning to motorcycle-bound knife fights can only be entertaining, either by design or happy accident. See: Torque

Open world is also open to interpretation at this point. The copy promises “56 additional side missions from delivery and escort to combat races and gang brawls” but it doesn’t even mention hidden collectibles which are always a favorite part of mine. It paints a picture in my mind of a small, mostly lifeless cityscape but not everything can be Grand Theft Auto V in scale, especially coming from this small Netherlands based studio. That they even mentioned an open world is enticing enough for me.

Hopefully we see actual gameplay footage by the end of E3 but Road Rage is already planned for a September release so we won’t have to wait too long to see it in action. It’s coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC as well so I expect plenty of terrible “Let’s Play” serieses to pop up by year’s end, maybe even my own. Check out the official site to see a few more target renders and rest assured I’ll post more about it when I see it.



Microsoft, You’ve Lost Me


The most depressing part about Microsoft’s decision to close down the legendary Lionhead Studios and the promising Press Play Studios? This quote from Microsoft Europe’s Hanno Lemke:

“These changes are taking effect as Microsoft Studios continues to focus its investment and development on the games and franchises that fans find most exciting and want to play.”

Meaning more Gears, more Halo, more Forza and I guess that’s it. After Quantum Break fails to be the megahit that Microsoft apparently requires it to be Remedy will no doubt be cut loose. Where does this leave Rare with Sea of Thieves and their legacy of middling performance under Microsoft’s banner? What of the Phantom Dust sequel that was almost immediately put out of active development and the already delayed Scalebound?

Abandoning their in-house focus on creative and original games must also mean that they think the ID@Xbox program isn’t the loathsome cavalcade of totally overlooked or subpar releases that it is. This stuff is not picking up the slack for original, unique or inventive Xbox exclusives, guys.

Nearly from the beginning Microsoft has been pulling back on its promises for Xbox One and those cuts have finally made it to the software lineup. With these changes in mind there is almost nothing left that’s exclusive to Xbox for me. Quantum Break, Below and Crackdown are all that hold an inkling of excitement but once those are released (or cancelled) what will be left?

I really did want to love the Xbox like I did last generation but they’ve lost me.

Of 2015: My Year According to Xbox



It remains a real head-scratcher as to how Microsoft let the sweet Ivory soap of victory pop out of their hands in the terrifying prison shower that is the Console Video Game Race. As they nearly had it back in their grasp Sony couldn’t help but stick out a foot and they’ve been careening around the grimy tile floor ever since.

I was a real Xbox fan last generation and everything had to be played on the 360. I was even a supporter of their wild ambitions for an always-on Xbox future. Even after they backpedaled I still picked up an Xbox One and was perfectly happy with it through 2014. Suddenly, though, it was PlayStation 4 that was home to the exclusives I cared about and from there it was just as slippery a ride as Microsoft’s to have Sony back in my good graces.

So when the Xbox PR machine sent me a 2015 recap I wondered what could even be on it. The full report is much longer with comparisons between me, my friends and the Xbox community but I think this sampling sums it up: I haven’t been super hot on Xbox since 2014. In fact, the game I spent the most time with was Earth Defense Force 2025, an Xbox 360 release from 2014 which is, sadly, not Xbox One backward compatible.

Given how few games I played on Xbox One I was surprised and mystified to see I racked up 423 hours on Xbox Live. I thought it was a glitch but then I finally found the culprit; Netflix. Either watching or idling while we cooked dinner, I managed to let that app run for 290 hours, more time than all the games I played on the console combined. The most active day — March 8th — reminded me that way back then I was playing through Sniper Elite 3 and using all of the Xbox One’s features. I was editing clips, posting comments and actively “Liking” my friends activities. I even Skyped with Kinect a few times.

But that’s about the time I got a PlayStation 4 in anticipation of Metal Gear Solid V and I’ve been mostly absent from Xbox One since. That explains why my most “High Value” Achievements are from 2013’s Grand Theft Auto V and 2014’s Peggle 2.

I’m not fanboying over here, I really do like Microsoft and the Xbox One. Hell, I even still like Kinect and miss its voice commands now that my Netflix watching happens on the PS4. Whenever another Xbox exclusive comes along that I’m determined to play I’ll be firing it up again… and waiting for eternal Dashboard updates to be installed.

More details (and no macros) emerge on Xbox Elite Controller


I admit, after the halfway point in Major Nelson’s podcast segment about the Xbox One Elite Controller, I lost interest. That’s right around the point where Xbox’s David Prien confirmed it will not support macro programmability. That was my big question about the $150 controller but it may still prove to be worth it for the sake of comfort. I’ll have to get my hands on one first to be sure.

That’s really the only bummer that came from the segment which revealed loads of tidbits about the controller. There’s talk of magnets, visiting top Xbox players in their sweaty homes, interesting uses for the swappable controller profiles and OTA updates. The talk also touches on reworked bumper buttons, the story behind the carrying case, a new use for the sync button and a surprising amount more.

If you’re as interested in the controller as I am/was it’s worth a listen. The controller segment lasts about 50 minutes and starts at the 7 minute mark. Oh, and my original post about the controller still covers most of the basics so check that out too if you need to know more.