Rating the E3 Conferences: Microsoft

Back with the official "Day One" of E3's conference.  Let's go.

Rating: B+

After the farce that was Microsoft's Xbox One reveal two years back, Phil Spencer has been consistently doing a better job every year.   I was a firm proponent of the idea that Microsoft actually did a much, much better job than Sony at E3 last year--with a well-paced show that seemed intent on revealing game after game, both for the remainder of 2014 as well as 2015.   This year, the company came back and put on an even more impressive show than the one in 2014.  

Often known (and derided) for their laser-like focus on "mature" and "serious" titles with shooters and violence galore, Microsoft proved they were capable of more this conference, as we got a look at ReCore, a new title by Keiji Inafune of Mega Man fame and some of the makers of Metroid Prime.  What looks like an exploration-focused action-platformer, ReCore is everything you wouldn't expect from Microsoft.  And that trend continued with game's like Rare's first-person Pirate MMO, Sea of Thieves, and Motiga's free-to-play MOBA Gigantic.   Beautiful worlds filled with lush colors and exploring genres that Microsoft was at one point fairly hands off on--I was in love with the variety they displayed.

Of course, more typical titles like Halo, Gears, and even Rise of the Tomb Raider, were all present--but you expect that.  What's more, people want them.  Laud Sony for their experimental titles and ability to focus on non-shooter focused games all you want, but they were still happy to show off that Destiny deal back in 2013.  That's because when all is said and done, those games bring in the big bucks--landing in the NPD Top 10 month in and month out--they are the major titles that anchor the huge holiday months, and I can no more discount them than I would the smaller titles like the beautiful, 1930's cartoon-inspired Cuphead. 

What surprised me the most, though, is that it appears Microsoft's answer on how to regain their #1 spot is "be more like PC".  From introducing backwards compatibility for Xbox 360 titles, to allowing mod usage on Fallout (and presumably more games later), to a new "Elite" controller that's basically the Iron Man modular armor of controllers and looks a lot like Valve's Steam controller--Microsoft seems dead-set on pushing their console to resemble a smaller, closed box Windows PC.  That's not a bad thing by any means, just an observation, and I'm looking forward to how this mindset works out for them in the future.

Overall, for a second year in a row Microsoft bowled me over with their genuine attempt to give gamers as many varied gaming experiences as they possibly can, most of which you can't get anywhere else other than the Xbox One.  Perhaps it's my lowered expectations, but then again this was a conference they pulled off without even showing off the highly-anticipated Quantum Break, Crackdown, and Scalebound titles--meaning they've got even more to show off for us in six weeks at Gamescom.

This was a great way to kick off day one.


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