Xbox at Gamescom 2014 - What we learned from the media briefing
The reveals and announcements came thick and fast at the Xbox Gamescom 2014 media briefing, so here's a rundown of the main points.
In honour of Germany's current status as World Cup Champions, FIFA 15 led the charge with the legendary Peter Schmeichel going through his ultimate team, many of the players available exclusively to Xbox One. Plenty of other exclusives for the game for Xbox and even more for European fans, including a FIFA 15 console bundle.
The Sledgehammer Games team were back on stage to show off a Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare video and to announce a COD:AW console bundle with a terabyte hardrive, custom console, day zero copy of the game and more.
Evolve was the next reveal. Actually love the concept, three player-controlled hunters after a player-controlled monster. Looks great and the gameplay looks excellent, but the proof will be in the hands-on testing. Handily, the Xbox One beta has been announced for Jan 2015.
Probably the biggest surprise was the announcement that the next Tomb Raider, Rise of the Tomb Raider, will be an Xbox exclusive. In my mind, Tomb Raider has always been Playstation's baby, so I imagine this is a big upset. Revealed artwork looked impressive, but then the concept artwork always does.
Quantum Break was another Xbox exclusive reveal. A time travel experiment has gone wrong and time is being destroyed. You play Jack Joyce, who has the power to manipulate time. The game features "stutters," where time slows or freezes. Jack can move through this frozen time but has no control over the unpredictable stutters. Unfortunately for Jack, the bad guys "Monarch" have high tech juggernaut suits that allow them to also move during these stutters. From the video, it looks like these stutters will be used nearly as boss moments, with the player taking on the juggernauts in a frozen world.
Fable Legends was already revealed at E3, so the big deal this time was looking at some playable character types and the ability to play as the big villain in the multi-player game.
Scream Ride looked like a new Pixar movie and appears to be all about building ridiculous rollercoasters. Fun, but, will it be horribly addictive or quickly boring.
There was a Forza 5 moment, with a formula-e race announced and some new cars for download, including a Rolls Royce Wraith. There was a sense of "is that it?" but Forza 5 was just an aperitif for the next section.
Forza Horizon 2. Open world driving and it looks beautiful. A cool feature is the ability to jump seamlessly into online play with friends. It looks as easy as seeing your friend driving along on the map and in moments you're there driving beside them. An arena mode was revealed, reminiscent of the classic Beetle Adventure Racing.
Ori and the Blind Forest got some great crowd reaction and it's easy to see why, a beautiful 2D platformer. Looks great and is another Xbox console exclusive.
Next up was Sunset Overdrive. Other than Halo, this seemed like the big hype event. Initially confusing, mentioning sneak & cover shooters, this game looks to be all about the jumping, bouncing and slides. Makes me think of a next gen version of those classic isometirc arcade shooters. For some reason I can't get Zombies Ate My Neighbours out of my head.
Sunset Overdrive was the 3rd and final game to get a console bundle, feature a white Xbox One and various exclusive downloads. All three console bundles will retails for €399.99
The final and long awaited segment was Halo focused.
A Halo channel was revealed, fitting in nicely with the arrival of the Halo: Nightfall series. The Halo Channel seems like a nice transmedia adventure, the home of all things Halo in the future.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection was shown off, with some Halo 2 footage. Players can play the game in classic mode or flip a switch and get the full remastered version. Emphasis was placed on the gameplay experience staying true to the original, albeit with much improved look and sound.
A number of multiplayer maps have been recreated as an anniversary edition. Sanctuary was shown of using a 2v2 battle. The visuals are much improved, with the design keeping fans of the classic level happy. In a later after-show interview, it was revealed that certain dynamic elements have been included and certain weapon positions have been changed.
The Halo 5 Guardians multiplayer beta was announced, taking place from Dec 29th - Jan 18th 2015. The video piece did a good job of explaining the purpose of the beta as a two way communication, rather than the sneak peek that such events have often become.
The final announcement was the ability to pre-order and pre-download games before release. At the moment it's only working with Forza Horizon 2, but it's due to roll out for other titles. Personally, it felt like a bit of a low point to end the briefing on and brought out my cynical side.