Microsoft E32016 Press Conference Quick Thoughts

Greetings again!
Well, turns out I do have something to say. The Microsoft Press Conference is now over, and I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, the Play Anywhere idea is a good one. Moving forward, ordering a game for Xbox One or Windows 10 gives you the game on the other platform, and saves automatically transfer. The work they’re doing with cross platform play, being able to play not just cross platform on PC and Xbox, but on mobile devices as well, is also a great idea. Those are the things I approve of, along with a few of the games that sounded neat. The Happy Few, and Scalebond were especially interesting to listen to.
However, I was right. New hardware has been announced. The Xbox One S is a slimmer Xbox One, which is fine. New players can come in and get that one. Great. My real problem is the other piece of new hardware they announced. Project Scorpio. It is a new Xbox Console, with tons more power, capable of delivering high-fidelity Virtual Reality gaming without sacrificing performance or graphical quality, and so on. Here’s the thing that I don’t think Microsoft wants you to consider.
When they made the announcement, they tried to soften the blow by assuring you that all previous games and accessories would of course work with this thing. That’s all well and good, but let’s talk about moving forward. Starting basically now, new Xbox One games will be made with this new console in mind. “But,” you say, “We’ve also been reassured that new games will continue to work on the original Xbox One as well!” Yes, I’m sure they will, but think about this. Developers want to keep moving forward. They want to provide you with the best experiences they can. So they are absolutely going to focus on harnessing the power of this new system, and games played on a regular Xbox One are going to suffer for it. No matter what they say about all games working everywhere, there will come a time, probably sooner than later, where you will simply need this new system, or be forced to deal with what appears to be a broken game.
Now, this isn’t just me ranting at Microsoft. I don’t agree with the fact that it’s rumored Sony is doing this same thing. Gaming is already an expensive hobby. We as console gamers should not be forced to buy new hardware when it is not a new system, just a hardware and power upgrade. Now, PC gaming is a more expensive hobby, and I get that they already do this. You have to if you’re going to keep up with the constantly improving PC world. I just do not agree with the idea of consoles going that way. Many console gamers buy consoles so they don’t have to keep up with PC’s. I’m not a fan, and I’m definitely not sold. This is only my opinion, but there it is.
I’ll leave this post at that. Who knows, I might be back once the Sony Press Conference is over. We shall see, folks.

The Xbox One on Life Support

The Microsoft Press Conference has concluded, and it has left me with mixed feelings. There were a couple game announcements that rocked me a bit, but I’m still not completely sold. For instance, as a blind gamer, the fact that Killer Instinct is making a return is huge. Not just a fighting game that I could, of course, play, but the return of a fighting game I grew up with. That’s pretty epic, I have to say. I hate that it’s exclusive, but what can ya do there? Microsoft owns Rare, the game’s creator. So… ouch. Not a system seller, but still, ouch.

I would like to point out that they opened the show with a trailer for MGS5: The Phantom Pain. It was really long, and the trailer was good, but folks, that particular game is not exclusive. Yes, most of the show’s emphasis was on exclusives, but I would’ve thought that would be how you opened the show, rather than a multiplatform game, since multiplatform games don’t help your case.

We then went a little bit into the Xbox 360, which has a few games coming out, but that’s not why we’re here, so I don’t want to focus too much on that. Suffice it to say the 360 does have a few more games left in it.

Moving on, they showed off some Xbox One games like Rise, which to me only sounded impressive when it started. The audio during the actual combat wasn’t all that great, and I have been informed the combat itself is sort of a Quicktime extravaganza. Of course, it optionally uses Kinect, and Smartglass as well.

I don’t think I’ll go over every single game covered here, but they also showed the Xbox One’s ability to be playing one game while queueing for multiplayer in another. The person in control was playing Rise, but had queued up for a match in Killer Instinct. They got their request, which can be accepted with both voice and via the controller apparently, and I’ll give the Xbox One its due here, it switched from Rise to Killer Instinct really, really fast. It’s sad, but I sort of wonder if that was rigged. No idea. Still, I’ll admit that’s neat.

They then discussed the Xbox’s ability to record and stream gameplay, which as you may know, the PS4 has already announced. The big difference here is that Xbox One will stream to Twitch TV, whereas, (and I admit I sort of forgot this), PS4 actually doesn’t stream to Twitch, it streams to Ustream, which is a significantly less popular service. Still, what may end up happening is an increase in Ustream’s popularity, and here’s why. The Xbox One does support recording and streaming with commentary, which is good, but it’s commentary using the Kinect. If you’ve ever tried to chat with the Kinect, you know the audio is not very good. They’ll have to massively improve the mics in that thing to make that viable.

Now the big blow for me was when Respawn entertainment came to the stage. These are the folks that split from Infinity Ward, and they were here to announce their next gen title, Titanfall. Titanfall sounded freaking incredible for starters, but the big blow came when I was told the kinds of things that wer happening on screen. Imagine a game that sounds like a single player campaign, you talking to your squad before a mission begins, the drop into the mission zone, all that stuf… Except it’s not. The entire game is co-op. Your entire team appears to be composed of real people taking control of these characters, and playing cooperatively in a massive action setting which includes the ability for you to get in and out of huge mechs at will, without any loading time or anything. It really sounded like it was something. I have since heard that this particular game might not remain Xbox One exclusive forever, but that’s unconfirmed.

There were other things. Dead Rising 3 is also exclusive, which my fiancĂ© is into though I didn’t think it sounded that great. Quantum Break sounds like a big deal, but I still have to say we didn’t see enough that I really understand what it is. Project Spark, which is a creative platform similar to Little Big Planet on PS3, seems cute. Overall, it was a conference that focused on games, and it at least is making me think about it. I still have a lot of problems with the Xbox One. I don’t agree with the used game policies, I don’t agree with the connection policies, and I don’t agree with the Kinect always needing to be hooked up. Still, games like Killer Instinct, and Titanfall, make me think that maybe Xbo One can deliver on that at least. It’s very difficult to say yes or no here.