The Red Herb Roundup: Microsoft's E3 '13 Conference


E3 2013 has hit the ground running and we saw Microsoft bolt through the gate first.  Which is a positive considering the company has found themselves braving an upward slope of bad press and consumer vitriol after unveiling the Xbox One – a next-gen console with innovations not only in graphical and computing power, but newfound abilities in preventing you from sharing games with friends or playing offline for more than twenty-four straight hours.

Putting your ear to the internet’s wall and you’d figure it’s dire straits for Microsoft.  This conference needed to be a win.  Or, at the very least, they needed to bring the exclusive titles they promised.  So, was their E3 presser an assured win?  Eh.  But, hey.  Games.  Here’s what stood out today:


Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Leads the Pack

No, Sony didn’t go on early.  The first Xbox One confirmed title we saw today was the enigmatic sequel/prequel to the Metal Gear Solid saga, The Phantom Pain.  Was this a jab at Sony?  Displaying unseen gameplay from a series that has lived the most formative years of its life on PlayStation consoles?  Don’t really care; I’m glad we finally got see a trailer for the game that wasn’t lacquered thick in crypticism.  Also, treat your inner ears to Keifer Sutherland as Snake…or Big Boss…Or “Punished Snake."  Yeah.  Punished Snake.


Killer Instinct’s Back

You asked for it and it’s finally here.  I mean, you asked for over a decade ago and now you’re getting it when the fighting game scene is a drastically changed landscape than it was in the days of coin-fueled play but…Listen, it’s back.

Killer Instinct, handled by Rare (though, let’s be honest, how many original staff members still work there?), is an Xbox One exclusive and, as is the popular thing to do, retains the classic 2D one-on-one style featured in the original arcade titles.  Everything else is treated to a modern day overhaul, of course, including what seems to be fluid, split second combat.  Whether this flogged pugilist can still put up its dukes – let alone usher in a new generation of fighting games – is yet to be seen.


Xbox One’s Halo Announced (Let’s Be Serious, It’s Halo 5)

There’s these few wavering moments when you watch a metallic, sentient hulk of architecture rise from the desert floor, and you see this lone, hooded figure standing unflinching before it, that you think: "Man, this could be HaloooomygoditisHalo!”

343 looks like they’ll be finishing their trilogy on the Xbox One; though, we just don’t know much about where they intend on going with a franchise that breathed financial life to Microsoft’s ambitions on owning your living room.  We have this tidbit, however: the next Halo game will run at 60 frames per second.  Prepare yourself for that becoming every single shooters’ mantra this gen.


Dead Rising 3 Becomes an Exclusive X1 Launch Title

I’ve gotta tell you.  I really didn’t expect Dead Rising 3, the third in Capcom’s open-world zombie series and the second outsourced to Capcom Vancouver, to have such an impressive showing.  But goddamn if it didn’t knock me on my ass.  DR3 retains a lot of aspects that made the series a cult favorite: screen filling hordes of the undead, makeshift weapon combining, and a vast environment to discover.

But the devil, friends, always lies with the details.  On-the-fly weapon crafting – no workbench required – is an innovation dripping with potential.  You’re basically a mobile Home Depot of destruction.  And you’ll need to be now that you’re stuck in an absolutely infested Californian town.  Luckily, vehicles play a large part in not just travel but in thinning the herds in your way.  Witnessing our survivor, Nick Ramos, stumble from the rooftops and take to the streets in a muscle car as he made instant mulch of zombies in his way…I’m sold.


Respawn Brings Mecha Slobberknocker-Shooter TitanFall

Just about the most impressive original IP of the show so far, Respawn Entertainment has an absolute gem of a shooter planned for both the Xbox One and 360.  TitanFall introduces the conceit of seamless land-to-mech combat, powered by Source, that sees you bending metal and cracking skulls like it’s second nature.

While the game is online-only, an evolving plot and other story elements sets the stage for the multiplayer battles you’ll engage in.  From the producers of Call of Duty, TitanFall appears to retain the responsive, lighting quick firefights of that renown series while owning a distinctive, steel-bound sci-fi style of its own.


Forza 5 and Battlefield 4 made appearances – though, honestly, Battlefield’s multiplayer showcase at the EA presentation is a better talking point (they brought down a friggin’ skyscraper in real-time).  Microsoft attempted to convince us they support the indie scene and throw a carrot their way with a short vignette; the word on that is out, though, and the Big M is a bully when it comes to small time developers.

Here’s the real news: The Xbox One is releasing into stores this Novemeber and…it’ll cost you $499.  As I’ve discussed elsewhere, $499 isn’t highway robbery, but if Sony’s hardware comes in at a cheaper price…This renewed console war may end up pretty one-sided.

There’s more to say but time is short.  Expect full coverage on Sony’s presser later tonight and be sure to follow me on Twiiter @KevinApocalypse for my pathetic live Tweet session of the conferences as they occur.

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