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Alex’s Take: Microsoft E3 2014

For once, I was actually on the edge of my seat with Microsoft. They came out of the gate with games presented by experts in the biggest entertainment industry. I hung onto every word about the remake of Halo 2, packaged with all the other numbered Halo titles. Xbox Live will be flooded with children not old enough to spell when the king of multiplayer returns. Halo: The Master Chief Collection will also run at 1080p and 60 fps. Oh, and there’s access to the Halo 5 beta test, but I’m sure that will pale in comparison. On top of that, several new games were revealed.

Sunset Overdrive blew away the first half of the show with it’s over the top action and art style. Players will be able to create their own character and destroy mutated monsters, which are the product of a strange energy drink. Multiplayer has also been integrated to give eight players the ability to take on challenges by voting for the task at hand. The style is what sets this game apart from the rest; it’s like a combination of Tony Hawk and Ratchet and Clank.

Another title that brought heavy excitement was Scalebound. With the recent interest in giant monsters (Pacific Rim, Godzilla, and Monster Hunter), two beasts clashing together was a welcomed sight. Scalebound also brings its own unique style: as the hero cranks up his headphones with electronic bass beats while sporting bad ass Dragoon armor. Only the cinematic trailer was shown, so gameplay elements are still a mystery. However, any game that gives the player a dragon companion and dubstep can’t be too bad.

Even though there is already a playable beta, Project Spark was shown off in a new trailer. While these sort of games aren’t new to the market, Spark seems to open the door to new kinds of games that can be made and pushes to give this ability to anyone. The trailer showed a slew of content already developed during beta tests on Windows 8 and Xbox One, which at a glance portrayed almost every major genre in the industry. Finishing off the trailer was Conker slicing through the logo with his chainsaw. Conker is coming to Project Spark, presumably as a playable asset. For those of you unfamiliar with the beer-chugging squirrel, he is the main character of one of the best N64 games: Conker’s Bad Fur Day. It was so good that it was re-created for the Xbox in 2005 for better or worse. This is extremely exciting because  players will now have the chance to create the Conker sequel they imagine. Needless to say, it’s going to be fun to browse the games list on Project Spark.

Rounding out the press conference was Microsoft’s love for independent studios. A compilation video showed off some interesting games: Mighty No. 9, a spiritual successor to Megaman (made by some of the same people); an interesting game called Cuphead, which uses an art style that gives homage to old Disney cartoons; and coming from the makers of Limbo is the strangely unique Inside. These three games were just the highlights; many more indie games are coming to Xbox One. In fact, Microsoft claims that a free independent developer kit will be available for these small-time developers. However, I’m not sure how free something like that could be, but I’ll be sure to check into it.

Through the whole event, Microsoft did what they should’ve done: focus on the games. There weren’t any new peripherals, no new services, or deals with major sports broadcasting stations. Nope, just games. With the Xbox One launching without the Kinect, at a lower price point, and tons of games coming out, maybe Microsoft will regain the respect they lost with me at the new console’s release.