How was Microsoft’s Gamescom 2014 Media Briefing?

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By Maxime Chiasson – 12th August 2014
How was Microsoft’s Gamescom 2014 Media Briefing?

Last June, Microsoft promised games, games and games during its E3 2014 press conference. And it wasn’t any different with its Gamescom 2014 Media Briefing that took place earlier this morning. Running at roughly 1 hour and 30 minutes in length, Microsoft mostly focussed on its Holiday 2014 and Early 2015 releases. Some of which, we already saw at E3. Though there weren’t any big surprises, it was a really strong showing on Microsoft’s part with its big announcements and reveals that were made. So let’s jump right into it.

Starting the event off with an Assassin’s Creed: Unity cinematic trailer highlighting nothing other than its October 28release date may not have been the smartest opening choice for the press conference. This trailer was pretty useless because no word was even mentioned on the game throughout the entire briefing. I guess Ubisoft did not want the gamers to forget that yet another Assassin’s Creed game will be out this year. However, my faith in the conference was quickly restored as Gregor Bieler introduced the Head of Xbox Phil Spencer.

Having given the opening welcomes, Spencer did not waste any time in talking about the games claiming that it’s “the best time to be an Xbox gamer” and that “Xbox is the best place to play.” Announcements like the Grand Theft Auto Online character transfers and the FIFA 15 details were great to hear about, but there wasn’t anything that caught my attention. That is, until they showed off what looks like a diverse and exciting lineup of ID@Xbox games. Games like Fruit Ninja Kinect 2, Goat Simulator, Inside, Smite and Speedrunners are all coming to Xbox platform as well as completely new original games such as Space Engineers, Super Hot, The Escapist and Below as well. Plus, most of them will be making their console debut on Xbox.  Indie games are absolutely killing it on both next gen platforms right now and, with over 100 games coming from the ID program on Xbox, it will be interesting to see which ones are going to stand out the most. All I can say is that I cannot wait to play all of them!

Following yesterday’s big multiplayer reveals, Sledgehammer Games’ Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare took the stage with a visually-stunning single player demo. I’ve been burned out by Call of Duty ever since Modern Warfare 2, but Advanced Warfare looks like the one that will make me go back to into the First Person Shooter grind. It still has the look and feel of a CoD game, but the new gadgets and Exosuit abilities really are the stand outs in my opinion. Also, if you’re looking into buying an Xbox One, they announced an Xbox One Limited Edition Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare bundle with a Terabyte hard drive, a digital copy of the Day Zero version of the game as well as a custom console and controller for $499.

Evolve followed shortly after with some new gameplay footage and details about the Beta, but it was quickly forgotten when Phil Harrison, the Corporate Vice President of Microsoft, took the stage. In what seemed to be just additional information on the upcoming sequel to 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot resulted into the most shocking announcement of entire event: Rise of the Tomb Raider will be an Xbox exclusive when it launches in the Holiday of 2015. This announcement comes to me, and everyone, as a surprise since 2013’s Tomb Raider underperformed sales-wise when it was available on both Xbox and Playstation. I hope the game is a platform exclusive because Microsoft gave the developers tons of money and not because the game will be smaller in scale. Tomb Raider was one of my favorite games, last year, and I’ve been eagerly waiting for the continuation of Lara’s story ever since I completed it.

The rest of the conference was entirely dedicated to Xbox One exclusive games. Though some of which we already knew about, it was really exciting to hear new details on Sunset Overdrive, Ori and the Blind Forest, Forza 5 and Forza Horizon 2 as well as Fable Legends, but the exclusive that really blew me away was Quantum Break. Sam Lake, of Remedy Entertainment, took the stage to introduce the world premiere gameplay demo for a game we knew little about. It plays like a Third Person Shooter, except the main protagonist has the ability to rush through time and freeze it.  There are obvious influences from Max Payne, since Remedy worked with the franchise in the past, but I can get passed the similarities. What are really going to sell me are the unique story and how the time breakdowns will affect the overall gameplay of it. Other than that, I am really looking forward in hearing/seeing more from Quantum Break.

Just like at E3, the big highlight of the event was Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Not only because I am a huge Halo fan, but also because of the always so great information that is revealed alongside it. For starters, there was the reveal of the Halo Channel, which is an all new digital interactive network where you’ll be able to watch Halo: Nightfall, various Halo-related streams, receive community insight and check the encyclopedia as well as your stats. Think of it was the next generation Halo Waypoint, which is very exciting. The nostalgia really hit me when we got to see footage of Halo 2: Anniversary’s single player and multiplayer. I still can’t believe this package exist and I will gladly give 343 Industries 60$ when The Master Chief Collection launches on November 11th.

 Lastly, was the announcement of digital pre-orders and pre-loading on Xbox One. Even though they did respond to the fan plea, this news felt irrelevant because this should’ve been included on Day 1 with the system. Sony’s Playstation 4 has been doing this for a long time now and it was about time for Microsoft to catch up with the digital market.

All in all, not the most surprising conference of all time for Microsoft, but it was certainly entertaining. Just like at E3, we saw games and only games with closer looks at some of the AAA titles that will be available this Holiday season and beyond as well as  some additional info on some of the smaller games that will hit the Xbox platform. If I would rate Microsoft’s Gamescom 2014 Media Briefing out of ten, I would give it 8 out of 10. They played it safe, but big announcement aren’t the only things that are going to drive console sales.

What did you think of the conference? Make sure to tell us in the comments below and check out Gamer Headlines all week for our coverage of Gamescom 2014.