Microsoft held its Electronic Entertainment Exp Xbox One press conference today, finally showing off some of the games that will ultimately make or break its system as it goes head-to-head with Sony's PlayStation 4 later this year. The most notable news coming out of the event is when the console will be released and how much it will cost consumers when it hits retail.
Microsoft said that the Xbox One will be released in November in 21 markets for $499 in the U.S, €499 in Europe and £429 in the U.K. The company did not disclose if there would be one SKU or multiple SKUs at launch - which means that there could be different price points for different retail configurations later on down the road.
The company also announced its continued support for Xbox 360, with new games and a brand new SKU that is in stores today. It features a design inspired by the Xbox One, the company said. Microsoft's Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of the company's Interactive Entertainment Business, said that the new Xbox 360 is a smaller, sleeker and "quieter" system featuring an updated look based on the Xbox One design.
On a related note, the company said that beginning July 1, it will give Xbox Live Gold members two free games a month starting with Halo 3 and Assassins Creed 2. How long this little promotion will last was not disclosed. Apparently Fable 3 is available for free right now for Gold subscribers.
The rest of the press event was spent talking about first and third-party games that were either exclusives or coming to Xbox One first.
Prior to the press event one of those games was revealed - Rare's Kinect Sports Rivals. The Kinect-focused game lets players scan themselves into the game and take on other players in short challenges such as wake racing, rock climbing, bowling, tennis, soccer, and target shooting. The game will take heavy advantage of the cloud and will track player's facial expressions and heart rate to learn how the player acts and reacts during play. The game will also make heavy use of leaderboards via the cloud.
The press event opened with Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, an open-world stealth action game featuring Solid Snake and other familiar cast members from previous Metal Gear games. The game promises an open-world environment, close quarters combat, various modes of transportation to get around the world in (tanks, jeeps, horses, etc.). The trailer also introduced new characters Kazuhira Miller, Eli, Skull Face and Quiet, along with returning characters Emmerich, Ocelot and Code Talker. The game will be a "timed exclusive." Release date to be determined.
On the Xbox 360, gamers can expect to play Wargaming.net's World of Tanks on the console this summer. The game has been streamlined to work with the 360 controller and work with Xbox Live to provide 16 v 16 matches. It will be free-to-play just like it is on the PC.
One of the games that seemed to get a positive response from media was Crytek's Ryse, an Xbox One exclusive third-person action game set during the Roman Empire's most glorious days. The game puts players in the boots of a General commanding Roman forces. The game mixes one-on-one combat with squad-based combat, according to what was shown at the press conference. Ryse: Son of Rome will be an Xbox One exclusive and available at the console's launch.
Other games shown off or announced at the conference include Minecraft: Xbox One Edition (no release date revealed); Insomniac Games' newest game, Sunset Overdrive, an open-world shooter that offers new gaming experiences that change daily and parkour style mechanics; a new Killer Instinct game; Forza 5 from Turn-Ten Studios; D4 from Hidetaka Suehiro - best known as the director of Deadly Premonition; the world-building sandbox game Project Spark; Crimson Dragon, a new game from Yukio Futatsugi, the creator of Panzer Dragoon; Dead Rising 3 from Capcom; an unnamed game from Black Tusk; Capy's new indie game Below; a brand new Halo game from 343 Industries; Respawn Entertainment's Titanfall; The Witcher 3 from CD Projekt RED; and Remedy's Quantum Break.
Microsoft also announced that Twitch would be integrated into Xbox One and also revealed a new DVR feature that would allow gamers to upload and share videos of their gameplay experiences. The company also showcased some of the functions of Smart Glass and Xbox One integration, and also revealed that MS Points would be abandoned in favor of real-world currency.
Finally DICE showed off the new Battlefield 4, but had the dubious distinction of having their demo mess up at the beginning. It was an uncomfortable few moments for the developer, but things finally got straightened out. Battlefield fans will likely find this game to be exactly what they want and need from DICE and EA. Microsoft also announced that Xbox One will receive a timed exclusive downloadable map pack called Second Assault before other platforms.
Ultimately Microsoft's press conference was decent enough, showing off some interesting new games like Ryse and Titanfall. We do wish that Microsoft had provided more clarity on used games and video game rentals and even more details on what the SKU will come packed with when it launches in November.