After its highly criticized unveiling of the Xbox One, Microsoft placed a heavy focus on games during its E3 press briefing Monday. And despite the goodwill that plan of attack probably garnered with gamers, the company revealed a November launch window and the price of the upcoming unit -- $499 -- a number that probably won't sit well with consumers, especially with current-gen hardware still producing engaging titles.
But back to the games. Microsoft was wise to hit hard on the gaming front early and often during the briefing, showing off 13 exclusive titles to the platform. Microsoft kicked off show with new gameplay from Konami's latest installment in the Metal Gear universe -- "Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain".
The series' creator Hideo Kojima joined Microsoft studio head Don Mattrick on stage to introduce some new footage of the game. The section that was shown off took place in Afghanistan, decades before "Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots". MGS 5 will be the series' first foray into the open-world genre, highlighting the various modes of transportation (tanks, jeeps) and real-time weather. During another snippet of gameplay, the game's protagonist -- Big Boss -- leans on one side of a horse he's riding to avoid detection by enemies. The stunning visuals and impressive action exceeded the lofty expectations this series is known for. MGS 5 will be released on multiple platforms, but no release window was given.
Microsoft also made it very clear that it is still supporting the Xbox 360. The company released a redesign to the popular system. The new look is an homage to the Xbox One's appearance that gives the Xbox line a more uniformed feel. On July 1, Xbox Live Gold members will receive two free games a month, starting with Assassins Creed 2 and Halo 3. Microsoft also announced that your Gold subscription will carry over to the Xbox One and that you will be able to share many of the same membership perks with other members of your household, though specifics are still vague as to what perks and if this share program is limited to one system per home. Microsoft is also doing away with Microsoft Points in favor of real money.
"Ryse Son of Rome" also was unveiled. This third-person action title exclusively on Xbox One that takes place during the Roman empire. You will follow the path of the title's main protagonist -- Marius Titus -- who will fight in the heat of skirmishes and will also command the Roman army. During the demo, Titus leads a tower attack from the sands of a beach all the way up to the culminating battle. The combat is mostly a combination of sword play and a shield that he uses to negate attacks. Quick-time events were also a major focus of the combat. During certain sections, Titus ordered his troops into a side-by-side formation to build a wall of shield that deflected the incoming arrows.
Forza Motorsport 5 was another exclusive title for the Xbox One. The latest iteration of the critically acclaimed racing simulation boasts a new feature called Drivatar. The AI system learns how you negotiate each track, logging all sorts of aspects of your racing style like how you attack specific corners or how you drive in a crowd. The system then uploads that information to the cloud, where your friends can download your racing profile and compete against your AI counterpart. The developers also said that the game will match you against similarly skilled opponents, making online encounters more enjoyable.
Microsoft also discussed how SmartGlass will integrate with the Xbox One. You can begin a single-player or multiplayer session from your SmartGlass-enabled tablet or look at a friend's progress in a specific game or Achievements. Microsoft also said that the Xbox One will allow you to continue playing a single-player game while your system searches for a multiplayer session in another game. This level of multitasking will eliminate a lot of downtime between multiplayer matches. The Xbox One also will automatically record gaming sessions and allow you to edit those segments, add effects and audio to make them more personal. You can also broadcast live sessions to Twitch TV -- a website that streams live gameplay -- and the website will allow other players to leave comments while you play.
EA showed off its popular, multi-platform first-person military shooter "Battlefield 4". The slice of gameplay that was shown took place on a naval ship and focused mostly on gunplay and less on the series' calling card -- destructibility. EA announced that "Battlefield 4" will run at 60 frames per second, a first in the series and it brings it up to speed with its main rival "Call of Duty". EA also said that the first map pack for "Battlefield 4" will land first on Xbox Live.
Master Chief also made a cameo at the show. Though the game's reveal was brief, developer 343 Industries did say that the new Halo will run at 60 frames per second and is scheduled to be released in 2014.
Other new titles that were announced were "Killer Instinct" (fighting) Insomniac's "Sunset Overdrive" (open world), "Minecraft Xbox One Edition" (arcade), "Quantum Break" (sci-fi action), "Project Spark" (creative platformer), "Crimson Dragon" (dragon aerial combat), "Dead Rising 3" (open-world zombie) and the "Witcher 3" (open world fantasy RPG).
The final game of the briefing was Titan Fall, the new IP from Respawn -- the developers who helped catapult the Call of Duty series. Titan Fall is a first-person shooter that takes place in the future. The game is expected to be released spring 2014 exclusively for Xbox One.
Microsoft's strong push on gaming was exactly what the company needed to do after its TV-focused reveal of the Xbox One. But with the system's online requirements (the system has to connect once every 24 hours), convoluted used-games policy and $499 price tag, it will be an uphill climb for Microsoft to replicate the success it enjoyed this generation.