Kicking off their briefing at Gamescom with a stunning trailer of Assassin’s Creed: Unity and a breezy tour of exclusive add-on content in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and FIFA 15, this was a bold Xbox statement of intent: you won’t get this on PS4.
The gauntlet once again laid down to Sony, what else did we learn from Microsoft today? Here’s a round-up of the announcements from their briefing.
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With Halo 5: Guardians and Halo: The Master Chief Collection both in the pipeline, Bonnie Ross, General Manager of 343 Industries, announced the Halo Channel, an interactive digital network that will act as a hub for all things Halo. Gamers will be able to watch Halo Nightfall and test the Halo 5 multiplayer beta, available from December 29 2014 – January 13 2015, all in one place.
Along with the Halo Channel, we got glimpses of the vamped up features of Halo 2. Receiving an aesthetic make-over for the Master Chief Collection, slicker visuals, more atmospheric audio and 60-frames per second gameplay made Halo 2 look right at home on Xbox One. We also saw graphical improvements to age-old multiplayer map favourites like Ascension that'll keep die-hard fans happy.
Away from Halo, Crystal Dynamics studio head Darrell Gallagher wowed the crowd with an unexpected exclusive: Rise of the Tomb Raider, arriving Holiday 2015, which will only be available on Xbox platforms. The announcement sparked a Twitter backlash amongst PlayStation fans but there are rumours that Sony will be making their own Lara Croft announcement later tonight.
On the console front, three exclusive bundles for Xbox One were revealed. First, and only available in Europe, a FIFA 15 bundle, priced at £350 and available on September 25. Second, a special white Xbox One console commemorating the release of Sunset Overdrive. And third, a COD: Advanced Warfare bundle, priced at £430, including the game, a specially designed 1TB console and a headset.
As expected, the latest snatch of gameplay footage we got for Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare was an explosive, high-octane treat. Microsoft played up their timed-exclusive in-game content and we saw a stunning set-piece drive-by and shoot-out on the Golden Gate Bridge, showing off ample next-generation weaponry and visuals.
We also got a first-look at a live demo of Remedy’s eagerly-awaited ‘Quantum Break’, a slick, time-warping shooter/adventure that was kept under wraps at E3. Developer Sam Lake likened the concept to a fast-paced modern TV series and the title is touted for release in 2015.
Chris Charla, boss of ID@Xbox, Microsoft’s independent video game developers’ programme, revealed a swathe of upcoming digital titles, such as Space Engineers, PC hit Super Hot and Smite, all of which will be first to console on Xbox One.
Away from the software, Phil Spencer said 'we have listened' to feedback from the Xbox fan-base and are now allowing gamers to pre-order and pre-download selected titles so they’d be ready to play as soon as they became available.
A solid 90 minutes of Xbox glitz and gameplay and a fighting performance that keeps the momentum up from E3. Sony, now it’s your turn.
The best upcoming games (and their release dates)
The best upcoming games (and their release dates)
1/21 Assassin's Creed: Unity
Set in Paris during the French Revolution, Ubisoft's latest Assassin's Creed looks incredible. For the first time, four players can take on missions in multiplayer co-op, and there's also a new stealth option, which contrasts well with the fluid movement of the deadly Assassin. Release date: October 2014
2/21 Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
The 11 year-old military first person shooter series is about to become more futuristic, with characters that look more realistic than ever - plus, Kevin Spacey stars as the bad guy. The downloadable content for will be released first on Xbox Live. Release date: November 2014
Nintendo's not known for its shooters, so they've entered the territory with a big inky bang for the Wii U. Play online as a squid in two teams of four to cover as much of the ground in your team's ink as possible - avoiding a splattering from your enemies. Bold, bright, boisterous, and a lot of fun. Release date: Q1 2015
4/21 The Order: 1886
Set in a stunning cinematic Victorian London (except with some curious/scary 'half-breed' monsters), the third-person shooter is exclusive to PlayStation 4. Steampunk fans will be very happy. Release date: February 2015
5/21 Super Smash Bros
New characters are coming to battle - including Pac-Man. Players will also be able to fight as their Mii character, as either a Brawler, Gunner or Swordfighter. Release date: 'Holiday 2014'
The $500 Million first person shooter with hints of MMO is nearly here. Set in a post-apocalyptic setting in space, Destiny will take players on a surprising journey. Release date: September 2014
5 players. Four as hunters, one as a giant alien monster. Release date: October 2014
8/21 Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Naughty Dog aren't giving much away here, other than a clip of an older Nathan Drake. But he looks good. Release date: 2015
9/21 No Man's Sky
Space? Tick. Dinosaurs? Tick. Indie title dubbed as 'stealing the show' at E3. Tick. Release date: TBticked
10/21 Batman: Arkham Knight
Nananananananana! Just watch the trailer. Release date: can't wait for 2015
11/21 Legend of Zelda for Wii U
There were rumours that the protagonist was Zelda instead of Link, but Eiji Aonuma has denied this. It does look like the new Zelda will be more open and vast than ever - and it looks gorgeous. Release date: 2015
12/21 Little Big Planet 3
Sackboy's got some new friends this time round in PlayStation's puzzle platformer, each with different skills opening up a range of different, and cute, challenges. Release date: November 2014
13/21 The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
In the latest from the series which recently got a nod from none other than Barack Obama, the scope for Geralt’s open world looks vast. Release date: February 2015
14/21 Yoshi's Woolly World
Just when you though Yoshi couldn't be any more adorable. This beautiful new world of yarn is one you'll want to unravel, and it looks like the perfect children's game. You can also play with a friend as red yarn Yoshi. Release date: 2015
15/21 Sunset Overdrive
The colourful comic style offering exclusive to Xbox One combines the feel of Sum 41/Tony Hawk with a random mix of mutants and energy drinks. Release date: October, 2014
From the Dark Souls director Hidetaka Miyazaki (but it's NOT a sequel), Sony exclusive Bloodborne looks dark, difficult, and dramatic. Release date: 2015
17/21 Rainbow Six Siege
Tom Clancy's tactical multiplayer shooter goes back to basics where destruction will ensue whether you play as a criminal or the police. Release date: 2015
18/21 Dragon Age: Inquisition
Bioware's RPG sequel to Dragon Age 2 will let players explore more than ever before - and there are several different major endings depending on your decisions in the game. Release date: October, 2014
19/21 Ori and the Blind Forest
This indie release from Microsoft is one for those who love being enchanted by gorgeously unique artwork in a platformer. Release date: TBA
20/21 Far Cry 4
Set in a region of the Himalayas, you get to ride on an elephant with weapons, and invite friends to join you to play via PlayStation Plus, even if they don't own the game. Release date: November 2014
21/21 Alien: Isolation
What’s scarier than a survival horror game about being attacked by an alien? Being attacked by an alien in a virtual reality headset. You should try this on Oculus Rift. Release date: October 2014