E3 expo 2013: Microsoft boosts Xbox One with new titles, surprise reboots, and 'end of AI' as console war with PS4 dominates

E3 press conference reveals more details hoping to lift the spirits of Microsoft's beleaguered console
  • @jjvincent

The launch date and price of Microsoft’s Xbox one were announced last night, with the console going on sale in November for £429 in the UK, $499 in the US and €499 elsewhere.

The announcement was made during the company’s keynote event at E3, just hours before Sony made a full reveal of the new PS4, which will go on sale for £349 in the “holiday 2013” period.

Microsoft’s event focused heavily on games in response to criticisms that the May launch had played the new console’s multimedia strengths too heavily, alienating the most vocal members of the gaming community.

Known franchises brought out their latest instalments, including Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag and the title in the Halo series (see the trailer here). The long-awaited Ryse was also shown off with a seven minute gameplay video promising a hack-and-slash Roman adventure developed by Crysis-makers Crytek.

Other expected titles like Forza Motorsport 5 brought more than just the expected graphical update, with the racing title also boasting innovative “cloud processing” that will see “the end of A.I.”. The Xbox One might have been edged out by the PS4’s graphical clout, but Microsoft’s new console does come primed with 300’000 servers that will provide a boost in processing power.

Forza (have a look at the trailer here) promises that you’ll never race alone, with the cloud-processing analysisng your victories (and mistakes) to create realistic A.I. opponents – the so-called ‘drivatar’. Whether this will prove much a boon in the long run is difficult to judge, but it’s an interesting out-of-the-box use for the One’s cloud capacity that is sure to be expanded on.

More promised innovations included Metal Gear Solid 5’s “open world environment” (see some HD gameplay here) which promises a more realist world, with weather patterns and an always-on day/night cycle, and Kiefer Sutherland providing voice and likeness for the title role – the newly-dubbed ‘Punished Snake’. Though it’s not yet been confirmed whether this is an Xbox exclusive, or will be coming to the PS4 as well.

 A surprise reveal from Microsoft was the revival of Killer Instinct – a cult fighting game that first appeared in 1994 before a critical-acclaimed sequel in 1996. The franchise was loved for its combo-heavy fighting style, and gory ‘finishing moves’ – a rip-off of Mortal Kombat’s ‘fatalities’ feature.

Although following the success of the PS4 conference later that day in the US (Sony spent much of the second half simply undermining some of the worse features of the Xbox One, including the resale of used games and the expensive price), it still seems that Microsoft’s roster of games might rescue the console.