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.
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.
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