With no Sony presentation slated for GamesCom 2015, Microsoft had the keynote space at Europe’s biggest gaming fair all to itself this year, and the Xbox One platform holder didn’t hold back.
It built on announcements made at last year’s GamesCom and the E3 expos from the last two year by unveiling in-game footage of Xbox One exclusives Quantum Break, Scalebound and Crackdown 3. It reaffirmed its commitment the Indy game crowd and the PC platform players. It even had a couple of surprises to throw into the mix – the last of which, no one was expecting.
The full briefing is embedded below this article, but in case you don’t have the time to watch the whole thing, here’s what you need to know:
Halo Wars is getting a sequel
Remember way back in the day when Microsoft revealed a Halo RTS game? And it split the Halo fanbase right down the middle? Half of the Master Chief faithful saw it as a brave direction for the franchise and a pretty fun game to boot. The other half spat on it unreservedly. Whichever camp you landed up in, did you really expect to ever see a sequel to Halo Wars? Was it something anyone was clamouring for? Seriously, dig out any “Games That Need Sequels” list you can find and see if Halo Wars features at all.
Well, regardless of this apparent lack of interest, Halo Wars 2 is in the pipeline, and once again, this franchise is dividing opinion. Half the office at htxt.africa think it’s a dumb idea. The other half can’t wait. Admittedly, it will probably be ace on PC – and Creative Assembly’s RTS skills speak for themselves. But on Xbox One? We don’t know. It’s too soon to call.
Scalebound looks like Devil May Cry crossed with Monster Hunter
For a second as we watched the trailer for Hideki Kamiya’s new RPG, we found ourselves wanting to call it “How To Train Your Scalebound”. This is because in the footage shown, it seemed players could swoop across a fantastical land on the back of a dragon spouting empty platitudes in an American accent that seemed out of place with the sword and sorcery setting. Actually, that’s a bit harsh. The dialogue in How To Train Your Dragon was better than that in Scalebound.
Mind you, Platinum Games and Kamiya have never been known for decent dialogue (Bayonetta? Anyone?). What they’re known for first and foremost is action and sublime mechanics and, at least in the first respect, you couldn’t fault Scalebound in any way. (We’ll report back on the latter respect if we get the chance to play it). Scalebound comes on like the illegitimate offspring of Devil May Cry (another Kamiya title) and Monster Hunter Tri – think awesome hack ‘n slash action with bosses the size of warehouses and your starting to get the idea. Consider us genuinely intrigued. We want to play it. In spite of its awful dialogue (and it really is awful).
Rainbow Six is coming to eSports and you need mad Halo skills to win a cool million
If you ever wanted proof that the eSports pot has now become so big that everyone wants a piece of it, just check out a couple of titles from this year’s Xbox One keynote in Cologne. First up, you had Rainbow Six: Siege – and even though there’s been no official announcement about a eSports league being created around this title, you can bet cold hard cash it’s going to happen.
Ubisoft currently has no game that could be played at a professional level; the multiplayers in Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry and Splinter Cell aren’t the reason fans buy those games and Just Dance? Don’t make us laugh! Rainbow Six is asymmetrical, challenging, competitive and duck’s-a$$ tight. Expect to see money thrown at this game’s audience in short order.
Second, Halo 5: Guardians looks like it’s been built from the ground up specifically for the eSports crowd. Sure, it’s already a pro game, but look at the reveal at Cologne. No story trailer. No plot reveals. Just teams hammering the crud out of each other as Commcasters maniacally scored the action. Oh, and there was the small announcement that there’s going to be a new Halo tournament at the end of the year and its prize money has swollen past the $1 million mark. Judging by the skill and speed with which the pros played in the Cologne reveal, you’d better start practicing if you want to win big money. They have mad skills.
Just Cause 3 and Crackdown 3. You need to own them both
In all honesty, the main reason we tuned into Xbox One’s briefing in Cologne was for news of Crackdown – now renamed Crackdown 3. The first entry in this franchise was the sleeper hit of 2008 and the fact that the series’ original developer David Jones is back onboard after the lukewarm Crackdown 2 gives us reason to be excited. Hell, in the reveal at GamesCom, it was announced you can drop multiple buildings on enemies – take that, Battlefield – and it reminded us why Crackdown’s free-wheeling anarchic blend of parkour, shooting and driving has been ganked by multiple titles over the years.
One of those titles, incidentally, was Just Cause 2 and even though this series owes a debt of inspiration, if not direct influence, to Crackdown, we can’t stress enough that when it sees release this year, you should definitely pick up a copy of the latest release in this franchise. Because it looks bloody mental.
Quantum Break actually looks pretty good
It’s easy to knock Remedy Games; aside from the fact that their titles seem to take ages to produce, the Finnish developer’s most recent releases were third-person shooters with nifty mechanics bolted onto them. Max Payne had bullet time. Alan Wake had shadow removal with lights. Now, here comes Quantum Break, which mixes TPS action with time-control mechanics.
The thing is, Quantum Break looks absolutely great. Sure it’s time-warping gimmick isn’t exactly groundbreaking and the dialogue in the trailer and the in-game footage shown off at the Xbox One keynote is classic Remedy – in that it’s vague and fairly pretentious. But the action moves at a clip and the ability to slow, speed up and bend time around the game’s lead character looks compelling and it seems to hint that the multiple solutions to each of the game’s high-octane set pieces exist – meaning it might be a little more open-ended than its forebears.
Oh and the presence of Dominic Monaghan (from Lost and Lord Of the Rings) and Aiden Gillen (Littlefinger in Game Of Thrones) can’t hurt either, eh?
We Happy Few looks as creepy as hell
Perhaps the biggest surprise of Microsoft’s GamesCom keynote was the reveal trailer of We Happy Few, one of the most genuinely disturbing pieces of footage we’ve seen in quite some time. Imagine Tim Burton played BioShock and then decided to make an honest-to-God slasher film. Seriously, just watch it. Watch the trailer.
You see? You see?!
Watch the full briefing