I'm a dude. I play games. And complain about things. And argue. A lot. From time to time I say interesting shit you might find interesting. So maybe read it and tell me what you think because I don't know.
So my plan for tonight was to do a predictions/wish list blog post for Nintendo's showing at E3. Given the recent community challenge on the front page, I figured I'd hold off on the Nintendo one for now and instead address Microsoft instead. If you've seen my two E3related posts for Sony, expect a pretty similar format for this one. And if you like what you see, feel free to give it a heart/upvote.
Forza Horizon 2 (Playground)
The first game was no PGR, but I definitely enjoyed my time with it.
This game has been heavily rumored for most of the year, and I figure it's pretty much a lock that it's in development. Playground Games put out the original on 360 in 2012 and there haven't been any news or rumors of them starting work on something else or laying people off. A two year dev cycle for a sequel makes sense in light of that. I'd personally prefer a new Project Gotham Racing, but it seems like Microsoft would rather throw its weight behind the more recognizable Forza brand instead. Figure we'll get a trailer at the conference, but not too much more beyond that.
Halo: Master Chief Collection (Saber)
I've missed you so much, Turf. Please come back to me. I need you in my life again.
A rumor broke pretty recently that Microsoft was planning to re-release the four core Halo games on XB1 this holiday. The speculation, however, had been on a Halo 2: Anniversary release, similar to what Saber put out in 2011 for the first Halo. At the very least, I think we'll get something like that. But a "Master Chief Collection" would be very smart for them if done right. Package the original four games together, run them natively in 1080p60, and include the original multiplayer modes in each. You don't need matchmaking, just local and online peer to peer play. And if this was only $60 for the four games? Well Sony would look like dicks for trying to push just The Last of Us on PS4 at the same price. Whatever Halo game we're getting this year I'm sure it'll be at the show in some capacity, so definitely expect that.
Crackdown 3 (Ruffian)
Just give me a new city this time, guys. That's all I ask.
Speaking of rumors, a new Crackdown on XB1 has popped up a couple times in the last year. One of those rumors hinted at a 2016 release, so if that's the case we might not see it at the show beyond maybe a teaser. If Microsoft has had Ruffian working on a sequel for a while though, we might get this by the time 2015 comes to a close. Ruffian developed Crackdown 2 on 360 and have remained close with Microsoft as a second party over the last few years, so it seems likely they'd be making this. The original may have been known as the free game you got for buying the Halo 3 Beta, but it's gathered a bit of a following (myself included). For people looking for something other than Gears and Halo, this could help move hardware.
Fable Legends (Lionhead)
I know we're all ready to hate this, but let's put down the pitchforks for a minute.
I get that some people have soured on this franchise along with its creator Peter Molyneux. There's no denying the man has vision, he just doesn't always deliver on it. While 2012's Fable: The Journey was a disaster, the fact of the matter is the first three have both sold and reviewed well enough to justify this project. Expect some more info on Legends at E3, and probably a confirmation on the beta that's supposed to be coming this year. If they focus on what made Fable fun, they'll be fine at E3. If they don't? God help them.
New Banjo or Conker Sequel (Rare)
Admit it. You've missed Conker. Don't be a stank face like that guy.
I know, I know. Rare is a shell of its former self, forced into the Kinect sweatshops of Microsoft Studios to pump out motion controlled garbage. But they don't have to be. The current studio isn't without talent, and there actually still are a few people on the team from before the buyout. And at the end of the day, Nuts & Bolts didn't suck and neither did Viva Pinata. If Rare were going to make a sequel to one of their old IPs, it should be a new platformer in either the Conker or Banjo franchises. They haven't put out a major non-Kinect project in a while, so it's conceivable they could have a new game ready by 2015 with a brief teaser to show it off at E3.
Other Upcoming Xbox One Games:
So we know that Sunset Overdrive is confirmed for 2014. Insominac's been working on that for a while, they've been putting out more on the title recently, and I figure they'll have plenty for us at E3. Not so sure this game will show very well at a press conference, so I figure you'll hear more about it from media demonstrations and what not. Quantum Break is another game we know is coming, but we haven't heard a ton about it recently. The speculation seems to be on an early 2015 release and not a 2014 one. That being said, pretty action games show very well, so I wouldn't count out a live demo for the press conference.
Alan Wake was cool and Remedy is a talented developer, so I'm excited for this.
And so we come to Halo 5: Guardians. The news that this wasn't coming until 2015 was disappointing to some, but not entirely shocking. 343 Industries are building a brand new engine for the game in the midst of jumping between generations. An extra year on development isn't too surprising given that fact. But there's no way we won't see this game at the press conference. Hell, they gave us a teaser for it last year, after all. I see this as their show closer, and while it probably isn't ready for a live demo we could see some gameplay footage in whatever they do show off.
Looking to the Future/What Won't Be There:
Let's get to the elephant in the room here: Black Tusk's Gears of War game will not be at E3 in any capacity. Even though they have some basic groundwork done from their time spent on that new IP, they've only been developing Gears 4 since January. They have nothing to show right now as they're not even technically in alpha. If Microsoft really wanted to, I guess they could pay somebody to make a CG teaser for the game or something. But why bother? We won't see it until late 2016 at the earliest, and they really don't need it for the show.
If you're excited about this, good. Just don't expect any news at E3 on it.
Beyond that, there's a few other question marks on the horizon. Lionhead is working on a new IP at the moment, but I'm not sure that's in a state to be shown off either. We know jack shit about it other than the fact that it exists. Now that Age of Empires Online is shut down and Gas Powered Games' two projects were stalled, how about putting them on Halo Wars 2? They did a good job with Supreme Commander, after all. And you've got that Phantom Dust trademark that Microsoft just refilled. We could hear about that this year, but if they're just getting around to the trademark now, it's probably a whiles off. Who would even be developing it?
Xbox Live, Kinect, TV, and Everything Else:
Microsoft is currently fighting an uphill battle against Sony. With both The Order and Uncharted 4 being pushed to 2015, they have a hell of a window to do some damage this holiday. In North America, VG Chartz has the hardware split between PS4 and XB1 at 3.57M vs 3.12M. I could definitely see them taking the lead this holiday if they play their cards right. Sony just has nothing to show right now beyond Driveclub. I think the first step in doing that is reselling people on Xbox Live. The "Xbox Originals" TV content will never be that. But the news that Games with Gold is coming to XB1 could be. Announcing that you're launching with something like Dead Rising 3 would be huge.
How to make Games with Gold not look like a joke: put something big on the service.
They've already decoupled Kinect from the box and they'll soon be selling an XB1 for $400, on par with the PS4 here. Very smart move on their part. Consumer choice won out here and the market has spoken (if only Nintendo was listening as well). That's already been addressed, but I don't think they should kill off the peripheral all together. Continue to utilize it wherever possible in your first party games, keep bundling it with the console for $500 (maybe alongside a 1TB hard drive bump), and the most important part: when you sell it separately, don't price it above $120. For the love of god, don't make that mistake twice. Hopefully we'll get some clarification on SKUs and pricing and all that fun stuff at or around the conference.
This is probably wishful thinking but... Shadow Complex 2 announcement?
Beyond that, I figure that's all they need to do. Have a little thing where you show off some indies, do the yearly Call of Duty live demo, announce some timed exclusive DLC, maybe show off a couple new digital games (Shadow Complex 2 anyone?), but that's about it. Just don't make this another TV/Kinect show, and don't have a bunch of executives up there making asses of themselves. It'll be hard to win back the skeptics, but you can do it. Sony did it with the PS3, at the end of the day.
That's all I got. If you liked what you read, please do throw some upvotes my way, and I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments (good or bad). Be sure to check back in a couple days where I'll have my Nintendo predictions and wishes up as well.