hot  /  reviews  /  video  /  blogs  /  forum

Microsoft Studios

Ori and the Blind Forest photo
Ori and the Blind Forest

Ori and the Blind Forest jumps out of the woods and onto your screen on March 11


And looks great while doing it
Jan 20
// Brett Makedonski
At gamescom this year, I found out that Ori and the Blind Forest isn't just a drop-dead gorgeous game; it's also quite the challenging, tight-controlling platformer. In less than two months, everyone can stop taking my ...
Battletoads chatter photo
Battletoads chatter

Microsoft's Ken Lobb discusses Rare IP, mentions Battletoads specifically


While a new game may not currently be in the works, it's not out of the question
Jan 11
// Rob Morrow
Back in November we ran a story on the head of Microsoft's Xbox division Phil Spencer's visit to Rare's offices where he tweeted about having a look at its latest project. This visit, coupled with the filing for the...
Storm Island photo
Storm Island

Forza Horizon 2's first DLC takes places at the ominous Storm Island


Gee, I wonder what happens there
Dec 16
// Brett Makedonski
Forza Horizon 2 shipped this fall with plenty of inclement weather, unlike some other game. Nevertheless, its first add-on centers around even more torrential downpours on the paradisiacal sounding Storm Island. Storm I...

Halo 5: Guardians has left me oddly cold and worried

Nov 10 // Abel Girmay
Halo 5: GuardiansDeveloper: 343 IndustriesPublisher: Microsoft Game StudiosRelease: November 2015  From the moment I sat down with Halo 5: Guardians, it was clear that the game has a big focus on player movement. If you thought Halo 4's universal sprint was blasphemous (again, you're wrong), enter a Halo game with ledge climbs, running melee's, air stomps, and slides. All of these new abilities are made possible by your thrust pack. Take the running melee for instance. When doing a normal sprint, your thruster will kick in after a few seconds, sending your spartan into a terminal velocity where your melee becomes a running charge that kills in one hit from the back, and your crouch turns into a slide. The ground pounds are similar to the air stomps in Crysis. To initiate a ground pound, you simply jump, aim by holding down the melee button, and a cursor will appear on any surface below, allowing you to smash down with speed. I do wonder how effective a technique the ground pound will be though, as the entire time you're aiming midair, you hover with the thruster pack, making yourself a painfully obvious target.  In exchange for the extra maneuvers, your shields take a hit, never recharging until you come out of your thrust-fueled abilities. It's quite the trade off, and after more than an hour of play, one that I still hadn't quite gotten the hang of. It feels as if 343 was trying to create some sort trade off between mobility and safety, perhaps even trying to find a middle ground between fans that enjoy sprint and those that long of Halo 3's slower pace. In any case, it led to many instances where I would feel like I was being punished for trying to escape a double team. One of the odder additions has to be the clamber system. Essentially a ledge grab and climb, clambering allows you to vault up platforms that are just out of reach of your standard jump. Playing Slayer on the map Truth, a remake of Midship, I must have killed and been killed three times trying to jump to the platform ring where the energy sword rests, as it was oddly just out of standard jump range. Finally, we had all wised up to the fact that the clamber was necessary to make it to the top. A relatively small, inoffensive change to be sure, but more and more I started to feel its implementation was forced. The issue I had with it is that most platforms that seem within jumping range are always just out of reach. Playing on a brand new map, Empire, I found many situations where I would expect to be able to make a jump, only to fall just short without the clamber mechanic. It created this weird chicken or the egg feeling where I'm not sure if clamber is the solution to a problem, or maps were intentionally designed to justify the mechanics existence. My time playing on Truth seemed to suggest the latter, as having this new ability on a well known map never opened up any new or interesting routes, or ways to interact with the map. For those of you who keep up with NeoGAF and its various leaks, you make have heard that Halo 5 has aim down sights (ADS). Well, yes, it does, and yes, ADS doesn't feel good in Halo. While there is no movement penalty, aiming down does narrow your field of view, as it does in all other games. The problem here is that aiming down is a feature that works best, and only in games where weapons by design are inaccurate from the hip, and guns are meant to kill almost as soon as you can land your cursor over an enemy. Halo games do neither of these things. Losing your field of vision with no significant accuracy gain is redundant, and at worst, I felt the narrow view caused me to lose my beat on an enemy. Frustrating in a game where it takes five head shots on average to score a kill.  So that covers the new mechanics, but what about the modes? Apart from Slayer, the only other mode available was the all new Breakout. In Breakout, you and your team of four take on an opposing team, racing to win five rounds. Each player has one life per round, is without shields (not unlike in SWAT), and starts off with an SMG. Their are only two Battle Rifles and two Assault rifles between eight players. It's quite a tense mode, and like Grifball or Zombies, can make for good bouts of quick fun. After I had finished my 90 minutes with Halo 5: Guardians it was clear that 343 wants this game to be more energetic, faster, and physically dynamic. I fear, however, that in their quest the good people of 343 Industries have changed so much that what's left can not be properly identified as a Halo game. That, in summation, is my problem with Halo 5: Guardians. The sinking pit-of-my-stomach feeling that I left with as I thought to myself, "This is not a Halo game." On a more hopeful note, the upcoming December/January beta the is earliest that a beta has launched in franchise history, and 343 made it very clear they want fans to help them make meaningful changes. So if you have an Xbox One and a copy of Halo: The Master Chief Collection (which you should because that game is amazing), participate, be vocal, and keep your fingers crossed for the next year. I know that's what I'll be doing
Halo 5: Guardians photo
Not my granpappy's Halo
I am not opposed to change. While certain circles of Halo fans find it popular to hate Halo 4, I've always appreciated what 343 Industries did with that game. Sprint was a logical next step to character movement, while loadou...

Here's how Halo: Combat Evolved's PC multiplayer looks on Xbox One

Nov 08 // Bill Zoeker
As a little bonus, here's a dumb joke video I made with some of the other footage I captured. [embed]283620:56263:0[/embed]  
 photo
I swear to God, if anyone is confused by that headline...
At a recent Xbox event, I got to play a bunch of multiplayer stuff in Halo: The Master Chief Collection. I was caught off guard when we were suddenly dropped into the online multiplayer for Halo: Combat Evolved's PC version,...

Halo 2 documentary photo
Halo 2 documentary

I didn't make it all the way through the Halo 2 documentary


'Remaking the Legend - Halo 2: Anniversary'
Nov 04
// Jordan Devore
343 and Run Studios' hour-long Halo 2: Anniversary documentary is now up on YouTube. I enjoyed the first 20 minutes, a nostalgic look at the original game and its sequel with fun behind-the-scenes tidbits sprinkled throughou...
Halo 2 photo
Halo 2

Halo 2 Anniversary's new cutscenes look so damn good


Well done, Blur
Oct 29
// Jordan Devore
Blur Studio has been killing it lately. You might not know the company by name, but as someone who plays modern videogames you'll surely recognize the company's visual effects. When Halo 2 Anniversary debuts in The Master Ch...
Halo 2 Anniversary photo
Halo 2 Anniversary

I'm down for this Halo 2 Anniversary making-of documentary


'Remaking the Legend'
Oct 20
// Jordan Devore
You may have heard that Halo: The Master Chief Collection will require a 20GB day-one update, but did you also know that there's a documentary for Halo 2 Anniversary, one of the games in this compilation, on the way? (I hope...
Killer Instinct S2 photo
Killer Instinct S2

Killer Instinct Season 2 starts tomorrow with TJ Combo and Maya


I genuinely like the trailer music in this specific setting
Oct 14
// Jordan Devore
Iron Galaxy took over continued development of Killer Instinct for Microsoft following Amazon's acquisition of Double Helix earlier this year. We'll get to see what the studio has come up with starting tomorrow when the firs...
Halo Achievements photo
Halo Achievements

It's going to take so long to unlock every Achievement in Halo: The Master Chief Collection


There's, uh, more than 400 of them
Oct 10
// Jordan Devore
After looking over IGN's full list of Achievements in Halo: The Master Chief Collection, yeah, I won't be earning all 4,000 (!) Gamerscore points. Hell, I knew that after reading the literal first Achievement description: "Co...

Review: Forza Horizon 2

Sep 25 // Brett Zeidler
Forza Horizon 2 (Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: Playground Games (Xbox One) / Sumo Digital (Xbox 360) / Turn 10Publisher: Microsoft StudiosReleased: September 30, 2014MSRP: $59.99 (Xbox One) / $49.99 (Xbox 360) If you're familiar with the first Forza Horizon, you'll feel right at home. The Horizon Festival is taking place again, except this time it's all the way over in southern Europe by way of France and Italy. Your role is, yet again, to become the top Horizon racer by collecting different colored wristbands as you win championships and work your way up the ladder. Your progress is tracked a couple different ways. Obviously an overall level is raised by completing activities, and every level gives you one Wheelspin. The Wheelspin is a slot machine that either gives you a credit payout or a free car. I've gotten some sweet rewards from this thing. Tracking your progress is really easy with a win/loss ratio, but in Horizon it's all about how cool you look while doing all this. Drifting, near misses, getting air, and destroying things in the world can all add to a skill chain if done in a row. After accruing up a certain amount of points, these unlock skill points that can be spent on perks. Everyone loves perks. These are pretty standard, and increase things like bonuses, XP, or unlock certain abilities that make life easier.  There's a couple characters that interact with you over the course of the game; Ben and Ashley. Ben is the guy. He's the type of guy everyone wants to know, party with, and, in Horizon 2, he's that guy everyone wants to drive with. He's the guy leading the Horizon Festival, after all. Be prepared to hear him say "mate" at the end of every single race. I promise it gets funny eventually. Ultimately, he ends up helping the player learn the mechanics of the game, suggesting where they should go next, and even hooks them up with new rides every once in awhile. Ashley is the mechanic that fixes up all those new rides, and that's all she's really present for outside of being a support character. As far as story and character development goes, that's as in-depth as it gets in Horizon 2. That's really all one expects from a racing game, anyway. It's non-intrusive (nor over the top) to -- and provides a good foundation for -- the real focus: racing. Forza Horizon 2 doesn't attempt to shake up the tried-and-true racing formula. The championship event races break down into one of two types: beat everyone to the finish line in one long sprint or in a traditional lap-based race. Instead of structural variety, Horizon instead relies on locale and visual variety to keep players interested. This was totally the right call. Forza Motorsport 5 was already a visual treat, but the heavily modified engine used in Horizon 2 is absolutely breathtaking. All of the 200-something cars are painstakingly detailed (interiors and all) as always, and are convincingly true-to-life. Southern Europe features back country, densely packed urban areas, coast towns, and everything in-between. It's a very, very big world that's incredibly open and just begs to be explored. For the first time, Forza now has a dynamic weather system. Truly, this is the standout visual element in the game. Sunsets and sunrises are amazing, and never look the same as the cloud placement/density changes their appearance every single time. At any moment, thick clouds could fill an entirely blue sky and, suddenly, there's a downpour of rain. Radio personalities will also comment on this when it happens, which is also pretty cool the first few times it happens. This isn't just a visual trick either, as rain will puddle up in the roads, bead up on the cars (and windshields), and create slick conditions. The visual effect on the windshield is particularly jaw-dropping; light will refract off of each individual bead of rain and cause visual interference just as it does in real life. Windshield wipers will automatically clear the windshield, and will leave a line of water wherever their turn radius ends. You have never seen something like this done in a racing game before, and it's something you really need to see for yourself. In motion, everything comes together to create one of the best-looking titles out there right now. Horizon 2 runs in full 1080p at 30 frames per second, never dipping below that. Some may have an issue with a racing game running at 30 FPS, but it's honestly no problem here. Everything runs incredibly smooth and feels perfectly responsive. If I wasn't told it ran at that frame rate, I would've been none-the-wiser. Having a vast, detailed world can still feel empty fairly quickly if there's not a lot to do, and thankfully Horizon 2 does not come up short in activities to partake in. Outside of over 150 championship events, there are Showcase events, barn finds, Bucket List activities, speed traps, and online modes. Showcases have the player up against some type of machinery (not a car) in a head-to-head race. They're easily the craziest out of all the events, and, despite being blatant smoke and mirrors, created some of the most memorable moments in the game. Since there's so few of them, I won't spoil any of the surprise. Definitely be on the lookout for these every few championship events. Barn finds are nothing new, and still task the player with finding an old, rusted-out vehicles in abandoned barns around the map. They're actually pretty difficult to find. I found an army jeep in one of them, which felt particularly silly to bring into a racing event, but things like that fit right in with the rest of Horizon. It's just a fun atmosphere. Bucket List activities are pretty straightforward as well. These also involve finding cars around the map, placed on the side of roads. However, these cars are usually the best in the game and give a taste of what they're like by completing small activities in them (with varying degrees of difficulty). Speed traps are simply just cameras that radar how fast you're going on a particular road. Sometimes I'd try and beat my personal best on these over and over before I realized I spent a good twenty minutes doing this. At any point, two button clicks will take you to the online lobby system. No menu navigating or lobby juggling needed, as it just works within the game and brings you together with strangers or friends in the full game world. You can participate in road trips, championship events, or explore parts of the map together. It's the type of thing where the structured events are certainly fun, but I imagine the community coming up with pick-up games that add to the multiplayer's longevity. The avoidance of too much menu navigation extends into the rest of the game as well. If you have a Kinect hooked up, a digital personal assistant named ANNA can take your commands and make life a whole lot easier. ANNA allows you to just about play the entire game without ever using a menu of your own doing. Say you know you just want to do the next championship event -- you can have ANNA set the GPS navigator to take you to whichever one is nearest. She'll also provide suggestions of things to do occasionally, or you can just outright ask her what it is she thinks you should do next. This system creates a nice flow, and truly enhances the experience. It's the perfect use of the Kinect. I'm all about a stellar soundtrack, and Horizon 2 nails it. There's something to be said about driving a Lamborghini through a super dense field somewhere over 150 mph, barely able to see, with Chvrches is playing in the background. A soundtrack where Chromeo, The Clash, or Thee Oh Sees are just as likely to play as Vilvaldi, Schubert, or Tchaikovsky excites me like nothing else. Playground Games really knows how to make a road trip playlist. With the original Forza Horizon, we were a little disappointed in the frequency and length of the loading screens. Unfortunately, that's still the case here. Again, the loading screens aren't overwhelmingly long, but they appear before and after every single race. All that time adds up to quite a lot. It's understandable that they're there, but I could've done with less of them. If you were a fan of the original or its simulator brother, there's no reason to pass up Horizon 2. It's simulation enough to not lose longtime fans, while easing the realistic driving just enough to allow new players to jump in and not feel like the car physics are working against them the whole time. Every element in Forza Horizon 2 adds up to an exceptional experience. The story isn't over the top so as to get in the way of racing, driving feels as good as it ever did in Forza Motorsport, there's a ton of things to do, and the game looks absolutely beautiful -- especially the long-awaited dynamic weather system. Forza Horizon 2 is a must-have on the Xbox One.
Forza Horizon 2 review photo
Good racing, mate
The original Forza Horizon impressed us back in 2012 with its ability to incorporate what we already loved about Forza Motorsport into an absolutely massive open-world sandbox racing game, while not completely ditching its si...

 photo
Wort wort wort!
I recently got to check out Halo: The Master Chief Collection at an Xbox event, which gave me a big ol' happy, because I love me some sweet, sweet Covie-killing action. In 343 Industries' presentation, they spent half of the...

PRETTY photo
PRETTY

Ori and the Blind Forest looks crazy good


Screenshots out of Tokyo Game Show
Sep 18
// Jordan Devore
I keep forgetting that Moon Studios' platform adventure game Ori and the Blind Forest is coming to PC as well as Xbox One, despite being published by Microsoft Studios. Big thing to forget! My takeaway from Brett's preview o...
Age of Empires photo
Age of Empires

Age of Empires: Castle Siege just sounds like a mobile game


Not like I was expecting any different
Aug 25
// Jordan Devore
The next entry in the long-running Age of Empire series is Castle Siege, a touch-based game built for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 by Smoking Gun Interactive. Players will gather resources and build up civilizations such as...

Ori and the Blind Forest is a lot more than just a beautiful game

Aug 14 // Brett Makedonski
For the 30-minute showing, Moon only really wanted to talk about the gameplay and platforming aspects of Ori. Starting approximately three hours into the game, the demo began right as a new mechanic was obtained -- the bash ability. It's just one of the several unique mechanics that will be introduced as Ori runs its course, but the core philosophy will be the same each time. Like all well-designed games, Ori makes sure that the player knows how to use the tools in its arsenal. When something new is opened, the next several sections will ensure that the player's honed -- if not perfected -- the skill before moving on. Later in the game, an amalgamation of the abilities combined with some platforming prowess will be the only way to advance, so it's essential to know them early. In our demo, bash (which might as well have been called "dash") was the one that Moon wanted to focus on. It's a multi-faceted tool with many uses to accomplish different goals. With regard to puzzle solving, it's a means to redirect projectiles in different directions. In terms of combat, it's a handy alternate attack if you ever feel like switching things up. And, maybe most crucially, it bolsters the platforming by adding some much-needed distance mid-jump. Even though Ori looks as if it'll be a lot of things, that last one's the heart of the entire experience -- the platforming. Without it, Ori would be just another beautiful puzzle game (not that there's anything wrong with that). However, it's the incessant platforming challenges that make the game a true test of skill -- something that looks as if it'll cause actual frustration instead of being a walk in the park. Luckily, that frustration won't come as a result of Ori's ineptitude. If the final release is as polished as the demo was, any failures will fall squarely on the player's shoulders. It's been a long time since I've felt platforming controls that were as tight as Ori's, evoking memories of my time spent with Super Meat Boy. That's not bad company to have in this conversation. Really, that's the aspect of Ori and the Blind Forest that I'm most excited about -- the well-controlled platforming. These games can have a million tricks up their sleeves -- gorgeous aesthetics, unique mechanics, wondrous music -- the list could go on forever. But, without a solid core tenet tying everything together, it'll ultimately come off as sloppy. Fortunately, that's not the case with Ori; it's poised to be a platformer that we remember for a long time, and not just because it looks so damn good.
Ori preview photo
There's a really solid platformer in there too
One glance at Moon Studios' Ori and the Blind Forest is enough to be immediately enamored by the game's visuals. Actually, it's almost an inevitability. Every piece of media that Microsoft releases for Ori draws att...

Forza Horizon 2 photo
Forza Horizon 2

The new Forza Horizon 2 cars are mostly vehicles you'll never drive in real life


I bet you could swing a 1977 Ford Escort, though
Aug 05
// Brett Makedonski
The new batch of cars revealed for Forza Horizon 2 brings about a bit of a staunch reminder that open-world racing games aren't all that realistic. Let's face it -- there's a slim chance you'll ever be behind the wheel o...
 photo

Zanzibar gets reimagined for Halo: The Master Chief Collection


Blur does great stuff
Jul 25
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Halo's presence at San Diego Comic-Con continued today with some new details on Halo: The Master Chief Collection. The team at 343 and Certain Affinity showed off for the first time the re-mastered Zanzibar map from Halo 2. ...
Halo photo
Halo

Here's our debut look at Halo: Nightfall


Digital series streaming this November on Xbox Live
Jul 24
// Jordan Devore
Ridley Scott is executive producing Halo: Nightfall, a live-action digital series that will bridge the gap between Halo 4 and Halo 5: Guardians. The latter game prominently features a new character, "legendary manhunter" Jam...
Killer Instinct photo
Killer Instinct

Maya will rejoin Killer Instinct for season two


Sporting a new look, thankfully
Jul 11
// Jordan Devore
Iron Galaxy is picking up Killer Instinct where Double Helix left off with a second season of content and as announced today at EVO 2014, one of the upcoming characters will be Maya. She's returning to the series with her tru...
 photo

Project Spark officially launches this October


A game where you make games
Jul 08
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Project Spark is the game where you can make your very own videogame. Any kind of videogame. Whatever game you want! It's been in beta for a long time now, but it's officially launching this October on the Xbox One and Window...
 photo
They probably shouldn't tinker with the multiplayer
During 343 Industries' stint at RTX 2014, they announced some multiplayer game modes which will appear in Halo 2: Anniversary Edition, coming by way of the Halo: Master Chief Collection to the Xbox One this Fall. They also announced a modified version of Halo 2's Mongoose vehicle, called the Gungoose.

Forza photo
Forza

Forza Motorsport 5's Hot Wheels Car Pack is silly


They're not, like, miniature die-cast cars or anything
Jul 01
// Jordan Devore
Hot Wheels? I'll admit it -- I got slightly excited. Those plastic orange tracks were my jam as a kid. But Forza Motorsport 5's Hot Wheels Car Pack, the last of the monthly car packs for the game, is really just more real-wor...
Rare photo
Rare

Rare is 'working on a couple things' right now


They can't all by Kinect Sports titles, so that's something
Jun 19
// Jordan Devore
I shouldn't do this to myself, but I can't help it. I can't not wonder what Rare is up to, even if the talent that made the studio so beloved in its prime has largely moved on. Microsoft's Phil Spencer told Eurogamer that Rar...

Our personal game of the show picks for E3 2014

Jun 18 // Steven Hansen
Night in the Woods At E3 this year, there were plenty of big, loud action-packed games that got my attention with their ridable elephants, exploding testicles, and crapping horses, one game managed to stand out as something special. A Night In The Woods is a platformer adventure game in which players take on the role of a ennui-laden twenty-year-old cat named Mae, who's stuck living in a small town at her parents house, suffering the same existential crisis that many twenty-somethings experience when they don't immediately hit their stride after high school. In my time with the game, I hopped around exploring the world, examining objects, and talking to townspeople. One of my peers had been forced into therapy after getting caught stealing codeine cough syrup. In an attic, I found some baby rats living in a decommissioned parade float. The subject matter and tone was reminiscent of movies like Adventureland, Ghost World, and Girl, Interrupted, but with an aesthetic and sense of humor more in line with Guacamelee. I ended up putting my controller down before the demo was even complete, because I didn't want to spoil anything else before I had the full game in my hands. E3 is one of the biggest, loudest, most commercial events I've ever attended. Sure, I'm still stoked for the games with the explosions and guns and ninjas ripping out peoples' spines, but it's refreshing to come across something so weird, personal and human. Even if you play as a cat. Far Cry 4 I had so so so much fun with Far Cry 3 that I'm beyond excited to get my hands on Far Cry 4. The team at Ubisoft know how much of a success that Far Cry 3 was, and they're expanding on the core elements in lots of fun ways. Ridable elephants, semi-auto grenade launchers, cutting the breaks on cars -- tons of small touches on top of a system that was near perfect already, at least in my opinion. The new setting completely encourages vertical play, so you'll be getting that awesome wingsuit way earlier this time around. Plus grappling hooks! What's even more exciting is that you can invite your friends on the PlayStation 3/PlayStation 4 to help you play through the game in co-op even if they don't own a copy of the game. That's a concept that I really hope becomes a trend going forward. Other favorites: Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain, Titan Souls, Bloodborne, Super Smash Bros, Hyper Light Drifter, Batman: Arkham Knight, Splatoon, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse No Man's Sky Exploring is the best, isn't it? My favorite part of Minecraft is walking around caves and land masses just seeing what's out there and more often than not being totally amazed. No Man's Sky elevates that exploration to a whole new level. Exploring new planets and then exploring what's on those planets sounds like too much. In fact, it does sound like too much, at times. However, I know with Hello Games behind the helm that No Man's Sky will deliver. It may sound odd saying that, since their only track record is the Joe Danger series, but after meeting and chatting with Sean Murray at E3 2012, I know this ambitious title is in good hands. Plus, the Joe Danger games are amazing. Hello Games is like Thomas Jefferson, asking us, Lewis and Clark, to explore the Louisiana Purchase, which is No Man's Sky. It'll be ambitious, scary, but in the end, totally rewarding. And I'll take this moment to ask Steven Hansen to be the Meriwether Lewis to my William Clark [I do! - Ed.] If When Hello Games delivers, No Man's Sky will be their defining game, and the defining game of a generation. Assassin's Creed Unity Believe it or not, I'm still not tired of Assassin's Creed. Ubisoft has brought the kind of iterative design process you'd normally see in franchise shooters or sports games, but amazingly, managed to make it work on the scale of these open worlds, and it's working (for the most part). If Assassin's Creed Unity can provide on the fronts we've come to expect from a new entry in the franchise, while improving on what came before, then next year's romp in the chaos of the French Revolution should be pretty boss. Plus, being that far out should hopefully give the many Ubisoft teams at work on Unity time to course-correct after the debacle that is their current stance on having playable female characters. That's a real shame, considering that in the triple-A development space Assassin's Creed has been a somewhat reliable property to pay attention to diversity, at least compared to other mega-franchises. Other favorites: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Akiba's Trip: Undead and Undressed, The Order: 1886, No Man's Sky, Destiny Destiny The phrase, "From the creators of Halo," has been prominently featured in just about every piece of Destiny marketing, and for an unabashed Halo fanboy such as myself (yes, I even liked Halo 4 and ODST), the phrase commands a level of trust in what Destiny could be. As time went on however, it felt like little more than a marketing tagline. You see, the problem I, and many others, have had with Destiny was how coy Bungie was being with the details. Considering the game's title and first details were forcibly outed via a court document during the West-Zampella vs. Activision lawsuit, this isn't incredibly surprising. But when you invite an army of press up to your offices, and make an appearance the previous E3, I shouldn't still be confused as to what the game is. For me, E3 2014 was Destiny's put up or shut up time, and by God, did they put on a show, not only on the show floor, but also with the recent alpha. While we knew that the game was some sort of mesh of first person shooters and MMO's, the brilliance of it can not be appreciated until you've sat with it for a few hours. With a quest filled open world, and dungeon raids with bosses who's strategies would be right at home in Guild Wars 2, Destiny has so far done an amazing job of introducing the better parts of the MMO genre to an audience, like me, who's been typically disinterested. Don't misunderstand me either; I'm well aware that Destiny's MMO sensibilities are standard fare in any proper MMO, but the way it's brought together with the familiar Halo-feeling shooting gels into something great. It also helps that the game world does a great job of, while aesthetically science fiction, invoking the mystery and intrigue of a fantasy setting. Not enough can be said for the music either. Marty's ambient, soft chanting choirs, and dramatic swells during combat make me feels some type of way. Virtual Reality More interesting than the individual games that are revealed each year at E3 are the trends that dominate it. It gives a glimpse to the direction of the industry and what we can expect more of in the near future. This year, thanks to a strong showing, it's tough to not be convinced that the virtual reality space will be a very serious one very soon. It's not surprising that those working on virtual reality had an impressive E3; almost every single show turns out that way. But, it's the strides that are being taken to make the likes of Oculus Rift and Project Morpheus more monumental each time we slide that peripheral over our eyes. Lucky's Tale and Alien: Isolation are games that look to be light years ahead of where the technology was when it was first introduced. When will it plateau? When will we stop noticing such grand advancements with relative frequency? I don't know, but it's sure exciting to watch. Other favorites: Assassin's Creed Unity, Super Smash Bros., Alien: Isolation, Titan Souls, Far Cry 4, Metal Gear Solid V Master Chief Collection If you had any friends at all whom you wanted to play games with in 2004, they were playing Halo 2. It was a phenomenon; the masses bought an Xbox for the original Halo, and they purchased Xbox Live for Halo 2. And there was good reason for that. Bungie created a multiplayer experience that, to this day, is unmatched. It was simple, classic arena style multiplayer that has somehow been lost -- even within the franchise itself, unfortunately -- in the RPG class progression system of the modern multiplayer experience. Persistent lobbies and integrated clan systems were also breakthroughs in console online experiences, all backed up with the most memorable map design in any game, ever. After the original Xbox server shutdown a few years back there's no easy way to play Halo 2 online these days. However, later this year we get to do it all again with Halo: The Master Chief Collection. It encompasses all numbered entries 1-4 in the franchise, with the focus being on the sophomore entry's visual overhaul. From the screenshots so far, ten years has made it look like that original target render from its first E3 teaser debut. It looks incredible, but is going to play exactly the same with all the original super bounces, glitches, etc. going untouched. That's everything I could hope for. The rest of the games are also there with their respective engines, multiplayer maps (over 100), and campaigns; all accessible at any time without having to switch games at 60 frames per second in 1080p. Nothing like that has ever been done, and that's why it's incredible and exciting. I've put in what has to be thousands of hours in the franchise over the years, so there's no reason I should be that excited to do it again, right? Well, that's exactly why I am. I can't wait to play countless rounds of Capture the Flag on Blood Gulch, Team Slayer on Ivory Tower, Team Swat on Terminal, and everything in-between. I'm ready to be excited about playing a stellar arena style online FPS again, even if it means being so about games that I already have a decade ago. Others I'm excited for: Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, Mortal Kombat X, Phantom Dust, and Xenoblade Chronicles X DOOM 4 I play a lot of DOOM. As in, present tense. Just last month, in fact, my brothers, my dad and I all huddled around my Xbox 360 and super shotgunned our way through the entirety of DOOM II in four-player co-op -- a memory I will not soon forget. To say that id's seminal All-Father of the FPS genre holds a special place in my gib-loving heart would be a gross understatement -- I live for DOOM, even 20 years later. So when Bethesda booted up their brief-but-badass CGI teaser for the new DOOM at E3 this year, I literally punched the air above my head and shouted "YES!" Everything about this trailer excited me; from the cheesy voice over to the slow crawl across the surface of the newly-designed Cyberdemon to the quick shots of the Union Aerospace Corporation logo on its armor, I was sold. And when the video closed with the classic DOOM shotgun pump and door-opening sound (oh my god that sound) and a next-gen Cyberdemon standing ready to fill my ass full of rockets, you couldn't have put a bigger smile on my face if you had showed me John Romero's head on a pike. We still don't know much about DOOM 4 -- including if it's even called that -- but hopefully Quakecon 2014 and the upcoming beta will duct tape a flashlight onto our eyes so we can peer into its shadows and reveal a bit more about what we can expect. Until then, if you need me you can find me watching the E3 teaser on repeat in between a replay of DOOM 3: BFG Edition. Because hey, DOOM 3 wasn't that bad. Other favorites: Bloodborne, Crackdown, No Man's Sky, Splatoon Bloodborne I love all of the Souls games in my own way, but out of the current triumvirate, Demon's is still my favorite. Naturally, my interest was piqued when I heard that From Software would be working on a spiritual successor for the PlayStation 4, helmed by director Hidetaka Miyazaki. What we got was something different -- something that doesn't necessarily follow the Souls formula as closely as Demon's successors, and I'm perfectly fine with that. The long rumored Project Beast was unveiled as Bloodborne, and it looks fantastic. Guns are a go, as is a newly minted 19th century Victorian-era town called Yharnam -- which is enough to set it apart from its predecessors right there. The good news though is that the tried and true strategic combat system returns, described as a "life or death struggle." Details are still being worked out on Bloodborne (we don't even know what the death system will be like), but you'll be hearing all about them as soon as we find out, because Miyazaki and his team have once again stolen E3, and my curiosity. Other favorites: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Super Smash Bros., Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Bayonetta 2, Zelda Wii U, Halo: The Master Chief Collection Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker Super Mario 3D World was an amazing experience. It had so many memorable moments; I could just go on about it for days. The Captain Toad stages, though, those were among my favorite parts of the game. From the moment I first experienced one of these inspired diversions, wherein players take a breather from the breakneck action to explore and solve puzzles, I longed for Mario's diminutive pal to get his own spin-off. Little did I think it would actually happen. Nintendo is actually making my dreams come true, though. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is coming to Wii U this winter and it looks like the developers have found plenty of ways to flesh out the concept and craft a varied, full-bodied product. I couldn't be more happy about that. Other favorites: Xenoblade Chronicles X, Bloodborne Metal Gear Solid V I could talk about my love for the Metal Gear franchise stemming from the very first time I popped Metal Gear Solid into my PlayStation, set a hard limit of two days, and finally completed it. I could go on for hours about the cinematography, the heartwrenching and yet totally engaging journeys I've gone on throughout the series, or even the fact that I can always count on a Kojima game to show me something I've never seen before. I could elaborate on how the very first full-length trailer sent actual chills down my spine, something I haven't felt from early game footage in quite some time. There are plenty of reasons why Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain remains my favorite game of E3, but the most succinct reasoning I can give boils down to four simple words: "We are Diamond Dogs." And I think I speak for every Metal Gear fan when I say that the phrase "next year" has never felt so incredibly poisonous. Other favorites: Bayonetta 2, D4, Devil's Third, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Amiibos, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, Splatoon, Cuphead Starwhal: Just the Tip What's better than intergalactic Narwhals fighting each other to the death with their glorious horns? Nothing. That's what. Out of all of the games that I played at E3, the one that I had the most fun playing was Starwhal: Just The Tip. Outstanding name aside, it's actually an extremely fun multi-player battle free for all. The level of customization you can do with your respective Starwhal is pretty darn impressive. Not only can you change the basic color of you Starwhal but you can also add accessories such as... wait for it... a lightsaber for a horn. Yes. Your Starwhal can impale other Starwhals with a lightsaber. You can also dress like a Jedi, put on a Jayne hat if you're a Firefly fanatic, and you can even don a fez and bowtie like the 11th Doctor if you really want to look cool. All of my nerd senses were tingling pretty hard during just the character select. If I was having this much fun in the character select screen, I could have only imagined how awesome the game would actually be. The game did not disappoint. Your target is a giant throbbing heart (which is also customizable!) right in the Starwhal's chest unit. Your goal no matter the game mode: STABBITY THE HEART. Granted, the controls were a little difficult to get used to at first and felt a little clunky but it was still an extremely enjoyable experience. Once you get accustomed to the controls you could really have a lot of fun stabbing your friends repeatedly with your own unique Starwhal. It's a very basic set-up. You use one analog stick to move forward and another to move from side to side. There's also a taunt that you can use to troll your opponents or strike fear into their hearts. Either one. You're a fancy dressed Space Narwhal. You do what you want. Sunset Overdrive Sunset Overdrive had me more excited than anything at E3. From the giant Fizzie balloon that hung intimidatingly above the convention center to the costumed staff and giant projector in which the game was shown on the show floor, its clear Microsoft has a lot of faith in the title. From what I saw and played this past week, it pretty much delivered on every level. Insomniac Games has been building their knowledge of shooters for years and Sunset Overdrive is the perfect execution of everything they have done right over the past two decades. The shooting/platforming/grinding mechanics are solid and I was more than impressed with the fluidity of the combat. The weapons will put any Ratchet and Clank fan right at home and the platforming/grinding feels like what would happen if you mixed Jet Grind Radio with Titanfall. The game screams with neo-punk attitude, and the world is absolutely stunning and full of character. Sunset Overdrive certainly sets the bar for current gen stylized games and I have high hopes for the final release after getting my hands on it this E3. Ori and the Blind Forest Since Nintendo and Konami seem set on never returning to 2D Metroid or Castlevania, we have had to rely on independent developers to deliver that experience, and Ori and the Blind Forest looks like it will excel in that space. Combat is fast and impactful without being too easy. Traversing the environments is intuitive with impressively precise control. But what really gets people to notice are the gorgeous, hand-drawn, never-repeated visuals. Each screen in Ori and the Blind Forest is a work of art, not only making great use of color and effects, but also providing the skeleton for challenging platforming. In motion, the artwork comes together even better than it looks in still frames, and the fluidity of its gameplay complements the artwork perfectly. Other Favorites: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Sunset Overdrive, Super Smash Bros., Tales from the Borderlands Grim Fandango I was surprised as anyone when I heard that an HD remastered version of Grim Fandango would be appearing on the PS4 and Vita. The final notable adventure game from LucasArt's golden era has been out of print for a while now and has been absent from online stores like GOG.com and Steam. Fans have demanded an HD re-release but let's face it, those demand are seldom met. What's even more surprising is a one of the big three console makers having a 16 year old adventure game being worthy of appearing at their E3 press conference. Tim Schafer's final game for LucasArts was a wonderfully atmospheric mix of Dia De Los Muertos mythology and classic film noir style. It tells the story of afterlife travel salesman, Manny Calavera, who stumbles on a mystery that's seeing the dead stripped of their just rewards. Grim Fandango innovated in a quite a few ways, stripping away a lot of the interface that was a LucasArts trademark and fully 3D environments. I'd be lying if I said I thought Grim Fandango is going to shift a lot of PS4s and Vitas but hey, it's good to see one of the big three understand that re-releases of classic games like these are a great addition to a console's library. Splatoon I love Nintendo, wait no, that’s not right. What I meant to say was, I absolutely adore Nintendo, and everything they do. I also love to shoot stuff (in videogames that is). Imagine how excited I was when Nintendo announced Splatoon at this year’s E3. Two of my favorite things, shooters and Nintendo, brought together in one solid looking package. For those of you, who may have missed this amazing looking game, Splatoon is a third-person shooter starring a group of squid kids who set out to paint the playing field in as much colorful ink as possible. Now, this being Nintendo, there are no “headshots” full of blood, no gore, no limbs flying everywhere, nothing gross; instead we are treated with supersoakers full of brightly colored ink wielded by kids who can literally turn into squids to swim through their ink and sneak-up on their enemies. Although we only had the chance to view a couple of different maps, I am already sold on Splatoon and cannot wait to see how the game changes and takes shape. There’s something magical that happens when Nintendo makes games, the care and polish they put into everything they do oozes with love and I have no doubt that Splatoon will turn out any different. Color me interested, Nintendo. Other favorites: Zelda Wii U, Hyrule Warriors, Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, Bayonetta 2, Yoshi’s Wooly Word, Rainbow Six: Siege Smash Bros. The Year of Luigi may be over, but Nintendo is far from done with passionately and unabashedly embracing their current outsider image. While nearly every other big budget publisher put realism and ultra-violence at the forefront, Nintendo returned fire with... the God damn Pac-Man. Nintendo showed a lot of awesome games at E3 this year, with Zelda for Wii U, Splatoon, and Star Fox hitting particularly hard, but no other game sums up exactly where Nintendo is at this moment that Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS. It's a new spin on the old classics, fresh and exciting while familiar and comforting, completely ignoring the latest trends in AAA gaming while offering something that has more mainstream appeal than nearly anything else at the show. Smash Bros. is a perfect fit for E3. It's a celebration of videogames as a whole, and a extreme example of a feeling that only videogames can provide. A feeling that something shouldn't feel real, but it does. A feeling that all of the ingredients should taste right together, but they do. Sonic, Mega Man, Mario, and Pac-Man all kicking the crap out of each other doesn't make any sense. It also doesn't make any sense that we would want it more than anything else in the world right now, but we do. We really do. Alien: Isolation I've already written about Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain for our official Game of the Show, so for my personal pick I'll go with the other title on the tip of my tongue anytime anyone inevitably asked last week, "So, did you play anything good?" Yes, you nosy, banal bastard, I did. Alien: Isolation. It was terrifying and left my hands mildly shaky and my chest heavy. I swore a lot, but with headphones on, you never know how loud or who is hearing. How the entire game is paced out will be important, but the focused challenge map I played did well to distill the essence of Alien. You are completely, hopelessly outmatched by a superior being that lumbers with great size yet zips off into the ship's underbelly with quickness. Sitting there with the motion tracker out, wondering if you're screwed, is like Jaws' orchestral tension at all times and much bleaker. Stealth by way of survival horror rather than MGSV's stealth by way of empowerment. I really hope Isolation lives up to this showing. Other favorites: Metal Gear Solid V, D4, Cuphead, Grim Fandango, No Man's Sky, Night in the Woods -- Ciao, amiche
Favorite E3 games! photo
And then he said, that's not my podiatrist, that's my mother!
You saw our E3 2014 Game of the Show. It was Metal Gear Solid V. Saved you a click.  Now, it's a good one. In fact, I wrote about why it was our Game of the Show in that very post you just didn't click. But E3 was full o...

Forza Horizon photo
Forza Horizon

Video: Bust up some guy's vineyard in Forza Horizon 2


E3 2014 impressions from Mike Cosimano
Jun 13
// Jordan Devore
In Forza Horizon 2, you're headed to Southern Europe. We sent one of our video guys, the energetic Mike Cosimano, to check it out at E3. He really, really dug the last Horizon and it sounds like the sequel is more of the same on a grander scale, for better or worse. That includes Drivatars. They're back, with a vengeance.

Ori and the Blind Forest is a beautiful metroidvania

Jun 10 // Darren Nakamura
The most obvious result of Ori's influences is that from Miyazaki. The environments are stunning in their beauty, each hand-drawn and unique, with a generous use of color. In motion, it looks even better, with scrolling and lighting effects that play with the two-dimensional artwork well. As a more direct reference, one of the characters shown in the demo bears a striking resemblence to Spirited Away's No-Face. Miyazaki's influence can be felt in the themes as well, which deal with life, death, and the beauty of nature. It may seem difficult to reconcile the beautiful artwork with a Super Meat Boy influence, but that shows up with the way Ori handles. The little forest creature dashes with impressive speed, and the platforming control is tight. I was able to immediately get a feel for its capabilities, and I never missed a jump that felt like the fault of the control. Super Meat Boy's essence may have also contributed to the difficulty, but more on that later. Like traversal, combat also moves quickly. Not long into the demo, Ori picks up a fairy-like friend, who acts as both adviser and weapon. It feels like a hybrid melee/ranged weapon, in that it has a fairly long range, but it does not act like a typical projectile. As a conscious entity, it locks onto enemies and environmental hazards, allowing the player to focus more on dodging enemy attacks than on aiming Ori's own. The fairy can even attack around corners if Ori is near enough to the target. This aim assist functionality may seem foreign to the more hardcore platform players, but it works well in Ori and the Blind Forest, because enemies can be just as fast as Ori. The player does not get to sit back and relax while the fairy does the work; the focus is merely shifted to defensive maneuvering. Ori and the Blind Forest is not all about combat. The Limbo influence becomes clear with the introduction of basic puzzle platforming elements. Ori can grab and drag certain objects, moving platforms to progress forward or reveal secret areas. The puzzles in the demo were far from difficult, but the functionality is in place for a good repertoire. Though it draws inspiration from a lot of disparate titles, Ori is a metroidvania at its heart. Over the course of the 20 minute demo, I gained a few abilities that unlocked new areas to explore. The attack allows Ori to break certain barriers, and the wall jump opens up more vertical areas, as well as added platforming complexity. Indeed, between ruthless enemies and precarious spike pits, Ori is a difficult game. To help mitigate that, it has functionality to save anywhere, but it is limited. The player can drop a save point anywhere, but must collect energy to recharge it before placing another. These save points also act as locations to spend experience to gain new abilities, so there is a bit of decision-making necessary after leveling up; there is a question whether one should drop a save point and gain a new ability immediately, or wait until the path ahead appears more treacherous and respawning nearby would be more useful. Otherwise, Ori has a lot of the trappings that we have come to expect from a metroidvania. When asked, Daniel Smith carefully evaded the topic of sequence breaking, but he hinted that there could be rewards for those who speed run through or complete the game without dying. There certainly seems to be a lot to find here, and with its superb control and gorgeous art direction, Ori and the Blind Forest looks like it will be a joy to explore.
Ori and the Blind Forest photo
And it plays beautifully too
Before I was able to play Ori and the Blind Forest, Microsoft Studios producer Daniel Smith rattled off a list of influences for the game, which sets lofty, perhaps unreasonable, expectations. He cited the works of Hayao Miya...

Forza photo
Forza

Forza Motorsport 5's game of the year edition is lacking


You're better off buying the game on sale
Jun 06
// Jordan Devore
Turn 10 Studios announced a Racing Game of the Year Edition for Forza Motorsport 5 by way of IGN, scheduled to arrive on July 22, 2014 for Xbox One for $60/£50/€70. Given how much DLC there is for the game, you'd b...
Fable photo
Fable

Lionhead is bringing Fable Anniversary to PC


Fans apparently demanded it
Jun 02
// Jordan Devore
Here's a video teasing a PC release of Fable Anniversary you can watch, though I wouldn't -- it's just a bunch of messages, presumably written by Lionhead Studios, asking for this revamped game to come to Steam. The featured...
Steam photo
Steam

Rise of Nations: Extended Edition pops up on Steam


Better visuals, Steamworks support, and Twitch streaming
May 30
// Jordan Devore
38 Studios sold a bunch of assets at auction back in November, including the rights to Big Huge Games' real-time strategy title Rise of Nations. It's back! An extended edition, including the Thrones and Patriots expansion, ha...
Forza photo
Forza

Turn 10 is adding 20 more cars to the Forza Motorsport 5 season pass


Good for them
May 23
// Jordan Devore
The Forza Motorsport 5 Car Pass will give owners more than initially promised, which is the kind of sentence I rarely if ever get the opportunity to write. Let's cherish this moment. Specifically, Turn 10 Studios has plans fo...

  Around the web (login to improve these)




Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -