Gamescom 2015: Microsoft Conference

By Chip Tamplin

Published on Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Going into Gamescom, Xbox fans were curious how Microsoft would follow up their great showcase at E3 2015. A few notable games were missing from Microsoft’s E3Scalebound, Crackdown and Quantum Break – so Xbox head Phil Spencer quickly confirmed they’d be present, but what about the rest of their line up? Obviously we’d get some more footage of Halo 5: Guardians and Rise of the Tomb Raider, but what would fill the remaining time? Gears of War? Surprise announcements? Well, we kind of got a bit of both. Phil Spencer has been preaching exclusives and Xbox showcased a great deal of first and third party exclusives.

Quantum Break:

Phil Spencer quickly started the show with a nod to Rare Replay – which releases today – but not much was shown. Following that, we got our first big glimpse of a game – Remedy GamesQuantum Break. Quantum Break is a very ambitious game that will also have a TV tie-in. As star of both the game and TV, actor Shawn Ashmore (of X-Men fame) reveals that the game will focus on the heroes and the TV show will focus more on the villains. Not a tremendous amount is known about the TV show yet (aside from a small snippet) but the game will (FINALLY!) launch on April 5, 2016. The TV show is set to feature a cast of great actors including Shawn Ashmore, Lance Reddick, Dominic Monaghan and Aiden Gillen.

Crackdown:

I was never a huge fan of the original Crackdowns, and mostly bought Crackdown 2 for the access into the Halo 3 beta, but the reboot (or Crackdown 3, as they referred to it during the presentation) looks surpringly fun and given its environmental destructibility, I’ll definitely be paying closer attention to it when it releases in 2016.

Scalebound:

Like Crackdown, we hadn’t seen much from Platinum GamesScalebound before today, aside from a CGI announcement trailer at E3 2014. Today we’d get our first dose of actual gameplay and the game looks insanely fun. It’s not as serious as it once appeared and just looks like a great time. Platinum Games also announced that it would have four player co-op. It wasn’t mentioned (or if it was, I missed it) whether the whole game was co-op or only certain areas (like the giant boss in the trailer) but I can’t wait to play this with my friends if that’s the case. Scalebound will launch exclusively on Xbox One Holiday 2016.

DVR Functionality, Chat pad and backwards compatibility:

After coming out swinging with the three exclusives, Microsoft took a quick moment to talk about some new functions coming to Xbox One in the next year. First, we were treated to the news of new DVR functionality, which will launch in 2016 and will be free for everyone. “record free-to-air TV, schedule recordings and take it on the go,” said Mike Ybarra, director of program management for Xbox. Not a tremendous amount of detail was given, but this might give people even more incentive to cut the chord when it comes to their cable box.

They also announced a new chat pad peripheral that plugs into the controller for quick messaging and typing. Pretty straightforward. No pricing or release date details as of writing this, but Microsoft says pre-orders start today.

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Finally, to touch on the bombshell announcement from their E3 2015 conference, Microsoft continues to expand the games coming to their backwards compatibility program this fall. They announced that all future Games with Gold games will be backwards compatible, so you’ll truly get four games every month on your Xbox One console. While all first party games will obviously be part of the program, they unveiled a big list of third party publishers who are going to be on board come November, when the service launches. The List they showed during the conferences shows off:

Bandai Namco
Bethesda
Capcom
Codemasters
Deep Silver
Disney
Electronic Arts
Koei Tecmo
Majesco
Sega
Square Enix
Ubisoft
Warner Bros Interactive
2K

Many new games will feature free copies of their predecessors, including a free copy of Fallout 3 with a new copy of Fallout 4 and free copies of Gears of War 2, Gears of War 3, and Gears of War: Judgement when you buy a copy of the upcoming Gears of War: Ultimate Edition remaster. The service will launch in November.

Killer Instinct:

The third season of Killer Instinct will launch in March 2016 and will feature Battletoad Rash if you’ve purchased Rare Replay.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night:

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night will have full cross-play on Xbox One and Windows 10.

Cities: Skylines and Train Simulator:

Both games are coming to console first on Xbox One…sometime in the next year.

Worms W.M.D:

A teaser trailer is shown and that’s about it. I played it for awhile when it was free with Games with Gold and I’ll gladly play the new one if it’s anywhere near as fun.

Ark: Survival Evolved:

Ark: Survival Evolved will be coming to Xbox Preview Program this winter! I’ve been excited for this game since the first trailer was release and I can’t wait to finally try it out and see if it’s as fun as it looks. TIME TO HUNT SOME DINOSAURS!

Dark Souls III:

Dark Souls III gets its official gameplay reveal. Will launch in 2016.

ID@XBox Montage:

Like news of Halo and Gears, it’s pretty much a guarantee that at every big Microsoft conference, they’ll take the time to showcase games in their ID@Xbox program.

Thimbleweed Park:

Thimbleweed Park is a classic point & click adventure from the creators of Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island that takes you on a nostalgic journey to a strange town lost at the end of a dusty stretch of highway. Switch between five playable characters while uncovering the dark, satirical and bizarre world of Thimbleweed Park, a town where everyone seems to be hiding something and a dead body is the least of their problems.”

Cobalt:

“Shoot, roll, punch, and jump your way to slow-motion victory in Cobalt – a couch multiplayer and action platformer from Oxeye Game Studio. Dominate in local or online multiplayer campaigns, or co-op your way through Cobalt’s story game mode as a cyborg sent to uncover the mysterious disappearance of a human colony on an alien planet.

With over 30 multiplayer maps, six different gameplay modes, three dozen types of weapons and unique gameplay elements such as auto-slow-motion and rolling, Cobalt offers endless discovery and entertainment. Oh, and ridable giant space hamsters.

Cobalt is available exclusively for console players on Xbox One and Xbox 360 as well as on PC. Cobalt is rolling into the Xbox Store in October, 2015.”

We Happy Few:

We Happy Few is the tale of a plucky bunch of moderately terrible people trying to escape from a lifetime of cheerful denial. Set in a drug-fuelled, retro-futuristic city in an alternative 1960s England, you’ll have to blend in with its other inhabitants, who don’t take kindly to people who don’t abide by their not-so-normal rules.”

Just Cause 3/Rainbow Six: Siege Gameplay Montages:

We got quick gameplay montages from Just Cause 3 and Rainbow Six: Siege.

Homefront: The Revolution:

After going through many, many developmental issues including studio closures and property acquisitions, the future of a once-bright open world sequel seemed doomed. Thankfully, Deep Silver took over the project and has seemingly gotten the ambitious sequel back on track. While we’d seen bits of gameplay before, it’s been over a year and the graphics do seem pretty dated. That said, I like what I’m seeing so far despite graphical downgrades. I’m still hopeful that the game meets expectations. While we only got a glimpse of some more single player, Deep Silver did announce a co-op mode. Homefront: The Revolution will have an exclusive multiplayer beta this fall on Xbox One.

FIFA 16:

With a heavy emphasis on content exlcuisivty – the legends mode – Xbox also announced two Xbox One bundles containing FIFA 16, EA Access subscriptions (one month and one year subscriptions, depending on bundle) and a 1 TB hard drive.

Halo 5: Guardians:

One of the years most anticipated releases (and the most excited I’ve been for a Halo game since Halo: Reach), Halo 5: Guardians is shaping up to be one of the years biggest and best games. The game got a dose of single player coverage at E3 2015, but Gamescom focused more on what the majority of people will play – the multiplayer. More specifically, the deeply competitive arena mode which features a balanced playlist of slayer and objective based game modes (Capture the Flag was shown) in paced 4v4 combat. Halo 5: Guardians launches October 27, 2015.

You’ve also got the sick Halo 5: Guardians custom console and separate (but equally as sexy) custom controller too.

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Forza Motorsport 6:

Forza is really the only racing game worth playing. Both graphically, and gameplay, nothing touches Forza and Forza 6 appears to raise the bar even higher with elemental affects such as rain making a big impact on your racing skills.

Rise of the Tomb Raider:

After dropping the bombshell at E3 2014 that Rise of the Tomb Raider would be a Microsoft timed exclusive (later announced that PC would get the game early next year and PlayStation gamers won’t get it for a full year), we saw a great gameplay clip from E3 2015 and now Crystal Dynamics hits the stage to show off some of the games signature guerrilla combat. For half the demo, the player opted for the stealth side of combat, picking off enemies one by one from the shadows and at the end showed off improvised bombs and full out warfare. Both styles of play through look engaging and gratifying, though I’ll enjoy playing more stealth. I mean, there’s just something fun about sneaking up behind someone and then stabbing them in the neck, right? Rise of the Tomb Raider launches on Xbox One November 10, 2015. (Note: Trailer quality isn’t the best for either of these next two trailers)

Halo Wars 2:

When Phil spencer finished his closing statements and handed the reigns back to Bonnie Ross of 343 Industries to announce something new, I kept rushing through possibilities in my head. Halo 6 already? Halo: Reach remastered? A new TV show? Pretty much everything came to mind except a sequel to 2009’s real time strategy game Halo Wars. While I’ve never been a big fan of RTS games, I was truly engulfed in Halo Wars when I played it. The combat was accessible for noobs like myself and the cut scenes and story created by Ensemble Studios are some of the best the franchise has seen (and still hold up six years later). The game has a bit of a cult following that’s wanted a sequel, but it never seemed like it was going to happen…until now. Not a ton of information has been released, but we will see the game in 2016 (probably in November).

Final thoughts:

With Sony opting to save their conference for Paris next week, this was a chance for Microsoft to really build on the momentum they started at E3 2014 and bigger strides at E3 2015. They spent their entire conference (save for five minutes) talking about games, and most importantly exclusive games and content and truly lived up to their stance that this is the best year line up in Xbox history. It was great to see some more from Crackdown, Scalebound and Quantum Break while also seeing Rise of the Tomb Raider, Halo 5: Guardians and Forza. If you’re an Xbox fan, it’s a great time for you. While I’ve got games coming out for all consoles this fall, my Xbox line up is going to be especially meaty and I couldn’t be happier about that after a lackluster launch year in 2013. 2014 started the wheels churning and 2015 and 2016 look like banner years for the company. The about-face that Phil Spencer has been able to do with the console in two years is truly astonishing. RIP wallet, fall 2015 and 2016 are going to brutal on you. To view the entire briefing, click on the video below – it starts around the 15 minute mark:

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