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Day One at E3 2014: Opening Salvos with Nintendo Waiting in the Wings

by Eric Smith | Jun 10, 2014

The day started off with a full frontal assault on the senses from Xbox diving into 90 minutes of nothing but game. They set out to show that they had learned from their mistake of not catering first and foremost to core gamers at the console’s launch. Trailing PS4 by about 2 million units, the presentation screamed reboot.

The Xbox One Reboot

“We are humbled and amazed by your comments…you are shaping the future of Xbox and we are better for it.” – Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox

After plainly displaying gratitude and deference to the core gaming audience, Xbox showed game after game on the massive screen at the Galen Center. Some of the major 2014 exclusive titles included:

  • Forza Horizon 2 launching exclusively on Xbox One on September 30, 2014
  • Dance Central Spotlight launching exclusively on Xbox in September 2014
  • Fable Legends beta launching exclusively on Xbox One in Fall 2014
  • Sunset Overdrive launching exclusively on Xbox One on October 28, 2014
  • Ori and the Blind Forest, a new side-scrolling IP from indie developer Moon Studios, will launch exclusively on Xbox One in Q4 2014
  • The Halo Master Chief Collection launching exclusively on Xbox One on November 11, 2014

The Halo Master Chief Collection is a remastered set of the first four Halo games on one disc in 1080p/60fps with all content unlocked so players can explore the story in whatever order they wish. This will also include content from the Halo TV series as well as a beta demo of Halo 5: Guardians prior to its 2015 launch.

Exclusive titles announced without release windows were:

  • Phantom Dust will be an Xbox One exclusive title
  • Scalebound, a new IP called from Platinum Games (creators of The Wonderful 101) will be an Xbox One exclusive title
  • Crackdown will be an Xbox One exclusive title

We excited about the future of “the new Xbox” – Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox

The tone couldn’t be any clearer: Microsoft has heard the howls of gamers and it is repenting. There was absolutely no mention of streaming media, save for the brief mention of the Halo TV series. This was an intensely focused show for hardcore gamers: It was loud, flashy, and gory.

 

Sony Goes Beyond Software

Sony capped the night off with a wide-ranging presentation – vastly different than Microsoft’s in my opinion. It was more deliberate, less focused on games, and frankly less stunning. That being said, Sony certainly didn’t disappoint. In fact, the event got better as time passed.

“PlayStation is the best place for gaming” – Andrew House, SCEI President & CEO

It struck me as strange that Sony would lead off with Destiny, a game that launches concurrently on PlayStation and Xbox on September 9, 2014, but it was a good chance to show off the new Destiny bundle with a white 500GB PS4. Major exclusive PlayStation 2014 titles included:

  • Infamous First Light will be a new stand-alone DLC, an exclusive launch for PS4 available in August 2014
  • Little Big Planet 3 will launch exclusively for PlayStation on November 14, 2014
  • Entwined, a new artsy tunnel flying IP by Sony San Mateo and Pixelopus, launched exclusively and immediately on the PlayStation Store for $9.99
  • The Last of Us will be remastered for PS4 and launches exclusively on July 29, 2014

Sony also brought some key non-software announcements for 2014:

  • Powers, an original TV series based on the comic of the same name, will be released in the US in December for PSN members (first episode only) and PS+ subscribers (all episodes)
  • PlayStation Now will launch as an open beta for the North American market on July 31, 2014 exclusively for PS4. PS3, PS Vita, and select Sony TVs will join the beta shortly thereafter
  • PS Vita TV streaming and remote gaming device was previously only available in Japan, but Sony announced that it would arrive in North America and Europe in Fall 2014 with pricing tiers that match exactly with Amazon’s Fire TV

Perhaps it was the jet lag, but the first half of the presentation left me a little underwhelmed on the software announcements. That was all rectified by the 2015 and beyond pipeline:

  • Bloodborne, a creepy new first-person shooter IP by Hidetaka Miyazaki and From Software, launches exclusively on PS4 in 2015
  • Far Cry 4 launches on PS4 with a very unique feature: Co-op play invites can be sent to friends on PS3 and PS4 even if they don’t own the game

Announced without a release window were two games that could steal the show

  • No Man’s Sky, a new IP from Hellogames, launches first on PS4; it literally offers an infinite number of environments (each player starts the game their own unique planet) for gamers to explore
  • Grim Fandango’s remaster launches first on PS4 and PS Vita

Finally, Sony announced that over 25 free-to-play games will debut on PS4 in the next 12 months backing up claims by Shawn Layden, the new SCEA President & CEO, that Sony “is committed to making PS4 the best destination for free-to-play.” Many of these games looked very good on a big screen.

All in all, it was an exciting first day with some neat surprises, stunning graphics, and innovative game play. I’m eagerly looking forward to what Nintendo has to offer as a follow up to its competitors and will continue to post updates as the days progress at E3 here and on Twitter (@esmith_SA). Of course a lot more happened in public and behind the scenes; the details of which I will publish in a written insight shortly after the show ends.

- Eric Smith

6/11 EDIT: I managed to leave out the October 28, 2014 release of Sunset Overdrive on Xbox One.

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