Microsoft's E3 conference rattled along like a NASCAR race.
Whoosh. Here comes a trailer. Here's another one! Here's one crazy announcement you weren't expecting. Whoosh, here's another.
I'd describe it as a series of bangs that ended with a fizzle — mainly because the new Gears of War was such a strange way to end the conference. It was staid, it was traditional and — let's face facts — it was a little boring. And it bookended a conference that was far from boring.
I'm going to start with what excited me most and that was the HoloLens demo of Minecraft.
It excited me because it was new, it was bewildering. It has the potential to change the way we interact with video games and things in general.
But these are also sentences we once used to describe Kinect.
Kinect was the spectre that haunted Microsoft's E3 conference, in more ways than one. To begin with, it wasn't mentioned once. It was completely absent from the conference in a way that was almost strange. It has become the Voldemort of the Xbox universe. The device that must not be named.
But when HoloLens was unveiled, Kinect was on my mind. Sure, I thought to myself, HoloLens looks absolutely spectacular. But so did Kinect.
So I'm restraining the hype for now. I'm hoping that HoloLens can become everything I want it to be, but remain cynical about how it works in the wild, and how it will be implemented into video games themselves. Another hope: Microsoft has learned from Kinect and will apply that learning to HoloLens and the end product will be all the better for it.
Another theme from Microsoft's conference: the opening up of the Xbox One platform. I was shocked when Todd Howard announced that the Xbox One would allow users to install and play PC-developed mods on the console. SHOCKED I TELL THEE. Then when Microsoft announced Xbox Preview — essentially Early Access for the Xbox One — I became fully bewildered at the manner in which Microsoft is freely messing with its platform. It's a good thing in my opinion. A great thing even. Microsoft announced these things almost as an aside, but they might be among the most revolutionary announcements of the show so far.
Finally, the games themselves.
Post the annual Microsoft indie montage, I was just about to complain about the fact Microsoft never gives its indie line-up anything more than a montage.
And there you go Microsoft making me look stupid by giving indie games more than a montage. This is cool!
— Mark Serrels (@Serrels) June 15, 2015
Then they went ahead and made an idiot out of me by doing precisely that, giving the spotlight to games like Tacoma, from the team behind Gone Home; Ashen, a glorious looking game being made in New Zealand; and Cuphead, that 2D thing that looks like an old Disney cartoon in the most spectacular of ways.
Microsoft really does have a lot of interesting games on the way. Recore had me at 'from the makers of Metroid Prime'. Fallout 4 had a more gameplay focused showing and looked great. I love Tomb Raider's new shift to the icy, snow-laden landscape — I LOVE SNOW LEVELS IN VIDEO GAMES.
And then there was Halo 5, in the Call of Duty slot, looking like Halo on PEDs. 343 Industries may have messed with Halo's multiplayer last time round, but I truly thought they nailed the single player experience. After falling in love with the online beta for Halo 5, I'm certain they'll do just as good a job the second go around with the main game.
So, a great effort overall, despite the glib ending with Gears of War.
What did you think of Microsoft's E3 showing? Let us know in the comments.