Microsoft @ gamescom

So gamescom has arrived and brought with it a veritable barrel full of news about next-gen consoles and games. First of these was Microsoft’s press conference, which was a small press-only event and was not streamed to the general public (for some unknown reason). Microsoft dropped some pretty big bombs on us, so I’m going to discuss each announcement one at a time starting with the biggest.

FIFA 14 FREE WITH ALL EUROPEAN XBOX ONE PRE-ORDERS.

Fifa 14

In a huge move Microsoft has decided to pack a digital copy of FIFA 14 in with the Xbox One in a bid to increase the value of the console in the eyes of the consumer, without lowering its $499/£429/€499 price-point. While this will undoubtedly win many people over, myself included, smart consumers will notice that it is still cheaper to buy a PS4 with FIFA 14 separately. If nothing else, this shows how far Microsoft are willing to go to win over the gaming community after the DRM fiasco, among other things, as this must have cost a fortune to do. Even to a company like Microsoft, the money this will cost them must be significant. It is worth noting also is that it is a digital download copy of FIFA 14 and not a physical disc . Related to FIFA 14 is also that FIFA Ultimate Team Legends is coming exclusively to Xbox One. Exclusives are always good and Ultimate Team seems to get more popular every year – though it’s not a favourite mode of mine.

FABLE LEGENDS

fable legends

Lionhead Studios took to the stage to announce a new Fable game. It is not however Fable 4 or the MMO that has long been rumoured, it is actually a four player co-op game set four hundred years before the events of the original Fable in the Age of Heroes. My first impressions were “this is going to be Borderlands in the Fable universe” but the more I look into it, the more I realise this isn’t the case. The first major, noticeable difference is that a fifth player can play as a villain as opposed to just an evil character. This villain can, via controller or tablet/smartphone, set traps, ambushes and send enemies to stop the four heroes. You have a hub world from where you accept missions and venture out into the landscape. This sounds very reminiscent of the Hero school and map table from the original Fable. Judging by the trailer, the traditional Fable vibrant artstyle and ‘British’ humour appear to be as evident as ever. This will definitely be one to look forward to.

COD: GHOSTS

COD Ghosts

It has been confirmed that Call of Duty: Ghosts will have dedicated servers and that there will be a console bundle with the Xbox One and Ghosts at launch. This bundle will contain some exclusive content – though it is yet to be revealed what that is. A new game mode called Blitz was announced where the objective is to reach the goal inside the enemies base to score – at which point you are teleported back to your own base to try again. Dedicated servers are a must for this game and I’m glad to see Infinity Ward has delivered. We’ve all experienced that rage-inducing moment where you unload a crap ton of bullets into someone and they not only survive but fire one measly bullet back and kill you. Dedicated servers should eliminate this problem altogether and that’s a big plus in my eyes.

PROJECT SPARK

Project Spark

We got to see a fifteen minute world building demo of Project Spark and I have to say this game completely blows my mind. The sheer depth of possibilities here are staggering. In the demo alone, we see them build a fantastic looking world, create enemies and add an objective, all in less than ten minutes. There is so much to say about this game that if I said it all you would still be reading this article on release day. The best thing you can do is simply watch the trailer yourself and see what I mean.

INDIES

Microsoft has announced a program called ID@Xbox for indie developers. What this means is indie devs can self-publish on Xbox One, with no fees – they also have access to the full range of features such as SmartGlass, Kinect etc. This is excellent news as indie developers are making some of the best and most creative games out there and the best thing Microsoft can do is make it as easy and hassle-free as possible for them to get their games on Xbox.

The Division

It appears as if the new Tom Clancy game will be getting some exclusive content on Xbox One – though we were not treated to what this content might be. Not much to say here other than this game looks fantastic and more content, be it exclusive or not, is always welcome.

Fighter Within

This is something everyone looked for when the original Kinect launched but was never truly delivered upon – a Kinect fighting game that works. We haven’t seen too much of this but with the power of the new Kinect 2.0, this could actually work, and if it does, this could be one to watch.

Launch Games

Microsoft has confirmed their full launch-day line-up. This contains a list twenty three games ranging from Peggle 2 to Battlefield 4 to Zumba Fitness. You can check out the full list here. There is a fantastic variety of games here and something for everyone.

 

In my opinion, Microsoft has come out swinging at gamescom. They’ve moved past their mistakes and seem ready, willing and able to start convincing people that Xbox is going to be the place to be in November and I’d be hard pressed to find any reason to disagree with them. They have a great collection of games available at launch and they’ve made great strides in getting indie developers back on their side, which is great for the platform. Microsoft were on the ropes after E3 but they’ve picked themselves up, dusted themselves off and landed some heavy blows to the competition. It’s going to be an interesting three months until launch.

(I know it’s EA and not Microsoft exactly, but it’s Xbox/PC exclusive so somewhat relevant, Dat TITANFALL!)

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