Leading into E3 2014, recently appointed Head of Xbox Phil Spencer made it clear that Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) would be focused on games. One of the most prominent criticisms of last year's Xbox show was that too much focus was devoted to television, and Microsoft certainly cannot be accused of that mistake this time around.
The Xbox press event was jam-packed with games, and may have had more of a focus on software than any other presser from a platform holder in the long-running expo's history. By most reasonable accounts, it was a very solid show. Here are six of the most exciting exclusive games shown at this year's Xbox conference.
The E3 showing for Insomniac Games' Sunset Overdrive kicked off by spoofing "Call of Duty," "Battlefield," and other cover-based shooters. The video featured a slickly produced CGI introduction that acquainted audiences with the game's protagonist and colorful world. It was an effective way of highlighting the humor in Sunset Overdrive. Actual gameplay footage looked great, as well. The game will be the first that Insomniac has developed exclusively for an Xbox platform.
Like many other titles shown at this year's Xbox media briefing, Sunset Overdrive has a big focus on cooperative multiplayer. It's set for release on October 28. Whether or not the game has mass appeal will be a factor in how hardware sales shape up this holiday season.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection
Rumors that the Xbox One would receive updated versions of past "Halo" games were proven true at this year's E3. Halo: The Master Chief Collection assembles the first four games in the series, with all levels and game modes intact and upgraded to render in 1080p at sixty frames per second. Halo 2: Anniversary Edition will receive special attention in the collection, undergoing additional graphical reworking much akin to the treatment the first game in the series received with with Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary.
The Master Chief Collection launches on November 11 and is loaded with content. In addition to the four mainline "Halo" games, the package will also include episodes of the live-action series Halo: Nightfall and access to the Halo 5: Guardians beta.
Halo 5: Guardians
Given that Microsoft had already revealed the box art for the high-profile 2015 shooter, it was somewhat surprising that this year's Xbox E3 show didn't feature any gameplay footage from Halo 5: Guardians. That said, the two CG trailers dedicated to hyping the looming release will undoubtedly do their job.
Access to the Halo 5 multiplayer beta should provide substantial incentive for fans of the series to purchase The Master Chief Collection this holiday season. The Halo series stands as one of Microsoft's greatest assets in its quest to wrestle market leadership from Sony's PlayStation 4.
The "Crackdown" series began its life on the Xbox 360 in 2007 and saw its last release in 2010, with Crackdown 2. The latest entry in the series appears to be skipping numbered conventions and debuted with an E3 trailer that was filled with explosions and big guns. The reboot has a heavy focus on co-operative action and open-world traversal. Its video debut appeared to feature no gameplay, and no release date was given, making late 2015 the earliest the game is likely to launch. The title is rumored to make heavy use of Microsoft's cloud computing platform.
Directed by Hideki Kamiya, the mastermind behind classics like Resident Evil 2 and Devil May Cry, Scalebound sees humans teaming up with dragons to take down giant monsters. The game is being developed by Platinum Games, a studio with an incredible track record of critical success and commercial underperformance. Dragons are definitely in right now, and having Microsoft behind the game all but assures that it will receive a healthy advertising push.
No gameplay was shown, but Kamiya and Platinum are renowned for knocking it out of the park on that front. A high-profile exclusive from a prestige Japanese developer, Scalebound has standout potential.
This graphically impressive role-playing game may have a redundant title, but it looks like it might offer a novel experience. Fable Legends is built around online co-operative gameplay, and allows four archetypal heroes to team up, take down baddies, and quest for treasure. A fifth player can also play the role of Dungeon Master and set the layouts of enemies, traps, and other accouterments for the hero characters to contend with. The game received a lot of stage time at the Xbox press event, and is evidence that Microsoft is focused on multiplayer experiences as the way to sell consoles and spur online service engagement.
Takeaways from Microsoft's exclusive lineup at E3...
The six games listed above weren't the only Xbox exclusive games shown at this year's E3, with titles like Phantom Dust, Forza Horizon 2, Dance Central 3, Fantasia: Music Evolved, Shape Up and a host of indie games receiving stage time. Microsoft had a strong lineup, even if many of its biggest titles were far off or represented only in CG video form. The company made a persuasive case for the Xbox One as a games console, and the platform is looking particularly strong in terms of multiplayer content.
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Keith Noonan has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.