Gamescom 2015: Microsoft News Roundup

Cologne, Germany: Microsoft kicked off this year’s round of Gamescom conferences showing what it believes to be the greatest games lineup in Xbox history. Lasting a little over 90 minutes, the conference outlined Microsoft’s 2016 release schedule whilst reiterating their continued commitment to the Xbox brand in this year. For those of you who were unable to watch it live, these are all of the biggest announcements in one convenient spot.

[divider]New Quantum Break footage & info[/divider]
Creative Director at Remedy Entertainment, Sam Lake was up first to show new gameplay footage of his team’s latest Xbox One exclusive, Quantum Break. First shown during the Xbox One reveal event on May 2013, Quantum Break is Remedy’s follow-up game to their critically acclaimed Alan Wake franchise. Since then, however, gamers have been treated to very little information about the game, which fuses a third-person action game with “top-of-the-line live action elements.” The following trailer was released after the event and shows off more of the game’s time altering storyline and gameplay.

Of particular interest is the redesigned protagonist now played by Shawn Ashmore (“X-Men: Days of Future Past). As part of Quantum Break’s synthesis of the gaming and television worlds, we have also received new information concerning the game’s cast, which includes such actors as Dominic Monaghan (“Lost”), Aidan Gillen (“Game of Thrones”), Marshall Allman (“True Blood”), and many more.

Quantum Break will ship with a live-action, in-game television show that chronicles the events of the game from the perspective of its antagonists. A short teaser can be found in the archived show. Quantum Break is set to release on April 5, 2016.

[divider]Cracking Down on Crime with Crackdown 3[/divider]
Up next was Crackdown series creator David Jones and his studio Reagent Games to show off Crackdown 3, another Xbox One exclusive. Originally released in 2007 alongside the Halo 3 beta (which helped boost its sales, no doubt), Crackdown won near universal critical acclaim for its unique take on the sandbox genre. A follow-up in 2010 failed to capture a similar response from gamers who felt that it did little to innovate on the gameplay mechanics of the original. Four years later and Crackdown 3 was first shown off at E3 2014, albeit in a purely CGI trailer. Today were shown our first glimpse of the game in action.

Crackdown 3 will feature 4-player cooperative play and will take advantage of the Microsoft Cloud, enabling players to “harness 20 times the power of [their] Xbox One to unleash 100 percent destructible environments” in a “ground-breaking competitive multiplayer mode.”

Crackdown 3 is set to release next holiday season, with a multiplayer beta in the summer.

[divider]Scalebound Gameplay Premier[/divider]
Platinum Games’ Hideki Kamiya (Dir. Devil May Cry, Bayonetta, The Wonderful 101) was at Gamescom to oversee the world gameplay premier of his latest game, Scalebound. Scalebound is an action-adventure hack and slash game similar to previous Platinum titles. It is set on the planet Draconis, a world in which giant dragons roam wild and our main protagonist, Drew, has the power to command one such beast. Considering Kamiya’s impressive history with the genre, Scalebound is hotly anticipated by fans of over-the-top, fast-paced action. Here is gameplay footage of the Xbox One exclusive Scalebound.

Players will be able to customize their dragon’s shape, abilities, and appearance. They will also be able play in a 4-player online cooperative mode with friends, the details of which are yet to be determined.

Scalebound debuts exclusively on Xbox One in 2016.

[divider]halo 5 flexes its multiplayer muscle[/divider]
It wouldn’t be a Microsoft conference without Halo. Indeed, Halo is the cornerstone upon which the entire Xbox brand was built, thanks in large part to the series’ hugely popular multiplayer component. Having demoed single-player content earlier this year at E3, Microsoft and Halo series developer 343 Industries instead decided to show more of Halo 5’s competitive multiplayer, which is now split between Warzone (large-scale team battles with AI controlled enemies) and Arena (4v4 player versus player).

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In the above trailer we get a small taste of both, previewing new maps and environments. As the video also makes clear, Halo 5 is a game that aims to redefine itself. If you played the multiplayer beta earlier this year you’ll have some idea regarding what to expect when Halo 5 releases on October 27.

[divider]New Rise of the Tomb Raider footage[/divider]
Crystal Dynamics were also at the conference to show us more of Rise of the Tomb Raider, the second installment in their Tomb Raider franchise reboot. Where the E3 trailer focused on environmental traversal and stealth combat, this newest trailer emphasized the hard-hitting violence of their new combat engine. Many gamers were disappointed to see such dependence on gore and shooting in the previous Tomb Raider installment, so its interesting to see it be given such prominence here.

ROTTR-Valley-pngRise of the Tomb Raider will release first on Xbox One on November 10, 2015. For more information about the PC and PlayStation 4 versions of the game click here.

[divider]Halo Wars 2 kept you waiting[/divider]
What, one Halo game isn’t enough for you? Fine, says Microsoft. Have two! Before the show’s attendees left the conference hall, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer pulled them in for one last announcement. That announcement took the form Halo Wars 2, a follow-up game to 2009’s Halo Wars by the now-defunct Ensemble Studios. Widely regarded as one of the best real-time strategy games on consoles, Halo Wars was something of a fan favorite, enjoying continued popularity since release. First teased at E3 2014, Halo Wars 2 is coming to Xbox One  from developer Creative Assembly, who are best known for their Total War series of PC strategy games (you might also know them as the Alien: Isolation team). A short teaser has been released to the public.

One of the more interesting takeaways from this announcement is just how 343 Industries will handle two Halo series at once. Creative Assembly are also owned by publisher Sega, which makes their partnership with 343 quite unexpected, indeed. That said, Creative Assembly are a talented developer with a great pedigree behind them. Halo Wars 2 is in capable hands.

Halo Wars 2 will be coming to Xbox One and Windows 10 in 2016.

[divider]The Greatest Games lineup in xbox history?[/divider]

Microsoft have made tremendous gains in user support since their infamous unveiling of the Xbox One back in 2013. Sony was quick to capitalize on Microsoft’s failure, seizing the dominant position in this generation’s console sales race. And yet Microsoft have held their own, producing a stable of games that is as exciting as it is diverse. Whether you believe Microsoft to be showing their greatest games lineup in history is entirely up to you, but certainly no one can fault Microsoft for not trying in recent months. From backwards compatibility, to a more meaningful integration of PC gaming into their long-terms plans, to investing in a broader first-party portfolio, the Xbox brand still has a lot of fight left in it. As Gamescom continues to grow in attendance and importance Microsoft would do well to support the trade fair as it has today.

For more news out of Gamescom 2015 remember to stay tuned to Press-Start!

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