E3 2013: Microsoft Conference Liveblog

Words, sentences and the ocassional full stop in tandem with Microsoft’s 2013 E3 press conference. Damage control is the name of the game for Microsoft who, having plunged a stake into the collective heart of second-hand loving humans the world over, are unlikely to utter the word “DRM” or any word containing those three letters for the next two hours. Onward with the annual, painfully rehersed, attrociously vulgar rumpus!

Dead Rising 3

19:08 – On the one hand, damn. By contrast to last year’s offering (and the year before) that was the Citizen Kane of E3 conferences. On the other hand, privacy, DRM and £429.

19:07 – Xbox One will be out this November and (hold on to your pants) will set you back a breezy £429. Reserved applause.

18:59 – We’re ending with… Respawn Entertainment’s game about shooting people with guns and robots that have guns. It’s called Titanfall and is multiplayer-focused. Ex-Infinity Ward man Vince Zampella saunters onto the stage. We’re treated to some multiplayer footage. It’s twitchy. Maps are large. Gunplay evokes memories of Call of Duty but there’s a whole lot more going on and more is made of the verticality of maps. Out Spring 2014.

18:56 – Chiefy ol’ pal! Halo Something or Other coming at you like a wet flannel in 2014. Called it.

18:54 – That was a bit whistle-stop. Next we have Journey by way of REALISM. There’s a cloaked chap walking through the wind-swept desert. This has all the hallmarks of a Halo trailer.

18:53 – Microsoft have purchased five development studios to work on AAA content for the Xbox One. One team is making a game about fireworks! No wait, it’s about dudes jumping out of buildings. No wait, it’s about dudes that punch other dudes and shoot them too.

18:52 – Phil Spencer returns to talk up the importance of small talented developers. This next trailer comes courtesy of some of the dudes who worked on Sword and Sworcery. You can tell. It’s a roguelike that goes by the name of Below.

18:51 – CONFIRMED: BATTLEFIELD 4 WILL LOOK PRETTY AND FEATURE MEN SHOOTING MEN SHOOTING OTHER MEN.

18:46 – MILITARY MACHO SPEAK. MANLY MANLY MAN MAN STUFF. TAKE COVER. BOOM! EXPLOSIONS! LENS FLARE! PEW! BANG! LENS FLARE! GRENADE! KABOOOOOOOOOOOEY! Loading. MACHO TALK. THE SHIP HAS BROKEN IN TWO. SMASH! SINK! THE SOUND WATER MAKES! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH! KASPLAT! BOOM! BAM! PEW! SCREEEEEEEEEECH! WAR IS SOOOO PRETTY. AND 60FPS! EXPLODE EXPLODE EXPLODEEEEEEEEEEE! SHOOT! JUMP! SHOOT! CROUCH! SHOOT! RELOAD! This continues for some time. I retire for a few moments to do a wee and on my return men with guns are still shooting bullets out of guns at men with guns.

18:43 – DICE roll up onto stage, unfortunately not to announce Mirror’s Edge 2. Instead, it’s Battlefield 4 at 60fps. Aaaaaaaaaand the sound is borked. Reckon the Xbox One is connecting to the Hivemind and the internet’s on the fritz. Bit embarrassing. No wait, here we go. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand it’s single player.

18:41 – A CD Projeckt Red fella makes his way onto the stage to wax lyrical about The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Confirmed: Kinect voice commands and Smartglass functionality. Gameplay footage features mermaids, fire, dragons, wolves, death and the pretty.

18:40 – Spotted on Twitter – You can’t spell “zombie murder” without DRM. TROLLOLOLOL.

18:33 – Two Capcom chaps stomp onto the stage to talk all things Dead Rising 3. It’s open-world. Nick Ramos – protagonist – is endeavouring to flee somewhere pretty with his oh fuck me. Zombies everywhere! Hundreds of the buggers. Nick clambers up onto the rooftops and there are zombies every which way and then some more too. The draw distances are a thing to behold like one might behold their final glimpse of the sun. Or whatever.

You can create weapons. Nick straps a torch to a handgun to counter the thoughtless effect darkness has on human combat effectiveness. Note to self: an LMG is a useful weapon when fighting the undead. A car goes kaboom and kills lots of zombies, first via the explosion, and then thanks to the soaring trajectory of the vehicle. Nick slides into a car and goes for a joyride. He then, er, directs artillery fire onto a zombie horde. Danger close man! DANGER FUCKING CLOSE! Think he’s dead. Dumbass. Exclusive to Xbox One. Boo!

18:32 – Panzer Dragoon and Phantom Dust director Yukio Futatsugi’s Crimson Dragon is our latest trailer and, er, there’s no sound.

18:31 – RIP Chocolate Microsoft Coins. Everything on Xbox One is priced in real-life currency. Pounds and Euros and such.

18:24 – It’s Marc Whitten’s time to shine. Hold up. He’s talking about Smartglass. Sandwich break. Right. So you can basically use Smartglass to load a game of Killer Instinct (for example), while playing Ryse (for example). When the Killer Instinct match is ready, a notification pops up in Ryse to tell you it’s high time to switch. Immersion, who gives a fuck? Rehearsed trash talk commences as Microsoft demonstrates in-built Twitch TV functionality and a few bums start moving in the audience.

18:20 – A man who’s name is Dave McCarthy takes residency on the stage clutching a Windows tablet. Uh oh. He’s here to tout Project Spark. “Spark show me rivers,” another man says and on screen rivers appear. He’s building a world by asking “Spark” (aka Kinect (aka Hal 9000)) to alter the world, down to the time of day. It’s a game about creating games, like LittleBigPlanet 2, with more explosions and goblins. Huh.

18:18 – Straight into an episodic murder mystery from Swery65. It looks like criminally underrated PS2 classic XIII. And by that I mean it looks goddamn exquisite. It’s called D4 which sounds like a Microwave setting. Terrible name. Looks ace.

18:17 – Some chaps have stopped time and are wandering about willy nilly through an explosive tapestry. It’s all a bit like that recent sexy Metro: Last Light trailer. Touching people, apparently, brings them out of time’s rotten clutch because the woman who was previously trapped horizontally four-feet in the air is now talking. Science-fiction mumbo jumbo! Dude looks a bit like the original Max Payne. Looks cool.

18:15 – Sam Lake of Remedy Games emerges from behind a big screen. On that screen are the words Quantum Break. What’s a Quantum Break? Fuck if I care as long as it’s not an Alan Wake.

18:14 – Minecraft is coming to Xbox One with bigger maps and stuff probably already available on PC.

18:13 – Phil Harrison makes the stage his. Two of his shirt buttons are undone. This tells the world he means business, but sexy business. “Nobody has been more supportive of independent developers than Microsoft.” Time crawls to a standstill, flumoxed, and a silence decends from the rafters eager to hear what a straight-faced Harrison utters next. “How many hours in the mirror did it take to master that?” the silence wonders.

18:10 – They’ve er, coined the neulogism “DriveAtar”. Good grief. He keeps saying it. STOP SAYING IT MAN. Your driveatar learns how you drive so er… ‘while you’re at work or school, the DriveAtar races against people the world over and earns you coins.’ So it can play when I’m not playing?

18:07 –  NEXT! We’re not hanging around here. Cars what go fast at 60fps now. The narrator is paying great respect to McLaren. He’s basically felating McLaren and it’s well before 10pm. Not on.

Apparently they’re good at going fast. A real-life car appears on stage shining and looking like a car. A chap from Turn 10 then stands near the car and says some things that he will regret saying once the internet hears them. “The new generation is about capturing the details that make our world real. The feel of leather and alluminum. This is air you can taste and texture you can feel.” Shit. My air doesn’t taste of anything. Am I dying?

18:06 – Looks like Jet Set meets Crackdown meets TF2. Dude is running up walls, shooting monsters, rolling around on cars. Weapons looks fittingly ridiculous for an Insomniac game. It’s also very orange.

18:05 – “Sunset Overdrive – a stylised open-world shooter.”

18:03:09 – Well that was dramatic. Ted Price takes the stage. Insomniac are working exclusively with Microsoft on something. Hope it’s not Fuse 2.

18:03:04 – Now we’re talking about Killer Instinct. “We listened, and Killer Instinct is back.”

17:54 – Phil Spencer takes to the stage to flaunt Xbox One but then he leaves again so that a trailer can have undivided attention. In it are floating cities. A man is talking through a microphone presumably made of gravel and entrails. It’s Christian Bale’s Batman pretending to be that dude that did all the Far Cry 3 demos last year. You remember the one.

It’s Crytek’s Ryse: Son of Rome. Look at it! The sweat! The hair! The world is exploding in a Roman rendition of the Normandy beach invasion. It’s literally identical – one dude’s lost an arm; there’s shellshock and slow-mo; some chaps are falling off a boat on fire. I think I heard someone cry “30 SECONDS!”

Nice physics! You can QTE stab people. This happens several times. Every time you stab someone there is a QTE. Huh. Roman centurians form up on the player and advance toward a wall of enemy archers. We skip forward a while revoking our right to guess how open-world this one is. More QTE combat and that’s that.

17:53 – Dark Souls 2 now, if I’m not mistaken. There are men with swords and other men with swords. The men with swords are fighting the men with swords. Serious shit is going down. One of the men just took a sword right to the jugular! Dragons! Swords! Death! Coming March 2014.

17:51 – Next we’ve got a rare breed of developer known only as the “Indie”. They’re Danish and everything. Microsoft making a point here. Game’s a 2.5d platformer thing. Has falling platforms, rope swings and a lava level. Max: The Fall of Brotherhood.

17:48 – We’re talking Xbox 360 for a bit kicking off with a World of Tanks trailer. Explosions! EXPLOSIONS! FUCKING EXPLOSIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! TANKS AND BOOM AND SHIT. FUCKING KABOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM! PEWSMASHCRASHEXPLODE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! KAPLOWSMOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH!!!!!!!!!!!!! BOOM! A World of Tanks man is up on stage now. He has not exploded so I am not interested.

17:46 – Microsoft are now peddling an all new Xbox 360 that looks like the Xbox One. But it’s not the Xbox One. It’s the Xbox 360. It’s all about the games! New initiative: two free games per month for Xbox Live Gold members. Up first: “Assassin’s Creed II (no applause), Halo 3 (some applause.)” Hmm.

17:45 – “It’s all about the games.” – Don Mattrick, June 10th 2013.

17:44 – Kojima is on stage with Mattrick. Metal Gear Solid 5 for Xbox One confirmed. Kojima says something about MGS5 looking pretty, then leaves.

17:38 – Straight in with the games. Something from Konami. Footage begins with a couple of dudes on horseback in the desert. Talk of Afghanistan and saving someone whose name is Miller. Lots of talk. Talky talky talk talk. Must be Kojima. Must be MGS. Horse tails look rubbish. World does not.

Confirmed: Metal Gear kicking things off to placate angry people. “MGS goes open world”. Gameplay now. Snake goes from riding horse to car to tank to jeep. Lots of sneaking. Snake shoots some dudes. More talking. The pacing of this trailer is mental. Boobies! Characters! Tossy music! Red Dead in the Fox Engine please!

17:37 – Here goes then. One guy cheers.

17:34 – And several more. Presumably the Microsoft speakers are all signing NDAs guaranteeing legal action should the words “DRM” be muttered through a microphone, live or otherwise.

17:31 – In just a minute.

17:30 – Let the celebrity cameos, shooting and window-washing commence!

17:28 – And we’re off to a sensational start! Without an inkling of irony. Screen shot 2013-06-10 at 17.28.40

17:00 – I do not envy those men and women currently operating from beneath the umbrella of Microsoft PR for that umbrella has seen far better days. The nuclear-grade clusterfuck born out of the announcement of Xbox One has made for one hell of a ride, and there are many cynical eyes aimed the way of Microsoft’s E3 stage right around now. Is the Redmond giant set to do the seemingly impossible and outshit themselves? We all remember last year, right?

Let’s take stock. Sequels to wonted franchises. Internet Explorer on Xbox. Some TV nonsense and a bit where Usher danced on stage for four minutes. Fucking hell. Next up EA, who could perform a silent, impressionistic dance rendition of Schindler’s List and it’d go down easier than that.

Never forget.

16: 30 – “Shhh!” said the Microsoft executive. “I think I heard Reggie.”
“Nonsense,” said the other Microsoft executive. “Reggie’s not getting out any time soon.”
The two men eyed each other vaguely through the inky darkness, then laughed for a long while. “Fucking Fisherprice iPads.”
The two men laughed some more, then collected themselves.
“Better get back to it, then.” said the Microsoft executive.
The second Microsoft executive wore the face of a tired man. “Do you think we’ll see Kaz again?” he asked.
“Not sure,” answered the Microsoft executive. He shot his wristwatch a quick glance, the faint blue hue illuminating his muddied face for a brief moment. “Guess we’ll find out soon enough.”
The sound of shovels slicing through the darkness, slicing through the earth, filled the gloom.

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