When Microsoft announced the Xbox One, its successor to the Xbox 360 game console, gamers were baffled by its heavy focus on TV and sports content. Monday (June 10) at the E3 video game convention in Los Angeles, Microsoft pulled back the curtain to reveal the game titles at the heart of its powerful new system. Some are curious innovations while others are expected sequels, though even there you will find some clever twists.
The show began with a trailer from Konami's "Metal Gear Solid 5," the latest in its long-running " Metal Gear " series of stealth action games. This entry casts protagonist Punished Snake into modern day Afghanistan, where he will have to outwit local guerillas to remain hidden.
Unlike previous installments, this game contains a number of open-world elements, allowing Snake to travel freely from place to place, transition from day to night and ride horses, jeeps and tanks to accomplish his goals.
"Ryse: Son of Rome," has the potential to be either stunning or stunningly mediocre. "Ryse" tells the story of Marius Titus, a Roman general during the empire's campaigns against barbarian hordes.
The game features huge set-piece battles and a fluid combat system with devastating, gory finishing moves. Based on the few minutes that Microsoft displayed, the game looks very much like a cross between bloody action game "God of War" and over-the-top military shooter "Call of Duty." Your interest in "Ryse" may depend on your enjoyment of those two series.
Fighting game fans who yearn for the simplicity and brutality of 90s brawlers will find a lot to like in "Killer Instinct," the latest entry in a series that has been dormant since 1996. The game's demo pitted a human fighter against a giant, anthropomorphic wolf as they took turns pummeling each other with punches, kicks and cartoonish energy blasts.
Insomniac, a publisher long associated with Sony for the "Ratchet & Clank" and "Resistance" series showed up with "Sunset Overdrive." This multiplayer shooter exists in an animated rainbow city where distinctive characters take on faceless hordes of monsters armed with guns, hooks and vinyl records. "Sunset Overdrive," based on its demo, offers a pleasant respite from the gritty, realistic grey-brown shooters of today's gaming.
"Forza Motorsport 5," a hyper-realistic racing simulator, innovates with its "driveatar" feature. Players can race even when they're otherwise occupied, as their online avatar learns their behavior over time and takes the wheel. [See also: The 10 Most Stunning Video Games ]
"Quantum Break," which debuted at the Xbox One reveal, showed off footage from its in-game graphics engine and teased at the game's plot, in which the protagonist can manipulate time. A tie-in TV show will respond to players' in-game actions.
"D4," an "episodic murder mystery," featured colorful anime-style graphics and a few enticing scenes of intrigue. "Project Spark," on the other hand, is not really a game, but more of a development tool for amateur game designers. Users can create their own adventures and AI scripts, or crowdsource them from the Internet.
"Dead Rising 3," the third-person zombie survival action game and "Battlefield 4," the modern military first-person shooter, both appear to refine their series' respective formulas rather than reinvent them. The graphics looked nicer and the gameplay smoother, but longtime fans will not be shocked by smashing through zombie hordes in the former or taking control of a variety of vehicles in the latter.
One of the most predictable announcements garnered the most enthusiastic responses: a teaser trailer showed the return of Master Chief, principal character in the "Halo" series, for 2014's upcoming "Halo 5."
The Xbox One will release this November for $499. Not every game announced will be ready in time for launch, but if action games with guns are your thing, the system seems like a solid investment. Otherwise, keep an eye out to see what else Microsoft announces between now and November.