Gamescom 2015: Cologne, Germany – Xbox Press Conference

MICROSOFT Gamescom 2015 Media Briefing:

August 4th, 2015 – 7am.

-Press conference starts with a highlight reel trailer featuring Rise of the Tomb Raider, Halo 5 Guardians, Forza Motorsport 6, and Gears of War – with the tag line: “Jump in”.

-From Microsoft’s Headquarters in Germany, Gregor Bieler takes the stage and thanks publishers and fans alike for attending the show, and announces that Gamescom 2015 kicks off with the Microsoft Press Briefing here in Cologne, Germany. Says thank-you and announces the head speaker, Phil Spencer.

-Phil Spencer takes the stage and reaffirms that Microsoft and the Xbox Team are committed to delivering the games that fans want to play, on the devices we want to play them on, whether we are an Xbox Gamer, a PC gamer, or both. Microsoft has the most anticipated games, and best hardware, accessories, and social environments, with Xbox Live.

rareware-4e26145007227RARE Replay

-Phil Spencer announces that the Rare complication, RARE Replay is available today. The game showcases three decades of hit games and iconic franchises across multiple platforms. The compilation is a testament to the studio and heritage of their games.

-Phil Spencer reiterates that 2015 has been and will continue to be the best line up in the history of Xbox with a growing investment in first party franchises like: Fable, Gears of War, Tomb Raider, Forza Motorsport, and Halo.

Quantum Break

-An Xbox One Exclusive trailer starts: Shawn Ashmore, Aidan Gillen and Dominic Managhan. This is Quantum Break.


-Gameplay reveal showing a warehouse facility, with the hero, Shawn Ashmore’s character, being flanked by enemy soldier. Gameplay  shows area time freezes, directed time freeze bombs, sped up attacks and navigation. Gorgeous cinematic gunplay.

-Gameplay against enemies that also have the time changing ability, and can move within the frozen zones. All world objects are affected by gunplay, and move realistically, but in slow-motion. The whole area warps and shifts while in the frozen zones. Time lapse gameplay and time puzzles are mentioned.

-Sam Lake, Remedy Director takes the stage to discuss Quantum BreakRemedy has always made cinematic story-driven action games. Quantum Break breaks into new territory with a game and a live-action TV show fused together. Shawn Ashmore takes the stage to discuss the show. The game is about the heroes, and the show is about the villains. Quick TV trailer showing Aiden Gillen’s bad guy character. Release date: April 5th, 2016.

Crackdown 3

Crackdown+3+Teaser+Art-Dave Jones – Reagent Games Director comes to the stage to discuss Crackdown 3.

-Jones discusses the massive new city,  and the new vision for the game. A development video is shown, showing some behind the scenes development, the new city, and how everything is connected. Jones announces that the new online multiplayer modes with showcase 100% destructible environments.


– Hideki Kamiya, PlatinumGames, takes the stage. Game Director for Scalebound. Kamiya announces that Scalebound is the largest open-world game that PlatinumGames has ever built. Gameplay trailer:


-Demo starts with the hero flying in on a huge dragon, and then unceremoniously dumped off. Snarky talk from the hero to his dragon. Sword play and bow and arrow gameplay are shown, and dragon attacks are at the command of the player. Hero takes out a few enemy garrisons with the help from the dragon.

-Dragon bounds off through some trees and then a huge monster shows up. The hero has a dragon arm, and can take on a scaled, armoured form to fight large monsters. Hero and Dragon take on the monster with aerial sword attacks and large mines with explosive bow and arrow gameplay.

-Demo ends with the announcement that the game will support 4 player co-op. Release Holiday 2016.

-Xbox Platform Hardware time. Free-to-air HD Television will soon support DVR to record live TV. Through the Xbox TV Guide, you can select a show, and record an episode or series. Supports Instant-On to schedule recordings. Once recorded, shows can be streamed to a supporting Windows 10 device, or can be downloaded onto a Windows 10 device to take on the go. From a Windows 10 device, you can also schedule recordings away from home. Subscription free, coming early 2016.

-Xbox Chat Pad available soon. Has audio controls similar to the Xbox controller media adapter, and has 2 programmable buttons as well. Chat pad also has the microphone adapter plug-in.

-Backwards Compatible available for everyone November 2015. All Games With Gold will be backwards compatible available at launch.

-Shannon Loftis – Head of Xbox Publishing takes the stage to discuss Killer Instinct and cross-platform play. Season 3 kicks off March 2016 and will support cross-platform with Window’s 10 devices, and will support all fight sticks. In conjunction with RARE Replay, Rash from Battletoads is available now in Killer Instinct as a playable fighter.


-Chris Charla, ID@ Xbox head comes to the stage to discuss some of the new indie titles coming soon. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, a cross-play 2.5D side-scrolling action game with heavy RPG elements. City: Skyline will makes its console debut on the Xbox One, as well as Train Simulator. A new Worms game, titled W.M.D will be released by Team17, and goes back to its 2D animated days.

-Two new games for Xbox Preview were announced. First: Sheltered, available for Preview today, and ARK: Survival Evolved will be available for Preview this holiday. We Happy Few – super creepy game from Compulsion Games was also announced for Preview.

-More hardware and engineering stuff. Jasmine Lawrence hits the stage to discuss more Windows 10. Windows 10 supports DirectX 12 and it’s built into the architecture to support game developers. A tech-demo from the Final Fantasy team is shown, highlighting refraction and bloom light effects, time lapses, hair and face design, textures and hair opacity, and field of view.

-Windows 10 will support game DVR similar to the Xbox One, without any addition software or hardware. Announce the Xbox App, and she discusses Cloud Saves that work cross-platform. Cross-buy and cross-play both supported on Xbox and Windows 10. And streaming Xbox One over to a Windows 10 PC on the same network.

-Director of the Windows 10 version of Minecraft came out to discuss the game a bit, and announce his own new game – Cobalt. A 2D side-scrolling shooting game that has couch multiplayer.

lfihx3yuplrl4pibk0ujDark Souls III

-New trailer showing some of the new locations and enemies for Dark Souls III – From Software. Release is in 2016.

Homefront: The Revolution

-This is the game that has me the most excited, as I loved the story of the first. C.J from Dambusters Studios hits the stage to show off the new open-world Homefront game. Trailer shows a child reach the stage and to prepare a speech thanking the glorious republic of Korea and the Korean People’s Army. The game is an open-world shooter, and we play the role of the resistance. Following the events of the first game with North Korea invading the United States and takes over.


-The trailer and gameplay showcases guerrilla warfare. Multiplayer beta available first on the Xbox One this Winter. Single player campaign gameplay reveal:

-First person shooter. Demo starts on a motorcycle driving through the open world. Lots of ramps to drive over. Definitely a makeshift revolution town supporting lots of maneuverability. Player reaches an enemy checkpoint and brings out the RC bomb car to blow up the blockade ahead. Demo shows on-the-fly weapon modification where you can add or remove scopes, or silencers.

-Capturing areas and checkpoints unlocks new support in the region, and reveal hideouts and weapons caches. Game looks awesome.


-Quick promotion for the upcoming FIFA title which now supports the Woman’s National Teams. Promoting the FIFA Ultimate Team mode which supports FIFA Legends, and the benefits of being an EA Access subscriber.

h5-secondary-teaser-thumbnail-542x305-b415c449330045f7bbb09db7cb6caab7Halo 5: Guardians – Multiplayer

-Halo 5 Guardians promotion time, focusing on Multiplayer and eSports. Two of the Halo shoutcasters hit the stage to discuss the making of the multiplayer, the 2 new modes, and new abilities. While testing the multiplayer, the top USA team and the top Europe team were brought in to test of the new game and play a series of competitive matches. The last round replay was shown:

-Arena Mode for eSports – 4 V 4. Playing Capture the Flag on the new Coliseum map. Primarily magnum pistol use. Flag juggling has returned.

-Josh Holmes, Executive Produce from 343 Industries hits the stage and announces the new Halo World Championship eSports tournament with a grand prize of 1 million dollars.

Just Cause 3‘s new destructive gameplay trailer is shown next. Dec 1st release date. The game is starting to look quite enticing with the new abilities. Might have to pick it up after all.

Forza Motorsport 6


-Forza time, as Turn 10’s head hits the stage and states that 2015 is the 10 year anniversary of the Forza franchise.

-Forza Motorsport 6 will have 450 cars supporting full cockpit view, full damage and customization. 26 world famous destinations and 24 player online races supporting dedicated servers.

-The new career mode supports night-time racing and real world rain physics. 1080P, 60FPS.

-Quick Germany based trailer for Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege. Release is Oct 13th.

Rise of the Tomb Raider

-Brian Horton – Crystal Dynamics – hits the stage to discuss Rise of the Tomb Raider. The open-level design and traversal space is 3x larger than any locations in prior Tomb Raider games.


-New gameplay trailer shows Lara sneaking up on a team of mercenaries in the middle of a stormy night. The gameplay shows swimming take-downs, aerial take-downs off shacks, and new distraction techniques by throwing cans and bottles.

-New double arrow kills and poison arrows. And a new crafting mechanic is introduced. Similar to The Last of Us, you can build little nails bombs from a car, or molotov cocktail.

-Brian Horton comes back and says that the new guerrilla combat encourages experimentation and choice. The game also has a heavy focus on tombs. Release Nov 13th, 2015.

-Phil Spencer comes back to the stage to close up the show. 2015 has the best lineup of Xbox games in the history of Xbox, with some greats to close out the year: Halo 5, Tomb Raider, Gears of War Ultimate Edition, Fable Legends, Forza Motorsport 6, Gigantic, and RARE Replay. And 2016 is only looking better with some new exclusives: Killer Instinct Season 3, Gears of War 4, Crackdown 3, Scalebound, Sea of Thieves, Quantum Break, and ReCore.

-One last announcement…

Halo Wars 2

-Bonnie Ross, head of 343 Industries hits the stage to thank all the fans for their passion and support. She states that Halo 5 is not the only Halo game that continues the story, as there’s another story that needs to continue, one highly requested by fans: Available on the Xbox One and on Windows 10 in the Fall of 2016 – Halo Wars 2.

Quick sizzle reel to wrap up the show.


Day 2 – iReview – FORZA HORIZONS 2

Welcome to Horizon Europe!

Returning to the land of open-world driving with Forza Horizons 2, the sequel to Playground Games’ and Turn 10’s 2012 hit, was something I was very much looking forward to, especially since this was the first REAL next-gen racing title on the Xbox One, intentionally omitting Forza Motorsport 5, for those automobile obsessed out there. I’m talking about a “fun” racer.

Where we're going, we don't need roads.

Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.

Taking place again during the fictitious “Horizon Festival”, Horizon 2’s game world is located in southern Europe, focusing primarily on France and Italy. The game world itself is about the same size of Forza Horizon 1, but this time the drivable area has been increased three fold. Gone are the invincible fences protecting forests and farm land. Everywhere is accessible, and it’s a blast to drive off the side of the road, plowing through open fields filled with crops, while narrowly escaping huge bales of hay or random tree groupings. The telephone poles are still impenetrable though.

The game sports over 200 licensed vehicles from many different manufacturers, shapes and sizes. Forza 5’s Drivatars are back, as well as the custom tuning and liveries. Horizon’s in-game radio stations return, showcasing a very cool collection of tracks, and have the radio’s DJ come on everyone once in a while and tell us what’s going on in the world, or if it’s raining or not. Thanks, so the sky isn’t falling?

The game fits the same mold laid out in Horizons 1. We start out in the Horizon’s Festival as Mr. Nobody, and have to race to progress, earn money, buy new cars, and race more, until the festival hosts a championship race to name this year’s Horizon Champion. The road trip starts you in one city, and you get to choose the class of car, compete in 4 championship races, and then convoy on to the next locale. 8 destination cities in total, 21 championship events per city, 168 championship events in total. Sounds daunting and it is! That’s almost 700 races. Gracefully after 14 events they host the Horizon Championship, so it’s not actually too bad. You get a lot of added gameplay for the completionists out there, once you’re crowned as the champ.

Scattered about, and unlocked during the game’s progress are specialty events where you get to race against a locomotive, or some jets, or even 100’s of hot air balloons. These events are a nice distraction between driving from city to city, race after race.

Car vs. Cargo Plane

Car vs. Cargo Plane

Notably missing from Horizon 2 is the “Street Race”, the start to finish line – no checkpoint races. Due to the sizable drivable area I’m guessing. But that whole group meeting – lets race! feeling has been replaced with the Car Meets. This brings us to the online portion.

When you start up the game, you’re dropped right away into one of these car meets. This is Horizon’s online lobby. At this point you can either choose to play offline, in your own free-roam campaign, or you can join an online free-roam session or online road-trip session. Private free-roam or road-trip sessions are also supported.

Online free-roam hosts 16 people, where you can drive around, search for collectibles, participate in challenges, or initiate races. Race types include circuits, sprints, drag races, and cross country. Once a race has been started, anyone in the group can join it, and then once the race is done, everyone just gets dropped back into the free-roam world. Multiple events can be taking place at any given time.

Online road-trip is a little bit more structured, and follows the same path as the offline campaign. Again, supporting 16 people, everyone drives to a destination city, participates in 4 solo or team races or multiplayer events including King and Infected. The group then votes on the next city. Drive there, repeat.

Built on the already pretty Forza Motorsport 5 engine, the game is tuned down to a competent simulation/arcade racer, while keeping the gorgeous visuals, keeping the licensed vehicles, but throwing away the licensed tracks. Forza Horizon 2 is a racing paradise. Extra praise has to be given to the game’s dynamic weather system and day/night lighting. Playing in rain, at night, in the driver seat camera view is a thrill.

All commendations aside, I did have a few, very minor issues with the game. Firstly, and most prominent issues involve the car physics. Now, given the fact that this game is open-world, and potentially extremely off-road, the vehicle physics are brilliant when on the road or off-road depending on your car. But if you happen to hit a ditch or bump, and find your car rolling, it becomes very floaty, as if the car didn’t weigh more that its lovely paint job. This can be very frustrating at times while racing online, without the rewind feature or vehicle reset option.

Second gripe, barely worth mentioning, is that you have to go back to the Horizons hub to change your car at the garage. Minor, but annoying at times.

For gamers who like the perfect blend of Simulation/Arcade racing.

Notable Achievements:

All Your Race Are Belong To Us 2.0 (Complete all 168 Championships) 50G
Super Meet Boy (Grab a livery, tuning setup, buy a car, and enter a Showdown at any Car Meet) 10G