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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Exclusively yours ...

Well, we didn't see that one coming. Microsoft's Phil harrison dropped a bombshell at the vast Gamescom convention in Germany: Rise of the Tomb Raider,the next installment in the highly regarded series reboot, is exclusive to Xbox. when lara croft returns at the end of next year, you'll only be able to see her on Xbox 360 or Xbox one.

It's a surprising move, and it's reminiscent of the deals Microsoft struck to get BioShock and Mass Effect to itself in the early days of Xbox 360. as with those games, it's unlikely the exclusivity will last forever, but it's cause to feel happy about being an Xbox owner Tomb Raider was an excellent game, and to have its sequel as an exclusive is a feather in Xbox one’s big cap. The news was a highlight in a conference dedicated to showing the Xbox hardcore that Microsoft has emphatically put last year's TV chat behind it.

Quantum Resonance
Take Microsoft’s insistence on showing off exclusives. besides Assassin’s Creed Unity, every game present was either exclusive or had some kind of exclusive content. foremost among them was Remedy’s Quantum Break, which showed off its first ever live gameplay demo presented by creative director Sam lake, a man with the face of Max Payne and the intonation of werner herzog. what we saw was a natty cover shooter that empowers the player using time-slowing abilities and coats itself in a thick layer of po-faced pulp narrative.

This has become Remedy's stock-in-trade, and new hero Jack Joyce brought to mind both alan wake and Max Payne as he flitted around a gruesome-looking traffic accident in progress. You won't have total control over how this works, according to lake, but even the glimpse of the stage demo impressed: Trucks bursting through barriers, bullets frozen in flight, and enemies helpless against Joyce's ability to step outside time, zip over, and issue a takedown. Think of Quicksilver's kitchen beatdown scene in X-Men: Days of Future Past and you'll have the right idea. like Rise of the Tomb Raider, Quantum Break is a game intended to offer the kind of iconic, character-led fare exclusives are good for something Xbox has missed since the glory days of the chief and fenix double act.

The other surprise of the conference came in the form of veteran studio frontier, whose new sci-fi take on the rollercoaster building genre, Scream Ride,was also announced as an Xbox exclusive. Pulling together both the intended structure of Roller Coaster Tycoon (design and build your own
rides before testing them on hapless ai participants) and the unintended effect of that freeform approach (everyone killed those participants by building substandard rides, aided here by a procedural destruction system we imagine the new Crackdown developers are having a close look at), the new game measures your success in screams whether of joy or fear.

Ride Along
The appeal of this will be well understood by anyone who got bored with RollerCoaster Tycoon and started creating rides with the express purpose of injuring their visitors. it's a world away from the studio's first Xbox one release, Zoo Tycoon, and unashamedly pitched at the core gamer and we also saw beautiful, none-more-old-schoolMetroidvania Ori & The Blind Forest pop up too. Microsoft wants to show the Xbox lineup isn't just new bullet-time and shiny first-person shooters.

This approach goes hand in hand with iD@Xbox, chris charla’s indie self-publishing programme, which had its most confident showing yet at Gamescom. not only did we see 26 unreleased download games (more than half of which were completely new announcements) but every one was at least arriving on console first on Xbox one, if not totally exclusive. Worms developer Team 17’s pixel prison-break sim The Escapists, post-Garry’s Mod physics idiocy Goat Simulator, fPS thought experiment Superhot, and ultra complex cosmic crafter Space Engineers all fill out a lineup that speaks as much to hardcore supporters as triple-a fare aims for the mass market.

Microsoft showed a new focus on open-beta tests. Evolve, Fable Legends, and Halo 5: Guardians were all shown off primarily to announce their early-access features. Evolve’s Xbox one exclusive beta arrives in January of next year, Fable Legends becomes available to try and test from 16 october and Halo 5, offered as part of The Master Chief Collection, will include seven maps, 11 weapons, and three modes, with a focus on classic four -on four arena multiplayer.

Bundles Of Joy
of course, Microsoft didn't totally ignore the potential to increase its market share most notably in the announcement of three new console bundles. Sunset Overdrive’s longrumored bundle, a white Xbox one edition, was finally confirmed, priced at $399, and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare receives an exclusive console design, with a matching 1Tbhard drive (the first of its kind) and a headset.

True to form, the show didn't close with a trailer or shock announcement, but with Xbox chief Phil Spencer announcing that, in response to fans, the Xbox one will soon offer digital pre-orders and pre-downloads, starting with this year's Forza Horizon 2. as the monthly system updates prove, Xbox one is a system in flux, evolving for players’ needs, and that's great news. and it's hard to complain about getting more exclusive games. The holidays give us a lot to look forward to.

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