Say what you will about Microsoft's Xbox One launch shenanigans, these days the company is trying extremely hard to impress Xbox One fans and would-be buyers with some interesting announcements and decisions.
During their gamescom 14 event earlier today, they certainly proved they were ready to fire on all cylinders — from locking up exclusive (or "exclusive") games, to releasing attractively priced hardware bundles and configurations, to announcements of new console features.
Check out the news wrap-up from Microsoft below, and make sure to check out the highlight reel as well.
Today Xbox opened gamescom 2014, Europe’s biggest video games expo, by showcasing the platform’s stellar portfolio of exclusive games and inviting more gamers into the next-generation with a family of Xbox One console bundles featuring some of the hottest blockbusters of the year – “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare,” “Sunset Overdrive,” and “FIFA 15.” Only on Xbox One this holiday will gamers be able to create Car Clubs of up to 1,000 members on the stunning roads of southern Europe in “Forza Horizon 2,” dive into the mayhem of Sunset City in “Sunset Overdrive,” experience the beautiful coming-of-age story of “Ori and the Blind Forest,” relive the complete story of a legendary hero in “Halo: The Master Chief Collection,” jump into the “Halo 5: Guardians” Multiplayer Beta, and experience exclusive content like “Halo: Nightfall” through an new digital entertainment network – “The Halo Channel.”
Led by the announcement that “Rise of the Tomb Raider” from Crystal Dynamics will launch in holiday 2015, exclusively on Xbox, today’s briefing also featured highly-anticipated blockbusters like “Assassin’s Creed Unity,” “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare,” and “FIFA15,” all available this holiday, as well as the award-winning next-gen shooter “Evolve,” launching starting Feb. 10, 2015. The ID@Xbox self-publishing program also made a splash, highlighting dozens of independent games on stage that are coming first to console on Xbox One, including “Space Engineers,” “SUPERHOT,” “The Escapists,” “Smite” and “Below.”
More Value and Choice than Ever
Unveiled today, three new console bundles launching later this year offer unparalleled options for purchasing Xbox One at the best value this holiday.
- Available for pre-order today, the Xbox One Limited Edition “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” Bundle launches starting Nov. 3 for $499/£429.99/€499.99 ERP1 at select retailers, featuring a massive 1TB hard drive, custom console, controller and Limited Edition exoskeleton, plus a digital copy of the “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” Day Zero Edition.
- Insomniac’s Ted Price unveiled the Xbox One Special Edition “Sunset Overdrive” Bundle, featuring a sleek white console and wireless controller, a digital copy of the game, and special Day One edition in-game items – all for $399/£349.99/€399.99 ERP1 starting Oct. 28, available for pre-order today.
- An exclusive “FIFA15” bundle for fans in Europe was also announced including an Xbox One Console, Xbox One Controller, 14 Day Live Trial, HDMI Cable, Chat Headset, a digital token for “FIFA 15” and an Ultimate Team Legends Gold Pack, available for pre-order today, launching from Sept. 25 for £349.99/€399.99 ERP1 while stocks last. Ultimate Team Legends are available only on Xbox, and the Legends Gold Pack offers an increased chance in finding an ultra-rare Legendary player for your Ultimate Team. An Xbox 360 console bundle including “FIFA 15” will also be available in Europe starting Sept. 25 while stocks last.
“We’re excited to offer fans more choice and value than ever before,” said Head of Xbox Phil Spencer. “These bundles offer a great opportunity to enjoy Xbox One alongside an incredible line-up of first and third party games, making Xbox the best place to play this holiday and beyond.”
An Ever-Evolving Platform
Xbox also announced a host of new updates coming soon to Xbox One; these include new social features to make it easier for gamers to connect with their friends, and new ways to access their TV and entertainment throughout their home. In the Xbox One dashboard, a new Friends section is being introduced, making it easier to see what your friends on Xbox are up to right now, what games they play most, as well as a new Gamerscore leaderboard where you can see at a glance how you compare to your friends in earning Gamerscore for the month.
Markets that will receive the Xbox One Digital TV Tuner this autumn2 will also have the ability to stream their TV programs from their console to the Xbox SmartGlass app, allowing another person to use the TV to play games on Xbox One. Booting directly to TV and adding TV listings from cable and satellite apps to OneGuide are also coming. Lastly, we’re adding support for USB and DLNA to stream media to your Xbox One. Soon, Xbox One owners will be able to watch videos, listen to music, and browse photos from USB and DLNA with the most popular file formats, including Mpeg 2 TS, .MKV and animated gifs by the end of the year.
In response to customer feedback, Xbox also announced the ability to pre-order and pre-download games on Xbox One. Fans will be able to pre-order and pre-download “Forza Horizon 2” prior to its official release on Sept. 30 – this will also be available for “FIFA 15,” with more titles to come. Pre-order and pre-download gives gamers additional options for where they can purchase game content and the ability to purchase in their preferred format. This also enables the title to download ahead of availability, so gamers can begin playing immediately upon the release of the game.
The Best Games of 2014 and Beyond…
In addition to news about this year’s biggest games and console updates, Xbox unveiled “ScreamRide” from Frontier Developments coming in spring 2015, and shared new details on two of 2015’s most anticipated exclusives from top European studios: “Fable Legends” from Lionhead Studios and “Quantum Break” from Remedy Entertainment.
“While this holiday delivers an unprecedented line-up of incredible first and third party titles, 2015 will also see Xbox at the forefront of gaming innovation,” said Microsoft Corporate Vice President Phil Harrison. “From the radical, time-bending entertainment experience that is ‘Quantum Break,’ to dynamic new multiplayer gameplay mechanics in ‘Fable Legends,’ to the ascension of one of gaming’s biggest icons in ‘Rise of the Tomb Raider,’ Xbox will remain the home of the best games, both today and in the future.”
Throughout the Xbox gamescom 2014 briefing, Spencer, Harrison and representatives from the world’s biggest developers delivered a series of updates and announcements on the stellar line-up of Xbox games and content, including:
Available in 2014…
- “Assassin’s Creed Unity” (Ubisoft, Ubisoft). “Assassin’s Creed Unity” is the next-gen evolution of the blockbuster franchise powered by an all-new game engine. Play as Arno, an entirely new breed of Assassin, in an epic single-player campaign or team together in up to four-player co-op and experience the life of a master assassin together with your friends. The French Revolution has turned a once-magnificent city into a place of terror and chaos. Its cobblestone streets run red with the blood of commoners who dared to rise up against the oppressive aristocracy. Embark on an extraordinary journey to expose the true powers behind the revolution.
- “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” (Sledgehammer Games, Activision). “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” envisions a powerful future, where both technology and tactics have evolved to usher in a new era of combat for the franchise. “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” delivers stunning next-gen visuals and innovative exoskeleton gameplay that fundamentally changes how players experience “Call of Duty” across all modes of play. Harnessing the first three-year development cycle in franchise history, “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare” represents a new era for the franchise. To-be-announced future add-on content will again be available first on Xbox.
- “Dance Central Spotlight” (Harmonix Music Systems, Microsoft Studios). “Dance Central Spotlight” is the newest game in the award-winning “Dance Central” series, bringing authentic dance routines, chart-topping music and the characters you love exclusively to the Xbox One. With an all-new soundtrack, more than 50 songs available as add-on content at launch, more routines per song than ever before and a 1- to 2-player dance experience updated for the Xbox One, “Dance Central Spotlight” is the next generation of motion dance games. Step up for your turn in the spotlight.
- “FIFA 15” (EA SPORTS, Electronic Arts). “FIFA 15” brings football to life in stunning detail so fans can experience the emotion of the sport like never before. Witness the intensity of crowds chanting and cheering like on match day, and listen to commentators guide fans through the story of the game with Dynamic Match Presentation. For the first time ever, all 22 players on the pitch are connected with Emotional Intelligence – now players will react to opponents and teammates within the context, and relative to the narrative of the match. Next Generation Visuals put fans on Living Pitches with grass that wears and tears as the match progresses. Authentic Player Visuals make players lean, athletic, and true to their real-life appearance. Player Control heightens the responsiveness of player movement, gives athletes more control and personality on the ball, and makes Man-to-Man Battles more rewarding than ever before.
- “Forza Horizon 2” (Playground Games, Turn 10 Studios, Microsoft Studios).Arriving in the U.S. on Sept. 30 and global Xbox markets later in the week, “Forza Horizon 2” allows you to race through a massive wide-open world in the ultimate celebration of speed, style, and action-packed driving. Race against Drivatar opponents, instantly connect with friends, and join car clubs with up to 1,000 players in the most social racing game experience ever. Explore beautiful, exotic locations in more than 200 of the world’s greatest cars — all created with precise detail in stunning 1080p resolution on Xbox One.
- “Forza Motorsport 5” (Turn 10 Studios, Microsoft Studios). Available to current owners of the game today for free, two incredibly unique cars are making their world-debut in “Forza Motorsport 5.” The arrival of the 2014 Rolls-Royce Wraith, the most powerful Rolls-Royce motor car to date, marks the videogame debut of the iconic Rolls-Royce marque. And the addition of the 2014 Spark-Renault SRT_01E Formula E Race Car will allow Forza players to experience the excitement of the world’s first all-electric racing series one month before its series debut.
- “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” (343 Industries, Microsoft Studios). Honoring the iconic hero and his epic journey, the Master Chief’s entire story is brought together as “Halo: The Master Chief Collection.” “Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary,” “Halo 2 Anniversary,” “Halo 3,” and “Halo 4” are all included with Xbox One visual fidelity, 60 fps, a total of 45 campaign missions, and more than 100 multiplayer maps (including the original “Halo: Combat Evolved”) and Spartan Ops maps. Along with new prologue and epilogue cut-scenes that foreshadow “Halo 5: Guardians,” this is the collection “Halo” fans have been waiting for, all on Xbox One.
- “Halo: Nightfall” (343 Industries, Scot Free Productions). A live-action digital series that will debut this November on Xbox One, included as part of “Halo: The Master Chief Collection,” and accessible digitally on Xbox Live. “Halo: Nightfall” tells the personal story of Jameson Locke, a legendary manhunter and agent with the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), Earth’s most powerful and secretive military branch. When he and his team are caught in a horrific biological attack, they unravel a plot that draws them to an ancient, hellish artifact, where they will be forced to fight for their survival, question everything, and ultimately choose between their loyalties and their lives. Executive-produced by Ridley Scott, Scott Free TV President David Zucker, and directed by the award-winning Sergio Mimica-Gezzan, “Halo: Nightfall” provides insight into the origin and backstory of Agent Locke, a pivotal new character in the Halo universe who will play a key role in “Halo 5: Guardians.”
- “The Halo Channel” (343 Industries, Microsoft Studios). “The Halo Channel” is an all-new interactive digital network that provides unprecedented, personalized access to the Halo Universe. Enjoy content from games, entertainment, and more, using multiple devices3. Watch existing and upcoming original programming (“Halo: Nightfall,” “Halo 4: Forward unto Dawn,” “Halo Legends,” “Halo the Television Series”), as well as community content, discover deep background information in the Halo Encyclopedia, or seamlessly join friends in the latest “Halo” game. Featuring full Twitch integration, broadcast your gameplay or watch feeds from the “Halo” community – from competitive multiplayer matches to campaign walkthroughs and speed runs. This is your home for “Halo.”
- “Halo 5: Guardians” Multiplayer Beta (343 Industries, Microsoft Studios).Available from Dec. 29, 2014 through Jan. 18, 2015. Owners of “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” will be among the first to experience a new generation of “Halo” multiplayer in the “Halo 5: Guardians” Multiplayer Beta. Focusing on the arena multiplayer legacy that the franchise is known for, the Beta will feature a multitude of maps, several game types, as well as weapons and armor sets to customize your Spartan, all running on dedicated servers for the best multiplayer experience. Gear up for the Beta by unlocking exclusive content in “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” and “Halo: Nightfall,” which will carry over into “Halo 5: Guardians” when it launches in 2015.
- “Killer Instinct” (Iron Galaxy, Microsoft Studios). “Killer Instinct: Season 2” begins Oct. 15, starting with new fighters TJ Combo and Maya, enhanced game modes and a completely revamped interface. The “Killer Instinct: Season 2” – Ultra Edition ($39.99) includes eight fighters with a new fighter added each month, select fighter costumes and accessory packs, and “Killer Instinct 2 Classic.” The “Killer Instinct: Season 2” – Combo Breaker Pack ($19.99) includes eight fighters starting with TJ Combo and Maya, and a new fighter added each month. Additional fighters for Season 2 can be purchased for $4.99 each and fans can get TJ Combo early by purchasing “Killer Instinct: Season 2” – Ultra Edition between Sept. 23 and Oct. 14.
- “Ori and the Blind Forest” (Moon Studios, Microsoft Studios). The forest of Nibel is dying. After a powerful storm sets a series of devastating events in motion, an unlikely hero must journey to find his courage, and confront a dark nemesis to save his home. “Ori and the Blind Forest” tells the tale of a young orphan destined for heroics, through a visually stunning action-platformer crafted by Moon Studios for Xbox One and PC. Featuring hand-painted artwork, meticulously animated character performance, and a fully orchestrated score, “Ori and the Blind Forest” explores a deeply emotional story about love and sacrifice, and the hope that exists in us all.
- “Project Spark” (Team Dakota, Microsoft Studios). The highly anticipated “Project Spark” brings imagination to life in an open-world digital sandbox, transitioning from current beta to full release on Xbox One and Windows 8.1 starting Oct. 7. With a powerful creation engine, downloadable content packs and multiplatform functionality, “Project Spark” gives players the power to create their own worlds, stories and games and then share and play their creations with a dynamic global community of fellow creators.
- “Sunset Overdrive” (Insomniac Games, Microsoft Studios). Launching globally starting in the U.S. on Oct. 28, exclusively on Xbox One, “Sunset Overdrive” transforms an open-world apocalypse into your tactical playground. Zip, grind and wall-run across Sunset City while using a devastating, unconventional arsenal. With hyper-agility, unique weapons, and customizable special abilities, Sunset Overdrive rewrites the rules of traditional shooters and delivers an explosive and irreverent adventure in the end times.
Launching in 2015…
- “Evolve” (Turtle Rock Studios, 2K). From Turtle Rock Studios, creators of “Left 4 Dead,” comes “Evolve,” the next generation of multiplayer shooters where four Hunters face off against a single, player-controlled Monster in adrenaline-pumping four-versus-one matches. Play as one of four Hunter classes (Trapper, Support, Assault and Medic) and team up to take down the beast, or choose to play as the Monster and use savage abilities and an animalistic sense to kill your human enemies on the planet Shear, where flora and fauna act as an adversary to human and monster alike. Level up to unlock new Hunter or Monster characters as well as upgrades, skins and perks. Earn your infamy on the leaderboards and become the apex predator. Play the open beta in January 2015, only on Xbox One.
- “Fable Legends” (Lionhead Studios, Microsoft Studios). “Fable Legends” innovates on the franchise’s well-loved world of magic, humour and high adventure, delivering a unique experience that is new and vibrant, yet feels familiar to longtime fans. Featuring stunning visuals brought to life by Xbox One and Unreal Engine 4, “Fable Legends” lets friends team up and play cooperatively in groups of up to four Heroes, each with their own distinct personalities and play style. Alternatively, players may choose to become the Villain and mastermind battles from on high. Sign up to register interest in the multiplayer beta today at FableLegends.com. The multiplayer beta begins Oct. 16, 2014 and will expand in the coming weeks and months.
- “Quantum Break” (Remedy Entertainment, Microsoft Studios). “Quantum Break” leads a new generation of interactive entertainment by fusing the frenetic action of a video game with the tension and drama of a scripted television show into one experience. From the makers of “Alan Wake” and “Max Payne,” critically-acclaimed Remedy Entertainment brings forth the world of “Quantum Break,” blending innovative, adrenaline-fueled gameplay and Time Manipulation features with deep and thoughtful narrative. “Quantum Break” will come exclusively to Xbox One in 2015.
- “Rise of the Tomb Raider” (Crystal Dynamics, Square Enix). In her first adventure, Lara Croft was forged into a true survivor, but she glimpsed a deeper, secret world. In the next chapter of her journey, Lara must use her survival skills and wits, learn to trust new friends, and ultimately accept her destiny as the Tomb Raider. Launching in holiday 2015, exclusively on Xbox, featuring epic, high-octane action moments, “Rise of the Tomb Raider” will take gamers to multiple locations around the world filled with exploration spaces that are some of the most beautifully hostile places on earth. In addition, after hearing the cry from fans loud and clear, the game will put the tombs back into “Tomb Raider,” all in the franchise’s gritty Survival-Action style.
- “ScreamRide” (Frontier Developments, Microsoft Studios). Available exclusively for Xbox One and Xbox 360 in spring 2015, “ScreamRide” fuses creation, destruction and addictive action into an exhilarating reinvention of the sandbox-creation genre. Use your imagination to build extreme rides and environments from the ground-up, pilot your creations with skill, destroy anything and everything with phenomenal physics and deafening destruction, or share your dream creations with friends and experience their twisted masterpieces.