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Sore Thumbs



Microsoft2Last year, Microsoft annoyed hardcore gamers by focusing their press event on the Xbox One’s exotic multimedia features. It was a futile effort to lure in the casual gaming crowd, but as it turns out, casual gamers don’t buy Xbox Ones. Nowadays, they get their gaming fix from one of many touchscreen mobile devices they already have, leaving little incentive to fork over $500 for a dedicated gaming platform (whether it can let you change the channel with your voice or not). So, finally realizing that hardcore gamers are their bread and butter, Microsoft focused this year’s E3 press conference squarely on the games. Even Kinect was removed from the proceedings—much the way it was removed from Xbox One hardware earlier this month.

At both the media briefing and on the show floor, Microsoft showcased a varied lineup of Xbox One exclusives, third-party titles and quaint little games from indie developers. There were previews for upcoming releases like Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Assassin’s Creed: Unity, but, oddly enough, the most applause was garnered by four games with release dates reaching as far back as 2001. That’s when the original Halo came out, and along with its three sequels, it’s getting re-released in a remastered edition on a single disc, with Halo 2’s original multiplayer mode intact. Xbox One is clearly catering to its fans, who up to this point had been wondering if they’d been forgotten. Here are a few upcoming games that prove they haven’t been:


sunsetRelease Date: October 28, 2014


The demo for this title poked fun at the slow pacing and monochromatic palette of generic, military cover-shooters. This vibrantly colorful, hyper-kinetic, third-person action game from developer Insomniac looks like a cross between Devil May Cry and Tony Hawk with its protagonist grinding along a rollercoaster track as if on a skateboard, while blasting away at vicious mutants who explode into gooey words like “SPLAT!”


sparkRelease Date: Fall 2014

Players too impatient to wait for new Xbox content can make their own with Project Spark. With more robust game-building tools than those seen in LittleBigPlanet, Minecraft or even Nintendo’s newly announced Mario Maker, aspiring game designers will be able to create racing games, first-person shooters, 2D platformers or even old-fashioned board games. It was also revealed that the game will somehow incorporate interactive entertainment’s most boorish squirrel, Conker, ensuring that the bushy-tailed bad boy will never again have to go nine years without a new game (provided we’re willing to make one for him).


insideRelease Date: 2015

Anyone who’s played Limbo should already be wildly excited to see what Danish developer Playdead comes out with next. Their sophomore effort is titled Inside, and like its predecessor, it features a young boy platforming through a creepy 2.5D nightmare. If Limbo was a sidescrolling Ingmar Bergman film, then this one comes from Fritz Lang. The heavily industrial, Expressionistic images are as striking as they are haunting. Eventually this game will make its way to all the major platforms, but it’ll arrive first on Xbox One.

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