LOS ANGELES – After teasing gamers with early peeks at its Xbox One console, Microsoft today used its pulpit at the E3 conference to show off what the potent machine can really do — play games.
The company said the new console will go on sale in November for $499.
In a high-voltage, concert-like press event at the Galen Center basketball arena, Microsoft revealed lineup of games that will be available at the launch of the Xbox One, which will have 13 exclusive titles to start.
The show began with the huge video screen displaying two soldiers on horseback. Soon they were moving onto Jeeps, leaping around structures in a dusty, developing country and taking out bad guys to save an imprisoned comrade.
Looking almost like a movie, the game is “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain,” an “open world” version of Konami’s hit shooter.
“As we’ve been promising, it’s all about the games,” Xbox President Don Mattrick said in his opening statements, promising 13 exclusive games for the new console.
But first the company offered up a few goodies for its current Xbox 360, including new games and the promise of two free games per month for users who subscribe to its premium Xbox Live Gold service.
The Xbox 360 is also getting an overhaul. Microsoft today will begin selling a smaller version of the console (pictured) with a smoothed out case and gray and black color scheme that echoes the design of the Xbox One. List prices remain $200 to $300, depending on the bundle.
Then the company showed a series of vivid exclusives for the Xbox One that will encourage people to upgrade to the new console.
Crytek’s “Ryse: Son of Rome” is a gladiator combat game with armor that gleams in the sun and rendering realistic enough to show the sweat on the nose of a soldier. Players command a squad of soldiers, ordering them to lift shields in unison, for instance, when arrows rain down on their advance.
Microsoft’s “Forza 5″ racing game is more realistic than ever but the big advance is a new system of modeling virtual competitors, drawing on real people’s driving skills to create “driveatars” — instead of “avatars.” Still, the biggest gasps came when the stage opened up and a McLaren MP1 rose into the green light.
A new game-creation game called “Project Spark” lets people use a tablet running Microsoft’s Smartglass app to create games with voice and touch controls. In the demo, it took only a minute or two to create and customize a landscape, add characters and animate objects.
Most bases are covered with the Xbox One launch lineup. For those who like to shoot zombies, there’s the cinematic, open-world zombie game “Dead Rising 3.” Young children whose parents won’t let them play “Dead Rising” may end up with the lighthearted, cartoon action game “Max the Curse of Brotherhood.”
Several glitches marred the demo, though. EA amost halted its demo of “Battlefield 4″ (screenshot below) when audio failed initially. Audio also failed to play during Microsoft Vice President Marc Whitten’s presentation of “Crimson Dragon.”
To rev things up and highlight “Forza 5,” the company had a pair of “standard” McLaren supercars circle the arena and race past the throng of thousands of journalists, analysts and retailers who lined up for Microsoft’s big event that opens the annual game conference.
Microsoft carefully staged the Xbox One launch to highlight the ultra-vivid new games that will make or break the console and Microsoft’s standing in the next generation of the console game business.
The company unveiled the hardware in a smaller event in Redmond last month, showing its more conservative case, new controllers and details of its eight-core processors and virtualized operating system. Then last week, Microsoft disclosed that it’s requiring the consoles to connect daily to the Internet and enabling game publishers to add new restrictions on the transfer and sale of used games.
The main rival of the Xbox One will be revealed tonight, when Sony finally unveils its PlayStation 4 console, which is set to go on sale alongside the Xbox One this holiday season. Nintendo’s Wii U began selling its “next generation” console last fall and will highlight new games on Tuesday.