Impressions from the X16 Media Event
In Toronto on Thursday, August 25th, Microsoft held their media showcase event, X16. And if you’re wondering why I’m only talking about it now, or where I’ve been for the past month for that matter, then I would like to kindly direct your attention over here.
I was fortunate enough to be able to attend and take in a good many games coming and already available for Xbox One and Windows 10; some familiar, some new, and many Canadian. Admittedly, I was disappointed that the recently-revealed Sonic Mania wasn’t there, but there was enough going on to sufficiently distract me from that.
“The growth of our annual Media Showcase event has been truly incredible,” said Craig Tullett, Senior Marketing Director for Microsoft Canada “What started out as a small event for a handful of media 16 years ago has transformed into a full day celebration for the Canadian Xbox community. This year is especially exciting for us, because we’re showing more Canadian content than ever before. With new titles from AAA studios like The Coalition and Capcom Vancouver and an array of Canadian independent developers, we’re proud to be showcasing world-class innovation from our own backyard.”
Here’s a quick look at what I got to take a quick look at, along with some brief thoughts.
As I arrived, only one game (besides Sonic Mania) was on my mind first and foremost: Scalebound. But since that wasn’t there either, I immediately set out to find my runner-up from this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, ReCore.
From what I’d heard through those who had played it on the E3 showfloor, the combination of Mega Man producer Keiji Inafune and the developers behind Metroid Prime brought something which reflected qualities of both. The game played well for the short time I had with it, though I did get stuck at one point before calling it a day. All in all, I enjoyed that brief time with it, but decided to wait to be able to sit down with it and play it more fully — something I now have a review copy for as I prepare to cover it for The Mega Man Network, so keep your eyes peeled over there for a review soon (but not too soon — I only just got it).
Speaking of Inafune, I was always interested in trying one of the series he launched during his days working at Capcom, Dead Rising. I missed out on the original because I had no high definition television at the time, making the text impossible to read (seriously, what is with developers using ever-smaller text in newer games?). Following that, I never quite managed to make it happen, even after getting an HDTV, but maybe the time is nigh to rectify that.
While re-releases of the first two games are coming out today (huh, go figure) and later this month, what I got to sink my teeth into was Capcom Vancouver’s Dead Rising 4, which features a lovely holiday theme and will be fittingly released on December 6th.
I didn’t get to do too much before I had a scheduled meeting to attend, but I did get to have some fun trying out some different weapons on the snow-covered streets of Willamette, Colorado. I made my way to the firehouse, where troops were nailed to the wall and I could have Frank make goofy faces while taking selfies.
The best part, though, had to be donning the almost Iron Man-like exo-suit of powered armor that allows you to plow through crowds like a hot knife through undead butter. Picking up and tossing around large, heavy objects was pretty cool, too. I might have to take a closer look at this one during the winter months — if nothing else, I appreciate the seasonal appropriateness.
Side note: I’m about as sick of zombies as anyone, but Dead Rising has always been that one little thing I’ve been willing to make an exception for if the opportunity arose.
The GamesCom 2016 demo of Final Fantasy XV was on hand, and while I didn’t get a chance to play it, my wife did. You can find her thoughts on it at USgamer, and though I didn’t get to play it personally, I will say this: It’s the most interested I’ve ever been in playing a mainline Final Fantasy game.
Rather than turn-based combat, the comparison Nadia gave me was more along the lines of something like Xenoblade Chronicles X, which I suppose is good enough for me. I still prefer something more direct, but I might be able to work with this. Maybe we’ll find out when it comes out on November 29th (unless it gets delayed again).
I haven’t played a lot of Tekken, but Tekken 7 caught my eye at E3, if only because I thought it was the long-awaited Tekken X Street Fighter. No such luck, but Akuma was on full display as a playable character. He played familiar, yet differently, and I could imagine him being a good sort of introductory character for someone like me who knows Street Fighter pretty well but has a lot to learn when it comes to playing Tekken.
I love a good strategy game, but I’ve mostly played turn-based strategy. As such, I’ve always wondered if something like Halo Wars would be right for me. It wasn’t until very, very late in the Xbox 360’s lifespan that I learned there was a demo I could try, but the system died after I downloaded it but before I got to play it — and there was no PC version available. So when a sequel was announced, well, that immediately caught my interest.
343 Industries and Creative Assembly are not only producing a follow-up, but they’re also bring it — and the original — to PC as well. I had the opportunity to sit in on a demonstration of the game as developers explained about the story and other new features. It looked fairly intuitive and fun, especially the way the new bases and equipment moved in and unfolded, and I’m eager to sit down and try it out for myself.
Granted, there were demos available there, but this is the kind of game I’d want more time to toy with than I was afforded at the event — especially with other stuff to see. It sounds like I may have another crack at it before the February 2017 release date, but we’ll see how that goes. In the meantime, since Halo Wars was recently available for free through Xbox Live Games with Gold, I’m going to try to get some practice in.
I tried Forza Motorsport 6, and for whatever reason, it didn’t quite grab me. It was very cool and realistic, but something about it didn’t quite mesh.
Seeing Forza Horizon 3 and its more open world and open (and off) road experiences, though, piqued my attention at E3 — especially after reading Jaz Rignall’s impressions on USgamer. Better still, the very same demo was available here!
In brief, you start with a bit of street racing in the Australian Outback, and after a bit of racing, a cutscene triggers as the group you were a part of intersects with another racing group of off-road trucks. After moving on down the beach and racing across the waves, the final leg of the demo features a… I don’t want to look like an idiot by saying dune buggy and being wrong, but an off-road vehicle of some kind, at any rate. You take the wheel of this vehicle and race a Jeep that’s suspended by a helicopter with a seemingly inept pilot (or maybe they find the Jeep driver equally as punchable as I do, so why not run him into a few trees?).
All in all, I had a blast with the demo, and am happy to have received a review copy to check out as well, so please look forward to that soon.
As an aside, there were two types of control schemes set up for the game: A regular Xbox One controller, and a steering wheel controller. For what it’s worth, I found the steering wheel unwieldy and difficult to use, as there seemed to be a disparity between the amount of tactile feedback provided by it versus what it seems should be provided based on what’s on-screen. I prefer the standard controller here.
Finally, I ran into Shane Luis from the terrific Rerez YouTube Channel as he was also checking out Forza Horizon 3, and we chatted for a few minutes, during which time he pointed Nadia and I to an indie game called Flinthook. And I’m glad he did, because that’s a fun little game featuring randomly-generated spaceships as you use your chainhook to get around and various weapons to take on those who would thwart your pirating schemes.
I hope to see more of this fun creation of Montreal’s Tribute Games before too long, but right now, it’s sitting with a 2017 release date. For now, I’m just disappointed that the nice little card-flyer I got with details of the game hadn’t been ruined in our rainy efforts to get home.
There were other games available to play there beyond these as well, including Everspace, Steep, Outlast 2, and the creepy We Happy Few. I wanted to play Cuphead again, but the impenetrable line forbade it. I’m kind of lousy at third-person shooters, so I passed on Gears of War 4, and I still need to play my Director’s Cut of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, so I left Deus Ex: Mankind Divided alone for now. As much as I enjoyed Dragon Ball XenoVerse, I’m behind on my Dragon Ball viewing, so I didn’t touch the sequel for fear of spoilers. Plus, time was a factor for these as well.
Still others on display included Minecraft, Killer Instinct Season 3, and Batman The Telltale Series — all of which I have here at home, so I saw no point in bothering.
All told, it was a fun time — which was good, because I apparently overdid it and basically collapsed back into bed sick when I got home. Nonetheless, I and other Xbox One games have plenty to look forward to in the coming weeks and months.
David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.