[E3 2008] Microsoft Press Conference Recap: Fallout 3 PC and 360 Exclusive DLC, RE5 and Gears 2 Dated, 360 Dashboard Update Details, and FFXIII Now Coming to 360!

Microsoft’s E3 press conference has now wrapped up and it was filled with a number of cool demos and some major announcements. Here’s a recap:

  • The briefing started with a teaser trailer and demo of Fallout 3. It looked great graphically, but I wasn’t impressed by the gameplay at all. The gunplay didn’t seem all that compelling and its game-pausing targeting system in which you can pause the action, zoom in on enemies and target specific body parts seemed like it made the game way too easy. I know I’m in the minority on this one, but hey, I was disappointed with it. Major news for PC and 360 Fallout fans, though. Those versions will be getting exclusive downloadable content.
  • A demo for Resident Evil 5 was next. As expected, the gameplay remains close to that of RE4, but it looks gorgeous and will feature a nifty online co-op mode. In the demonstration, one player was Chris and the other was some chick with a weird name that I didn’t catch. The two teamed up in some cool ways. For example, Chris catapaulted his female buddy from one rooftop to the next, then covered her from the other building with a sniper rifle while she went down to open a door for him. RE5 now finally has a release date too! It’ll be shipping worldwide on Friday the 13th of March 2009. Mark your calendars!
  • RE5 was followed by a short demo of Fable 2. The first thing Peter Molyneux said upon taking the stage was that the game is done, for real. Of course, as announced, the game isn’t releasing until October, so it can’t be 100% finished. Most of what was shown seemed like the same promises that were made for the original game, like how the game world and your character will evolve realistically based on your actions. You can buy property, get married, have children and raise a family. One new feature that was shown for the first time was the new online co-op mode. It’ll function around this orb system where anyone on your friends list who is playing the single-player game will be represented in your game by a glowing orb moving around the game world. You’ll be able to walk up to the orb and instantly invite your friend into your game without going through a lobby or sitting through a load screen. Pretty neat.
  • Microsoft’s presentation to hardcore gamers closed with a brief look at Gears of War 2. Many of the new game mechanics and weapons were shown (shields, meat shields, flamethrower, etc.) and the overall scale of the environments seems vastly increased. The level shown and the amount of stuff happening on screen was quite breathtaking. CliffyB also announced that the game will have a new 5-player co-op Horde mode that sounds like a basic survival mode where you battle wave after wave of Locust, and that it’ll be shipping on November 7th.
  • After a break in the action to talk about sales numbers and that sort of boring stuff, Microsoft then dove into the massive changes it has in store for the Xbox 360 dashboard and the social structure of Xbox Live. In the fall, the 360 will be getting a completely revamped interface that sort of looks like a cross between the Wii Channels and PS3 XMB. It’s basically a series of horizontal channel windows displaying the content of the various menu categories that are in aligned vertically. I hate the current bladed dashboard and the new interface looks like a vast improvement. Really looking forward to this.
  • The other major news was the introduction of an Avatar system, as has already been unofficially known about for a while now. In a nutshell, it’s the 360’s take on the Wii’s Mii system. You’ll be able to create your own avatar and customize him/her with various clothing and hairstyles, and then use your avatar in supported games and that sort of thing. Tying in with the avatars, Microsoft announced a new block party feature where you’ll be able to hook up with up to eight friends online and share photos, movies and other media content as a group. There’ll even be a cool new Xbox Live Primetime channel where you’ll compete against the Xbox Live community in game shows for real prizes. It’s basically a new MMO gameshow genre. The first game will be 1 vs. 100. The player and the mob will all be Live players! Pretty sweet, huh?
  • Focus then turned to Xbox Live Arcade discussion, which include a number of exciting game announcements, including Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2, Galaga Legions (the first true sequel to the classic Galaga), Portal: Still Alive, and a new South Park game. These will all be exclusive to XBLA. Geometry Wars 2 and Galaga Legions are due out next month, Portal will drop this fall, and I couldn’t quite catch the date on South Park but I think the teaser said 2009. Xbox Live Community games will also be launching this fall.
  • Moving away from gaming for a second, Microsoft next announced an exclusive partnership with Netflix. All Netflix video content will now be available for subscribers to download and watch on their Xbox 360s at no additional cost. And with the new Xbox Live party system you’ll be able to watch movies together with your friends online.
  • Next up on the docket was Microsoft’s casual gaming initiative. This included trailers for Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts and Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise, news that the original Banjo Kazooie will be coming to XBLA, an announcement for Scene It? Box Office Smash (which will be the first game to use Avatars), and the unveiling of a new 360-exclusive game from Codemasters and ZOE Mode called You’re In the Movies. It’s like a collection of EyeToy mini-games that records you and your friends while playing and then puts the footage into silly short films using the Vision camera. I thought it looked stupid as shit, but I’m not exactly the demographic the game is targeting.
  • News on all the latest music games followed the casual games. It was one boring presentation after another for Guitar Hero: World Tour, Microsoft’s new Singstar knockoff called Lips, and Rock Band 2. Nothing too interesting was announced, at least I didn’t think so.
  • And finally, the show wrapped up with a sneaky presentation from Square Enix. It started out boring, running down news we already knew about regarding Infinite Undiscovery, Star Ocean: Last Hope and The Last Remnant. Oh, a PC version for The Last Remnant was announced, that should make PC gamers happy. Square Enix’s president then left the stage, before coming back on to make the announcement of the conference: Final Fantasy XIII will now be coming to Xbox 360! Sorry Sony fanboys, you just lost a HUGE PS3 exclusive.
  • One final thing to note: there was no revelation of the 360 motion control device that as has been rumored for so long. Think it’s time to put that rumor to rest…

    About the Author

    Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!