Everything That Happened at Microsoft's Gamescom Conference

By Keza MacDonald on at

Microsoft is essentially running unopposed at this year's Gamescom, as Sony is saving its big European conference for Paris Games Week later in the year and Nintendo never does anything in Cologne anyway. Its Gamescom press conference - which is now becoming a tradition - showed some games that were held back from E3: Crackdown, Scalebound, and Quantum Break. Here's everything that happened.

-A nice man called Gregor from Microsoft Germany walked out to start things off, welcoming the developers and guests in the room. This is so much more comfortable than E3. There are like 10% of the number of people and the air conditioning isn't as aggressive. Anyway, now Xbox's Phil Spencer is here to show off that "best ever line-up" of Xbox games that rather impressed us all at E3. Phil starts off by paying some lip service to Rare Replay, which is out today (we've written about it rather a lot.)

-Aha, it's time for a look at the hitherto mysterious Quantum Break, a time-travelling action game from Remedy. "The number one killer is time," intones the trailer. Gameplay-wise, we're seeing time-manipulation, third-person cover  shooting, and slightly gratuitous kill shots. After all the action, there's a very cool scene that shows the protagonist walking through a warehouse as time goes absolutely nuts around him.

-Creative director Sam Lake comes out to tell us a little more: Quantum Break is a both game, and a live-action show within the game, starring Shawn Ashmore. The game's about the heroes, the show is about the villains. We got a trailer for the show, too.

-Next up: Crackdown 3, from Reagent Games. We saw a trailer showing off the familiar cartoonish superhero style, and then a kind of mash-up of developer documentary and marketing trailer. Impressively, it's got 100% destructible environments, apparently utilising that cloud computing power that Microsoft went on about when the Xbox One was announced. It's coming Summer 2016.

-Awesome, Hideki Kamiya is here to talk about Scalebound, Platinum Games' biggest ever games. It's an action-RPG, explorable on-foot or on... a dragon. (Who would choose on-foot?) Gameplay shows a hero who's kind of a New Dante-flavour mouthy dickhead with a sword and control of a MASSIVE DRAGON, who smooshes and charges and, of course, fries enemies. The overworld has kind of a Xenoblade feel to it. Things get much more interesting when man and dragon are suddenly pitted against another massive creature in a sequence that reminds me of Lost Planet. The dragon eventually toasts it with massive fireballs. I want to play this. I want to play this a lot.

-Next: full-function DVR functionality is coming to Xbox One. So, you can now record TV on your Xbox. Not quite Scalebound, but useful. That's coming 2016.

-Xbox One is getting a keyboard add-on for the controller. It looks quite comically large and is out in November.

A chat pad for the Xbox One controller will be coming out this November.

-All future Xbox 360 Games with Gold games will be backwards-compatible, meaning that Xbox One players can enjoy them too. Xbox One backward compatibility will be available to everyone in November this year.

-Windows 10 is also coming to Xbox One in November.

-Killer Instinct on Windows 10 will be compatible with everything so far on Xbox, and Season 3 is coming March 2016 to both Xbox and Windows 10.

-Time for some indie games, all of which are coming to Xbox and Windows 10. Koji Igarashi makes an appearance (with a whip!) to talk about Bloodstained, which will be cross-play compatible between Xbox and Windows 10. Cities Skylines will be coming to console first on Xbox One, along with... Train Simulator! We also got a wee look at the next Worms.

-Ron Gilbert (otherwise known as Mr Monkey Island) briefly talked about Thimbleweed Park, his new traditional-style point and click, which is now coming to both Xbox One and Windows 10.

-If you've got Game Preview, you can play Sheltered today, and dinosaur survival-shooter game Ark: Survival Evolved later this year. Starbound is also coming to that service later this year, along with the insane and thrillingly horrible-looking British psychedelic horror game We Happy Few later this year.

-New games like Fable Legends and Gigantic will be cross-play and cross-buy on both Xbox One and Windows 10. Actually it looks like a LOT of Microsoft Studios' upcoming games are going to be on both platforms.

-Mojang's cute little multiplayer shooter Cobalt is now an Xbox exclusive, out October this year.

-Dark Souls 3's appearance made a wee shiver go up my spine. We got another mysterious trailer, featuring long-dead dragons, castles, lots of undead, cathedrals full of horrifying creatures, and first gameplay footage - it looks a LOT faster than previous Souls games, the enemies look fucking incredible, the sense of scale and majesty is definitely back, and I COULD NOT BE HAPPIER THAT MIYAZAKI IS BACK

-Ahem. A new trailer for Homefront: The Revolution is intriguing and slightly chilling, featuring a voiceover from a little boy thanking the game's Korean invaders for their glorious arrival. Looking forward to seeing how that one is panning out after Crytek had to sell it off. That's now coming 2016.

-FIFA's Nick Channon came out to reiterate what we already know about FIFA 16 - women's teams, small improvements, etc. As with previous games, Xbox players will have an advantage in FIFA Ultimate Team, with more Legends and EA Access discounts. There are some new FIFA-themed console bundles coming, too.

-Halo 5: Guardians made another appearance, but there's not much new to learn: just a rousing trailer to get everyone all excited about the multiplayer, particularly the eSports angle, and a new map called Colosseum, played on video by two Halo pro teams and commentated live by a couple of shoutcasters. (They really, really want Halo to be big as an eSport.)

-The Halo World Championship has a prize of ONE MILLION DOLLARS.

-Just Cause 3 briefly turned up to make things explode - we'll have more on that when we see it at the show. Then the tireless Dan Greenawalt came out to pimp this year's new Forza 6. Did you know all the cars have working headlights? (Why did they not before?) And now it has 3D puddles. In seriousness: they put a hell of a lot of work into these games at Turn 10.

-Aha, here's Rise of the Tomb Raider, which caused such a stir last year with its "sort-of-exclusive-but-only-for-a-while" labelling. Now that's all cleared up (it's coming out on other platforms in early 2016, on Xbox on November 13th), let's concentrate on how beautiful it looks - it's still very much an action game, not an exploration-puzzler, but I wasn't expecting a throwback. As a huge fan of the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot I'm immensely looking forward to this.

-Surprise last-minute announcement: Halo Wars 2 is in development at Creative Assembly. It'll be out Autumn 2016.

And we're out. That's a LOT of games - including, crucially, lots that people will be able to play very soon, before the end of the year. As I said back at E3, it's great to see Microsoft showing some vision in gaming after a troubling couple of years.