I went to gamescom in Cologne, Germany, earlier this week to see the latest game shipments later this fall, and my first stop was the Xbox cabin, which was bigger than I expected. There I had the opportunity to watch the Xbox Elite Controller Series 2, Project xCloud, as well as the new Xbox Game Studios titles currently in preparation.
There were definitely a lot of people at the Xbox stand when I visited it on Tuesday, and I didn't have time to try some of the next games, like Wasteland 3, Bleeding Edge or the new Battletoads. I chose to focus on the Microsoft gaming franchises that I am quite familiar with: Gears of War, Halo, Age of Empires and Minecraft. With the release of Gears 5 in early September, this is the first game I tried, testing the new Horde mode on a high-end gaming PC.
Gears 5 Horde Mode
Three years ago, Gears of War 4 marked a restart of the Gears of War franchise, as this was also the first game in the series developed by a new studio called The Coalition. The game was also one of the first Xbox Play Anywhere titles for Microsoft, included on Xbox One and Windows 10 with support for cloud storage and multiplatform multiplayer.
Gears of War 4 was a very solid third-person shooter, but the absence of a Steam launch probably prevented him from reaching a much larger audience. Fortunately, that will not be the case with Gears 5 since the game will be available on Steam on the first day, with cross compatibility with the Xbox One and Windows 10 versions of the Microsoft Store.
So far, Microsoft has not shared many details about Gears 5, what Which is a bit surprising. He will face Borderlands 3 in September, a true heavy hitter who has been exaggerated since his announcement in March 2019. Microsoft revealed the new Gears 5 Escape mode at E3 2019, then a multiplayer technical test was conducted in July , and the new Horde mode was available for the first time at gamescom. We still don't know much about the Campaign, except that it will admit the 3-player cooperative and will be the biggest campaign in the franchise to date.
If you already played the Horde mode of Gears of War 4, the Gears 5 version will feel instantly familiar. You are still fighting waves of enemies with 4 teammates, making money by killing monsters that you can spend on new weapons and fortifications. I spent the first 10 waves with four other players, and we had no trouble sending robots, Swarm creatures and a new type of hybrid robot / swarm enemies.
The biggest change in Gears 5 Horde mode is that each character now has a passive and maximum ability. Kait Díaz, the main character, has a unique camouflage ability that makes her invisible for a short period of time. I played with Emile from the recently announced Halo: Reach Character Pack, and the powerful Spartan & # 39; s Ultimate Ability is a dome-shaped shield that will temporarily protect you and your teammates from all bullets.
Gears 5 worked perfectly on the gaming PCs available on the Xbox stand, and it seems that The Coalition has really mastered the Unreal Engine 4 that was already used for Gears of War 4. Like its predecessor, Gears 5 also It supports spatial sound technologies that include Dolby Atmos and Microsoft's Windows Sonic platform, and this really helps make the experience more immersive.
I'm not a big fan of Horde mode, but the main game of Gears 5 felt really solid. I really liked the campaign in Gears of War 4, and I can't wait to see if the Gears 5 campaign will live up to the high expectations of Gears fans.
Unfortunately, I fear that Microsoft chose the worst possible release date for Gears 5, since the game will be sent three days before Borderlands 3, a game that was also present with all its strength in gamescom. I hope that the launch of Steam and Xbox Game Pass from Gears 5 upset things, but there is still a high risk that the game will be overshadowed by the long-awaited Gearbox loot in September.
Halo: Reach on PC
Microsoft previously announced this year that Halo: The Master Chief Collection would finally be released on Windows, and the first game to be released on PC is a remastered version of Halo: Reach. The "Spearhead" level was the subject of the first PC Insider flight a couple of weeks ago, and this same level could be played at E3 2019 and gamescom.
As someone who finds the character of Master Chief of Halo quite little Charismatic and boring, Halo: Reach, a prequel to Halo: Combat Evolved without Master Chief is one of my favorite Halo games. Halo: Reach was also the last Bungie Halo game that was released on Xbox 360 in 2010, and it's great that he finally received the remastering treatment and joined the Halo: MCC anthology on PC and Xbox One.
The Halo: Reach remaster still has no release date on PC and console, but the PC construction I could play on gamescom was solid. Playing Halo with a mouse and keyboard feels great and intuitive, and you'll really need more precision to fight the challenging enemies of Covenant. Halo: Reach is a bit more difficult than other Halo games since your character is not as tough as Master Chief, especially because you need to use health packages to heal when your shield falls.
I'm really excited about this Halo: Reach remaster, although it seems that porting all Halo games to Windows is a much more ambitious project than expected. Microsoft has not yet announced a release date for Halo: Reach on PC and Xbox One, and I doubt we'll see it this year. Worse, the console version has apparently been delayed as developers are currently dealing with memory problems on Xbox One.
Still, I'm very excited about Halo: MCC will finally hit the PC, since these shooters Classics really deserve to be available on Windows Halo is still one of Microsoft's biggest gaming franchises to date, and the company is probably right to take the time to do it right. It took 343 Industries years to solve the various problems that plagued the Xbox One version of Halo: MCC since its launch, and it is better that Microsoft does not make the same mistake with the PC version.
Announced on E3, delivered on gamescom. Fans are seeing Halo: The Master Chief Collection for PC for the first time. pic.twitter.com/0hibBa1JAh
– Xbox Game Pass for PC (@XboxGamePassPC) August 22, 2019
Final edition of Age of Empires II
I did not expect Age of Empires II Definitive Edition can be played at gamescom, so it was a very pleasant surprise. Microsoft announced Monday that the remaster will ship on Windows 10, Xbox Game Pass on Steam on November 14, and the company will also add Age of Empires: Definitive Edition to Xbox Game Pass the same day.
As you may know, Age of Empires: DE did not really meet fan expectations when it was launched at the Microsoft store in February 2018. The game was quite flawed in the launch, and even after the release of In several patches there are still some problems with the search for paths or artificial intelligence that acts strangely.
I hope Age of Empires II: DE doesn't suffer from the same launch issues, but the PC construction I played on gamescom looked really good. Age of Empires II was one of my favorite real-time strategy games (my favorite is still Age of Mythology), featuring many more different civilizations to play, interesting campaigns and several improvements to the game. I felt at home playing the brief tutorial, and I was also impressed with all the details on this 4K screen.
I love the work that Forgotten Empires has done on the graphics in general, and remastered audio is also a very welcome addition. The Definitive Edition will include 4 new civilizations, a completely new campaign called The Last Khans, and will also support the interaction between Windows 10 and the Steam version. Fingers crossed to be as good as what Age of Empires fans really deserve.
The last Microsoft game I tried on the Xbox stand was Minecraft Dungeons, which seems to be Mojang's version of Diablo III. I am a big fan of the latter, although I have to admit that I am not really in Minecraft. But it turns out that a hack-and-slash game with Minecraft-themed dungeon trackers is probably what Microsoft needs to attract players like me to the Minecraft universe.
I just played the demo for five minutes, and it was a co-session with someone from the Xbox booth that guided me through a dungeon generated by monster-filled procedures. As in Diablo, you can use short and long range attacks, you can also roll to avoid traps and enemy attacks, and you will win a loot by killing monsters and opening treasure chests.
There seems to be no crafts, mining mechanisms or class system in Minecraft Dungeons: this is just you and your friends fighting monsters and getting an increasingly powerful loot in a world artistically pixelated. I feel that the game has a lot of potential, especially since it will be released on Windows 10, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. Minecraft Dungeons will also support local and online cooperatives for 4 players, and cross-compatibility on cards between Windows 10 and Xbox One.
Minecraft Dungeons is expected to launch in the spring of 2020, and will be available on Xbox Game Pass on release day. Overall, 2020 should be a great year for Minecraft with the next release of Minecraft Earth on iOS and Android, Minecraft Dungeons on PC and consoles, as well as support for Ray Tracing on Windows 10 and a new rendering engine for all versions of Bedrock Minecraft
Microsoft has often received criticism about the quality of its first games during this generation of consoles, but I feel that this is finally about to change. The fact that the new first-party games are now sent to Xbox Game Pass on the first day really helps put Xbox Game Studios in the spotlight, just as Microsoft finally adopts Steam. Microsoft still has several new and exciting games on the way, including a new Flight Simulator, Halo Infinite, Age of Empires IV, as well as a rumored new Fable game developed by Forza Horizon Playground Games developer. I feel that Microsoft finally returned as an AAA game developer, and Gears 5 will be the first big test for me. Stay tuned for our full review of the game in early September.
Credit image feature: Xbox UK .
Additional reading: Age of Empires, Gamescom 2019, Gears 5, Halo The Master Chief Collection, Minecraft, Minecraft Dungeons, Video Games, Xbox