E3 2014 Microsoft Predictions: Halo 5, Banjo 3, Alan Wake 2, Forza Horizon 2, New IP, and A Price Cut
E3 2014 for Microsoft and the Xbox One is shaping up to be a blockbuster event. Gamers know a new Halo is coming, but what about the return of some franchises like Banjo Kazooie, Alan Wake, and Forza Horizon?
I kicked off my E3 2014 predictions with the oddball of the group yesterday, Nintendo. While we still have no idea if Nintendo will even be at E3 2014 in a more traditional sense, we know that the other two big players Microsoft and Sony will be at the show with big presentations in hand.
Microsoft has had a fairly successful console launch with the Xbox One, which is amazing considering all of the negative energy surrounding the console before its’ launch, but Microsoft has been extremely quite since the release of Titanfall back in March. E3 2014 needs to be a huge show for Microsoft for many reasons, but the biggest being a lot of consumers are finding it difficult to to pick up the Xbox One when the competition has the cheaper console. Like I said with Nintendo, Microsoft needs to use their E3 conference to remind gamers what makes the Xbox experience unique, but more importantly why the Xbox brand is one that focuses on games.
So lets get started with some easy predictions.
Halo is coming to Xbox One, but will it be Halo 5?
A new Halo title is a given at this point, but the question is, what Halo title will show up? There have been rumors for awhile now that Halo 5 has been pushed back to next year after a supposed leak from an insider that was not happy with Microsoft. The insider claimed that this year Microsoft will release a Halo 2 HD similar to what they did with the first Halo on the Xbox 360, and that Halo 5 will be out in 2015 because it needed more time and polish.
Personally, I feel like Halo 5 has not been pushed, and it will see a full reveal at E3 2014, and will obviously be Microsofts big title for 2014. Halo is what made the Xbox a brand, and Microsoft knows if they push the first big Halo on Xbox One release a year back, their holiday period will be a rough one. They need their flagship product and franchise on the Xbox One. Now I know a lot of gamers are saying its obviously been pushed because we haven’t seen any kind of footage or game play since it’s initial reveal trailer last year. To those people I say, remember that Halo 4 was announced at E3 2011, and was pretty much silent until the following year. Either way, some sort of Halo titles will be on Xbox One in 2014. So fans of the series can look forward to that.
Forza Horizon 2 is a poorly kept secret, but that won’t stop fans from being excited.
What about other known franchises fro Microsoft? Another given at this point is the next installment in the Forza Horizon franchise that debuted in 2012. Microsoft has made it clear they plan to make Forza a yearly title, alternating between Forza Mortorsport and Forza Horizon, which means Forza Horizon 2 is a poorly kept secret. That doesn’t mean Forza Horizon 2 will be an after thought, and in fact it will probably be my most anticipated title on the Xbox One for the upcoming year, but there isn’t going to be much surprise when the trailer hits at E3 2014.
Now lets talk about some franchises that might make a surprise appearance. Last year I predicted that Killer Instinct would make it’s return to the gaming world, and shockingly I was correct. The fact that Microsoft was even willing to put money behind an exclusive fighting game gives me hope for the return of other franchises Microsoft owns, and I am hoping E3 2014 will be the debut of some forgotten faces.
Will Banjo Kazooie 3 finally make its’ debut at E3 2014?
Banjo Kazooie 3 makes a ton of sense to me at this point in the Xbox One’s life. Microsoft has made it clear that they are going to be trying new and different things with the library of games that will be available for the Xbox One, and Banjo Kazooie 3 would be a perfect fit to shake up the image the console has. This is a franchise that is just sitting and is begging to be brought back to life, and I have the suspicion that there was a new title from Banjo in the works for the Xbox 360, but for whatever reason was never finished. There have been rumors circulating for what seems like forever that Rare has been working on a new title, but whenever Rare shows up at E3, it’s to show off the next Kinect Sports. This leads me to believe that Rare simply isn’t the developer behind it. Similar to what Microsoft did with Killer Instinct, they possibly have brought in a third party to try and do something with Banjo Kazooie, and I am feeling fairly confident we will see Banjo’s return at E3 2014. I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t a full AAA title though.
How about those Battletoads rumors? Sadly, I’m going to say keep dreaming, and that all of those teasers we have seen from Rare, such as the Battletoads style of costumes in Kinect Sports Rivals, are simply Rare having some fun.
Then there is that little franchise Microsoft recently purchased known as Gears of War. We know that Black Tusk is working on a new Gears of War game on the Xbox One, and as much as I want to see what Gears can look and feel like in Unreal Engine 4, I expect to hear next to nothing about the new title at E3 2014. Theres a chance we could get a teaser or target trailer, but unless Black Tusk was working on the new title long before the acquisition of the franchise was announced by Microsoft and the Xbox Team, it feels far too early to show it off. E3 2015 sounds like the time when Gears of War on Xbox One will be a big thing.
New IP is something all gamers want, and Microsoft will likely show something new at E3 2014.
Now lets move on to my personal favorite prediction, and it comes from one of my favorite developers, Remedy. Alan Wake is not a game that deserves game of the year awards, but it still happens to be one of my favorite games on the Xbox 360. This is simply because it offered something that felt new and unique, but also had that Remedy feel that you only get from their games. Do I think Alan Wake 2 is coming? Totally, but not any time soon. Quantum Break is Remedy’s focus right now, but that game is expected to hit stores in 2014 and it will be a big focal point during E3 2014, but development on that game has to be wrapping up within the next couple of months to get ready to ship. Remedy is obviously working on something else, and Alan Wake 2 makes a lot of sense for their next project. I am feeling a nice teaser after their Qunatum Break presentation to debut Alan Wake 2 to the world. Similar to how Bungie unveiled Halo Reach after their game play presentation of Halo 3: ODST.
New IP’s are something that are extremely difficult to talk about, obviously because they are new and it’s next to impossible to predict something you know nothing about. This is an area where Xbox fans have been pleading with Microsoft to throw some money at, but other than Ryse and Titanfall, we haven’t seen any major releases that are new. Quantum Break and Sunset Overdrive are coming in 2014, so that proves Microsoft is indeed trying new things, but what about other games we don’t know about? I firmly believe Microsoft will show off some fresh new IP at E3 2014. What genre those will be, no one really knows, but it feels if Microsoft understands they can’t rely on the Xbox 360 approach they took with first party titles. Microsoft’s strategy has always been to build a few franchises into monsters that people just adore, such as Halo and Forza, and that has worked for them tremendously with the Xbox 360, but with a new generation comes new franchises and experiences. What they have shown is a fantastic start, but E3 2014 is where they really need to show they are committed to new franchises. I don’t expect to see all of them ship in 2014, but a few teasers to just show they are working for 2015 would be a nice treat.
Microsoft needs to cut the price of the Xbox One, plain and simple.
The Xbox One also needs some changes as well, at least in terms of price. Right now both the Playstation 4 and Xbox One are selling very well, but the Playstation 4 is simply selling much better. The price of the Xbox One is still $499 USD which is just too high. I understand Microsoft’s thinking, but the fact is the direct competition has a very similar box at a cheaper price that is appealing to more hardcore gamers. Microsoft needs to change this, but I have feeling they will only get there half way at E3 2014. Microsoft will likely cut the price to $449 officially and bundle in a game to try and compete more aggressively with the PS4, but I personally feel they need to drop it $399 and keep the game inside the box as well. That may seem extreme, but Microsoft needs to be really aggressive over the next few years or they will face an even bigger gap between consoles sales. If both consoles were priced the same, you would start to see very interesting debates and discussions among gamers, and it would be a huge push to show that Microsoft is indeed here to win it as they say, but I believe it will be cut to $449 USD.
E3 2014 is extremely important to all three big players, but personally I feel like Microsoft has the most to prove out of all three. After their confusing reveal and their flat out horrible PR that followed, Microsoft needs some amazing PR to keep building upon the positive image they have managed to start creating with Xbox One. Last year’s presentation was quite good and focused on the games entirely which was a nice change of pace for Microsoft, but the negative image that was created just overshadowed anything Microsoft showed. Phil Spencer says their E3 2014 presentation will be all about the games again, hopefully they stick to their word. This could be the year Microsoft reestablishes their place in the gaming world. Either way, they should have a a very strong E3 2014 presentation which is more than exciting.