E3 is fast upon us, as the year’s largest and most important gaming expo kicks off next week. This is the time for console gaming leaks. And this year it also happens to be a week for big announcements, perhaps because some publishers fear news of their games would be lost in the wave of news that strikes during E3 itself.
If you have an Xbox 360 or Xbox One, I dare you not to be excited by the games we’re about to discuss… I’m talking about a new (old) Fable game, the first game from original Call of Duty: Modern Warfare creators Respawn Entertainment, and one very big PC port: Diablo III! Read on for that news and more.
Fable Anniversary for Xbox 360
The original Fable was a huge hit on the first Xbox console, the system we definitely can’t call Xbox 1 anymore. British developer Lionhead Studio’s action-RPG oozed with charm and humor and also filled a much underserved niche on the RPG-starved first Xbox in 2004.
Fable allowed players to choose between good and evil actions. Not only did this choice affect the story, it even changed the character’s appearance. Players could even choose to marry NPCs. One year later, a retail expansion called Fable: The Lost Chapters came along, boasting lots of new content like quests, enemies, and items.
Some say that the first Fable was the only truly excellent game in the series, with Xbox 360 sequels Fable 2 and 3, as well as spin-offs Fable Heroes and Fable: The Journey (and perhaps even Fable Coin Golf for Windows Phone 7!) failing to meet the original’s lofty standards. Those crotchety players will be happy to know that the original Fable will receive a high-definition Xbox 360 remake this fall, not unlike 2011’s Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary Edition.
Fable Anniversary will include the full first game as well as The Lost Chapters. Microsoft and Lionhead also promise new lighting, textures, animations, and a host of other graphical improvements. It will even have leaderboards for the first time ever.
It’s a shame that Fable Anniversary won’t also be released for Xbox One, but it definitely gives 360 gamers a long and much loved game to look forward to in the fourth quarter of this year.
Diablo III for Xbox 360
When Sony and Blizzard announced that Diablo III would be coming to Playstation 4 during that console’s reveal event, many of us feared that the venerable action-RPG series would never make its way to Xbox platforms. Thankfully, that has proven not to be the case, as Activision Blizzard just announced that Diablo III will appear on Xbox 360 on September 3rd – in addition to Playstation 3 and (shortly thereafter) 4. Xbox One remains conspicuously absent from that list, but at least 360 gamers will be able to get in on the loot seeking action!
The long-awaited third Diablo title first appeared on PC in May 2012. It received a somewhat mixed reception, especially due to an ill-advised real-world auction system. It also faced stiff competition against Torchlight II and other contemporaries. On consoles however there are precious few Diablo-like games. XBLA has the first Torchlight but it’s a much smaller, single-player affair.
The 360 version of Diablo III will include the content that’s been added to the PC game since launch, so it won’t feel anemic by comparison. It also includes a revamped UI and new camera angles to make the game feel at home on a console. Most excitingly, it will add four-player local co-op! Sitting around the TV and playing with a friend/significant other or three should be a great way to pass a few evenings. And Blizzard even promises that multiple local players will be able to join in online games, so it won’t be hard at all to fill out a team of four.
Diablo III will retail for $59.99 when it launches on September 3rd. Preordering it will get you an exclusive helmet that boosts XP gain. Now let’s hope an Xbox One version comes along too, even if Playstation 4 gets it first.
Titanfall for Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC
The story of how the creators of gaming juggernaut Call of Duty: Modern Warfare split off from Activision-owned Infinity Ward in order to create their own studio is the stuff of gaming legend. If you’re not familiar with those events, stop what you’re doing and do a web search on it right now. To make a long story short, several members of the Modern Warfare team felt shrifted after Modern Warfare 2 released and so they went off to form their own studio: Respawn Entertainment.
We’ve heard little from Respawn since then. But Game Informer magazine has just leaked a huge bombshell: Respawn’s first game Titanfall will be exclusive to Xbox 360, Xbox One, and PC! That’s right, the spiritual successor to Modern Warfare will not be coming to Playstation 3 or 4. Consider that one huge feather in the Xbox One’s cap, to say nothing of its little brother the 360.
We don’t have too many details about Titanfall just yet, but it will be a futuristic first-person shooter. You weren’t expecting an RTS, were you? Humans characters will have the ability to pilot huge mechs called Titans. But the game will be balanced in such a way that other humans can effectively combat those mechs.
One potentially cool or uncool aspect of Titanfall is that it will require an online connection to play. The primary reason for that is the Xbox One’s ability to offload processing tasks to the cloud. This will apparently allow the game to have more advanced physics and graphical effects than the Xbox One could handle on its own. Considering that easily 90% of Call of Duty players buy the game for its online mode, I doubt the online requirement will prove much of a deterrent for this particular game.
We’re bound to hear more about Titanfall during Microsoft’s E3 media briefing on Monday, so stay tuned!
Fantasia: Music Evolved for Xbox 360 and Xbox One
Given the critical praise of Harmonix’s Dance Central series and its motion controls, many gamers thought that Dance Central 4 as a Kinect title would be a foregone conclusion. It turns out that the studio famous for its music games will instead follow up Dance Central 3 with a licensed Disney game called Fantasia: Music Evolved.
Yes, this is a new motion-controlled music game based on Disney’s animated Fantasia films. Players will take on the role of the new Sorcerer’s Apprentice (please don’t remind me of that tepid movie!) as he conducts music within a magical world. The brilliantly colorful graphics are 3D instead of 2D, while the music consists of licensed songs from Queen (yes!), Bruno Mars, and other artists.
Fantasia: Music Evolved might seem like an odd license and a difficult concept to grasp at this point in time. However, we know that Harmonix KNOWS music and it KNOWS motion controls. The Xbox One version of Fantasia will likely have the most accurate full-body controls that Harmonix has ever produced, and that thrills this Dance Central fan to the core.
Wolfenstein: The New Order for Xbox 360 and Xbox One
Bethesda, publisher of such games as Skyrim and Doom 3: BFG Edition is currently hard at work on the latest installment in the venerable Wolfenstein series. Yes, this one was announced a few weeks back but we've got a fresh trailer to share with you now.
Rather than a direct sequel, The New Order spins the story off into an alternate universe in which the Nazis won World War II and took over America. Series protagonist B.J. Blaskowicz returns as the only man capable of stopping the sci-fi Nazi menace.
The New Order will be a single-player game, a fact which could disappoint fans of the phenomenal original Xbox entry Return to Castle Wolfenstein. But the world needs an alternate history game about fighting techno Nazis even more than it needs yet another multiplayer game. We’ll do our best to get some hands-on footage of Wolfenstein: The New Order at E3 next week!