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Microsoft's press conference at GamesCom 2014 today had some major news for the Xbox One. There were a range of announcements about features, games and hardware bundles.
If you missed the press conference, here's a recap of the biggest reveals from the event. There were a lot of other details to chew over but these are the biggest takeaways.
Rise of the Tomb Raider Is Xbox ExclusiveTomb Raider's 2013 reboot was released on Xbox 360, PS3, PC, PS4 and Xbox One. However, sequel Rise of the Tomb Raider is going to be arriving exclusively on Xbox.
There are a lot of unknowns with this exclusivity. Is it a timed exclusivity, which would mean that PlayStation and PC gamers could get Rise somewhere down the road? Is the game coming to Xbox 360 and Xbox One, or just Xbox One?
Nonetheless, even if the game is only going to be exclusive to Xbox for a few months, it's a major holiday title that Microsoft's competitors won't have. Following the positive reception of Tomb Raider, Rise could end up convincing a few gamers to upgrade to Xbox One.
PreloadingRight now, Xbox One owners who pre-order digital games can't download games in advance. That meant, for example, that Titanfall players had to wait until the servers were live to start the massive download. It was a massive inconvenience for gamers and handicapped digital purchases.
However, that's going to change this fall. Xbox One owners can pre-order and preload Forza Horizon 2 and FIFA 15. This will enable them to start playing the minute the game has launched.
Additional titles eligible for preloading will be announced soon. I'm a bit disappointed this feature won't be available for every new release automatically. It's a step in the right direction, though.
Halo 5 DetailsHalo 5: Guardians won't be out until 2015 but Microsoft was willing to chat about the game a bit during their press conference. They cleared up a few mysteries about the game.
First, they explained the multiplayer beta a bit more. The beta, accessible by owners of the Halo: The Master Chief Collection, will run from December 29th, 2014 to January 18th, 2015. This beta will be substantial, letting players explore several modes and maps from the full game. Players will also be able to try out Halo 5's weapon and armor customization features.
There's another reason to pick up the Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Playing the bundle of HD remakes and watching the included mini-series Halo: Nightfall will unlock "exclusive content" for Halo 5 on launch.
Evolve, Fable Legends Beta TestsXbox One owners will get hands-on time with upcoming co-op titles Evolve and Fable Legends very soon. Both games will be have public betas on the console.
Fable Legends' beta sign-ups are already open. Anyone who registers will have a chance to start playing the test as early as October 16th. Lionhead Studios will keep adding players as the test proceeds.
The Evolve beta, meanwhile, is scheduled for January 2015. That's a month before the new release date. Though the game is also in development for PS4 and PC, the test will be Xbox One exclusive. It's apparently an open beta, too, so everyone interested in trying out the shooter can do so.
New Xbox One BundlesMicrosoft revealed that the Madden 15 bundle won't be the only special Xbox One package coming this fall. The company also has three other console bundles on the way.
The Sunset Overdrive bundle, leaked by a retailer last week, was confirmed during the press conference. It includes a white console and controller, the first time this color has been released in stores. The bundle also has a copy of Sunset Overdrive and bonus in-game items. The best part is that it's $399, or the normal price of the Xbox One by itself.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare's custom bundle is $499 but gives you plenty of extras for your money. It comes with an Xbox One bundle and wireless controller emblazoned with Advanced Warfare artwork. The console also has a 1 TB hard drive, which is twice the usual storage for Xbox One. Rounding out the bundle is a chat headset, Day Zero edition of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, and a slew of bonuses for the game like custom weapons.
European gamers, meanwhile, can get the Xbox One FIFA 15 bundle. This £349.99/€399.99 package includes the console, a wireless controller, chat headset, 14-day Xbox Live Gold voucher, a digital copy of the game and the Ultimate Team Legends Gold Pack.