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Nostalgia -- And Pretty Flashing Bracelets -- Dominate at Xbox E3 Event

Microsoft plays politics with the gamer faithful at E3.

Eric Johnson

Microsoft said in advance that it would be all about the games at E3 — and it lived up to its promise Monday in a straightforward media briefing that cruised through more than 20 game announcements in 90 minutes.

“Today, we are dedicating our entire briefing to games,” Xbox head Phil Spencer said in his opening remarks, a line that drew a huge cheer from the crowd.

Another popular element of the show: Mandatory Xbox-branded bracelets for all attendees. At first, I thought they were tracking bracelets like the MagicBand devices Disney showed off last year at D11; in fact, they were for decoration, lighting up throughout the presentation in time with specific cues from the onstage presentation.

The games themselves drew heavily on the Xbox’s past successes: Attendees saw trailers and gameplay for new entries in the Call of Duty, Assassin’s Creed and Fable series. Of particular note was a segment officially confirming that the first four main Halo games will be re-released for the Xbox One as the Master Chief Collection — just as originally reported by Engadget two weeks ago.

In addition to recharging the first-person shooter’s fan base, this gives Halo developer 343 Industries more time to work on the already-announced Halo 5: Guardians, which won’t be out until late 2015. However, a beta for Halo 5’s multiplayer games will launch by December, Microsoft said.

The only non-game given stage time was “Halo: Nightfall,” a live-action video series from “Alien” director Ridley Scott and frequent Steven Spielberg collaborator Sergio Mimica-Gezzan. “Nightfall” will premiere this fall, but no mention was made of the other long-awaited Halo TV project, with Spielberg himself attached to produce.

Interspersed between the various trailers were prerecorded segments of game developers and — for unexplained reasons, but who cares? — the cast of HBO’s “Silicon Valley” talking about their favorite games. This pointedly included plenty of games not made by Microsoft, which makes sense. The renewed focus on core gamers means playing to their sense of history and community … and, of course, their nostalgia for all sorts of games of the past.

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