Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was a crowd-pleasing opener that set the tone for a conference full of fan favourites. We saw Battlefield 4, a spectacular tease for an unnamed new Halo from 343, the stunning-looking Forza Motorsport 5, and the long-expected but never-before-confirmed Dead Rising 3, which looks like it might take the series in a more serious direction tone-wise than its two predecessors. Titanfall, Respawn's long-awaited multiplayer FPS, looked uninspiring in the trailer but amazing in the gameplay demonstration - like the sci-fi shooter that others wish they could be. If you were after guns, cars, or zombies, this conference had you covered.
Showing new games like these was hugely important for Microsoft after the Xbox One reveal focused exclusively on gigantic but also much more predictable franchises (FIFA, Madden, and Call of Duty). It shows that there is more in place for the future of the Xbox One than just timed-DLC deals with the biggest publishers in gaming: there's also an element of creativity.
Speaking of creativity, independent developers are a vital part of the gaming ecosystem for anyone who cares about interesting video games, but after excellent beginnings for Xbox Live Arcade and Xbox Live Indie Games, the past few years have seen many indies speak out about their disappointment with Microsoft's attitude towards them. The perception, especially in comparison with Sony's PlayStation 4 reveal, has been that Microsoft is no longer interested in indies.
Today's conference also offered an unexpected glimpse at how Xbox One's use of cloud computing could change video games. Cloud-dependent titles like Forza 5, Project Spark and the spectacular-looking Titanfall showed how the Xbox One enables evolving worlds and AI, upping the scale of what's possible. SimCity indicated that we're perhaps not ready for games that depend entirely on servers, but on this evidence that's where Microsoft is heading, whether we're ready or not.
It's another indication that Microsoft is still focussed squarely on the North American market. This was a more international conference than the last, with an appearance from Kojima and plenty of games developed outside the US, but Microsoft isn't hiding the console's reliance on a broadband internet connection and the service side of the console – TV, Netflix, all the rest – is unlikely to be up and running outside the States at launch. A simultaneous worldwide release date is good, but the pricing is a real kick in the teeth for people in Europe and the UK. In real terms, the console will be over $150 more expensive there.
On this evidence, though, it's a promising future if you like the kind of games that Xbox has always been best for – and there were glimpses here of something more, too, in Below, Ryse and the other new exclusives. This was a fan-pleasing conference, which was exactly what was needed after the past three weeks. How Sony responds will set the tone for the next five months.