There goes another E3, fast receding in our rear-view mirrors, but unlike the rather lackluster show of last year, this one will most certainly live in our minds for a good long while to come. The highs were especially high (Final Fantasy VII remake) and the lows were oh so low (Nintendo’s entire conference) but all in all it was an excellent celebration of video games and an exciting window into what we’ll be playing over the next few years.
Here’s a quick list of the most important takeaways from this year’s press conferences:
With all the hype surrounding The Force Awakens, I am unashamed to admit that, like a lot of people, I’m re-discovering the inner Star Wars addict that went into hiding soon after Revenge of the Sith was released. With that in mind you can understand why I had my jaw on the ground when I watched the trailer for Star Wars Battlefront, a game which has managed to drill right into my geeky heart. I was an absolutely huge fan of the original Battlefront games and couldn’t understand why the series went away…but now it’s back with a bang. That Hoth level looks immense putting you right into the heart of Star Wars’ biggest set peices. Sure developer DICE have said there are no space battles and rumour has it there isn’t a single player element but after seeing that trailer I don’t really care. I want to fight for the Rebel Alliance as soon as possible. Also, Darth Vader.
2. The New IPs look Tantalising
Probably the best thing about E3, and easily my most pressing reason to watch is the announcement of new IPs, those gems of games that you just know you’ll be getting excited about for months if not years to come. Of course the hype train is just that, hype, and these games often don’t turn out nearly as good as they look at E3 (hands up Watchdogs and The Order: 1886), but until some of these games inevitably prove disappointing, lets just pretend that they’ll all be amazing.
Sony led the way with new IP announcements with Horizon: Zero Dawn looking like something Playstation gamers should be very excited about. Post apocalyptic tribal humans fighting against beautifully designed robotic beasts, what’s not to love? It’s particularly exciting as developer Guerilla Games is finally flexing its creative muscles and doing something other than Killzone.
Sony also had Dreams from Media Molecule: which I’d love to explain to you but i’m not sure what it’s about at all. The premise seems to be the ability to create dreamcscapes on your Playstation so some sort of giant world building game with the ability to make your own assets seems the most likely explanation of ‘Dreams’ but until we get our hands on a demo, it’ll be hard to pin down exactly what those wacky devs at Media Molecule have come up with.
Microsoft have Recore in their arsenal, another post-apocalyptic robot affair but this time the robot seems to be on your side which’ll no doubt tug on some heart strings. Recore has the pedigree of legendary developer Inafune behind it so definitely something to look forward to.
Finally, Ubisoft’s For Honor rounds of the most eye catching of the new IPs. It’s been described as a co-op Dynasty Warriors where you and a team of mates can gouge your way through opposing armies as a variety of historical warriors like knights, vikings and samurai. Now the Dynasty Warriors comparison isn’t so favorable these days as that is a series that’s very much outstayed its welcome, but lets not forget that this game is being developed by Ubisoft Montreal the studio responsible a lot of the work on Assassin’s Creed, which for all its faults has an amazing combat system. If they could ramp up the pace on those fights and create some true scale, For Honor should set a benchmark in multiplayer co-op.
3. Nintendo’s line up is extremely weak
If E3 told us one thing about Nintendo it’s that the Japanese game company’s future is in flux. For those of you that missed the conference the announcements were sparse with StarFox, Yoshi’s Wooly World and Mario Maker taking the headlines. Of course these are games we already know a lot about and so the sense of wonder at the unknown the other conferences gave us was missing. New titles were fairly meager too with some throw away announcement about Amibos and Skylanders and of course a new Mario and Luigi game for 3DS. Now I get that Nintendo marches to the beat of its own drum and maybe E3 isn’t the place to show all its cards but the gaming world’s attention is focused on that event and it really is the best chance to connect with your followers. Nintendo fans are some of the most loyal in the world and have stuck by the House of Mario even through the tough times the Wii U has brought around. Some sort of glimpse into the future to show that not all is bleak, that he Wii U has some life left in it, or if not that the NX will be the next big thing in gaming would have gone a long way to assuring people that Nintendo is still a viable competitor in modern gaming.
4. Bethesda shows us how to do Special Editions
I have waxed lyrical about how I don’t pre-order games anymore because of the sorry state of affairs at the end of last year with all those broken titles being released. Now, in my defense the situation has got much better since then and games are improving their Day 1 quality but I still wasn’t going to go back to pre-ordering… until I saw the Pip-Boy edition of Fallout 4. The new Fallout is going to be a juggernaut at the end of the year and to be able to play it with my own little pip boy on my arm is drool inducing. Sure some of the non believers are telling me it’s just a glorified phone case but to them I’m sticking my fingers in my ears and humming the theme tune to Radio Galaxy.
5. The Hololens could just be the next big thing
It seemed that Microsoft was a couple of steps behind when it came to the VR tech that every other company under the sun seems to be developing but at E3 it showed it’s actually a few hundred yards down the road. The demonstration of Minecraft’s augmented reality through use of the Hololens was something to behold and the possibilities this technology holds must have developers reeling. Now, the jury is still out with all these VR peripherals, Hololens included, and we’ll have to see how the general public reacts to them when they’re on the market. Thinking about it, it’s been nearly half a century we’ve had video games and we still really haven’t needed anything other than a screen and a handheld interface… I mean motion controls have only just found their feet with the Wii and mobile gaming, are we really ready to stick headsets on? The first few months of VR will be very telling as to whether this is indeed the future of gaming and if it is, Microsoft have a banker in the Hololens.
6. Sony’s Triple Whammy will be talked about for years to come
After seeing the quality of the Microsoft conference I thought it would be a mountain to climb for Sony to compete but they did just that with one of the best 45 minutes of conference ever seen at E3. The Last Guardian, Final Fantasy VII remake AND Shenmue 3 announced in quick succession had the crowd on their feet yelling their support as this was the dream come true: the games we’ve been begging developers for, literally for decades, are finally on their way. Sony once again showed that it listens to their gamers and at the moment very much deserves to be on top of the console world.
7. Uncharted 4
Uncharted 4 looks awesome in spite of technical glitches….that is all.