It’s been that time in gaming again; the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo has hit Los Angeles with forecasts for the next few years in gaming. We’ve rounded up the most important moments of the conference for you.
E3 always provides occasions for us all to get hot under the collar, and the announcement that Bethesda would be putting on a showcase during the five day gaming conference held in LA was certainly one of them. While Bethesda has shown off its work at E3 in the past, such as the popular reveals of both the Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and Fallout 3, the company has always chosen to do it on a game by game basis. As soon as we discovered that Bethesda would be hitting E3 big this year, it was obvious that they would have something big to show.
We were not disappointed. Over the course of about two hours, Bethesda released information about three of the most currently anticipated games; Doom, Fallout 4 and Dishonored 2. Doom is looking to be a fantastic blend of the core of the classic genre defining game, with modern day art styles and mechanics and is certainly worth keeping an eye on. Dishonored 2 offers us more of a fantastic franchise which captured many people’s imaginations.
My own interest lies with Fallout 4. Having been a massive fan of both Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, and having gone back to enjoy the original games developed by Interplay Studios, the reveal of Fallout 4 made every second of the last five years pay off. Running on a next generation version of Bethesda’s creation engine, the E3 demo showed off some absolutely outstanding new gameplay, features, and content. Bethesda then went and outdid themselves by announcing that the game would be released on 10th November this year.
Many elements of E3 do feel very false and tacky, such as some of the presenting on livestreams, or Microsoft’s previous love of hiring actors to show us just what the Kinect ‘can’ do. This is because the event is primarily an industry conference, and focuses around what companies have been doing, and how it’s better than their competitors. If focusing on this, then Bethesda certainly stole a march on everyone at E3, and it was simply glorious.
In a rather unsurprising move, Square Enix opened with a trailer for Just Cause 3 – the open-world sandbox game pledging to singlehandedly “redefine” the genre – boasting upgraded weapons and transportation (including a new free-flying wingsuit for faster travel) and an ambitious holiday season release date of December 1st.
The other big Christmas release – due December 8th – is the first digital instalment of Hitman, and with it the long overdue return of Contracts Mode, in which players can create and share scenarios and assassination targets. Hitman will also include a number of missions accessible only for a limited time; a feature that will certainly plague the perfectionists among us.
Plans to refocus on JRPGs – the staple of Square Enix – include bringing about a PS4 remake of the much-loved Final Fantasy VII and introducing Tokyo RPG Factory, a new studio specializing in JRPGs set for debut in 2016 with Project Setsuna. The top dog on the JRPG front this year was Kingdom Hearts III, with a fast-flowing gameplay trailer featuring the lush grasslands of Disney’s Tangled and an art style that could (hopefully!) welcome more modern Disney titles to the Kingdom Hearts series. Big Hero Six or WALL-E worlds, anyone?
Kingdom Hearts III will be accompanied by Kingdom Hearts Unchained Key, a mobile game with a story that will run alongside that of the main game. Also coming to iOS and Android is Lara Croft Go, a turn based virtual board game following in the footsteps of last year’s highly successful Hitman Go.
Other releases on the cards for Square Enix include a new NieR game (currently in early stages but featuring wonderfully Tim Burton-esque attire), Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, XBOX One exclusive Rise of the Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy Portal, an app for FF news and information.
Ubisoft’s conference was helmed by regular Aisha Tyler who, for once, didn’t make us feel uncomfortable at some point in proceedings. This was the company’s first success. Second was the games; opening with Parker & Stone presenting South Park: The Fractured But Whole, basically the Stick of Truth but with superheroes. A new game announced for Ubisoft was For Honor which, despite having the second word spelt offensively wrong, looked interesting. It was a hand-to-hand battle/combat game featuring Vikings, knights and shoguns and was presented by a real-life Viking who seemed very keen.
E3 boasts many ‘new and exciting’ games that are not such, but Ubisoft’s response was Anno 2205, a city-builder on earth and space that presents a different image of sci-fi to the usual ‘laser guns and space ships!’ Speaking of innovation, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate has none. The newest instalment of the franchise is set in Victorian London as seen by America, and seems exactly like previous iterations of the game.
Ubisoft also showed their affinity to the ‘Tom Clancy’ prefix with three games. They gave us another look at The Division, which still looks fun although the repeated viewings are starting to burn us out. Rainbow Six Siege, coming soonish, was given another quick peek although it was marketed to look a little too much like Battlefield. The show-stealer for Clancy was Ghost Recon: Wildlands, an open-world game where you can choose your own approach to missions etc. It looked like Far Cry 3, in a good way.
Also shown were expansions to games. The Crew: Wild Run has cars driving around (surprise surprise), Trials Fusion has a bizarre rainbow cat unicorn expansion, and Just Dance 2016 showed Ubisoft’s main slip-up by showing a live performance that no-one in the audience seemed to care for.
People are saying Ubisoft won E3 and with games like For Honor, Anno 2205 and Wildlands, they make a good case.
PC Gaming Conference
Bethesda weren’t the only new kids on the presenting block at E3 this year. PC Gamer Magazine put on the ﬁrst ever E3 conference dedicated to PC Gaming. But while it was refreshing to see increased recognition for the growing platform, the show seriously lacked substance – and not just of the Half Life 3 kind.
Hosted by Sean ‘Day ’ Plott of Starcraft fame, the show was little more than a reel of already-released trailers and brief chit chat with various developers. Cliff Bleszinski, who left Gears of War developer Epic Games to form his own studio, didn’t reveal much about his new game Project Bluestreak, and all that was shown was a non-gameplay environment demo that was already released in March.
That being said, there were a few small treats. Phil Spencer from Xbox made an appearance to announce that Xbox One exclusives ‘Killer Instinct’ and ‘Fable Legends’ would be getting a release on the PC with cross-platform support to boot. Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, a souped up version of the original, was also announced for PC.
Outside of the trailer reel and Xbox surprises, the rest of the show comprised mostly small announcements for existing or already revealed games. Guild Wars 2 and ARMA 3 had their expansions detailed and Indie games such as STRAFE, Enter the Gungeon and Beyond Eyes were lovingly described by their developers. In a demonstration of the free-for-all nature of the show, there was even a spotlight placed on American Truck Simulator, no doubt the hottest game of the year.