E3 2015: The Year We Go Big At All CostsFiled inside: News
If you’re here reading this, it’s very likely you’ve been following the proceedings at this year’s Entertainment Electronics Expo—E3 as it is more colloquially known.
I had the distinct pleasure of attend the show again this year, and what a year it was.
Last year saw a powerful push in the indie scene, alongside a some top-shelf trailers, but many of the best games we saw were relegated to smaller studios. That was completely turned on it’s head this year: the press conferences were loaded to the brim with AAA showstoppers.
Bethesda started strong with their new remake for DOOM, which looks like it will well capture the original spirit of high-octane demon destruction. They showed off the class-based shooter Battlecry, which is looking improved over our impressions last year. Dishonored 2 showed off a new protagonist and some fancy clockwork guards. The biggest announcement, of course, was Fallout 4. The presentation assuaged many a fan’s fears.
Microsoft took the stage after Bethesda, starting off with the news that Halo 5 will be featuring immensely large-scale multiplayer maps with AI controlled enemies and some sweet, sweet, Nathan Fillion action. ReCore, an exclusive by Mega Man creator Keiji Inafune tugged at some heartstrings. Phil Spencer took the stage and dropped a major bomb: the Xbox One is receiving backwards compatibility for Xbox 360 games, though it may come through as a trickle—Mass Effect is among the first games to receive some love from the new feature. Dark Souls III made it’s first appeareance, placing players in a “blighted world” of what I can only imagine is another parallel version of Lordran. Plenty of military action came about, as well, with The Division and Rainbow Six: Siege taking some stage time, showing off the ways that teams can both work together—and betray one another. Rise of the Tomb Raider showed off some gameplay and a November release date.
Perhaps the most intriguing and impressive part of the Microsoft conference was the Hololens demo, Microsoft’s entry into the world of immersive VR technology. A special version of Minecraft was shown that allowed the Hololens user to project their worlds onto flat surfaces and interact with the world from an almost omnipresent perspective, looking into buildings, monitoring other players on other devices, and offering a new way to view worlds of your own creation. It’s something to keep an eye on.
EA followed up with the first real look at Mass Effect: Andromeda in action (new galaxy!), though many started complaining about the inclusion of a Johnny Cash song in the trailer, as if there’s anything to be mad about here. Old Republic got a boss new trailer for its free expansion, Knights of the Fallen Empire, though that’s nothing new, the original game’s trailers were impressive, but the game wasn’t the best around. Still, it’s hard not to be excited about. There was plenty of sports news, as is to be expected at EA’s conference, but that was overshadowed by a very attractive return to form for Need for Speed. We finally got to see Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst in action (and I’ll have more on that later), but the game’s new open world aesthetic and stronger narrative are sure to add a lot to the experience. It all ended on a high note, with some seriously impressive footage of the new Star Wars: Battlefront, which appears in all ways to deserve the name. Frostbite has done the series a lot of favors, if it’s not a bug-ridden mess when it releases.
Ubisoft started on a low-brow note with South Park: the Fractured but Whole (ell-oh-elll), sequel to The Stick of Truth. The trailer shows of…well, nothing specific, but was god for enough laughs. For Honor was up next, the trailer didn’t indicate too much about the sort of game we were in for, but you can essentially consider it a multiplayer combat simulator akin to Chivalry but third person, and with an intriguing new combat system. More of The Division and Rainbow Six, followed by some rather uninspired looking Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate time. This was followed up by a potentially unnecessary new Ghost Recon: Wildlands, which oddly seems to share many qualities with other existing games on their roster.
Sony came out swinging soon afterward, resurrecting The Last Guardian from it’s long streak of missed expos, simultaneously quelling doubts about its development status by also giving a (wide) release window of some time in 2016. That momentum carried right into Horizon: Zero Dawn, by Guerrilla studios (of Killzone fame), featuring a greener take on the apocalypse, and fighting robotic dinosaurs with compound bows. We’ve got more Hitman to look forward to, a Street Fighter V beta, some No Man’s Sky gameplay, which featured a massive (supposedly infinite) map, and a small taste of combat and exploration. Firewatch looks like another survival trek like The Forest or The Long Dark, but with some crucial drive. We got to take more in-depth look at Destiny expansion III, The Taken King (which I got to play, more on that later, as well).
We got an adorable new entry in the Final Fantasy series, World of Final Fantasy, followed by some truly massive news of a Final Fantasy VII remake (not the PC port)…something I have many thoughts about. We got a lot of announcements from Devolver Digital (the guys behind Hotline Miami), and the shocking Shenmue III news we all never saw coming. Next week’s Batman: Arkham Knight showed off more footage, before Sony showed off their new VR project, RIGS, a delightfully colorful sporting event featuring giant robots with guns on their arms.
Sony continued it’s previous trend of actually addressing things that weren’t gaming based at the expo, including their a la carte TV service, PlayStation Vue, which could be a major offering for people using their PS4 as a multimedia device, rather than just a gaming console.
Black Ops III showed off both multiplayer and some surprisingly dynamic co-op gameplay. The conference wrapped up with one of the most bombastic things I’ve ever seen, a real glimpse at Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End gameplay.
Nintendo was…interesting, to say the least. There was some Zelda news, some Metroid news that everyone hated, some Star Fox news that made that last news hurt a little less, weird Animal Crossing board game business, and not a lot else—hardware is apparently waiting until next year.
Rounding it all out was the Square Enix conference. Just Cause 3 is sure to appease fans of the second game, it’s looking more ridiculous than ever. Nier is making a comeback through Platinum Games, one of my favorite studios, though trailer was almost infuriatingly cryptic. We got some more duplicate Final Fantasy news, but that was followed by some blue-balling Kingdom Hearts Unchained Key (iOS) news, followed by the actually expected Kingdom Hearts III gameplay. We got more information on the new Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, which sees the augmented being ostracized by humanity. And some big Star Ocean news, with the new Integrity and Fathlessness gameplay trailer.
All-in-all, there’s a lot to be excited about here. No one made any announcements that vastly upset the masses (looking at you, Microsoft), so we’ve got a very solid list of things to look forward to. We’ll be coming out of this one quickly: Arkham Knight drops next week, after all. Stay tuned here for our in-depth coverage of the games at the event!