This year’s E3 was spectacularly mediocre, what with many people expecting PS4/Xbox 720 to be unveiled, and they weren’t. Not even Nintendo managed to hype its upcoming Wii U console that well. Nevertheless, a lot of stuff still happened, many new games were shown, and a lot of new information regarding already announced games was revealed. Even if it didn’t meet our expectations, it was still E3… If you’re a gamer, it’s bound to excite you at least a little bit.
Here’s a summary of the happenings at the five major conferences (Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft, Sony, Nintendo), along with my comments. The items in bold are the biggest announcements each company made in the respective conference.
- Halo 4 gameplay trailer – features also non-Covenant enemies
- Splinter Cell: Blacklist by Ubisoft Toronto – gameplay trailer, coming out Spring 2013, features Kinect integration and co-op mode
- Kinect voice commands in FIFA 13 and Madden 13
- Fable: The Journey – coming out Holiday 2012
- Gears of War: Judgement – coming out in 2013
- Forza Horizon – coming out on 23.10.2012
- Bing voice search
- New sports apps (NBA, NHL, etc.) for Xbox 360
- Xbox Music – a way to share and discover music – to be released on phones, tablets, Xbox 360, PCs
- Nike Plus Kinect Training – fitness game, coming out Holiday 2012
- Xbox SmartGlass – integration between the Xbox 360 and your phones, tablets, etc. Examples with watching Game of Thrones and your tablet giving you a map of where stuff is happening, and drawing receiver routes in Madden
- Internet Explorer coming to Xbox 360 in 2012, SmartGlass integration (naturally)
- New Tomb Raider level shown off in a live demo
- Ascend: New Gods announced – new title from Signal Studios. Resembles Shadow of the Colossus a bit
- LocoCycle announced – new title from from Twisted Pixel. To be released in 2013
- Matter announced – Kinect game by Gore Verbinski, also coming in 2013
- Resident Evil 6 demo
- Wreckateer announced – Xbox Live Kinect game with a fantasy setting
- South Park RPG: The Stick of Truth by THQ. A player-created character will be the main, apparently
- Dance Central 3 – live demo by Usher
- Call of Duty: Black Ops II – the DLC, as well as Tomb Raider’s and Resident Evil 6’s, will come first to Xbox 360
Microsoft paved the way for what E3 would turn out to be with a relatively boring conference, mostly showing off stuff we already knew about. The big revelation was Xbox SmartGlass, Microsoft’s response the Wii U tablet controller, an idea that I think won’t work in the first place. Didn’t stop Microsoft and Sony from copying the Wii remote in a desperate grasp for a piece of the “casual gamers” pie.
Anyway, the newly announced games didn’t sound too bad, Ascend: New Gods obviously having taken a cue from Shadow of the Collosus. It’s also gonna feature some unique Xbox Live/Mobile phone integration, so we’ll see how that works out. Probably something to do with SmartGlass.
The South Park RPG bit was, according to many, the real highlight of the conference – that could turn out to be a solid game, especially for fans of the cartoon, but not only.
Other than that, boring stuff overall, even if the footages shown for Halo 4, Tomb Raider, Resident Evil 6 and Black Ops II were interesting to some extent, with the Tomb Raider one being my favourite.
- Dead Space 3 trailer, live co-op demo
- Madden NFL 13 to run on a new “Infinity” engine, demo shows rag-doll physics, “connected career mode” to work on many devices
- SimCity Social on Facebook, coming in a few weeks
- New SimCity game on the “Glassbox” engine, features multiplayer, scheduled to come out for PC/Mac in February 2013
- Battlefield 3 Premium including expansion packs, maps, etc. for $49.99, Battlefield 3 Endgame to arrive March 2013 and add motorcycles
- New planet (Makeb) coming to The Old Republic, new level cap, abilities, free access up to level 15 in July 2012
- Medal of Honor Warfighter gameplay video, multiplayer also shown off, game coming out on 23.10.2012
- Messi to be on the cover of FIFA 13, gameplay trailer
- Partnership between EA and UFC, no actual game announcements yet
- Need for Speed: Most Wanted trailer and live demo, comes out on 30.10.2012
- Live demo for Crysis 3, game due in February 2013
Not a half bad conference, especially considering it not being part of the big three. Nothing particularly stunning, though. Dead Space 3 should be a real treat for those who enjoyed the first two. It’s also cool EA finally got Messi on the cover of a main FIFA title, so far he’d only appeared on the rival series Pro Evolution Soccer’s covers. But he was already on the latest FIFA Street cover.
The new SimCity was perhaps the main highlight, pretty awesome for fans of the series that it’s finally getting another full-fledged installment. I wonder how the multiplayer will work, exactly. I’m not personally a SimCity fan, but I’ll be monitoring how this game turns out.
- Just Dance 4, out on 09.10.2012, for Wii U
- Far Cry 3 trailer, gameplay demo
- Splinter Cell: Blacklist release trailer
- Avengers: Battle for Earth trailer, game will appear on Wii U
- Rayman Legends Wii U live demo – up to 5 players can play at once, features rhythm game elements
- Killer Freaks From Outer Space renamed to Zombi U, a Wii U title, taking place in London
- Rabbids Land, YourShape, Sports Connection, Assassin’s Creed III also headed to Wii U
- Assassin’s Creed III gameplay demo
- Shootmania team match, new FPS, still in early stage of development
- Watch Dogs trailer and gameplay demo – third-person, has been worked on for over 2 years, takes place in Chicago, everyone/everything is connected into a giant computer network, you can hack into communications/view data on people on the fly, bullet time, vehicle stealing a la Grand Theft Auto, 2-player support
According to many, this was the conference of the whole E3, and it wasn’t even one of the big three. Far Cry 3 (nice sex scene there), Splinter Cell and Assassin’s Creed III looked awesome, but it was Watch Dogs that completely stole the show. The new IP combines elements we’ve seen elsewhere, and seems to do a good rendition of them, but, most of all, the idea of everyone being connected and monitored in a giant network is what sells the game.
Solid support for Wii U, as well, one could say Ubisoft did more to hype Nintendo’s upcoming console at this E3 than Nintendo themselves. But, again, Watch Dogs. One of the most pleasant surprises of E3 2012, and certainly a game to keep on your radar.
- Beyond: Two Souls – next IP of Quantic Dream (Heavy Rain developer), the main character Jodie Holmes is played and voiced by actress Ellen Page (Juno, Inception), she has a strange relationship with a ghost named Aiden, the player will be able to control each of them
- PlayStation Battle Royale trailer and live demo, it’ll also come out for PS Vita and it’ll be cross-platform compatible, gameplay is a lot like Smash Bros., there are Super moves, Nathan Drake (Uncharted) and Big Daddy (BioShock) will be playable, coming out Holiday 2012
- Cross-controller DLC for LittleBigPlanet 2 coming up, it’ll let players use the PS3 controller, as well as a PS Vita.
- Over 1500 total downloadable games on PSN, more than 200 coming this year
- 12 new free games for PS Plus subscribers coming this month, InFamous 2 and LittleBigPlanet 2 among them
- PSOne Classic finally playable on PS Vita starting this summer
- Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified announced for PS Vita, to launch Holiday 2012
- Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation for PS Vita – takes place in New Orleans, features female protagonist, will link with the PS3 version of Assassin’s Creed III to unlock many features, comes out on 30.10.2012, there will also be a white Vita bundled with it and a 4 GB memory card
- Assassin’s Creed III gameplay demo featuring a ship fight, ACIII PS3 bundle also coming up on October 30th – a PS3, ACIII and DLC for it
- Far Cry 3 gameplay demo, game will feature four-player drop-in, drop-out co-op, it’ll also have a map editor, exclusive DLC headed to PS3
- Wonderbook announced, new reading experience, augmented reality technology via the PS Eye camera and the PS Move controller, Moonbot Studios working on detective story for it called Diggs Nightcrawler, J.K. Rowling working on an exclusive Harry Potter-universe story called Book of Spells, players will be able to do Harry Potter spells via the Move, it will release in Autumn 2012
- PlayStation Suite renamed to PlayStation Mobile, partnership with HTC makes them the first non-Sony PlayStation-certified phone maker
- God of War: Ascension live demo, game to come out on 12.03.2013
- The Last of Us gameplay trailer, resembles Uncharted, interesting AI, comes out in 2013
A very well-made presentation by Sony (note how the strongest points were placed in the beginning and at the end), it’s such a shame that the biggest announcement was not even really a game. Beyond: Two Souls looked very impressive, both technically and as a concept, I’m looking forward to that one. I really wonder how they will play out the whole “beyond life” experience. Not a fan of PlayStation Battle Royale, it’s just too much like Smash which is a concept I don’t like much. Give me traditional 2D fighters over that any day. But it’s cool that they’re getting third-party characters in it, hopefully Big Daddy is just one of the small fries in comparison to the ones yet to be revealed (Solid Snake? Jill Valentine? Cloud?).
It’s great they finally got the PSOne Classics working on Vita, but it’s ridiculous how few games they showed for it. Vita was really underrepresented at this E3, I mean, the system just came out earlier this year, it should have been a focus in the absence of a PS4 announcement. It seems Sony’s excuse was that they didn’t want to make the event too long… That’s ridiculous.
Nice Ubisoft goodies were shown. Wonderbook will more than likely be a lame gimmick, Harry Potter supported or not. It’s lame it was the biggest surprise Sony had in store for us at E3. God of War: Ascension looked great, and The Last of Us was amazing – it seems that Naughty Dog will once again solidify their spot as one of the best developers in the world with it. My favourite part of the Sony E3 conference along with Beyond: Two Souls.
Overall, Sony also failed to really impress, Vita should have received a much bigger push. But I’d still say they had the best conference, if only because the others were even more disappointing.
- Pikmin 3 for Wii U, 100 Pikmin to manage, new type – Rock Pikmin, overall map displayed on the tablet
- Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, YouTube confirmed for Wii U
- Wii U will support two tablet controllers
- Miiverse UI allowing easier interaction with friends – eventually, you’ll also be able to use it on any device with a browser
- New Super Mario Bros. U – to be available at launch, classical 2D Mario gameplay, Tanooki suit available
- Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition – players can activate a BAT mode via the tablet, which enhances the fights (for instance, tapping at the right time can increase damage dealt), switching gadgets also possible via table, as well as controlling them after you launch them by using the gyroscope
- Scribblenauts Unlimited for Wii U – to offer multiplayer mode
- Also coming to Wii U: Darksiders II, Mass Effect 3, Tank Tank Tank (a Namco game), Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Trine 2: Director’s Cut, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, Aliens: Colonial Marines
- Wii Fit U announced
- Sing – working title of a Wii U music game, lyrics displayed on tablet, friends can dance while you sing
- New Super Mario Bros. 2 coming to 3DS on 19.08.2012
- Paper Mario Sticker Star for 3DS – kind of like a card battle RPG (think Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories), pulling stickers off the scenery turns them into battle commands you can use, they can also help you find stuff, coming out, both physically and digitally, Holiday 2012
- Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, also for 3DS – multiple mansions, new kinds of ghosts, also coming out Holiday 2012
- Third-party 3DS reel: Castlevania Lords of Shadow: Mirror of Fate, Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, Scribblenauts Unlimited, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance
- LEGO City: Undercover for Wii U – you fight crime, tablet will be used for mission briefings, and to discover hidden criminals, 3DS version also in the works with different content and storyline
- Just Dance 4 – “Puppet Master” mode allows you to choose the next moves for the currently playing people from several options via the tablet
- Zombi U – tablet can be used as a sonar to scan for enemies, as inventory for weapon selection, as a sniper zoom, etc.
- NintendoLand – a virtual theme park with all the classic Nintendo franchises. 12 attractions, The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest, Animal Crossing: Sweet Days and Luigi’s Ghost Mansion to be multiplayer. Tablet users will get different objectives than Wii remote users, the Luigi’s Mansion level has players pointing their lights at ghosts who are chasing them to drain their life. NintendoLand to be a Wii U launch title
Nintendo showed a lot of games, but came off rather weak, especially with the lame main announcement. Pikmin 3 and LEGO City: Undercover were the most interesting to me, Paper Mario could also be cool if you don’t mind a card-based battle system in your RPGs.
Wii U will get ports of some nice games, but, with them already out on current-generation consoles, they will hardly be system sellers. Zombi U doesn’t look bad, but the whole zombie craze has been getting old for a few years now. I wonder how you’ll pay attention to two screens at the same time, while a pack of zombies are ganging up on you. I smell Red Steel-like failure preceded by great hype with this one.
NintendoLand is really just a bunch of mini-games, hardly something to keep the attention of the hardcore gamer for long. Overall, a disappointing show from Nintendo, too. More huge hit announcements (such as a new Smash game) were expected to hype the upcoming Wii U.
E3 2012 will probably be remembered as one of the weakest ones so far. For the first time, a third-party conference (Ubisoft’s) easily outdid not just one, but two of the main ones. Watch Dogs will probably receive many “Game of E3” awards, too, and for a good reason. Microsoft and Nintendo just fell flat on their faces here, showing little of interest. While Sony had an above average showing, it was still plagued by a lame main announcement in the Wonderbook and a severe lack of Vita software shown.
Overall, I am not happy. Clearly, Sony and Microsoft will wait a while to reveal their next consoles (probably even until next E3). Nintendo will get a comfy safe start of at least a year into the new generation, but that didn’t help Xbox 360 that much the last time around. I’m a bit worried about the tablet intrusion into console gaming, the SmartGlass confirms everyone will try to get a taste of it (Sony might use the Vita for that purpose). Frankly, it’s not a very good idea. Like the Wii remote, it’ll probably have its good uses, but they’ll be very limited and more will be lost than gained in the big picture. At least it’ll likely stay as a side thing for Sony and Microsoft. Nintendo gamers will have to carry the burden of the Wii U-developed games being designed around the tablet.