After the next-generation systems were unveiled earlier this year, E3 was highly anticipated like it hadn’t been for many years now. Sony went to the show looking the strongest, what with the PS4 news being quite encouraging, as opposed to the Xbox One’s nasty restrictions and forced requirements on gamers. Nintendo, probably discouraged by the Wii U’s abysmal performance on the market, decided not to do a conference, and just have a more special Nintendo Direct session. Unlike Nintendo, Ubisoft and EA were ready to once again hold full conferences, just like last year.
Once again, I’ll give you a quick rundown of the important facts about the four major conferences and Nintendo’s event. The points in bold are the biggest things each company announced, in my opinion.
- Metal Gear Solid V! Big Boss and Ocelot riding horses! Amazing trailer, to say the least. MGSV will be more open-world, will feature various modes of transportation, realistic passage of time, awesome returning characters, as well as new ones (I’m already partial to Quiet). The star of the game is “Punished Snake” (Big Boss)
- Kojima officially announces MGSV is coming to One, will also feature SmartGlass support
- New, smaller 360 model announced
- Taking a cue from Sony, Microsoft’ll give two free games per month to Gold subscribers, starting July
- World of Tanks coming to 360, tuned specifically for the controller, free-to-play with Gold
- Another 360 game – Max: The Curse of Brotherhood – you’re a kid who needs to save his little brother who was kidnapped by monsters. You can draw stuff to help Max on the way
- Dark Souls II trailer, it’s also coming to 360, in March 2014
- Crytek’s Ryse: Son of Rome shown – it’s been moved to Xbox One. Combat seems quick-time event-based. It’ll be a launch title
- Killer Instinct coming to Xbox One as an exclusive
- Another Xbox One exclusive – Insomniac’s stylised, dynamic open-world shooter Sunset Overdrive
- Forza 5 also coming to Xbox One – it’ll feature an AI in the form of a “learning agent in the cloud” called a drivatar, who’ll earn you points while you are not able to play
- Minecraft also coming to Xbox One – supposedly an enhanced version
- Sam Lake talks about Quantum Break – the decisions you make in the game will create your own personalised version of the TV show, crafting the “ultimate Remedy experience”
- D4, from the creators of Deadly Premonition, is also coming to One, it’s episodic murder mystery
- Project Spark – you have control over the game, being able to create terrain, time of day, etc. With the Smartglass you’ll be able to work on the finer details. You can add items, characters, behaviours. Community-driven a la LittleBigPlanet. It’s coming to One and Windows 8
- Other stuff quickly shown – among it an Angry Birds, Geomerty Wars games, and a piano application
- SmartGlass’ SmartMatch capability shown – while you are playing a single-player game, a multi-player match is being set up in the background, ready for you to switch to once it’s ready
- Ability to record gameplay videos and upload or broadcast on Twitch.tv – furthermore, Twitch is built into Xbox One
- Microsoft Points dropped, real currencies will be used
- Crimson Dragon trailer, game’s from the creator of Panzer Dragoon
- Dead Rising 3 gameplay, coming this holiday, will feature SmartGlass integration, supposedly exclusive (probably timed)
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – open-world, Kinect integration (like switching weapons by voice commands)
- Battlefield 4: Second Assault, timed exclusive for Xbox One, gameplay shown
- Below – top-down adventure
- New Halo coming to Xbox One in 2014
- Launch price for Xbox One: $499, €499, £429. Coming in November 2013 to 21 territories (not worldwide)
- Titanfall shown – features awesome mech combat, real-time gameplay also shown, coming in Spring 2014
Considering the whole used games controversy, Microsoft had a pretty good conference with lots of good stuff shown. What a better way to kick it off than with the latest installment of the best series in gaming?! Xbox One has got one big multi-platform title secured in Metal Gear Solid V. I was also quite impressed with Quantum Break – a very creative idea (I wouldn’t expect any less of Remedy) and, especially, Titanfall, which seemed magnificent and with great potential.
Unfortunately, there was also too much focus on lame stuff like the SmartGlass. It seems that Microsoft will rely on timed exclusives a lot to gain some ground in the seemingly already lost battle with Sony’s PS4. Because they’ve got little else going for them – cleverly, they didn’t talk about used games and stuff, but they didn’t say anything about any improvements compared to what they initially announced on that front, so the situation stays bad. And man, that price. $500 is too steep for a system with already so much bad press. Apparently, the One is not even launching worldwide, but rather, in just 21 countries – they can’t have the infrastructure required for checking your games every 24 hours set up everywhere or something? Pretty sad.
- Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare – third-person shooter. Seriously. You can play as various plants, each playing differently
- Titanfall. You can catch ammo coming at you in mid-air and fire it back at your opponent
- Star Wars: Battlefront in development by DICE
- Need for Speed: Rivals shown
- Dragon Age: Inquisition announced, coming Fall 2014, trailer shown
- EA Sports time – NBA Live 14 up first, then Madden, FIFA, UFC
- Battlefield 4 will support 64 players
- Mirror’s Edge 2 revealed! Faith getting her tattoo done – so it must be a prequel. Unfortunately, just “Coming soon,” no concrete release date
EA had an unspectacular conference until the very end. But Mirror’s Edge 2 is something else! I really liked the first game, it had so much potential, despite being plagued by several imperfections. I hope they live up to the concept’s potential in this sequel/prequel/whatever. And take your time, DICE. I know you’ve got a lot on your plate right now.
Other than that, the Plants vs. Zombies TPS was hilarious. This game could turn out to be great fun.
- Rocksmith 2014 shown – music game, will feature Kinect integration
- Aisha Tyler.
- Splinter Cell: Blacklist, coming in August. Flashy and fascinating trailer, lots of stuff happening
- Rayman Legends shown
- The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot – free to play (and naturally, lots of room for microtransactions, if you fancy that), cartoony, humourous
- South Park RPG – coming this holiday season!
- The Crew – racing game, coming in early 2014
- Watch Dogs – impressive trailer
- Just Dance 2014, coming in October
- Rabbids Invasion announced – interactive game and TV show for One, kind of like Remedy’s Quantum Break
- Assassin’s Creed IV – pirate action
- Trials Fusion coming to next-gen (plus PC and 360), Trials Frontier – to mobile
- Tom Clancy’s The Division – online open-world RPG. Gameplay trailer shown – some third-person shooting, looks good
Ubisoft easily outdid the mediocre EA conference, though not quite staying true to the level of quality they offered last year. The good news about the South Park RPG were encouraging, Watch Dogs and Assassin’s Creed IV impressed. The Division was their big announcement, it looked pretty cool, I liked how the HUD was integrated more seamlessly into the game, and the little that we saw already seemed quite polished.
And, in Aisha Tyler, they’ve got the “Sexiest Conference Host of E3” award that I just made up won for sure.
- Reel of PS4 titles, including Destiny, Killzone, Knack, Lost Planet 3, Watch Dogs, Diablo III, Grand Theft Auto V, Infamous: Second Son, Assassin’s Creed IV, Final Fantasy etc.
- Batman: Arkham Origins, Destiny of Spirits, Counter Spy, Doki Doki Universe, Killzone Mercenaries, Tearaway coming to Vita. Also Flower, Dead Nation, God of War HD, Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD
- New episode of The Walking Dead, called “400 Days”, coming to Vita as part of a bundle with the episodes released so far
- Vita will integrate well with PS4, allowing Vita owners to play many titles on their PS4 via remote play, through a wi-fi connection
- PS3’s turn – trailers for The Last of Us, Puppeteer, Rain
- Beyond: Two Souls – coming to PS3 in October
- Gran Turismo 6 shown – still a PS3 title
- Batman: Arkham Origins trailer. Exclusive content coming to PS3 – Adam West Batman model
- $299 PS3 bundled with Grand Theft Auto V and a GTAV-themed headset coming on September 17th
- PS4 time – hype talk by Andrew House, following by finally showing the actual console – it’s black and resembles PS2. Top part is shiny, bottom is matte. It will stand vertically
- “Entertainment” bit for the PS4 – music, TV shows, movies, etc. Redbox, Flixster coming to PSN soon
- Shuhei Yoshida talks PS4 games – over 30 titles in development in Sony’s various studios, 20 of them will make it within the first year of the console’s lifecycle. 12 of them are new IPs!
- Sony Santa Monica’s new project, The Order 1886, is shown. Features steampunk technology
- Killzone: Shadow Fall, DriveClub, Infamous: Second Son, Knack shown. Infamous coming in Q1 2014, the rest are launch titles
- Quantic Dream’s The Dark Sorcerer shown – looked like a fantasy setting at first, but, apparently, it’s a movie set and the sorcerer is actually an actor. Interesting to see what they’re planning here. Everything was running in real-time on PS4
- Indie games hyped as important to Sony, Supergiant Games’ new project Transistor shown, it’s coming to PS4
- A lot of other indie titles coming to PS4, such as Don’t Starve, Mercenary Kings, Octodad: Deadliest Catch, Outlast, Secret Ponchos, etc.
- Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty – an HD remake of the original Oddword: Abe’s Oddysee, is coming to PS4
- Diablo III coming to PS3 and PS4, will feature exclusive items from Uncharted and Journey
- Square Enix time. First, Versus XIII trailer – so it’s still alive. Gameplay also shown – lots of action, fighting also on walls, ceilings. Versus XIII is now Final Fantasy XV… Coming to PS4, of course
- Kingdom Hearts III coming to PS4 – it’s currently being developed. Some actual gameplay shown – not much different from the first two
- Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, coming exclusively to consoles on PS3 and PS4
- Live gameplay of Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Quite some freezing
- Jonathan Morin, creative director of Watch Dogs, talks about his game, then shows a fascinating demo. Pretty much everything around you is hackable. Competitive mode shown – another person is directing the police towards the player
- NBA 2K14 shown – coming to PS4, of course
- The Elder Scrolls Online – a lot of first-person gameplay shown. Coming to PS4 in Spring 2014. A beta will be exclusively available on PS4
- Avalanche’s Mad Max game shown – also coming to PS4 with some exclusive items
- Tretton back on stage, talking about other games coming to PS4, like Call of Duty: Ghosts. Over 140 games in development in total. More than 100 will be available in the first year
- Tretton announces that PS4 will NOT impose ANY restrictions regarding used games, no regular authentications, no need to connect to the internet to play your offline games at all – audience cheers wildly
- PS+ memberships will carry over to PS4. PS+ will be required to play PS4 online, however…
- Gameplay demo of Destiny shown – game looks very impressive – different classes, weapons, spells. Some freezing here, too, though. It ends with 7 Bungie guys working together to take out a boss
- Gaikai’s cloud gaming services will be available in 2014 on PS3, PS4 and Vita. Games will be streamed through the cloud, allowing console quality on weaker devices
- PS4’s price – $399, €399, £349. Coming this holiday season
Had to bold two points there… Like Maddox pointed out, it’s kind of sad that the lack of restrictions on used games was such a cause for celebration, but, after the reveal of those “features” on the Xbox One, many people, me included, were quite worried that Sony may impose similar restrictions to gamers. It was a giant relief that they’d let things stay as they are. And the price point makes me think Sony has won the console war already, before it’s even started.
Powerful, yet simple architecture and a lot of third-party support in result, reasonable launch price, no unreasonable restrictions on gamers, the PS4 has got it all to jump ahead of the competition and never look back. Early on, it’ll be selling at a loss for sure, but I think Sony will more than make that up from everything else.
The games shown were also quite impressive. Yes, most of them were multiplatform, but there’s a good reason to believe they’d run better on PS4, as it simply has better specs. And there are unique titles like The Dark Sorcerer that you won’t find elsewhere. And the indies – so many titles coming to PS4. Sony failed to show anything truly compelling for Vita, though – it seems they’ve already given up on that front, and Vita will be most useful as a device to stream some nice PS4 games on. We’ll see how that develops. The Last Guardian was sadly nowhere to be seen. Surely, it’s been moved to PS4 in the meantime, but not even seeing an announcement is a bit worrying.
The other bad news is that PS+ is now required to play online… Considering they knew how pleased everyone would be with the lack of restrictions on used games and the price, they surely thought this wouldn’t be a big deal in deciding with next-gen console to buy, and they’re right. Very clever, if irritating to the average gamer. I don’t play online much personally, so it doesn’t terribly affect me, but, as a matter of principle, it’s lame to pay additionally for that when you’re already paying for your internet.
As mentioned above, Nintendo opted out of holding a conference this time around, doing a Nintendo Direct instead.
- Pokemon X/Y shown. New type introduce – Fairy, which is effective against Dragon. “Revolutionary”. X/Y is coming out on October 12th
- Super Mario 3D World – successor to 3DS’s Land. Each character has his/her own abilities – Peach can float, Toad runs faster. New powerup shown – Mario turns into a cat. 3D World coming to Wii U in December
- Mario Kart 8 shown – underwater racing, hovercrafts. Anti-gravity introduced – you can race on the walls, ceilings. Coming to Wii U in Spring 2014
- Wii Party U shown – mini-games. It’ll be delayed, as will Wii Fit U. Party U coming in Q4 2013, Fit U – next year
- Iwata apologises for the lack of games on Wii U…
- Drawing tool coming this summer for Wii U
- Third-party stuff shown – Assassin’s Creed IV, Batman: Arkham Origins, Deus Ex: Human Revolution Director’s Cut, Disney Infinity, Rayman Legends, Shin Megami Tensei IV, Sonic: Lost Worlds, Watch Dogs, etc.
- eShop digital games – among them DuckTales: Remastered, Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles Of Mystara, Oddworld: New ‘n’ Tasty, interesting indie stuff like Scram Kitty & His Buddy On Rails, Cloudberry Kingdom, Shovel Knight
- Wind Waker HD on Wii U – rendered in 1080p, looks beautiful. You can post messages in bottles and they’ll pop up in other people’s games. Mostly useless, but charming feature. Wind Waker HD coming in October 2013
- The Wonderful 101 – you can unite your heroes into a giant weapon. Co-op for up to 5 players. Coming this August
- Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze revealed – coming to Wii U, will feature 2-player co-op, with Dixie as the second character
- Bayonetta 2 trailer – she’s short-haired now. Gameplay looks impressive. Coming in 2014
- Monolith Soft’s X shown – it’ll feature a large-scale open world. Also coming in 2014
- Smash Bros. trailer – 3DS and Wii U versions are different from each other. 3DS has a cel-shaded look. Newcomers revealed – Animal Crossing’s Villager, Wii Fit Trainer and… Mega Man!
Nintendo know their target audience… And they gave them what they wanted. Completely as I expected, there was absolutely nothing new or exciting from them. Rather, they’re focused on keeping the decreasing ranks of Nintendo fans in line with their first- and second-party stuff. People wanted to see Smash really badly, and they did. Another third-party star in Mega Man will be joining the show.
Bayonetta 2, the new Donkey Kong Country and especially Monolith’s X hold a lot of promise, but are just far too little to convince anyone who’s not a die-hard Nintendo fan to invest in a console with already quite aged specs. Still, considering how badly Microsoft are screwing up with the Xbox One, Wii U could become a secondary console (after the PS4, of course) for many people who can afford one. On the other hand, 3DS will continue to do well, what with the Vita practically being abandoned. The threat there comes from the constantly advancing mobile phones and tablets.
This time, there is a clear winner of E3, and that is Sony. It’s no surprise they’re sweeping the post-E3 polls at many gaming sites. Great price and specs, no new restrictions on used games, awesome first- and third-party software will make the PS4 the best-selling system of this holiday season by far (at least if supply allows). Xbox One can only lose with its $100 bigger price tags for reportedly weaker specs – only adding to the used games woes from before. Nintendo is sticking to its niche fans, Ubisoft impressed, though not as much as last time, and EA had a boring conference with a shining gem in Mirror’s Edge 2.
It’s a rare occasion for a generation to be won before it’s even really started… But Sony have done it. They are already reporting that the insane amount of pre-orders is making them tune up their production plans. Sony really outsmarted Microsoft in the last few months. After patenting a DRM measure that would restrict used games, it seems they lured Microsoft into believing they’d really go ahead with it, which caused them to implement their own solution. However, Sony backed out of this plan, supposedly after listening to the gamers – though maybe it was never the plan in the first place. The price hits even harder, as it’s what’ll determine the more casual purchases – and we know we hardcore types following news are still a minority among all gamers.
This E3 marked Sony’s return to dominance in the console market, and the beginning of Microsoft’s fall. The whole situation has also helped the passive Nintendo, who’ll see some Wii U sales from people who’ll buy a secondary console and don’t want to put up with Microsoft’s crap. Furthermore, I believe Sony have saved console gaming with the PS4. If they’d announced measures similar to Xbox One’s, you can be sure a lot of people who have moved on from consoles and focused on the more and more lucrative PC market with the likes of Steam and GoG (not to mention the upcoming Steambox). Despite everything, Sony have still made a step, albeit not a giant one, towards the restriction of gamers – the PS+ requirement for playing online.