Another E3 event and another year where publishers continue to excite endless gamers around the world. From last year’s exciting E3 where two new systems, the PS4 and Xbox One, were announced, this year the main priority of the major publishers was to announce the second most important thing to a new system: new games. Each of the major publishers, ranging from Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Microsoft, Sony Playstation, Capcom, Bandai Namco, and Nintendo put an emphasis on their future games lineup to ensure consumers their system will have more than enough to satisfy the average gamer.
Starting with Electronic Arts we got a lot of new games and sequel announcements as well as the “we give you this every year” EA Sports and Battlefield announcements. The most exciting part of EA’s conference was for the fans of Mirror’s Edge. EA is bringing you a sequel to the next-gen systems and to make sure the game is great they even hired real parkour performers to help in the gameplay design so they can get a better understanding and feel for Faith, the main character in Mirror’s Edge. This was probably EA’s best game announcement next to Star Wars and Battlefront 3. Disney/Lucas Studios has said EA will be handling the Star Wars franchise in the video game universe and Battlefront 3 looks like old and new fans will be happy to the additions (AT-STs and Snowspeeders). The game is still a long way into development so do not expect it anytime soon. Lastly to end EA’s roundup we had announcements of Madden 15, NHL 15, PGA Golf Tour 2015, UFC 2015, and of course Sims 4 and Battlefield Hardline. The Sims 4 will be coming out in September, while the EA Sports titles will be following their usual release dates (Madden in August, NHL in October). EA allowed players to demo Battlefield all around the world during the event, so everyone could have a taste of what is in store this October. Gameplay video is everywhere online if you want to see an early build of the game.
Following EA’s conference, Ubisoft presented many new game announcements, ranging from demos, to release dates, to future titles. Ubisoft was the only developer that had their own conference in which they announced games such as Tom Clancy’s: The Divison, which was voted by few websites as one of the top games there, Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Just Dance 2015, and Far Cry 4. However, their conference was more for sales numbers and for investors to know the direction that the Canadian company is heading. For those who want to know about the new Assassin’s Creed: Unity, it is coming out at its annual release date of October 28th, 2014 and it is set in Paris during the French Revolution. A new addition to this game and the future of the Assassin’s Creed series is that of cooperative multiplayer, where up to 4-players can team up and accomplish missions together. Previous Assassins Creed games only allowed you to play multiplayer in a versus/hunt mode online with other players. The new co-op mode was not announced for online or local only play as of yet.
Regarding other publishers and developers that did not have a conference but are major players in the game market are: Capcom, Warner Brothers Studio, Atlus, Square-Enix, and SEGA. Beginning in alphabetical order, Atlus, best known for their series Persona, a JRPG (or Japanese Role-Playing Game), announced a plethora of Persona games coming out this year. First off, Persona Q (3DS) which is already available in Japan will be coming to the U.S. on November 25th. This dungeon crawling JRPG combines the cast of Persona 3 and Persona 4, the two most popular games, to bring players a crossover with endless team possibilities. Next up and with a release that is pretty close (September) is Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, the sequel to the popular Persona 4 Arena fighting game. P4AU will be out for both Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, though the arcade version will only stay in Japan. Lastly on the Persona front is, sadly, no news for Persona 5 (2015), but on the hidden gem, Persona 4: Dancing All Night (PS Vita). Dancing All Night will not be making it to America this year, as it has an announced 2015 release.
Capcom announced quite a few games such as Ultra Street Fighter IV, Monster Hunter Freedom Unite, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, but my favorite announcement had to have been the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy for the 3DS. Though the game was announced to be a digital eShop only, it is priced at $30 for 3 games and is bringing the re-amped HD version to 3DS’ everywhere.
Warners Bros big announcement came as a surprise: Batman Arkham Knight will be delayed and will only be available on next-generation systems (sorry PS3 and Xbox 360 users) and Mortal Kombat X. Lastly, to the end the “none Big 3” section of E3 SEGA was there to show the new design of Sonic the Hedgehog for his upcoming cartoon series on Cartoon Network, as well as his new 3DS and Wii U-exclusive games, Sonic Boom.
Now, for the real moment anyone really watches E3, to see what Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony will announce and do with their consoles out currently in the market. Beginning with Microsoft, new Xbox President Phil Spencer announced a bundle for a “Kinect-less Xbox One” at the price of $400. This may be a direct response to people on the internet claiming they never wanted a Kinect 2.0 or a business move to get at Sony’s PS4 price, which coincidentally is $400 without their camera. Following that announcement Microsoft updated us with news on Halo 5, in that it is coming in 2015; however the multiplayer Beta will be available in December when it launches a code with Halo HD: The Masterchief Collection. The Masterchief Collection is Halo 1-4 all redone in HD, only for the Xbox One, and features a new multiplayer that combines all four of the Halo’s games maps and mulitplayer modes together. Following that announcement Microsoft and Insomnaic showed off their other exclusive content, Sunset Overdrive, set to launch this holiday season. Sunset Overdrive is a unique 3rd-person shooter, where players fight hoards of zombies and aliens, with their unique yet hip style weapons. Sunset Overdrive looks to be a big player this upcoming 2014 holiday season. Microsoft also teased attendees with a bit of their Project Spark, where you can create a game in the game (the beta is and has been out) along with a new Fable game dubbed Fable Legends. Fable, which looks fantastic, has been a staple semi-RPG series on the Xbox and it looks to continue its partnership with Microsoft.
Next up was Sony’s conference, which left many disappointed, compared to last year’s fantastic display. This year Sony took a very modest approach, not announcing much; however still having a few key tidbits that are more than enough to entice viewers/gamers everywhere. Everything announced for Sony was big news and first off was a new piece of hardware for European and American gamers: Playstation Vita TV. The PS TV is a small device ranging from $99-$139, that allows PS4 gamers (and PS Vita gamers) to play PS Vita games on the big screen in 1080p and/or stream their PS4 to their PS Vita TV. In other words, it is like having a portable PS4 in your house than can play Vita Card games! This was originally released in Japan in the spring, but popular demand has brought it over, even if the Vita has not sold that well, especially compared to Nintendo’s 3DS. On a side of bad news regarding the PS Vita and owners (like myself), Sony is looking at Vita as more of an accessory to the Playsation 4 rather than a handheld console.
On the side of Vita, the only game announced for it was Freedom Wars, Sony’s answer to Monster Hunter. The game is a 3D-open world action game where you can choose your fighting class and fight various enemies from a small to large scale, while working online with other players from all over the world. For the PS4 we got a teaser trailer for the new Uncharted: Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, as well as a surprise when LittleBigPlanet 3 was announced, especially when it was said that Sumo Digital is handling it and not Media Molecule. Bungie’s Destiny, was on full display for all Playstation fans, even though the game is multi-platform. First off, Sony announced a white PS4 (must buy) bundle with Destiny and Bungie went on to announce exclusive DLC only for PS4 users (just to spite Microsoft after their split). The new shooter looks to be a mix of Halo and Borderlands, as it brings back the classic Halo feel and controls, but the gameplay has a mix of classes with different attributes and a very team-orientated focus.
Nintendo went last with their Nintendo Direct and what a show they put on. They had Seth Green and his Robot Chicken team do various sketches to keep a sense of comedy going throughout their stream, and they had the big faces (Iwata, Reggie) all take apart of sketches to announce their upcoming games. Leading off the fray was the biggest of them all, Super Smash Bros for Wii U & 3DS. We got to see more gameplay, even more new additions, the announcement of a new character (Plautena from Kid Icarus), and the newest Nintendo must-have item Amiibo. Amiibo’s are sort of like Skylanders figures, but are going to be used for multiple games; though their main purpose is for Smash Bros. Amiibo’s are used in Smash as personal computers/training dolls for players, who are tired of beating up level 9 COM’s. Now with the amiibo, you can train against it, level it up, and soon it will develop moves to counter your patterns, always keeping you on your toes. No official pricing has come up, though rumors suggest between $10-$15. Nintendo showed off even more Smash Bros. with their SSB Invitational Tournament, which had some professional Melee players, and brought tons of hype, just making that November release date seem so far away. From my brief time playing both the 3DS version and Wii U version, I can tell you it is definitely faster than Brawl and honestly it seemed fantastic and fluid. Though the game isn’t even close to being ready, I can just say that it already is probably the best game of the year. Super Smash Bros 3DS will be coming out October 4th.
Next, we got games for the Wii U like Yoshi’s Wooly World, Splatoon, Mario Party 10, Mario Maker, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Dynasty/Hyrule Warriors, and we even got a teaser for the new 2015 Legend of Zelda! Yoshi’s Wooly World was probably my biggest and best non-Smash Bros game for Nintendo, as the game looks akin to its predecessor of the SNES days: Super Mario World 2 Yoshi’s Island. Splatoon is a brand new-IP that Nintendo hopes to capture consumers (it did for major editors). You play a 3rd person shooter, though your goal is to mark/cover up more of the entire area than it is to take out your opponent. The game will of course have local and online multiplayer and was the biggest surprise on the show floor, as the lines to play this game were packed. To end Nintendo’s roundup, we had Miyamoto tease Star Fox 2015 on a blurred screen saying he didn’t want to show the game because it didn’t look good enough to show yet.
Personally this E3 may not have been as exciting as last year’s E3, understandably because we got new consoles last year and it was the beginning of the next generation. This year at E3, conferences were aimed at showing new software set to come out and appease the gamers who have their system and entice who are looking to buy. Personally my favorite games shown this year were: Sunset Overdrive, Super Smash Bros Wii U/3DS, Yoshi Wooly World, LittleBigPlanet 3, and Destiny. However, many of these games, excluding Nintendo’s lineup are aimed for a 2015 release and it will be a while until we actually get them, however the hype that each game brought only goes to show that these games are worth waiting for!
By Mike Troina