This year’s E3 was incredible . Being on the verge of the next generation of gaming as well as new gaming engines popping up everywhere makes one believe that the gaming industry is headed for something truly amazing. It’s for these reasons that tens of thousands flock to E3 every year. They want to be the first to see and experience new games and systems and technologies. This year was no let down in that department. There were new console demonstrations, new mobile devices revealed, and tons and tons of games. Developers brought their best to the table to show the world. So this week I’d like to take a look at some of the more memorable moments from E3: some good and some not so good . The problem with this is that there were so many things of note that happened that I could go on and on, but as always, I only get ten spots to fill.
More than a few times, we saw demos of games lagging out or just plain stopping during the big screen presentations. One of the more memorable for me was watching the Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag gameplay premier and seeing it stop dead right near a major point in the story. The tech staff had to cut it short–quickly displaying the AC4:BF logo and theme music; then they dimmed the lights on the gamer as the main presenter quickly returned to the stage to introduce the next game.
Social Media Explosion
Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Instagram, and other social networks were not only buzzing with news from E3–they were exploding. Every time I logged on to any of these sites, the first thing I was greeted with was either someone gushing over something insane they had seen at the show, an ad depicting some new device or game that had just been revealed, or gameplay that was shown for the first time. ( This is one of the more interesting news items I was bombarded with. ) Every day, my smartphone was nearly drained as I returned it to its charger, depleted from all the real-time updates and messages I was getting from developers, publishers, and friends. Don’t get me wrong, I love E3. It’s the one time of year that gamers get their due. It’s the time of year that shows the entertainment industry as a whole that games are the dominant form of media in the US. I just need to remember to turn off my SMS alerts for that week.
New IPs for Next-Gen
Nothing excites me more than new intellectual properties in gaming. Most of the time, I like sequels pretty well. But new games and new stories and new characters are where it is at for me. This year was no disappointment. Bungie’s Destiny ( E3 trailer here ) got a solid gameplay reveal that has me all excited to play it. Tom Clancy’s The Division blew my mind ( preview here , trailer here ) with its insane use of the next-gen graphics engines to show battle damage and the intricacies of urban combat. Quantic Dream wowed me with Beyond Two Souls and The Dark Sorcerer trailers. (The latter of which made me laugh to the point of pain, actually.) The level of detail in the new Forza and Gran Turismo games nearly made me forget I was watching game footage. There were so many that I can’t give them all due credit. Just hop on over to our E3 section and prepare to have your mind blown.
Throughout all the major-console press conferences, it seemed as though there was an ever-growing theme that multimedia was becoming the focus of the new consoles rather than epic gaming. Nowhere was that more apparent than at the Xbox One press conference ( which we have conveniently recapped ). As the staff wheeled their way through the specs and design of their new system, it became apparent that it was a media platform that also happened to play games. It seemed as though Microsoft was more interested in expanding their consumer base than creating a real hardcore gaming system for the next-gen. Nintendo did their usual bit in showcasing how the family could benefit from more time together playing their games. Even Sony brought out the VP of Sony pictures to talk about Crackle and the integration of Sony films into their new Video Unlimited app for PS4. It just seemed like a really fancy infomercial about what their systems could do besides play games.
In addition to the amazing showings by console companies and game developers, there were actually several times that I had to take a step back, scratch my head, and try to figure out what the hell I had just seen. One of these was watching the trailers for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. I waited with anticipation to see this stuff. I am a huge Metal Gear fan. But as I watched, it became apparent that I had no freaking clue what was going on. (Did I mention check out the trailers on our E3 page? Cause you totally should.) The other really huge WTF moment was during Sony’s presentation on Monday when the Final Fantasy Versus XIII trailer suddenly and enigmatically became the trailer for Final Fantasy XV . I was totally lost. There was no mention of their long-in-development FFXIV reboot . And then they went right into a Kingdom Hearts 3 reel that looks amazing, but it feels almost like a redirection tactic than an actual trailer.
Cosplay Gamer Style
Anytime you roll out to a fan convention or media convention, there is always a select group that chooses to show their fan-hood outwardly. Cosplayers spend a lot of time creating the perfect tribute costume for their appearance at their convention of choice. These folks were out en masse at E3 this year. We saw people dressed as everything from Ryu and Cammy to Judge Dredd and PIkachu. Some of these folks had worked all year to create their wearable masterpiece. Some of these creations will live on in the annals of E3 history. However, some of these fan-made atrocities will also be remembered for years to come. Not for their brilliance, but for the epic fail they represent.
Amazing Game Sequels
This year we saw the return of some of our favorite franchises. Sequels from all corners of the gaming universe made their way to the giant screens of E3 at one point or another during the show. Some of my favorite highlights are Halo , Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag , Forza 5 , Kingdom Hearts 3 , Infamous: Second Son , Killzone: Shadowfall , Saint’s Row IV , Lost Planet 3 , Battlefield 4 , and a ton of others . There were so many sequels that looked amazing at E3. In the past, sequel announcements have been bittersweet because they always seemed like a rehashing of the original and no real innovations to the gameplay ever seemed to exist. (Check out our list of top ten most pointless sequels ) This year, the sequel listing was absolutely mind-boggling in the way that each IP seemed to grow and morph with the changes in the gaming industry. These could be some of the greatest entries for each series represented( case and point ).
Mobile Devices and Integration
In addition to the big announcements of new mobile platforms like tablets and smartphones, the new functionalities of these devices became all the more clear to gamers. Companies have jumped on the mobile gaming bandwagon and are scrambling to get their new mobile IPs out there before anyone else. Mobile devices have become as much a gaming platform as a communications device. Nearly everyone has one, and now, nearly everyone will be able to connect in new and exciting ways that were only science fiction. But my favorite new mobile gaming nugget comes from a console game. Watch Dogs will be able to integrate mobile platform users into your gaming experience by calling them in via your gaming network and having them assist you in real-time as an off-screen support operator. It only helps to prove that mobile gaming is stronger and more viable than it’s ever been.
Indie Game Proliferation
I was more than pleased to hear all the major platforms discussing their intent to include a greater variety of indie games on their networks. Both Xbox Live and PlayStation Network have established dedicated indie sections so that up-and-coming developers can get their games out to the masses. So many great companies were able to showcase their new games at the major press conferences this year. Each console included a large number of indie titles that will be supported on their respective networks. Indie game studios will now have more ways than ever to try and get their games seen by the masses. In the past it was more difficult to get your indie game published–let alone get a proper distribution so gamers can actually play them. Now, both Xbox Live and PlayStation Network have developed specific and more user-friendly ways for these companies to solicit and export their games to players everywhere.
Sony Press Conference
Sony threw down the gauntlet on Monday night at E3. (Here’s the recap in all its glory .) They brought a stellar presentation that showcased current-gen, hand-held, and next-gen gaming developments that were on par or better than anything else seen at the convention this year. Their open-used-games and always-online-not-required policies floored gamers in attendance and caused an eruption of cheers; the presenter had to wait for it to subside to continue with his presentation. Even though they showed how much multimedia use you could get out of the PS4, they didn’t spend as long on the topic as Microsoft did. All in all, Sony put on a great showing and proved that they are still a powerhouse and may just have figured out how to corner the market in the next generation of gaming. Only time will tell.