Last week journalists, YouTubers and various members of the videogames industry from around the globe undertook the annual pilgrimage to LA for the biggest videogames convention in the world, E3. This year’s event, in contrast to previous year’s, was something of a success, feeling less hamstring by corporate oversight and decidedly more focussed on videogames and videogame related features. If, by some unfortunate miracle, you missed the various announcements, news, and post-announcement revelations that came to light during the days that followed, then here’s our helpful round-up to bring you up to speed.
Taking place before E3 officially kicked off, Bethesda delivered their first ever E3 conference with style. Showing off the hotly anticipated Fallout 4, the new Doom, and even announcing the sequel to 2012 hit Dishonoured. Despite Dishonoured 2’s announcement via a CG only trailer, Bethesda made up for it with an in-depth look at Fallout 4’s opening moments and various new features, as well as giving those watching a fifteen minute demo of Doom to salivate over. After such dizzying heights, their show concluded with the unveiling and immediate release of Fallout Shelter, a mobile-based game set in the Fallout universe.
Having disappointed many gamers with its conferences for a couple of years on the trot, this year’s E3 was Microsoft’s chance to redeem itself with a strong showing, something it managed emphatically. Beginning with a montage video of upcoming games, Microsoft then went straight to its big guns, showing off the impressive Halo 5: Guardians with both single-player and multiplayer gameplay. After which Recore, a new game from Keiji Inafune and the brains behind Metroid Prime, was announced. It was a welcome surprise, and the accompanying game footage suggested it could be a game worth keeping an eye on.
Not content with his own company’s conference, Bethesda’s Todd Howard also made an appearance with a rather impressive announcement to the already much anticipated Fallout 4. User created mods, something which had been solely the domain of PC players, were announced to be coming to Xbox One as well. This, coupled with the news that backwards compatibility is soon to become an Xbox One feature, was met with cheers and will surely help make Microsoft’s console all the more appealing.
Various announcements and gameplay reveals including Rise of the Tomb Raider and Gears 4 bought Microsoft’s conference to a close. But not before Rare unveiled their new pirate MMO, Sea of Thieves, and Rare Replay, a collection of classic Rare games, which will soon be making its way onto Xbox One.
After an underwhelming year, everyone knew going in that EA had a strong line-up ready for E3 2015. Starting the show was Mass Effect: Andromeda, which, despite having no gameplay to show, still managed to entice fans with its ambitious and suitably grand scale. Need for Speed followed that up and surprised more than a few people with its excellent looking demo. Next came Plants vs. Zombies 2: Garden Warfare and, what felt like hours-worth, of EA sports montages covering NBA 16, NHL 16, NFL 16 and FIFA 16, which included a five minute, on stage interview with Pele.
Once that had been dealt with and tidied away it was finally onto the games most fans had been anticipating. A trailer for Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst was first, which combined some stunning gameplay footage, with a CG trailer and concept art. It wasn’t much but thankfully post conference interviews confirmed the game to be an original story (taking the setting and characters from the original game but ignoring its storyline), as well as reassuring fans with the news that it’s to be a completely gun-less experience.
Finally EA unveiled their trump card, showing gameplay footage (captured directly form console) of the highly anticipated Star Wars Battlefront. The ten minute clip showcased the battle of Hoth and included, ground combat, AT-ATs, Snowspeeders, TIE fighters and X-Wings all together in one glorious looking game. Dice appear to be on course to deliver the Battlefront game fans of the series have always wanted, and news that it’s set to arrive this November was the icing on the cake that was EA’s E3 conference.
Ubisoft held perhaps the least impressive of the day one conferences, kicking things off with the sequel to South Park: The Stick of Truth, South Park: Fractured but Whole, before unveiling a CG trailer for new IP For Honour, accompanied by some thoroughly underwhelming gameplay footage. After that came some DLC for open-world racer The Crew and Trials: Fusion.
Next was another gameplay segment of the much delayed The Division, which sadly looked less impressive than it had done at last year’s E3, but did at least provide fans with a release date of March 8th 2016, before viewers were subjected to a live performance from Jason Derulo to accompany Just Dance 2016. More gameplay footage of Rainbow Six: Siege followed before Ubisoft brought their conference to a close with Ghost Recon: Wildlands, a four-player open-world shooter that, despite looking pretty, clearly wasn’t the return to the Advanced Warfighter setting many had been hoping for.
The last conference to take place on the first day of this year’s E3, Sony had their work cut out trying to follow Bethesda, Microsoft and EA’s impressive showings. However Sony arguably stole the show, despite the conference fatigue, when they opened with the ever enchanting The Last Guardian, and confirmed a 2016 release window. Next up was the new project from Guerrilla Games, Horizon: Zero Dawn, which was unveiled via gameplay footage of a female protagonist hunting robot dinosaurs in a post-apocalyptic far future. It wasn’t much but any game from Guerrilla that wasn’t Killzone was sure to intrigue those watching.
After a little more footage from games previously shown at other publishers conferences Sony then pulled the rug from under those watching by announcing the Kickstarter campaign for Shenmue 3, unveiled by series creator Yu Suzuki himself, and if that wasn’t enough, then followed things up with a CG trailer for a remake of fan favourite Final Fantasy VII. It was as if Sony had let the fanboys write the script for their conference, news that left vast swathes of the gaming press doubting what they had witnessed.
Winding things down, Sony concluded their conference with the much expected Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, which looked impressive but was hampered by the crashing of the game demo moments after it started. All in all Sony had delivered the stand-out conference of E3 so far, however it was clear that virtually everything they had showcased was scheduled for 2016 releases at the earliest and that, unlike Bethesda, Microsoft, and EA, there was very little shown to be arriving this year.
Nintendo had perhaps the sparsest line-up to show at this year’s E3, delivered by their now customary pre-recorder video conference, but made up for it with a wonderfully charming series of sketches featuring various Nintendo bosses in muppet form. The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes and Metroid Prime Federation Force were both unveiled to be coming to 3DS, before fans got the chance to see the new Star Fox Zero, a dual-screen successor to Lylat Wars coming to Wii U this Christmas.
After this an interesting Paper Mario and Luigi crossover game was unveiled that showcased the best aspects from both series, along with further details on the excellent looking Mario Maker. Finally Nintendo announced their Skylanders-Amiibo partnership, set to further expand the figurine roster for fans eager for more Nintendo memorabilia.
Overlapping their conference with Nintendo’s might not have been the wisest move from Square-Enix, as it ensured their conference was either partially missed, or ignored all together by many watching from home. And in truth it wasn’t much they were missing, as the conference largely consisted of games that had been showcased at previous conferences, such as the all new Hitman and Final Fantasy VII.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Kingdom Hearts III brought some much needed freshness to the stale feeling event, however, unlike the other major conferences, Square-Enix seemed to have failed to learn from previous year’s mistakes by spending far too long on keynotes speeches from various developers and not enough time on the games themselves. That being said, cult favourite Nier had a sequel confirmed via a rather surreal announcement when series director Yoko Taro appeared on stage in a Moon-head costume (supposedly a popular character from the series).
Finally Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness, and Project Setsuna from new studio Tokyo RPG Factory were unveiled, before Square brought their conference to a close with yet another longwinded montage video. It was perhaps no worse a show than their previous efforts, but with every other major conference having raised the bar, Square-Enix’s brought E3 to a close with what felt like a bit of a whimper. PC gaming did have its first conference, but it lasted for over three hours, and frankly, the less said about it the better.