The Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles has been a pretty awesome ride this year, and there is a lot of news to take in. So here’s a breakdown of what we’ve seen so far from the big three.
Microsoft at E3
The house of Xbox had some big announcements to tell its fans aside from the games it planned on showing off. Firstly, they announced two new systems on the horizon. The Xbox One S, and something called “Project Scorpio.”
The Xbox One S is a smaller, but more powerful version of the large square of plastic you may currently have sitting in your entertainment center. The S comes with up to two terabytes of memory storage, as well as 4K resolution, and an improved, customizable controller with further reach for its signal. The S is available in early August, and will start at $299 in its cheapest iterations.
While this is exciting news, it may be redundant. As Erik Kain of Forbes points out, announcing the S may have been a mistake that will cost Microsoft financially, since in the same breath Microsoft also announced Project Scorpio, the new Microsoft console that will arrive next year. While the S is impressive, many Microsoft fans may save themselves the money and just wait for Scorpio.
Scorpio is rather impressive, at least the way Microsoft talks about it. Calling it the “we heard you” console, it contains 4K gaming graphics, virtual reality (VR) capability, six teraflops of power, and cross-platform play between the Xbox and Windows 10 PC games. Microsoft says it’s a “monster.” The Xbox/PC crossover is big news indeed, as the two camps have always been separated by a graphical divide. Scorpio closes that gap.
As stated previously, VR is also coming to the Scorpio. As you will see, VR is a common theme at this E3. VR capability will be available only for Scorpio, as the console will be the only Microsoft system capable of handling the high output of sound, graphics, and framerate. No first-party headwear has been announced yet, and indeed, Microsoft has stated its focus will be on third-party products for the venture.
The games were also something to get excited about. Well-known titles such as “Forza Horizon,” “Gears of War,” “Tekken,” “Halo Wars,” and “Tom Clancy’s The Division” are all getting new installments, all utilizing the cross-platform play feature. “Final Fantasy XV” is also coming to the Xbox One, and One S in September, borrowing heavily from the playstyle of “Kingdom Hearts.” “Killer Instinct” is getting another character added in the form of General RAAM from “Gears of War.”
“Minecraft” is also getting a huge update, with not only cross-platform play between Xbox, iPads, computers, and even your phone, but new texture packs that morph enemies into aliens and give villagers the ability to fight alongside you.
New games were also center-stage, some of them looking heavily inspired and reminiscent of games we’ve loved in the past.
“We Happy Few” looks directly inspired by the steampunk dystopian world of Bioshock, with much of the same art style and feel. The premise seems to revolve around a character who hasn’t taken a pill that makes him see a happy world. The illusion begins to fall away, and he’s exposed to the reality of the world around him. He’s soon labeled a “downer” and becomes a fugitive on the run from authorities.
“Inside” is a game from the makers of the indie hit “Limbo” that seems to follow much the same idea as the shadowy game it descends from. Not much is known yet, but from what we’ve seen it looks like a beautiful puzzle/platformer.
Most exciting, at least to me, was a game from Rare called “Sea of Thieves,” which seems to be heavily inspired from Ubisoft’s arguably greatest Assassin’s Creed entry, “Assassin’s Creed 4.” Where AC4 was a single-player experience that put players into the role of a pirate captain controlling his own ship and exploring island interiors, “Sea of Thieves” looks to do the same. However, now you may do it your friends. This results in ship controls being a bit more meticulous. Where AC4 had all the ship’s necessary functions at the press of a few buttons, “Sea of Thieves” has you rely on teamwork to raise anchor, hoist the sails, and fire cannons. It’s ambitious game, to be sure, but one I can already tell will consume hours of my time.
Watch the whole presentation here:
Nintendo at E3
Nintendo had a very minimal showing, and I mean very minimal. So much so that it didn’t even have a conference of its own, and instead relied on more of a backstage interview-style reveal called “Nintendo Treehouse” for the two games it really wanted to talk about that day. The new console, the “NX,” didn’t even make an appearance, which puts Nintendo in the back seat, as both Microsoft and Sony revealed new consoles just on the horizon.
What Nintendo did talk about had fans rather impressed, however. “Pokémon Sun” and “Pokémon Moon” feature graphical updates to the series and new Pokémon for you to catch.
The big feature, however, was the new Zelda game, “Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.” This game sports not only a beautiful Japanese art style, its interactive elements take on a more RPG style feel. Weapons—of which there are a variety—break if used long enough and armor is separated by body placement and interchangeable. Combat looks as fluid as it always has, only this time you can involve the world around you. Roll a boulder down a hill, drop a hive of wasps on enemies from a tree above, or light grass on fire and use the wind to spread it to your enemy. Hunting and gathering becomes a key component of gameplay, as it allows you to prepare various dishes that boost Link, depending on the ingredients you add.
The expansive open-world gameplay that Zelda fans have come to expect reaches new depths in “Breath of the Wild.” During an exploration demo, we were treated to a very large area that seemed to go on for a good distance, then informed that the expanse shown is still only a fraction of the entire map.
The features are many, and so much that I’d have to dedicate an entire article to what I saw. I encourage you to go to Nintendo’s YouTube page and watch the gameplay footage made available.
Nintendo revealed another fun game the next day. Teaming up with Nintendo, a developer by the name of “Niantic Labs” created “Pokémon GO.”
This entry into the Pokémon Library is unique in not requiring anything but your cell phone. “Pokémon GO” is an app you can put on your Android or iPhone that uses your camera to create an augmented reality to find Pokémon in the real world. In other words, you can find various types of Pokémon just by going out and walking your dog down your street. Developers have said that the primary goal is to catch them, and in order to catch every single Pokémon, you’ll have to venture outside your immediate surrounding area. Water Pokémon will be near bodies of water, grass types near high grass, etc.
You can also battle your Pokémon with other players around the world and trade them for Pokémon not available in your specific area. The focus of this game is to get out and have real-life adventures, and encourage people to explore their surroundings on foot in the real world as they play the game. It’s definitely a game anyone can play, and everyone should keep their eyes on.
The game is still in development, and as I write this the developers are saying they’re adding new features as they further test the game.
Sony at E3
Sony may have had the best showing out of the three presentations, as their primary focus was on games, and they really brought the thunder. The presentation started with a live orchestra that set an epic tone, gearing the audience for what was to come. The orchestra played music throughout the presentation during showings as well, which I have to say was a nice touch.
Then the audience went into cheers of approval as the first game to be featured sported none other than a bearded Kratos from the much-loved God Of War series. You can immediately tell this game will send the series in a new direction, with an experience points system based off particular things you do. Kratos is no longer swinging his twin blades around, and we see him take on more of a fatherly role as he teaches his child to hunt, but don’t worry. The game is still as visceral and bloody as you remember, as Kratos takes on a troll and kills it with all the brutality we’ve come to expect.
“ICO” and “Shadow of the Colossus” developers Team ICO finally announced a release date for their much-anticipated—and long, long-awaited—title, “The Last Guardian.” October 25, 2016, is the day the wait is finally over for PS4 owners, and as fans have come to expect, the game looks beautiful.
A new title called “Horizon: Zero Dawn” looks to be an open-world adventure game that sets you into the distant future where wild machine animals now rule the planet and humans live in tribes. The past is all but forgotten, and to uncover its secrets you must lead your character through a vast land using weapons and traps to subdue and sometimes tame the mechanical beasts around you.
“Detroit: Become Human” looks to be a clever “choose your own story” type of game that puts you into the shoes of an android detective/negotiator who must use clues and items to defuse a situation that may end the life of a little girl. Aside from being aesthetically beautiful, the game sports a decision system that results in moral dilemmas and building consequences. Playstation is known for sporting amazing detective games such as “Heavy Rain” and “Beyond: Two Souls,” and this one looks to beat them all.
Resident Evil is getting a new entry into the series, but gone are the days of the over-the-shoulder, one-man army against hordes of monsters. This time, you’re seeing everything in first-person, and your character isn’t out of an over-the-top action movie. The demo, which shows absolutely nothing of the final game, has you walk through a derelict, run-down house with which you must interact. Problem is, you’re not alone in it. It’s very reminiscent of PT, and feels just as creepy and horrifying.
“Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare” revealed itself to be more than just a standard FPS, but showed us that players will also be flying space jets in battle and jumping out of them to fight in zero gravity using grappling hooks and seeker grenades, all to board and disable an enemy ship. I have to admit that I wasn’t excited about this game upon first seeing it. That has changed.
The fan favorite “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” trilogy is also making a showing, with a remastered re-release. Like “Modern Warfare,” “Crash Bandicoot” is making a return with his trilogy being rebuilt from the ground up, as well as being a new added character to the Skylanders universe. Hideo Kojima himself also made an appearance on the presentation stage to show a teaser for his latest game, starring a naked Norman Reedus.
Aside from the games, VR also played a large part of Sony’s conference. Resident Evil, FFXV, “Batman Arkham VR,” and a game called “Farpoint” were all shown to use Sony’s upcoming Playstation VR system. The system will require a PS4 as well as a Playstation Camera. Although VR is in its infancy, Sony still anticipates a large shortage of units. They have announced that PSVR will be available on October 13 of this year for $399.00.
You can watch Sony’s entire presentation here: