E3 is always an exciting time for gamers, and this year’s E3 was no different. In fact, E3 2015 was one of the strongest E3’s in quite some time, nailing massive announcements, the showcasing of new and returning IP and most importantly – showing off some of 2015 and 2016’s biggest games. As we set our sights on Gamescom in August and what that will entail, we’ve decided to reflect one final gaze upon E3 2015 and discuss what we thought were the high points of this year’s event as well as the low points.
The Last Guardian – The myth becomes reality. As a true believer in Ueda and The Last Guardian, even during the lowest of times in its development, it was pure jubilation to see The Last Guardian not only re-revealed, but shown first at Sony’s E3 Press Conference. The time was right, and the game looks absolutely gorgeous. As soon as the Japan Studio logo appeared on screen I knew it was time for the myth to become reality – and it’s great to see that the game is aiming for a 2016 release. It’s still very much the beginning of The Last Guardian’s story though, because we really don’t know what could happen between now and release, but my hope runs high for a game that I’ve been awaiting for over seven years.
Gears 4 – The franchise rears its chainsaw bayonet once again. While we all knew that a Gears of War remaster was on its way thanks to leaks a couple of months ago, I was certainly surprised and happy to see The Coalition not only announce Gears 4, but show six minutes of gameplay as well. With a new protagonist and a new twist in the tale of the Gears universe, I can’t wait to see how it turns out. The Gears franchise is a huge pillar in Microsoft’s exclusive library and it has a spot in a lot of the Xbox community’s heart – so let’s hope The Coalition bring back the series in style.
Mobile – Too much focus. While I don’t mind the occasional game on mobile, this year’s E3 was unfortunately hindered somewhat by a focus on mobile at the wrong time, specifically hindering EA and Square Enix’s press conferences. While it was awesome to see Fallout Shelter announced at Bethesda’s conference just a day before EA’s, the game had a primary focus that fans could get behind, and it didn’t act like it was going to consume your life, rather give you something to do on the train in to work and so on. When EA took to the stage, the mobile section completely derailed the momentum they’d started with Mass Effect: Andromeda, Need for Speed and Unravel. I still don’t think the hardcore gaming audience is ready to invest time in to the mobile space, and the Minions Paradise demo especially felt like it went for longer than it really did. It hurt the presser overall unfortunately, but it’s something for the company to look at next year. Perhaps it just wasn’t the time and the audience to show this stuff off.
Morpheus’ Presence – We need a reason to buy this thing. This was more-or-less surprising than anything else, but I thought at Sony’s presser they’d dedicate some serious time to Morpheus considering it’ll be out this time next year. Oculus and Microsoft announced a partnership just before E3 and just a few days later Microsoft announced a partnership with SteamVR as well, which puts them in a very promising position when the Virtual Reality tech starts showing up on store shelves. Sony did have games on the floor to play — 20 if I remember correctly — and they announced Guerrilla Cambridge’s Morpheus-exclusive game called RIGS, but is that enough to convince an average gamer to grab the Morpheus over the Oculus? Considering the latter is compatible with Xbox One and PC, I’m not so sure. It’s all quite confusing to me. I hope that at the Sony presser at Paris Games Week in October and at PlayStation Experience this year (if it’s happening) we’ll see a major focus on the headset, because I want to believe in this thing – but right now I’m really not so sure about it.
Microsoft – While Microsoft didn’t have major IP announcements during the show as compared to Sony, they did however make people aware of their stance towards gaming. It seems like they understood what the audience wanted and made drastic changes on how they presented themselves as a gaming company. Announcing things like Xbox 360 backwards compatibility for the Xbox One was a huge step for them and placed themselves even further up the ladder. The conference had no mention of Kinect either, so it’s safe to say Microsoft finally understood what we–the consumers–wanted.
Bethesda – It’s been a while since a conference made me go crazy for video games and Bethesda really hit the spot with what they showed off during their very first press conference. With big titles like DOOM and Fallout 4, I wasn’t really expecting much more than just new gameplay trailers but I was wrong as Bethesda really wiped the floor clean. Ok yes Sony had The Last Guardian, but when Bethesda showed off Fallout 4 I was simply gobsmacked at the level of detail and immersion they were pushing for with the next instalment in the hugely popular series. Plus the pip-boy reveal – there was just too much hype after this conference.
PC Gaming Show – It’s great that PC gaming has its own conference at E3 but I feet like the show needs to be properly curated in the future. The show was just too damn long and offered not a lot of content we didn’t already know. The highlights were Microsoft’s involvement and a few games but the majority of it felt it could be better off just showcasing on the show floor than during this conference. I hope they plan it out more where it’s shorter, focused for the target audience and delivers surprises.
Media Molecule’s Dreams – I was super pumped when Media Molecule was called on the stage during the Sony PlayStation conference but was confused at what I was watching. Dreams is Media Molecule’s next game and I wasn’t really sure what it was. It’s a creator of some sort but it seems like they had a hard time explaining what you can actually do or what the purpose of the game was. It still looked like it was early in development so I can’t really criticise it but from what I saw – I wasn’t sold. Hopefully future reveals of the game will change my opinion but for now, it was the weakest point of the show for me. Come on Molecule, don’t let your dreams be dreams.
Horizon: Zero Dawn – A new IP is always a risky venture, but Guerrilla Games look to be on to a winner here with their post-post-apocalyptic Action-RPG, featuring a woman named Aloy and a whole host of mecha-dinosaurs. The world looks absolutely stellar with an intriguing and original premise, along with a veteran game studio at the helms of the new title. I’m eagerly awaiting more gameplay and information on the title, hopefully shown during Paris Games Week, but until then I’ll be watching the premiere gameplay reveal over and over.
Star Wars Battlefront – I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for anything Star Wars. The original Battlefront titles rank as some of my favourite games of all time, so I’ve been keeping a close eye on DICE’s attempt at the franchise. We finally got our first two looks at what the game will play like, featuring Tatooine co-operative missions and the atmospheric battle of Hoth, and the authenticity presented in the videos really blew me away. I really hope the game holds up when it hits launch day, with a few less than stellar accounts from the show floor, but as long as I can fly an X-Wing and shoot down some Tie Fighters in style, I’ll be very happy.
Square Enix – A dull affair would be a generous way to describe Square Enix’s first press conference at E3 2015. With rebroadcasting of trailers already shown, barely any information and footage of the newly announced titles, alongside a generally boring presentation, the conference really did not do justice to the line up Square Enix boasts. With Deus Ex, Kingdom Hearts 3 and Hitman all coming from the publisher, it was a real shame to see such an odd showing. While some of their games did look good, and the announcement of a new Neir title had fans excited, the biggest parts of their show had no impact after being shown on streams and other bigger conferences – if they show up with a conference in 2016, let’s hope they learn from this one.
Jason Derulo – A real low point of the press conferences was the presence of Derulo, coming on stage during the Ubisoft conference to sing a song that not many people knew very poorly. It was three minutes that could have gone to actually explaining the new streaming service for Just Dance 2016, pretty much the biggest new thing to hit the franchise, simultaneously informing people and not causing them to turn to Twitter to voice their dislike of the on-stage antics. If they didn’t want to dedicate time to Just Dance, why not show off the gameplay walkthrough of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate they uploaded later that day? Whatever the reason, it’s pretty clear that showing off Just Dance with a pop star performance is not likely to be the highlight of anyone’s E3.
So those are our best and worst from this year’s E3. What did you think of the event overall? We’re eagerly looking forward to Gamescom and TGS–which are next on the radar in terms of big expos–as E3 has certainly started the second half of 2015 with a massive amount of hype and excitement for all things gaming.