Well everyone, the big show is here. Lights, cameras, booth babes under strict rules and regulations for both how booth-y and babe-y they can be. It’s like Cannes, but for video games, and a lot more people actually care about it. Today’s highlights, for the realm of big budget press conferences, were Microsoft, EA and Sony. The two console giants slugged it out, with Microsoft literally not deviating once from discussing their upcoming games. Seriously. Laser-like focus on games. Maybe because last year the Xbox One came off as the console that didn’t actually care about video games? In any case, they previewed a rather extensive line-up of upcoming first and third party titles. Microsoft’s focus on games really highlighted their catalog for the next year or so, but it felt like a bit of a parade to show that they were trying to do things differently after last year’s massacre of a press conference. For everyone that loved Crackdown, it’s back and getting a shiny new reboot. Also, we’ll be seeing a new Fable title with Fable: Legends. Legends seems to have parts of Dungeon Keeper, Fable and The Witcher all mashed together into a weird amalgamation that actually looks interesting and innovative. For the nostalgic among us, there’s a remastered Halo game with around 100 maps from the first four games in the series coming down the pipe, giving those that love the console’s best single player man-and-alien shoot a collective Master Chief boner. Microsoft’s safe play this year was a good recovery from last year, and it seems to be the kind of move that will slowly help gamers forget about that monumental misstep.
Video via the E3 Trailers Youtube account Sony’s presentation was less focused on the meat of gaming and took some time to address Sony’s next big sets of plans, like their VR system (Project Morpheus), though we didn’t get to see a demo. This is likely because demoing VR would be like having sex and then trying to give a random bystander your experience mid-thrust. It just doesn’t work, it’s awkward, and someone is likely to pull a muscle. That said, the platform was discussed, though only for a very small chunk of their nearly two hour presentation. Playstation’s Destiny bundle and Playstation TV also got a little love, with the latter launching with over 100 PS3 titles, giving me a reason to actually get a PS4, since my PS3 has mostly sat collecting dust or playing Netflix since 2008. Apparently when I left high school behind, I also left behind console games, but my wallet has generally thanked me. Some of the game highlights include The Order, which looks like more fun than a steampunk funhouse filled with undead targets that explode when you shoot them, Bloodborne, from the guys that brought us Dark Souls (AKA the game that saps one’s will to live), and Uncharted 4, which will have Nathan Drake despite months of coverage saying no Nathan Drake. All in all, it was a good showing from Sony for a second year in a row. They’ve managed to restore some public faith and earn back that good will they squandered under their last CEO, which is impressive for a company whose sales numbers had been faltering outside of their gaming division. This year is make or break for Sony, so hopefully they can make all these titles worth waiting for.
Video from IGN’s official Youtube channel. Over on the EA front, Mass Effect’s next iteration was teased, but not really described in any detail. The press conference had interviews with the team at Bioware, though we don’t see a whole lot of content. There is a nice revelation that there will be a new Bioware IP, which is so far unnamed but being handled by the boys and girls at the Edmonton office.
For those that liked Mirror’s Edge, we’re going back the dystopian future where parkour is the primary method of avoiding guys with guns for a sequel. Mirror’s Edge 2 was officially announced at the press conference, which had the crowd going crazy and, more likely than not, doing flips and shit off the back walls at the convention center. The trailer looks like the game will take full advantage of the improvements in console power to make a world that feels and looks as realistic as possible. Personally, I’m pretty excited for it just so I can experience what parkour is like without killing myself or looking like a douchebag in the process. It’s a win/win. The other, less huge announcements were Battlefield Hardline’s launch and a racing game from Critereon. It was more of a low-key year for EA, though they of course teased their big titles like Dragon Age and Mirror’s Edge 2. If you’re into the FIFA games, 15 was shown and it looks and flows so well I thought I was watching an actual soccer match. EA opted to keep it simple and avoid too many huge revelations this year, so it seems like they’re gearing up for a much bigger 2015 than 2014, even though this year does seem to be shaping up to provide some quality content across all their supported platforms.
EA Conference videos via Joystiq’s Youtube account