So E3 has come and gone for another year but there are plenty of reasons to be cheerful. Well I count at least 9…
- Games, games, games!
An obvious one to start with but E3 2015 showed us just what a feast of gaming Xbox and Playstation owners have ahead of us. Yes, Halo, Unchartered etc all look great but I was just as excited to see intriguing indie games like Cuphead and No Man’s Sky featuring so prominently. It looks like we will have a year of quality, quantity and variety ahead of us. Games are not just about shooting stuff. Bring it on.
- The real deal
Equally pleasing was just how much of the footage shown was a live demo or in-game – these games are real and many of them will be with us in the coming 12 months. In case we forget, it’s not always been that way….
- New IPs
Looking further ahead it’s encouraging to see Sony, Microsoft and the 3rd parties bringing some new ideas to the table and not just relying on established franchises. Although Nintendo have proved the exception, it’s hard to keep things fresh and interesting relying on sequels and spinoffs.
On the Xbox side, Recore has a good pedigree and intriguing (CGI) trailer but I’ll reserve judgement until we’ve see it in action. Sea of Thieves also looked promising – after all, who doesn’t like pirates? On PS4, Horizon: Zero Dawn looks impressive (although so did the Order) but it’s “Dreams” that – from Media Molecule that has my imagination racing and, as an Xbox owner, my bank manager looking nervous.
- Welcome back, old friends
But as much as it’s fun to look forwards, it was the old guard that got the most cheers from the crowds at E3. Personally speaking, the news that Shenmue III is on its way (via Kickstarter, and some rather less publicised funding) is a dream come true and if it remains a PS4/PC exclusive then I just might have to bite the bullet. For others, the news of the Final Fantasy VII remake will be equally exciting. Fans of Rare and total bargains are also no doubt looking forward to the 30-game collection coming this summer.
At its best, E3 is all about surprises and 2015 had them in spades.
After a tough year for women in gaming, E3 2015 finally showed the industry taking some positive steps. Both Dishonest and Assassin’s Creed showed off female leads and, in an even more shocking sign of progress, neither of them appear to be wearing hotpants. Multiplayer demos for Call of Duty and Rainbow Six Siege both prominently featured female characters and Rainbow Six went a step further introducing Angela Bassett as the new boss of the operation.
Does this stop female games journalists getting verbally abused online? Should having a few female characters be newsworthy? Absolutely not. But sadly the bar has been set low that E3 2015 marked a real step forward by upping the diversity on screen. It’s a start.
- XBOX Backward compatibility
As an Xbox One (and X360) owner, this was my personal highlight of the week. Having built up an embarrassing backlog of 360 games, I will soon be able to play them on Xbox One and can sell on my old machine. (Actually, as a member of the Xbox preview programme I’m already playing some.)
But this is about much more than my convenience and raising myself a few quid. Backwards compatibility means one less barrier to the millions of 360 owners to take the plunge and join the next generation. It also means that the value of the Games with Gold programme is suddenly boosted overnight and new Xbox One owners could have access to a huge selection of great older titles at budget prices. That’s a really smart move by Microsoft and good news for Xbox.
But it’s also good news for everyone – more competition for the PS4 will keep Sony on their toes and encourages innovation. I’m also hopeful that it accelerates the end of lazy last-gen remasters – if you can play the original for free then who is going to shell out on a new copy?
- VR headsets
A tricky one this, but it’s hard to ignore the potential of Oculus Rift, Valve VR and Project Morpheus, and even harder to ignore the articles.
My problem is that it’s impossible to appreciate what they are actually like without getting hands-on – and only the lucky few have had that pleasure. Instead I got some brief video with “images reformatted for non-virtual reality display“ and a distinct sense of meh.
Still, the write ups are very positive and it doesn’t take much imagination to see the potential for VR if it’s done right. Can it appeal to more than just a niche audience? How much will the headsets cost? How comfortable will they be for long periods? It is simply “not fun and not social”? We’ll know soon enough.
But I believe that Hololens is something else entirely and is currently exciting me more than VR. The Minecraft demo absolutely blew me away, even though I understand there are some smoke and mirrors at work there. Microsoft have done a fantastic job of getting the experience across to viewers – the only challenge now will be living up to it.
Augmented reality games? An untethered holographic PC? At the right price I’d settle for a simple, scaleable, moveable virtual screen. Here’s to the future.
p.s. Magic Leap also looks incredible – if you haven’t heard about it yet, you will!
- Star Wars Battlefront
And yes, despite all that competition, Star Wars Battlefront was my number 1 pick of the show. It obviously helps that I love the films (ok, the original trilogy and about an hour and half total from the three prequels) and I have very fond memories of playing the second game on PS2 10 years ago but wow, this one looks amazing. Apparently, EA expect to sell 10m copies – make that 10 million and 1.
When I saw the trailer in April I was so excited but apprehensive how much would translate to the actual game. But the in-game footage shown at E3 and taken from the PS4 simply blew me away. It looks and sounds just like the films and I only hope that 1) there are no shenanigans going on and it really is PS4 footage, 2) the Xbox One version can hold its own, whatever the resolution and 3) EA/Dice have got plenty of servers ready.
What, you’ve not seen it yet? You are in for a treat.
So those are 9 reasons I’m excited after E3 but what about you? Do you disagree? Was there anything I missed? Wondering what happened to Nintendo? Let us know in the comments.