E3 2015 Highlights

E3 2015 Highlights

E3 came to a close this week with a ton of game announcements and new technology such as VR including the Oculus Rift, Sony’s Project Morpheus and Microsoft Hololens all on show. This year also saw more third-party conferences with Bethesda and Square Enix taking their own slots to showcase their upcoming titles. There were lots of impressive game demos and trailers that will give many gamers a reason to upgrade to the Xbox One or PS4 or to justify their purchase. Here are the main highlights from the conferences:

 

Looking back

Microsoft had a very impressive conference at this year’s E3. Not only did they announce a number of titles for the future such as ReCore, which has Keiji Inafune as producer, a raft of indie titles including Ashen and Cuphead, mod support for Fallout 4 and an early access program similar to Steam’s but they also announced backwards compatibility for the Xbox One. This was notable as in the past Microsoft has stated that backwards compatibility would be very difficult on the new system. The project involves software emulation and will begin with a hundred titles later this year and unlike Sony’s Playstation Now service won’t charge you to play games you may already own. This was a pleasant surprise for many Xbox fans who still held onto their Xbox 360 games.

Microsoft also demoed exclusives such as Rise of the Tomb Raider and Gears 4 which both looked stunning. Also announced was Rare’s new game Sea of Thieves and Rare Replay, a collection of 30 Rare games including Banjo-Kazooie and Battletoads available on August 4th. Another impressive demo was a glimpse at Hololens, an augmented reality device that was used to project Minecraft onto a table, creating a miniaturised 3D world that could be manipulated in many different ways. It remains to see if Hololens can live up to its potential.

 

Return of a Classic

Sony fans have wished for a long time that Final Fantasy VII would be remade, and not just remastered, for modern consoles and this E3, Sony finally granted them their wish. A cinematic trailer shows glimpses of Barret and Cloud and a fully realised Midgar. The title is still early in development and few details have been released, however the game will not simply be a retelling, instead there will be some changes and the game is firmly a remake. Also shown at the conference was Shenmue 3 which is being partially funded via Kickstarter, Call of Duty Black Ops 3 and indie title Firewatch.

Given that Final Fantasy VII is regarded as one of the best video games of all time and by many as the best Final Fantasy title, the potential for this game is huge. It remains to be seen if Sony can keep original fans pleased while showing something new to those who have never played the original.

 

Post-Apocalyptic Bliss

Announced prior to E3 was Bethesda’s long-awaited Fallout 4 and at their press conference Todd Howard, creative director on the title, gave an extended look at gameplay and new features in the game. The game will begin prior to the apocalypse and will see you enter Vault 111 only to leave 200 years later. Set in Boston, the game features a long list of customisation options for your weapons, an improved combat system, a deep crafting mechanic, improved character interaction and, of course, improved graphics. Fallout 3 was a surprise hit and impressed upon its release with its interesting world and exploration so its no surprise Fallout 4 looks every bit as impressive and is scheduled to release on November 10th.

Also announced at Bethesda’s conference was a sequel to Dishonoured, now featuring an additional female protagonist, a demo of the reboot to classic franchise Doom and a demo of Battlecry, a multiplayer action combat game. Overall, Bethesda’s conference left a lasting impression and Fallout 4 in particular looked excellent.

 

In a Galaxy Far, Far Away

This E3 we were given our first proper look at Star Wars: Battlefront, a reboot of the long dormant shooter taking place on numerous different planets from Star Wars canon. There were more than a few sceptics when the game was shown earlier this year along with the announcements of no single player or space combat. Nevertheless, the demo showing a battle on Hoth looked brilliant capturing the look and feel of the battle in The Empire Strikes Back. Players can utilise new tools such as a jetpack and command vehicles such as the AT-AT and snowspeeders. The game looks like a lot of fun and it will certainly attract a lot of Star Wars fans later this year. Also shown at EA’s conference was a glimpse of the new Mass Effect title called Mass Effect: Andromeda, Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst and a reboot of the Need for Speed franchise.

 

A Familiar Face

After first being shown at E3 2009, Sony’s The Last Guardian was finally confirmed as still being in development and we were given a new gameplay demo. The game looked incredible in 2009 and looks even better now development has moved onto PS4. Created by Team Ico, makers of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, the game follows a young boy and a dog/bird-like creature as you solve puzzles and evade danger. The game already has a large following while its elusive and sporadic public appearances has only increased the curiosity surrounding this title. There is still a while to wait as the game won’t release till 2016 but for now fans will be thankful that the game is at least still alive.

 

New Horizons

E3 normally provides at least some new IP and surprises and Sony delivered perhaps the best with Guerrilla Games’ Horizon Zero Dawn. Set many years after the fall of civilization, humans have resorted to tribes after an unknown event occurs. Much of the landscape is now wilderness roamed by robots that resemble animals or dinosaurs. In this open-world RPG you play as Aloy, a female hunter who can utilise the materials scavenged from these robotic creatures to craft new weapons and tools. The game looks beautiful and is quite different from Guerilla Games’s usual franchise Killzone. The game resembles Monster Hunter in gameplay but evokes the spirit of large open games such as Fallout and The Witcher. Expected to release in 2016 this is certainly worth keeping an eye on if you own a PS4.

 

A Whole New World

Square Enix held a press conference at this year’s E3 after being absent for several years to show off a slate of new games including a new Hitman game, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Nier 2, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and World of Final Fantasy. The real highlight though was seeing Kingdom Hearts 3. Although shown last year, this E3 we were given a better look at the changes coming to combat and given confirmation of a new Disney World to explore, namely the world of Tangled. Players can now perform combo moves with Donald and Goofy and a trailer teases some plot details. Visually impressive, Kingdom Hearts 3 has been a long time in the making and should offer something entertaining for fans of the franchise and Disney fans alike.

 

Honourable Mention

Ubisoft had a solid E3 press conference, showcasing a new South park game, The Division, Rainbow Six: Siege, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and Ghost Recon: Wildlands, a re-imagining of the third person shooter. Despite the appearance of several proven franchises it was a new game that caught the attention of most called For Honor. The game appears to play like a medieval MOBA, with players hacking and slashing their way through enemy soldiers. However, when you encounter another player the game becomes much more tactical, as you must read your opponents positioning and movement to find an opening. These tense duels look like a lot of fun and the animations are brutal. The game looks fresh and different and looks like it will be great to play with friends. No release date was given.

 

Divide and Conquer

Also shown at Ubisoft’s conference, we were given another look at The Division and we are beginning to get some sense of what this game will look like when it releases on March 8th 2016. The demo showed off the Dark Zone, an area of the game where you can run into other players but also where the best loot is found. The third-person shooter has tight combat and uses a cover-based system. Once a player has found loot they have to extract it in specific zones, however this sends an alert to other players who can then come and attack you. When encountering other players you can choose to either work together or fight one another but if you choose the more adversarial path, a bounty will be placed on you. The Division has all the hallmarks of other Ubisoft games but appears to be most similar to Activision’s Destiny.

 

Uncharted Territory

Finally, Sony ended its conference with a gameplay demo of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. Technical hiccup aside, the game looks gorgeous running on PS4 and the trademark Uncharted gameplay is still present with more of an open approach to how you progress from one encounter to the next. The demo showcased Nathan Drake and Sully being chased by an armoured vehicle and enemy troops as they tear through buildings and a marketplace. Coming to PS4 Spring 2016, Uncharted 4 is sure to be another excellent entry in the franchise from developer Naughty Dog.

 

Those are my highlights of E3 2015. Let me know in the comments below what your favourite moments and games were.

Thanks for reading!

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