E3 2015 has been called one of the best in recent memory. Not only have we been treated to games we thought were long dead, but we have also seen many new and exciting IP’s being released. So let’s look past who “won” E3 and look at some of the exciting things to come out of this year’s conference.
1. Xbox One backwards compatibility. Sony needs to follow this example.
Since the launch of the Xbox One and PS4, fans of both consoles have been asking for the ability to play their old Xbox 360 and PS3 games on their new consoles. Sony’s answer has been a streaming service called PlayStation Now, which allows gamers to play their old PS3 games by streaming them directly to the PS4 (for a monthly fee). This hasn’t worked as well as Sony would have hoped.
At this year’s’ E3, Microsoft gave the Xbox owners what they have been asking for. It will now be possible to play your old Xbox 360 games on your Xbox One free of charge.
Digital Xbox 360 titles that you own and that are part of the available catalogue will automatically show up as “ready to install”. Disc-based games will download to your hard drive when the disc is inserted.
This is great news and I hope that Sony follows this example (although I doubt they will).
2. The Last Guardian… It’s alive
Many didn’t believe the rumours that The Last Guardian was still in production. Some had hope. Others had given up.
There was a feeling of overwhelming joy when we realized that not only was the game still in production, but that the game would also launch in 2016. In addition, we got treated to a six-minute gameplay trailer.
The trailer featured the little boy and creature (people affectionately refer to as Bird-Dog), as they traversed the outside of what seemed to be a temple of sorts. The game looks like it focuses on teamwork, as the boy and the Bird-Dog needed to help each other as they travel along the path on the outside of the temple. Not only did the game look beautiful, but the sound design was just as amazing. The noise that the Bird-Dog makes as he whimpers tugs at the heart strings.
The Last Guardian looks set to be the same unique gaming experience that Team ICO is famous for. Its unique look, interesting gameplay and what seems to be an emotional story, is sure to make up for the very long delay.
3. Halo 5: Guardians. Let the fight begin
Microsoft also unveiled some of the campaign gameplay for Halo 5: Guardians. As was expected, the game looks really good.
The Demo was played from Locke’s perspective as we follow him and the Osiris team as they hunt down Master Chief. Visually, the environments we got to see as the team continued their search, looked great. At one stage during the demo, Locke uses the Artemis, which seems to be a device used to scan the environment for clues. The team is quickly forced into action when they are attacked by teleporting Prometheans- the enemies of Halo 4. A battle ensues. The demo ends as a huge boss-like Promethean cuts off their path to Master Chief.
Microsoft also showed Warzone, a multiplayer mode that reminded me a bit of Battlefield, but with a Halo flavour. Warzone basically is a really big team battle, with 24 players divided into two teams of 12. I can’t wait to get a few of these matches going.
I am truly looking forward to seeing more of Halo 5: Guardians.
4. Star Wars: Battlefront. The Battle of Hoth has never looked so good.
At last EA gave us a look at the new Star Wars: Battlefront. And it’s stunning. I especially like the fact that the blaster fire and explosions resemble the practical effects from the first three films. The vehicles look and move exactly like they do in the films, which add to the already great atmosphere of the game. The sound design for Battlefront is also something that EA has been talking about a lot lately. The time and effort that they put into it shows. The familiar sound of TIE fighters whizzing past was enough to give me goosebumps.
The gameplay demo (which takes place at the Battle of Hoth) showed every aspect of the battle, from running around as a rebel infantry unit to controlling one of the huge AT-AT’s lumbering around the map.
The best part is at the end of the demo when we see Luke and Darth Vader head to head in battle.
What I have seen so far has just added to my excitement for the game. The fact that the developers have stayed true to the original designs and even the effects has really upped the hype for me.
5. Transformers: Devastation. Autobots roll out!
This new Transformers game developed by Platinum games is a throwback to the Transformers G1 era. The game looks almost exactly like the old G1 cartoons and had me nostalgic within a few minutes.
The action is fast paced, just like you would expect from a game developed by Platinum games. One aspect that caught my eye was, that you can string together attacks in both robot and vehicle mode to create combo’s. It’s great to see that the vehicle modes are not just used for traversing the map. Platinum games have also confirmed that Peter Cullen (the original voice of Optimus Prime) will be reprising his role in the game. Some of the confirmed Autobots and Decepticons in the game are Bumblebee, Soundwave, Optimus Prime, Grimlock, Sideswipe, Megatron, Wheeljack and Devastator with more to be announced soon.
To be honest, I am mostly excited for the game because of its nostalgic value. I really hope that Platinum games can pull this off.
6. Uncharted 4: A thief’s end. The last chapter.
It was great that Sony showed us some more Uncharted 4. This time the demo took place in a city filled with food stalls and vendors. The game looks gorgeous, from the lighting to the textures.
What was most evident in the demo was the destruction system the game uses. It seemed that everything in the game can be blown or shot to bits. This attention to detail also extends to the character animation, as Naughty dog has once again proved their mastery of it. Each move Nate and Sully made seemed realistic and made sense; this was also evident as Nate entered a large crowd, gently nudging his way through.
The maps in Uncharted 4 also seemed more open. Multiple streets and paths seemed to branch off the in each direction, all of these possible routes for Nate and Sully to take. This also extended to the vehicle chase section as Nate and Sully were able to take different shortcuts as they tried to escape their pursuers.
I’m glad to see that the banter between Nate and Sully was just as funny as I remembered it, obviously the great voice acting added a lot. The way Nate and Sully joke with each other, while their lives are in danger were some of the best moments in the demo.
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End launches in 2016 and I can’t wait.
7. Kingdom hearts 3. The gang is back.
I suspected that we might see something of Kingdom hearts 3. I had thought that we might be treated to a cinematic trailer, so I was pleasantly surprised when we got to see an actual gameplay trailer. It was also announced that there would be a world based on the Tangled movie, of which we got to see a few glimpses. The game looks really good, especially for a game that is so early in development.
The trailer showed off the new Disney ride summons. Among these was the train we saw in the previous gameplay teaser a few years back, as well as the pirate ship and the spinning teacups summons. We also got to see some more of the new transforming keyblades. In one part of the trailer Sora’s keyblade transforms into two pistols, and after a few shots it transforms into a -for lack of a better description- RPG with which he blows up his enemies.
Donald and Goofy also featured in the trailer and we got to see some of their attacks and special attacks as well.
Although Kingdom hearts 3 might be a while away, I am glad that it continues to surprise me.
8. Horizon: Zero dawn. Robots + Dinosaurs = Robosaurs
One of the biggest kept secrets has been the project that Guerrilla games were working on. Rumours surfaced that it might be an open world RPG.
What was announced wasn’t what I expected. The game is an open world RPG but takes place after a cataclysmic event. The few humans that survived formed tribes that resemble those of the stone-age (although some old world technology seems to be incorporated in their lives).
The gameplay trailer follows a hunter called Aloy as she is searching for creatures to hunt. The game looks gorgeous; this is mainly due to the vibrant colour pallet that is used. The way she moves through the bushes as she hides also impressed. So what makes this game special? The twist is that instead of flesh and meat animals, the plains are alive with the movement of robotic dinosaurs.
Aloy needs to shoot the canisters that are mounted on the backs of some these dinosaurs and gather them (for a yet as unannounced purpose). Unfortunately, she is detected by what can only be described as a robotic T-rex. The creature storms her as she lets off a few arrows from a het bow. After a lengthy battle, Aloy is able to tether the monster to the ground -using a crossbow weapon- and kills it with her spear.
There were a few hints of crafting and special abilities that Aloy may be able to acquire throughout the game. I loved the fact that the game combines stealth and action gameplay. It was mentioned that the game aims to release in 2016.
I am completely sold on the concept and the world that Guerrilla games have created, I really hope that the game turns out just as great.
9. Fallout 4. Re-build the wasteland.
We knew Fallout 4 was coming to E3. What we didn’t know was how it would differ from the previous Fallout games.
Luckily Bethesda didn’t disappoint, as we not only got to see some combat (real-time and using V.A.T.S), but we were also treated to some great news. In Fallout 4 you are now able to use all the scrap and items that you scavenge in the wasteland in order to upgrade and craft not only weapons, but also your power armour. The gameplay trailer they showed illustrated this, as the player character used a workbench to craft a totally unique weapon, by upgrading and crafting each individual piece.
We also got to see the power armour upgrading system in action as players will now be able to upgrade each part (arms, legs, torso) separately creating a unique armour set.
The new crafting mechanic also extended to settlement building. Yes, you read correctly, you are now able to construct settlements and buildings piece by piece and decorate them with items scavenged from the wasteland. NPC’s will start to inhabit these settlements as you create trading routes between them. Players would also need to defend these by constructing traps and turrets. This new mechanic adds a huge new element to the game.
We also got to see the new dog companion in action, as you will be able to give them commands, such as getting them to fetch out-of-reach items for you.
Fallout 4 is shaping up to be a game that would keep players engaged for hours. It seems we would need to clear our schedule for when the game arrives on November 10th 2015.
10. For Honour. You’ve got my sword and my axe.
This game’s announcement came out of nowhere and caught me totally off guard. The game is a four-player PVP, and centres around three factions, Vikings, Medieval knights and Samurai.
The game focuses on swordplay. The way it works is that players have three stances, a high, middle and low. Depending on what stance you are using the player will either strike/block high, low or in the middle. It might sound simple enough, but analyzing the others players stances in the middle of a battle is more difficult than it first seems.
The fighting is very visceral and in your face, as heads and limbs are chopped off. Each Faction has their own hero characters from which players can choose. These hero characters have their own unique abilities and weapons (of which you can unlock more).
The gameplay demo that was shown had one team attacking a castle while the other team defended it. Players needed to take control of points on the battlefield in order to increase their score. What I loved was the fact that in these battles the players of each faction has an A.I controlled army attacking and defending with them. This made for some impressive large-scale battles.
I am really looking forward to seeing some more of this game, especially since we weren’t show any of the Viking heroes in action.
11. No Man’s Sky. This game is HUGE.
Once again we were exposed to how impressively huge and expansive the universe of No Man’s Sky is. In the gameplay demo, we were shown a small piece of space combat, as a battle between large capital ships and fighters took place just above a planet. We were told that the player could intervene at any moment and choose a side, or could ignore the battle and continue on their way.
The ship then seamlessly entered the atmosphere of a planet and landed. As the player got out of their ship two sentries (guardians of the planet) started to lumber towards the player, who quickly ran off.
We were also shown how the scanning mechanic worked, as each new item (plant, creature, mineral) that is discovered and uploaded at beacon points awards the player with credits/money.
We were also shown how destructible the environment is, as the player blew up a large rock and collected the fallen minerals.
The demo ended with us being informed that a release date would be announced soon. How good No Man’s Sky turns out will be defined by how true to the original vision of the developers the final game is. If they can pull it off, No man’s sky might be one of the best games to be developed in a long time.
12. Final Fantasy 7: Remake. Cloud has returned.
This was another reveal that had caught many off guard. We were shown a short teaser trailer which included scenes of Midgar and Cloud getting off a train. The whole teaser is very atmospheric.
What I didn’t expect was that this remake would be from the ground up, with full voice-overs and redone graphics. The developers also mentioned that this would not be a carbon copy of the original.
I would seem that the remake is still a few years away; I am none the less excited for it as I have wanted to revisit the world of FF7 on many occasions.
The game will be heading to PS4 first and then to Xbox One at a later stage.
A lot more to look forward to.
These are just some of the myriad of announcements that came from E3 2015 and I wish I could mention them all. It seems that the next few years will be amazing for all gamers whether you are a Nintendo, Playstation, Xbox or PC fan boy.