Do you remember when EA ‘wasn’t at E3′?
It was an entertaining story for a while, until we ended up in LA, and saw that the apparently AWOL EA had actually taken over five floors of its own venue, before it held a press conference that took place across two continents.
Activision, too. It’s not at E3 either. Unless you count the fact it had not one, not two but three games – one a completely new announcement – on stage during Sony’s E3 press conference.
This was an E3 of noise – never before have we seen so many consumers at the event, whooping and hollering at every new announcement, every perfectly delivered PR line and every gory on-screen murder.
It would be enough to make you cringe at the best of times, but E3 took place during one of the worst tragedies in US history, with the mass murder of 50 people in Orlando just as the show was about to start. Publishers and platform holders did their best to address it, but it felt disingenuous when the thoughts and prayers were quickly followed by graphic depictions of stabbing deer, or mowing down hoards of monsters, or skewering security guards in the neck – scenes that were greeted with adulation from the baying crowd.
Yet the show must go on, and it did. E3 2016 was a busy one for the games business, and there was a lot to talk about – both from what was shown and what wasn’t.
So let MCV take you through 36 hours of games industry news.
Sunday, June 12th
EA’s non-E3 press conference kicked off the week, and was perhaps the most reserved of the showcases we witnessed.
The firm showed the first gameplay of Titanfall 2, the shooter that arrives on October 28th. It also unveiled more details around Battlefield 1, which comes out the week before.
There was more details on Madden, while FIFA saw its story mode announced.
That was pretty much it. EA clearly decided to focus on the games that players could actually get hands on with that week, which was a commendable decision. However, the absence of some key titles resulted in disappointment amongst certain fans.
The one new announcement of note was that EA is launching an indie games publishing division called Originals. It showed off its first Originals project, too, an artistic platformer called Fe.
Sunday, June 12th,
This was quite possibly the most lavish and extravagant E3 press event in almost a decade.
Featuring a live performance from Blink 182 at a huge after party, Bethesda utilised E3 to focus on its blockbuster sequels.
Quake Champions was the big surprise, although very little was revealed about it. Meanwhile, a new Prey game and a PS4/Xbox One remake of Skyrim was also briefly shown – although many knew about that ahead of the conference.
Bethesda also announced its move into VR with a Doom demo and a VR version of Fallout 4 – both coming to HTC Vive.
Yet its real push was around Dishonored 2. Judging by the sheer amount of stage time it has, Bethesda is clearly eager to turn Dishonored into another one of its pillar franchises. It will be interesting to see whether a game that has such a niche concept can break through into the mainstream.
Monday, June 13th,
Microsoft’s press conference was quite a safe one in many ways. The games on show were mostly ones we had seen or known about before – including first party titles Halo Wars 2, Gears of War 4, ReCore and Sea of Thieves.
Meanwhile, new announcements involved Forza Horizon 2 and Dead Rising 4. Crackdown, which has been pushed to 2017, was nowhere to be seen.
Yet this was a press event that will be best remembered for its double hardware announcements. Microsoft kicked off the presentation by confirming the existence of the Xbox One S – a slimmed down version of the Xbox One, with 4K support for video and Blu-ray, plus a new and improved controller. The white machine can also be stood on its side and has a retail price starting at 250. It is due in August.
Then, to cap it off, Phil Spencer confirmed the existence of Project Scorpio. Scorpio is a new Xbox One that will be, according to the company, ‘the most powerful games console of all’. There was a lot of jargon as Xbox unveiled the specifications for the machines. No details on its price came out of the show, but we have a while to go yet – Scorpio isn’t due until the end of 2017.
It laid out a market for Sony to hit.
Monday, June 13th,
Before Sony’s go, however, we had Ubisoft’s traditional weird and charming conference.
There were unusual indie-type titles like Grow Up (a sequel to 2015’s Grow Home) and Trials of the Blood Dragon (an unpredictable mash-up of Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon with the Trials series). There were big triple-A releases such as For Honor, Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Watch Dogs 2, South Park: The Fractured But Whole and a new action sports IP called Steep. And there were multiple VR titles, most notable of which was the new Star Trek game, Bridge Crew.
And that’s not even referencing the Assassin’s Creed movie, which is set for December, and the annual Just Dance product.
It was actually a very impressive show, with the firm celebrating its 30th birthday. And when you add all those games together, you can see why Ubisoft is internally describing this financial year as its biggest on record.
However, there was a hint of potential sadness at the end. As Yves Guillemot said his earnest thanks to the fans, he was joined onstage by his development teams. Ubisoft is facing down a hostile take-over attempt from Vivendi, and if Yves and his team can’t fend it off, then that may have been the publisher’s much-loved leader’s final public appearance.
Monday, June 13th,
Sony decided to face-off against Xbox and its new hardware reveals by showing nothing but software.
Make no mistake, PlayStation is planning a new model to compete with Xbox One’s Scorpio, but PlayStation Neo just wasn’t here. We will have to wait for a later date to see what the platform holder has planned.
Instead, Sony delivered a string of huge triple-A titles, with no sign of any small scale indie projects.
God of War achieved the biggest cheer of the night, while the reveal that Capcom’s creepy Kitchen game was actually a precursor to Resident Evil VII was warmly received – the game seemed to be returning to its survival horror roots.
In fact, there were quite a number of surprises during the PlayStation press conference.
We had a new action survival horror game called Days Gone, which featured an horrific chase from hundreds of the undead.
Hideo Kojima’s new title Death Stranding was teased, sending the audience into a frenzy, while Crash Bandicoot is returning with a remake of the first three titles. Oh and Insomniac is making a Spider-Man game.
There were other impressive demos of Horizon: Zero Dawn, Detroit, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Skylanders Imaginators (now with added Crash), but the biggest focus was on PlayStation VR.
Sony announced that its new headset will have 50 games available on it by the end of the year, and they will include a dog fighting mission from Star Wars Battlefront, Batman Arkham VR and a Final Fantasy XV VR experience.
All in, despite the lack of hardware, it was another show-stopping performance from PlayStation.