The enormity of expectation of the E3 Conferences never fails in producing a fever-pitched audience. The hype, the buzz of excitement that fills the air waiting for new multi-million dollar franchises to be revealed. That wave of excitement is renewed every year as we see new hardware or new developments pushing older hardware to previously unattainable levels of performance.
This year’s E3 features the first proper showing for the new generation of consoles and with the market moving quickly it’s important for hardware companies to establish ground at an early stage. Though it’s a very different battleground to 12 months ago, the perceived mishandling of the Xbox One launch leaving an open door for Sony to gain lost ground and retake their position among hardcore gamers as top dog.
The Conferences kicked-off with Microsoft’s Xbox event, a show that would need to define the course of the system without Kinect while offering a conference that lets the games do the talking, and they achieve just that. Here’s the entire conference in 4 minutes.
No Celebrities waffling or Company Directors spouting stats, just wall to wall games. The conference ran at break-neck speed and was packed to the rafters with content. So in terms of approach this was a perfectly handled event, but did it score big?
Answer is a solid result, good software and a solid year ahead, Forza Horizon 2 continues to capture the racing genre while FPS fans can look forward to the Halo Master Chief Collection, probably the most exciting announcement of the show and a great surprise, whatever the systems perceived graphical limitations they weren’t showing yet. No new Gears of War and nothing which truly blew anyone away but Microsoft can walk away with a solid job well done, now the battlefield moves to GamesCom and TGS.
The EA conference was a mixed affair, outside of the usual sports titles they appeared to be stuck between generations, developing new technology and ideas, keeping investors happy for now while giving a glimpse to potentially huge hits of the future. Star Wars Battlefront could be the biggest game of 2015; while the next Mass Effect is hugely ambitious and all of the current sports range has had considerable visual and physics enhancements. Again not a classic show but a solid event which demonstrates the challenge to the industry in moving to and taking advantage of this new generation of technology.
A trailer for The Crew, one of Ubisoft’s big hopes for 2014.
Always one of the most exciting conferences, Ubisoft are never afraid to break the mould with new developments and they always think big, really big. With a wide range of titles featuring massive open worlds. Highlights include The Division, Far Cry 4, The Crew, Assassins Creed Unity and with the welcome return of Rainbow Six Siege. All of the titles featured advanced visuals and will feature multi-format releases.
The longest and often fattest of the Conferences, Sony having always been slow getting with the times and style required for presentations like this. Their style harks back to the ‘trade-only’ events of the 1990’s, including sales stats and information relevant purely to those involved with the retail and distribution sectors. But in recent times they’ve become ever more aware and though weighing in at a hefty two hours this was certainly one of Sony’s better conferences in terms of structure if not software on display.
Of the titles featured, Batman, Metal Gear Solid 5 and Far Cry 4 were all exciting; Little Big Planet 3 will no doubt be a huge hit with PS4 versions of The Last of Us and Uncharted 4 to wet your appetite. No demo of Project Morpheus in action was disappointing, with no mention of DriveClub or Project Cars, despite all being on the Sony stand. Some interesting omissions but the business of Sony TV and ‘Playstation Now’ forges ahead with the console in good shape. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, as Sony is keen to keep up their recovery to their previous heady years dominating the market.
Choosing for a low key event via ‘live’ internet stream it gave the opportunity for a more intimate approach. The Wii U has performed abysmally in sales terms and despite the excellent performance from Mario Kart 8, the hardware fails to impress many gamers, however the quality of Nintendo’s software is always unquestionable. New Pokémon titles and a free roaming Zelda game on the way, along with Mario Maker, Captain Toad , Yoshi’s Woolly World title shown and one of my particular show highlights Splatoon to name but a few. It’s at times like this it’s such a shame to see such great titles limited to one format that simply can’t compete on installed base outside of its native Japan.
Overall, an excellent show in terms of solid software and expectation for the future, it reveals the changing tide in technology and though not the most exciting opening to an E3 ever it paves the way for a whole new direction in technology for the future. E3 2015 is already shaping up to be a cracker.