E3 2014: reaction to the press conferences

discuss the E3 press conferences and offer their thoughts on what was shown

Microsoft Conference Adnan Riaz

Photo credit: BagoGames

Photo credit: BagoGames

Phil Spencer, head of Xbox division, delivered a Microsoft press conference which helped heal some of the wounds suffered from last year’s E3. Microsoft went into E3 with an emphasis placed solely on games, which left many fans in awe at the announcements made. Third-party studios took to the stage and showcased upcoming titles such as Activision’s Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed: Unity. However, the biggest announcement came when 343 Industries revealed Halo: The Master Chief Collection, which contains Halo 1-4, all the maps and upgraded visuals. Not only does this retail at the standard price but it’s a must-have collection for Xbox One users.

There was also a glimpse at the highly anticipated Halo 5: Guardians, along with other Xbox exclusives including Fable Legends and a new Crackdown title. On the whole, the conference was consistent and exhilarating from beginning to end – oh, Sunset Overdrive and the additional content for Dead Rising 3 also deserve an honourable mention for their delightful presence at the conference.

Ubisoft conference – Adnan Riaz

Photo credit: EMR

Photo credit: EMR

Ubisoft’s conference was hosted yet again by the charismatic Aisha Tyler and her enthusiasm for the titles showcased made the event more exciting with each reveal. Far Cry 4, the successor to the critically acclaimed Far Cry 3, opened the conference and demonstrated a title which is sharp in both its gameplay and graphics. The highly anticipated Tom Clancy’s The Division returned with a featured trailer, which sets a dark tone to the title and delivered an excellent glimpse at this upcoming title.

Ubisoft also showed a new trailer for Assassin’s Creed: Unity, which had magnificent music and also a demo that was harnessing the full potential of Xbox One and PS4 software. Valiant Hearts, an extremely artistic title which is situated during the events of World War I was an extremely promising game from this conference – it’s worth keeping an eye out on this one, considering the potential it has. After claiming that optimism was needed for Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6: Patriots, it seems that this mentality was rewarded with the reveal of Rainbow Six: Siege. Rainbow Six, in my opinion, defined the seventh generation FPS genre with its outstanding multiplayer and mechanics, with this announcement also offering a promising future for the series direction.

Sony conference  Aaron Stennett

Photo credit: Daniel McConnell

Photo credit: Daniel McConnell

Apart from a middle section which lagged badly, Sony put together a solid albeit slightly unspectacular press conference that will leave PlayStation fans excited for things to come. Well known and highly anticipated games, such as The Order: 1886 and Destiny, the spiritual successor to the famous Halo series certainly whetted the appetite. It is vital for Sony and Microsoft to get out as many blockbuster titles as possible early into the life of these new consoles, if they want to win over undecided gamers.

Where Sony did fall down however, was the middle sector of their presentation. Though the PlayStation brand enjoys diversity because of the large selection of hardware Sony sells, it also means invariably that every year Sony has to take a scattergun approach to E3.

With the PS4 being the newest console, viewers want to hear about the upcoming titles for this console. So naturally, when we have to listen to various Sony executives talking about the PlayStation Vita and older PS3 for what seemed like eternity, it doesn’t exactly come across as being exciting.

With Microsoft putting out a very impressive conference this year, Sony had to finish strongly to save face. And they certainly succeeded in doing this. First, came a gorgeous trailer of Grand Theft Auto V, remastered for PS4. Many had waited until the next-generation of consoles came out to get their hands on GTA, so it was a relief to see the game looking so fantastic on next-gen hardware.

The already-leaked trailer of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was again awesome, easily one of the best looking games of all time. The very best was left until last however. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was simply jaw-dropping. The trailer, filmed in-game on a PS4 really was leagues above anything else shown at E3 this year. Pixels have never looked more life-life. In all then, a solid showing from Sony.

Electronic Arts conference – Alex Killeen

Photo credit: The Conmunity

Photo credit: The Conmunity

Well, you know, even though just over a year ago EA were voted worst company in America for a second year in a row, you have to have some admiration for them now. Being in control of some major gaming franchises was always going to lead to an interesting conference, and EA did not disappoint.

Admittedly, there was probably a bit too much time spent concentrating on Battlefield: Hardline, but with their announcement of a beta launch simultaneously, it sort of made sense as to why they did so. And even if the game is about cops and crooks please ignore the nonsensical and preposterous amounts of destruction to public property.

They started with some developer’s diary from the people over at DICE, who are currently working on Star Wars: Battlefront 3, and frankly, it looks amazing. The level of detail that has arisen from their personal experience with props and locations of filming has really paid off. It is definitely one to keep an eye on.

Obviously with EA comes the obligatory inclusion of their monopoly sports games. Not being the biggest sports game fan, it was never going to spurn much interest. But surprisingly, they managed to lure me in. The new UFC and PGA games look awesome. But even more impressive was FIFA 15, one of the first titles in the series that created the genuine thought, ‘Huh? That might actually be worth my money.’

Jumping over to BioWare made for an interesting viewing. Dragon Age: Inquisition looks as superb as ever but what really grabbed many viewers’ attention was actually the sneak peek into the Mass Effect, a move that has many excited for the next title in the franchise.

Other notable ports of call was The Sims 4, looking as comical as ever; Mirror’s Edge 2, which looks flashy, intuitive, if not a little bit like a reproduction of the first title; and Dawngate, a MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena), with an emphasis on being a production that fans want.

And this is generally what the underlying theme to EA’s movement throughout the conference was. They are desperate to cater to what the fans want because, undoubtedly, fan disappointment does not bode well for them. So ultimately, the future looks bright for EA after this conference. Let’s just hope that servers can be kept fully serviced and micro-transactions see a dramatic decrease in appearance.

Nintendo Digital Event – Alex Killeen

Photo credit: Alfred Hermida

Photo credit: Alfred Hermida

From the minute that Nintendo announced that they wouldn’t be having a press conference, remarks were thrown at the financial woes that have been steadily developing over the past few years. This ‘Digital Event’, as it was coined, could well have been acting as Nintendo’s saving grace.

The good news is there’s no new Mario game this year. The unified sign of elation amongst bored Nintendo fans could probably be heard all over the world. But that doesn’t mean they’re not dragging games from Mario characters. Two new game announcements included Yoshi’s Woolly World, apparently not at all a carbon copy of Kirby’s Epic Yarn, even though the similarities are numerous, and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, a seeming mix of Minecraft, Spelunky and Super Mario 3D World. Oh, and they’re also making something called Mario Maker, where you make your own Mario levels   think LittleBigPlanet or Trials Fusion.

You do have to give it to Nintendo though, the Robot Chicken sketches that introduced and were interspersed within the event made absolutely hilarious self-satirical jokes. At this point it’s clear that Nintendo are aware that they repeat material, but at the end of the day, the repeated material gets high reviews and excellent sales. ‘If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,’ right? Especially when, every time they do try something new, they are shot down.

This is my main worry for their new title, Splatoon. This third-person shooter innovatively based around the idea of using ink to claim territory seems like a clever idea. I can’t help but feel that Nintendo fans are going to tear it apart in their desperation for a new Metroid game. You can’t laugh at their lack of innovation if you scream for older titles.

Even so, it became apparent that Nintendo are no longer really sticking to their staples either. Bayonetta 2, Xenoblade Chronicles X, as well as Splatoon are all showing promise of Nintendo’s interest in other genres and in diverting from their usual output. The Xenoblade Chronicles and Bayonetta predecessors are excellent games and monopolising on these to refresh the possibly stagnating icons they already have in their bank could prove to be an extremely clever move.

Obviously we were going to see reimplementation of their older character. A new Kirby game, Hyrule Warriors, Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, and a new Legend of Zelda game are all in the works. The latter two, with relatively small amounts of information behind them, look like they’re teeming with fantastic possibilities.

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