The Electronic Entertainment Expo or E3 is an annual trade show for the video game industry put on by the Entertainment Software Association. Attending E3 is like looking into the future. In 2014, due to the newly released console hardware, that future was somewhat abstract and unsurprising.
This year, however, the future seems bright and exciting with fantastic variation and what’s more it all seems oddly within our reach. This year’s E3 delighted attendees with new gameannouncements of course, but also for previously thought dead titles – a bit of a surprise. Virtual and augmented reality hardware was the talk of the expo this year as we got a glimpse at some new entries into the field as well as a more comprehensive look at the leading and close to launch hardware Oculus Rift. With many of the announcement titles surprisingly close to delivery, some great news from Microsoft regarding the Xbox One, VR one step closer to our living rooms, and a just a fantastically optimistic vibe permeating the entire expo, E3 2015 was the best in years.
Press conferences were scheduled this year by two of the three major platform developers. Sony’s could have gone a bit better with some laughable mic drops but their “mythical project” announcements were no laughing matter as The Last Guardian, a Shenmue 3 Kickstarter project, and a Final Fantasy remake left the audience cheering and in a nostalgic afterglow.
Sony continued its trend of allowing their first-party developers to break ground into uncharted game territory with Guerrilla Games showing off Horizon: Zero Dawn and Media Molecule dazzling us with Dreams. It was clear that Sony’s press conference was a success when during the false start of Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End demo, the audience was patient and gracious and then roared in appreciation when they got it started. A great expo moment indeed!
After last year’s rough console launch, Microsoft had a fantastic expo this year. Their conference was chock full of fan-friendly announcements and wonderful creativity. Their announcement that the Xbox One would be rolling out backwards compatibility was particularly popular and a big win for the developer. The laser-focus on their exclusive properties, indie titles, and some creative new games such as the MOBA shooter Gigantic and the pirate-themed MMO Sea of Thieves from Rare showcased a surprising self-confidence and creative swagger around their console’s identity. They also demonstrated that they weren’t going to be the only major developer left out of the crazy technology ring with the trippy demonstration of Minecraft on their futuristic and weirdly powerful HoloLens headset. In typical Nintendo fashion, they had a less successful but by no means disastrous conference this year and, as always, it was presented in their usual fun and eclectic style.
Attendees were presented with more questions then answers as the digital event managed to avoid all of the major topics concerning fans of Nintendo right now such as their future in the mobile arena, any word on their next console, anything more about Zelda for the Wii U. By the end of the event, it seemed the console manufacturer was reaching for anything to announce. We were given first-hand glimpses of several minor spinoff titles such as The Legend of Zelda: Tri Force Heroes, Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam and Metroid Prime: Federation Force and at the end of the day, these will have to tide fans over until next year.
At the other end of the expo, the more dazzling and hyped third-party shows had Ubisoft introducing us to a mix of brand-new and spinoff game properties such as South Park: The Fractured But Whole, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands, and the medieval combat game, For Honor – all a welcome respite from the annual Assassin’s Creed trailer, which we got this year in the form of Assassin’s Creed Syndicate. This year would mark the second E3 for Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege and a whopping third for Tom Clancy’s The Division.
EA, not to be outdone by their rival gave attendees a glimpse at the much-anticipated Mass Effect: Andromeda, a more detailed look at Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, and our first look at the adorable new platformer Unravel which proved to be a major buzz generator throughout the conference. The biggest and most anticipated announcement of the entire expo was, of course, EA’s Star Wars: Battlefront which created a huge stir and stole a lot of third-party thunder when it garnered IGN’s Game of Show E3: 2015 award.
All of this added up to a very energetic and dynamic E3 – one where all of the promised tech and IP we’ve been waiting for seemed to be within our grasp. The refreshing focus on creativity and originality promises a bright future for the next year in gaming.