Finally. E3 2016 is here, and it’s time to fire up the consoles and PCs and play the latest. Or wait for the latest. The lack of release dates is troubling, especially when developers start trotting out early 2017 release windows.
Either someone moved the holiday season to March, or expect further delays. All isn’t lost. We have the marquee titles which release every year, and was that a release date on The Last Guardian, Playstation? Could it be real? I kid, but the ‘it’s about damn time’ cheers from the crowd were telling.
While the companies want us to play at some point, let’s recap the conferences.
EA Play 2016
A tale of two conferences thanks to the sheer amount of leaks surrounding E3 2016 – technically EA Play.
Were you expecting a massive reveal of Mass Effect: Andromeda? You were expecting too much. The reveal from Bioware focused heavily on showing off the game developers hard at work.
Gameplay? It was there, and the game looks amazing, but can we have a trailer without the studio in it? And then there’s the issue of when it releases. Considering the type of trailer shown, early 2017 is a pipe dream.
Titanfall 2. Respawn was not having a good morning with the leaks, but they did manage to keep the multiplayer trailer under wraps for the conference. It was perfect how the team handled the single player trailer leak.
That’s right, single player campaign for Titanfall 2. Gamers clamored for it, and Respawn listened. Adding some personality to the mechs is a nice touch, but how well it will play against the titans of the FPS genre – Battlefield and Call of Duty – is an open question. Still, the mech has a damn sword. Sign me up.
FIFA with more FIFA. Did I mention FIFA? A lot of rumblings with how long EA spent on the sports side of gaming. Me? I’m not a FIFA fan, but I understand EA’s focus. Sports is a cash cow for EA. We all complain of Call of Duty fatigue, yet Activision pumps one out yearly. Why? Because it prints money and these are public companies.
FIFA 17 is getting a story mode, which seems odd, but there’s only so much you can add to a sports game before it all becomes redundant. Both it and Madden 17 look terrific and will sell. Now, if EA loves me, they can put in Peyton Manning hugging Papa John’s and shilling for Budweiser as one of the celebrations.
EA’s other money printer? Star Wars. Here’s where I’m both excited and highly disappointed. Visceral, Motive, Bioware, Respawn and DICE are all working on titles.
The trailer? Another look at the developers hard at work with nods to the Star Wars universe throughout. It feels like we are looking for evidence of the Loch Ness monster when parsing the trailer. Expect the games to start landing in 2017 and stretching into 2018.
Indie developers were handed some stage time with the unveiling of ‘EA Originals.’ Fe is the first game in the program. The publishing program will be one to watch as it grows out of Unravel into Fe and beyond.
The highlight of the show? Battlefield 1. You can’t change the world, but you can sure the blow the hell out of it. Damn, DICE can make one gorgeous shooter. Those thinking they hear Kanye in the trailer? You’d be wrong. That’s Wiz Khalifa from his No Limit track. Funny to watch the knee-jerk reaction when everyone online was screaming it was Kanye.
The low point of the show? Battlefield 1’s hour-long multiplayer reveal. Seriously, the incessant screaming of YouTube personalities has to stop. And the inclusion of the celebrities for playthroughs.
Snoop Dogg holding a controller? He was literally walking back and forth when they cut to him. Jamie Foxx looked like he was about to call his accountant to make sure the check cleared, as did Zac Efron.
You want us to play EA? Fine, throw a beta up and not put us through the game industry’s version of waterboarding.
Overall, the conference lacked punch. We knew both Titanfall and Battlefield were coming. No surprises there. Mass Effect? Looks gorgeous, but when? Star Wars gave us snippets, but that was it. And FIFA. Lots of FIFA.
Bethesda E3 2016
Bethesda was always going to be hard pressed to top last year’s conference. DOOM and Fallout 4? Outside of a new Elder Scrolls game, this year’s E3 showcase just wouldn’t be able to eclipse it. But Bethesda still has a few games up their sleeves.
The biggest one? Dishonored 2. The world of Karnaca is rendered beautifully in the new Void Engine. The highly stylized art from the first Dishonored returns in the sequel as the official E3 trailer gives us a short, but stunning look at Karnaca and our two heroes – Empress Emily Kaldwin and Carvo Attano.
Any worries fans of the original had were wiped away during Dishonored 2’s gameplay demonstration.
Ok, that timepiece section at the end was awesome!
While Dishonored 2 was probably the highlight for many of you, Bethesda didn’t stop there. Prey is back. And it definitely looks different. This isn’t a sequel or a remake. It’s a new take on the Prey franchise.
The two-minute trailer teases a psychological thriller set in the near future. We play as Morgan Yu, a subject of an experiment that shows the day constantly repeating. What’s going on? What kind of tests are being conducted? You have bigger problems. You’re aboard Talos 1, and a mysterious alien force is taking over.
Arkane Studios teases “mind-bending abilities.” I guess some of those tests worked. Like many other games shown over the past two days, we won’t be playing Prey until 2017. I’m going to miss the bounty hunter idea from Prey 2, but it’s good to see the franchise live on in whatever form.
Bethesda and id Software rocked the gaming world with DOOM last month. And they’re not done with the fast-paced, frenetic shooter action. That’s right; a new Quake is on the way. Titled Quake: Champions, it’s described as a competitive arena-based first person shooter.
Id Software’s Tim Willits was quick to comfort PC fans with stunning graphics running at “120hz with unlocked frame rates.” So, what do we know? It’s not a lot, but Quake: Champions will feature a large cast of warriors with unique attributes and skills. Support for competitive gaming is in; no surprise there. Bethesda didn’t touch on Quake: Champions long but promised more info at their upcoming QuakeCon.
Next up was The Elder Scrolls. Everyone knew a new Elder Scrolls wasn’t coming, but it didn’t stop us from hoping. Those hopes weren’t all for nothing.
Skyrim Remaster is coming to PS4, Xbox One and PC on October 28th. For console owners, it’s a huge upgrade. Refreshed graphics and mod support is in. Fallout 4 mods proved console owners are hungry for mods. Bethesda hopes to see the same hunger translate to the ever popular Skyrim. It will, Bethesda. It will.
Damn, that Skyrim music is epic. The trailer above also gives us a sneak peek at the new additions coming to Fallout 4 and Fallout Shelter. Bethesda also gave us another look at their card game – Legends. I might not like card games, but it’ll be fun to see how Legends competes with Hearthstone and Gwent.
And Bethesda also had something special for The Elder Scrolls Online fans. A new update takes the chains off new players. You’ll no longer be restricted by level, quests or alliances. Once you finish the tutorial, the world of Tamriel is yours to explore. It’s a sweet update for new players to play with higher-level friends.
That’s not all. Everyone’s favorite faction is coming to The Elder Scrolls Online – the Dark Brotherhood.
On the DOOM front, we learned more updates are coming to SnapMap – and they’ll be free. Several of the new updates are being tailored to help players create “true single player” experiences. Hell yes, Bethesda!
But Bethesda wasn’t willing to go all the way with free updates. Premium DLC is still a thing, and we got our first look at Unto The Evil. It includes new maps, a new demon, new armor taunts and more.
And if you need some motion sickness to go along with all the demon killing, DOOM VR is coming along with Fallout 4 VR.
All in all, it was a solid conference. Dishonored 2 looks fantastic. It’s good to see Prey still kicking around. And I have the sudden urge to jump back in Skyrim. Bethesda’s E3 showcase couldn’t top last year’s, but it was a solid sophomore effort.
Microsoft E3 2016
Hardware with a side of hardware. Microsoft kicked off its show by announcing the Xbox One S. Price? Well, it starts at $299. Well done on the price point, but that’s for a 500GB HD. Need a TB? $350. The 2TB slimmer console retails for $399, and all three SKUs will hit the shelves in August.
Support for HDR and 4K Blu-rays is the big feature along with the smaller footprint. The Xbox needed this because it looks like a flat rate box from the USPS painted black at this point. The new white style on the vertical stand? It’s a definite upgrade.
Along with the sleeker Xbox One, the controller is getting an upgrade. A textured grip is the biggest feature along with increased wireless range and Bluetooth support.
Games? The show kicked that off with Gears of War 4. Weather effects. The best of the early years of Gears. Plenty of cover and shoot mechanics. Oh, and chainsaws. Nice. Horde Mode 3.0 will be available in cross play, along with co-op multiplayer. It’s telling there was no mention of competitive multiplayer in the cross play.
One nice surprise from the trailer, considering everything leaked early at Microsoft? An old Marcus Phoenix appearing. Plus, the Gears Xbox One Elite Controller looks sick as hell and is already available for preorder.
Scalebound saw another demo on the E3 stage, and it was underwhelming. It could be a game where it doesn’t translate well to seeing it played versus actually playing it. Watching the stage demo, it seemed to drag on after about a minute.
Forza Horizon 3 looks gorgeous. No other way to say it. The game looks terrific and takes advantage of Xbox’s Play Anywhere initiative. PC and Xbox One owners can play together instantly.
The comparison of the Xbox One and the S is apples to oranges. HDR support should have been compared to the same environments. The S version started in a scene with rich color saturation, while the standard Xbox One started off in an area that would not showcase or differentiate the HDR experience.
Still, September 27 can’t come soon enough for those of us wanting to explore the open world of Austrailia.
Remember last year and the first look at ReCore? It’s back and hitting Xbox One and PCs in September. We were treated to another trailer. September is a solid release date for the game to move it in front of the holiday rush of AAA titles.
Other games on the stage included the announcements of Dead Rising 4, Minecraft Mobile PC Cross Play, Sea of Thieves, State of Decay, Final Fantasy XV and Gwent. Yeah, The Witcher is getting a card game.
It wouldn’t be Microsoft without a dose of Halo. Halo Wars 2 earned top billing on the stage, but the release date sucked the air out the room. February 21, 2017. A weeklong beta is up on Xbox Live now. Was I a bit disappointed not to see a secret teaser of a new Halo game? Of course. But it was how Microsoft ended the show that hopefully teases a bright future for Xbox fans.
Project Scorpio announced. Six teraflops of performance in a console that Microsoft billed as being the one game developers always wanted them to make. It was a bit odd to see two consoles announced in one conference, but Microsoft is already trailing the PS4 in terms of power and needs to make up the difference in a hurry – especially in light of the upgraded Playstation.
Launching in time for Christmas 2017, the Project Scorpio wants to be the most powerful console on the market. One interesting part of the announcement trailer? The GPU. How often does a manufacturer show off designs of product that looks upgradeable? Watch the GPU animation carefully. It resembles like an off-the-shelf card.
It’s something to watch for as we hit 2017 and rumors of the console turn into facts. A modular console? I’ll take it.
The opening with new hardware and closing of a hardware announcement was a jarring, but it feels like Phil Spencer is getting the Xbox brand he wanted when he was tapped to lead the division. Now it has to play serious catch up with the PS4.
Ubisoft E3 2016
Different. That’s one way to put Ubisoft’s E3 conference. But in a good way. Aisha Tyler returned to host Ubisoft’s conference for the fifth time. And I loved it. She just knows how to make a conference fun. Even if all I wanted to see was Ghost Recon and For Honor the whole time.
After some dancing for Just Dance 2017, the Ubisoft E3 showcase started with a literal bang with Ghost Recon: Wildlands. The Division shows our appetite for open-world games is strong. And Wildlands is turning it up to 11. The Santa Blanca Cartel has an iron grip on Bolivia, and it’s up to our four man squad to break the shackles.
In a nine-minute video, we see four players assault a base. Their target? El Pozolero.
I love the concept, but Wildlands is rough around the edges. The aiming transition from third-person to first-person was jarring. I did see one instance of aiming while still in third person, but that was it. Wildlands needs a lot more polish, and Ubisoft has plenty of time to do it.
The good news is the game looks stunning already. Sure, it doesn’t match up to what it looked like during its first reveal – but most of us were expecting a graphics downgrade. That’s what happens when developers reveal their games way too early.
Ubisoft has plenty of polish time ahead of them. Ghost Recon: Wildlands is set for a March 7, 2017 release date. I just want one thing, Ubisoft. Competitive multiplayer. Not some open-world hybrid like the Dark Zone. Regular multiplayer with regular maps.
Let’s shift gears to games coming this year. We got our first look at Watch Dogs 2 earlier this month, and I was shocked. It looked great. Marcus and his Dedsec allies showed up at E3 to hack the home of a social media mogul.
I talked about how Watch Dogs 2 needed to build on its cool concept, and that’s exactly what Ubisoft did. Watch Dogs 2 will be one of the big November games when it hits on November 15.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole Date. It’s absurd. It’s awesome. And it’s coming December 6. What else needs to be said.
Ubisoft’s quirkiness was on full display with the launch of Trials of the Blood Dragon. Yup. Our favorite dirt-bike game mashed together with the 1980s retro action movie-inspired style of Blood Dragon.
Damn, I wanted another Far Cry Blood Dragon spinoff. Still, I want to play it. Trials of the Blood Dragon is available now on consoles and PC for $15.
Let’s go from 80s action movies to Star Trek. The next game won’t blow you away in the graphics department, but it could be the first VR game you pick up this fall. Meet Star Trek: Bridge Crew. You and three friends play bridge officers aboard a starship.
I could listen to Levar Burton talk about Star Trek: Bridge Crew all day.
Now, I’m going to talk about one of my most anticipated games period – For Honor. I’m a sucker for historical games, and For Honor is pushing all the right buttons. First, here’s the cinematic trailer.
Can we just get a TV show of this? That looked incredible.
Alright, now some gameplay. We are about to watch a Viking story campaign mission from about half-way through the game. You play as the Raider, a Viking warrior who is leading his soldiers against a fortress in Myre, the land of the Samurai.
It reminds me of a slower, more visceral version of Dynasty Warriors. And I want to play it now. Unfortunately, For Honor is one of the many games not coming until next year. Celebrate Valentine’s Day by storming Samurai castles.
Shooters and open-world games dominate the gaming industry. But Ubisoft is adding a game to one of the most under-served genres out there – action sports. One of my all-time favorite games is ESPN Extreme Games on PS1. My brother and I would play that for hours. I loved games like Amped and SSX.
Steep is Ubisoft’s answer to the action sports genre.
The rest of Ubisoft’s E3 showcase gave us new looks at The Division DLC, Grow Up and Eagle Flight.
You might not like all of Ubisoft’s offerings, but you can always count on them to show up to E3 with a diverse lineup. Whether it’s eagles chasing rabbits, Ghosts taking down a cartel or snowboarding down a mountain. Ubisoft has a little something for everyone.
You like games. And Sony likes you. Sony’s conference last night was a spectacle. Live orchestra? Check. Games? Check. Hardware? Sony pumped the brakes on that one (besides VR).
Sony’s conference didn’t leave much breathing room as it kicked things off with God of War. Kratos is back and is sporting a beard. We meet his son, Charlie, as they go hunting through a snowy forest. You can guess where this is going.
Yup. Norse mythology. Sweet!
The short snippet of gameplay we saw does look like a departure from the series. It didn’t seem as hack-and-slash as previous entries. Maybe that comes in later in the game? We’ll find out more in the months ahead.
We love open-world games. And developers love making them. Days Gone is the latest game from Sony Bend. Recognize the developer? They’ve been porting Uncharted, Resistance and Syphon Filter to PlayStation Portable and Vita in recent years. Days Gone is a pretty substantial departure for them.
Yeah, it’s another open-world game with zombies. I’m not complaining though. It looks great, and Sony is confident enough in it to let the game close their show.
The Last Guardian has a release date! Crazy, I know. October 25 will end The Last Guardian’s journey that started when it was first revealed in 2009.
Sony’s conference kept its blistering pace with another gameplay demo of Horizon: Zero Dawn. The game is flat out gorgeous, and I wish February 28, 2017 would just get here already.
Quantic Dream is back with another one of their story-heavy games. We’ll play as Connor, a detective who also happens to be an AI. The trailer shows Connor trying to defuse a hostage situation. It then jumps to the same situation playing out multiple different ways. As with their previous games, the decisions you make matter.
It’s no God of War or Horizon: Zero Dawn, but I’m intrigued.
Did I say Sony’s conference was at a blistering pace? Here’s Resident Evil 7.
Sony didn’t talk about their next console, but they did show off several VR titles.
And we got a price. $399. Not too bad. Sony also promised 50 launch titles (between launch and a few months after).
After the short bit on VR, Sony went right back to games. Next up? Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. I know it’s the cool thing to hate on Call of Duty right now, but I would be lying if I said that gameplay demo wasn’t badass. My concern is just how scripted is it? Can we fly anywhere we want (within reason) or is it much more linear?
Once Call of Duty wrapped up, Sony’s Shawn Layden teased us hard. He walked on stage with a shadow of Crash following him. Were we finally getting a new Crash Bandicoot? Nope! But we are getting fully remastered versions of Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot 2 and Crash Bandicoot Warped. That’s cool, but c’mon on Layden! That was a brutal tease.
It’s not a Sony E3 conference unless Hideo Kojima shows up. He did, and he brought us a sneak peek at his latest game. It’s called Death Stranding, and it stars Norman Reedus. What else do we know? Not much, but that didn’t stop everyone from going nuts.
Spider-Man! It’s being developed by Insomniac Games, and it looks fantastic.
Sony’s conference capped off another solid E3. I was expecting more on the hardware side from Sony, but the sheer amount of games more than made up for it. Sony won best E3 for me. All of the publishers had their share of great games, but man – Sony’s pacing was crazy. One game right after another.
I say it every year, and it still rings true in 2016/17. I don’t know how I’ll be able to play all these fantastic looking games.
Which conference did you enjoy the most? What game can you not wait to play? Sound off in the comments.