Introduction and Nintendo
Update: The second day of E3 has seen Microsoft, Ubisoft the PC Gaming show and now Sony set out their visions for the next year in gaming. We’ve updated the sections below with the conferences that have already happened, and now we’ve only got Nintendo left to round out the show with its live-stream tomorrow before we update our full thoughts on the entirety of this year’s show.
E3 2016 is probably the single most important event for gamers all year long. It’s here we’ll get our first look at the big franchises that will keep our consoles and gaming rigs humming later in the year and, if we’re lucky, a sneak peek at next-gen hardware, too.
This year is going to be different than most, however. All three of the main console manufacturers have hinted at new hardware – Sony with its PS4.5, Microsoft with a modular console and Nintendo with the Nintendo NX – meaning this could be a very big year.
But not everything is changing for the better this year. Activision, Disney, Wargaming and EA have all said that they won’t be attending the convention in an official capacity this year. That means no crazy surprise rock shows to support Guitar Hero Live and absolutely no Pele coming out on stage to talk about the beautiful game.
But maybe, just maybe, none of that will matter.
E3 is a fiercely independent beast. It’s survived with the support of those companies in the past and it can do so again. As long as Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo show up with new IPs in hand and next-gen hardware in tow, this is going to be another memorable year in Los Angeles.
Nintendo, playing it safe with Zelda
What time is the Nintendo keynote? 9am PST on Tuesday, June 14
Where can I watch the Nintendo keynote? Nintendo @ E3 2016
No one could conceivably claim that Nintendo put on a good show at last year’s E3. Instead of footage from the new Zelda, we got a trailer for Zelda spin-off Tri Force Heroes. Instead of a juicy new entry in the Metroid series, we got Metroid Prime: Federation force with a trailer so underwhelming that it immediately sparked a petition to get the game permanently pulled from the Nintendo lineup months ahead of its release.
Even Nintendo’s Starfox reveal, a title which had the gaming community shedding a collective tear of joy, was quickly deflated when we discovered the controls were such a letdown.
But 2016 is a new year. We’ve been keenly following the news leaking out about Nintendo’s next console and last month Nintendo finally confirmed that the NX would be releasing in March 2017.
At E3 2014 it blew us away with the reveal of a new Legend of Zelda for the Wii U, but since then we’ve seen little of the new game aside from a Nintendo Direct broadcast. This will all change at E3 2016, where Nintendo will be streaming the new Legend of Zelda (which has also been confirmed for the NX) for an entire day.
Nintendo has confirmed that Zelda will be the only playable game they’re showing at this year’s show, but it will also be showing off footage for some other games.
Starting 9am PT on June 14 Nintendo will stream gameplay from The Legend of Zelda for Wii U as well as the first live gameplay for Pokemon Sun and Moon (which will actually open the stream).
On June 15, Nintendo will be showcasing Monster Hunter Generations, Dragon Quest VII: Fragments of the Forgotten Past and Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE!
Nintendo is playing this year’s E3 incredibly safe with its focus on the Legend of Zelda, and whilst we love the franchise as much as anyone else, one game does not an E3 showing make. It would be great if Nintendo surprised us with another announcement, or even more details of its mobile plans, but we’re not going to be holding our collective breath.
It’s no secret that Nintendo has big plans for mobile gaming after it announced them prior to E3 last year. So far we’ve seen just one Nintendo mobile game, Miitomo, but Nintendo has also announced that 2016 will see the release of Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem, so who knows – we might get a glimpse of these over E3.
Sony and Microsoft
Sony, the king of the mountain
If there’s one thing Sony knows, it’s how to create a sense of theatre. Its E3 press conference in 2016 was a remarkably classy affair which was accompanied in its entirety by a live orchestra.
Better still was the way Sony allowed all of its games to speak for themselves. We weren’t treated to executives telling us how great a game was, instead we were simply presented with the footage and allowed to make up our own minds. It was a confident move, and one that resulted in a remarkably fast-paced press conference.
Resident Evil 7‘s reveal was executed well. What appeared to be just another PlayStation VR experience soon broadened out into a much bigger game until it was finally revealed to be the next entry in the long-running survival horror franchise.
It looks to be an abrupt shift in tone for a series which has continued to use the blueprint from its fourth entry for years, but we’re excited to see what its capable of. Apparently the whole game will be playable with PlayStation VR.
We may have only got a short trailer, but the reveal that Insomniac Games are currently working on a Spider-Man game has us very excited indeed. We haven’t had a proper Spider-Man game since 2014’s underwhelming Amazing Spider-Man 2 tie-in, so it’s exciting to see the development studio behind Ratchet and Clank working on the game.
Finally, in its one excessive note of the show, Sony trotted out Hideo Kojima to show off the first trailer for his new game Death Stranding. Details are light on the new title, but the trailer (which was apparently all in-engine) painted an odd picture of the game, with a man waking up naked and confused in a wasteland.
But that’s far from all Sony’s press conference had to offer. We had new gameplay footage from Horizon: Zero Dawn, a live gameplay demonstration of The Last of Us-esque Days Gone and God of War.
If we had to criticise Sony it would definitely be for the way The Last Guardian was handled. It’s now been seven years since the game was first revealed and with it being due out later this year we expected to see more that just another trailer.
Nevertheless, 2016 was another very strong year for Sony. The imminent arrival of the 4K Playstation Neo may mean now is not the perfect time to buy a PS4, but those who have already invested in the console have a lot to look forward to over the next couple of years.
Microsoft – making a Scorpio-shaped splash
Microsoft had a phenomenal E3 showing, filled with games, new hardware, and some tantalising teases about the future.
Let’s start with the big stuff: two new consoles. Microsoft announced the Xbox One S, its slimmer, cheaper console that will also support 4K video and HDR. It will support all Xbox One games, and the even better news is that the power brick is finally gone.
It will, however, also be ditching the Kinect sensor port – you’ll need a USB adapter if you want to use Kinect with the S.
The S will be launching in August, starting at $299/£249. But that’s not all! Microsoft also teased the rumored Project Scorpio, which will arrive during Holiday 2017 and pack a whopping six teraflops of graphics power – nearly five times as much as the Xbox One – and an octa-core CPU.
It will be fully capable of 4K gaming and virtual reality – and we’re dying to find out more.
As for the games from the show, we’ll have a roundup of all the biggest titles announced during Microsoft’s E3 event following shortly…
The third parties: Activision and Ubisoft
When it comes to the big publishers E3 2016 is looking a little more empty than it has done it previous years. Out of the big five publishers – Bethesda, Activision, EA, Square Enix, and Ubisoft – EA and Activision have pulled out from participating in the show itself, meaning they will not exhibit on the show floor.
This has been Activision’s policy since the 2008’s E3, but for EA this decision is a new one. EA’s decision appears to have been motivated by E3’s ‘press only’ attendance policy, since they will instead be hosting an alternative pair of events across both LA and London, UK.
But both publishers will have games on show with various partners. Activision has always made an appearance on stage with either Sony or Microsoft at their respective press conferences, and both are likely to have something on display (hint, hint: Call of Duty) in a partner’s booth on the show floor.
EA also hosted a separate event on Sunday, June 12, where it showed off more of Battlefield 1, Titanfall 2, Fifa 17 and more which you can read on the next page.
I’m sick of the silly console wars, what about the games?
Believe me, we’re sick of it too. Thankfully the list of games that’s likely to be on the show floor this year is impressive. It’s hard to mention one publisher without a big reveal up its sleeve.
Activision has been something of a known quantity for at least the last few E3’s. Call of Duty continues to sell year after year, and since this year’s iteration will be developed by Infinity Ward rather than Treyarch or Sledgehammer Games, anticipation is that much higher.
Beyond Call of Duty, we’re also excited to see what Activision shows off from the Destiny franchise. We haven’t had any new expansions since The Taken King was released in September last year and we’re keen to see what Bungie have been cooking up in the meantime. The developer has previously suggested further DLC might be in the pipeline for Destiny in 2016, but with the original having come out a year and a half ago it’s never too early to hope for a proper sequel.
Ubisoft’s conference at E3 2016 was a neat collection of previously announced games peppered with just a couple of new announcements thrown in for good measure.
We’d already been teased with Watch Dogs 2 in the week prior to E3 but Ubisoft chose to show off a decent chunk of gameplay during its press conference, and the sheer scale of the world’s hack-ability was a far cry from what was possible in the first game.
For Honor, the Viking 3rd person brawler was also shown extensively, and a sequel to 2014’s excellent South Park: The Stick of Truth was shown off extensively. The game, which is subtitled The Fractured Butthole is every bit as puerile as its title implies. It looks hilarious and we can’t wait to get our hands on it.
A new extreme sports game in the vein of Shaun White Snowboarding was also announced for the first time. The game, called Steep, features base jumping, paragliding and skiing in addition to just snowboarding. Shaun White didn’t exactly wow critics when it came out, but we can hope that Ubisoft has learnt a few lessons since then.
The final segment of the press conference that impressed us was Star Trek: Bridge Crew, which allows you to team up with a group of friends to run the bridge of a Star Trek ship in full virtual reality.
We’re unlikely to see many people being able to play the game fully thanks to the sheer cost of that many Oculus Rift headsets, but we can at least dream that one day we’ll have the option of indulging in the ultimate nerd role playing experience.
These are just a couple of highlights from a Ubisoft conference that also featured appearances from Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Just Dance 2017, the Assassin’s Creed movie, The Division and Grow Up, all of which nearly found their way into our roundup.
It was a surprisingly strong year from Ubisoft, especially considering it lacked any appearance from its traditional heavyweights Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry.
If we were to pick just one takeaway from EA’s E3 2016 press conference, it’s that the publisher is making full use of its Star Wars license, and appears to have at least seven different development studios working on games set in the galaxy far far away.
We got confirmation that Star Wars Battlefront 2 is coming next year from DICE, with support from the new Motive Studios development house. EA also re-confirmed that the new game will indeed feature content from the new Star Wars movies, repeating what was said in its recent earnings call.
EA also announced that the Star Wars title under development at Visceral Games will be coming in 2018 featuring an all original story.
Respawn Entertainment is also currently working on a new 3rd person Star Wars game, but unfortunately no further details were forthcoming.
We also got the news that Burnout developer Criterion Games is working on a new Star Wars game for PlayStation VR, but aside from the briefest of shots from the inside of an X-Wing cockpit details were unfortunately very light.
A significant portion of EA’s press conference was devoted to FIFA 2017, which features a single player story mode for the first time in the series history.
We were treated to an extensive trailer featuring the rise of a fictional soccer player rising from amateur through to a professional career in the sport.
Real world managers will also appear in the game for the first time, and Jose Mourinho was on stage with Peter Moore for the announcement.
Gameplay improvements have also been promised, with off-the-ball players behaving more intelligently on the pitch.
EA also used its show this year to announce a new indie partnership program called EA Originals. The program will allow EA to publish smaller titled from independent development studios.
The initiative’s first announced title was Fe by Swedish developer Zoink, a platformer that looked like a cross between Journey and Ori and the Blind Forest.
Gameplay from Titanfall 2 was shown for the first time, and a release date of October 28 2016 officially announced after it leaked earlier today. The game will be coming to PS4, Xbox One and PC.
Titanfall 2 will also be receiving a single-player campaign in which your mech appears to act as a companion when you’re not actively controlling it. In the trailer we saw it catch the protagonist as he fell, and then flung him to reach a distant platform.
Disappointingly, although Mass Effect: Andromeda has now been under development for what feels like years, EA limited itself to showing off just a trailer for the sci-fi RPG.
EA did however announce that the game will run on DICE’s FrostBite engine, and the trailer also hinted that a female protagonist may be the default selection, although in keeping with the series a male protagonist will likely also be an option.
Finally, we also saw a new trailer for upcoming World War 1 first person shooter Battlefield 1 which featured much of the vehicular combat the series is known for.
In the trailer we saw biplane shoot down a zeppelin which crushed a number of buildings as it fell, which is a pretty impressive inclusion if that level of destructibility is present across the entire game.
Overall EA appeared to play it very safe with its press conference this year. We didn’t see any big games that weren’t already announced, and outside of Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2 the conference was very light on actual gameplay footage.
It was also disappointing to see no live gameplay demonstrations appear at all.
However, it was nice to see EA really make the most of having simultaneous press conferences happening in LA and London. Transitions between the two were remarkably seamless and it was a nice change to have FIFA featuring heavily as a result.
Bethesda didn’t pull any punches with its E3 presentation and immediately broken by announcing Quake Champions. ID Software promised the new game will be a return of old-school arena shooter action.
It will also be as fast as Quake fans remembered with frame rates of at least 120fps and even higher with the frame rate unlocked.
While we were hoping for a new Elder Scrolls, sadly it was never in the cards for E3 2016. But we’ll gladly take the remastered edition of Elder Scrolls Skyrim Bethesda announced. Beyond sharper textures, the new version features new snow and water shaders, volumetric god rays, dynamic depth of field and more a ton of additional graphical improvements.
Elder Scrolls has also been spun off into a new card digital collectable card game similar to Hearthstone.
Bethesda also announced a number of new pieces of downloadable content for Fallout 4, many of which expand the game’s home building features. Contraptions introduces building objects such as elevators, armor racks, weapon racks, and it will all be available starting next week.
Vaultec Workshop looks to be the most exciting update that hits later this July and it essentially allow users to create their own vaults. Part Fallout Shelter and Doom Snap maps, vaults start off as blueprints and from there users can snap together rooms and conduct experiments on their dwellers.
Lastly Bethesda teased Fallout 4 next big DLC expansion would be called Nuka World and it’s due to release in August 2016. Unlike the last two additions, this will be a larger piece of content similar to the Far Harbor.
In one last surprise announcement, Fallout 4 is coming to the HTC Vive and virtual reality in 2017.
Prey 2 made it’s reappearance as we expected, except now it’s just been renamed Prey and being developed by Arkane Austin. The new game is quite a bit different from its decade-old predecessor.
Prey casts the player as Morgan Yu, a run of the mill space man who is unfortunately the subject of experiment. Even more unfortunate circumstances lead the space station Morgan is on to being over overrun by aliens, fortunately Morgan gains powers and a lot of guns to deal with the invasion.
Surprisingly it’s due to come next year to Xbox One/PC/PS4.
Last but not least, Bethesda spent a large bulk of its keynote showing off some actual Dishonored 2 gameplay. From the looks of the new game plays more with time and slow motion. On top of this, the sequel adds a new playable character in the form of Empress Emily Kaldwin, who is able to reach out with purple-colored telekinetic tendrils.
Dishonored 2 is also introduces a new setting called Karnaca or the “jewel of the South.” It features a distinct Mediterranean vibe and greater vertically, allowing users to climb higher onto the city’s rooftops. Dishonored 2 will launch on November 11.
Square Enix, Valve and Conclusions
Square Enix stunned us last year with the announcement that its seminal Final Fantasy VII would be remade and released on the PS4.
When it was later revealed that the game would be released as a multi-part series, Producer Yoshinori Kitase has defended this decision, stating that “If we were to try to fit everything from the original into one remake instalment, we would have to cut various parts and create a condensed version of FINAL FANTASY VII. We knew none of you would have wanted that.”
We’re cautiously optimistic about this move since it’s clear that a modern game on the scale of the original Final Fantasy VII would be obscene by modern standards, but we’re going to wait until after this year’s E3 to allow ourselves to get properly excited.
As for Square Enix, the company announced it will be holding a pre-E3 conference on June 8 where it will be showing off new gameplay from Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.
Finally, we’ve seen a tonne of PC games at the second PC Gaming show, and this year the focus appeared to be firmly placed on the quantity of games shown over the scale of any announcements.
Interviews, when conducted, were quick five minute affairs which simply outlined the games, but mostly the show consisted of trailer after trailer, until finally we had industry veteran Warren Spector took to the stage to talk about the resurgence PC gaming is currently experiencing.
It’s not that we didn’t enjoy the trailers for Giant Cop, The Surge, Vamyr, Superhot VR, Observer and Overland, or the interviews of the developers behind ARK, Dual Universe, Mount and Blade 2, Lawbreakers and Killing Floor 2, but no one announcement stood out above the others as being especially massive, and a large quantity of the games were early access titles from indie developers.
A brief respite from the deluge of games came when AMD CEO Lisa T. Su came on stage to announce AMD’s new line of GPUs which are specifically targeting VR, but without any specific performance numbers disclosed it’s hard to get too excited about the reveal. We also got another look at Alienware’s PC backpack, which continues to look as ridiculous as ever.
So the PC Gaming Show might not have become the showstopper it set out to be just yet, but it’s grown significantly since its debut last year, and if this development continues then it might just grow into a force to be reckoned with.
Your takeaway? There’s a lot to be excited about
E3 2015 was a groundbreaking year where it felt like all of our dreams could come true, and if even half of the guesses on this list come to fruition then we’ll be in for a very happy couple of years in gaming indeed.
The only problem we can see is that short of the improbable happening, like Half Life 3 finally getting literally even the smallest mention, there’s not much that can top The Last Guardian, Final Fantasy VII Remake and Shenmue 3 all being announced at the same press conference.
At any rate, June 12 is right around the corner and we’ll be approaching this year’s E3 with baited breath.