After a wait that seems to drag on between the giddy highs of the holiday season and the doldrums of the summer lull, gamers finally have a reason to get excited again. We’re talking, of course, about E3; for those of you who have been living under a rock for a while, E3, or the Electronic Entertainment Expo, is the single biggest event on the video game calendar. Vendors both big and small pump as much money as possible into their presentations, ready to dazzle the world with their newest games and game systems, ready to give us something to dream about during the hot summer nights.
While E3 is normally a big affair, E3 2015 was expected to be even bigger than usual just because all the factors seem to be in the right places. The Xbox One and the Playstation 4 have both had their moment to be novelties, and both gamers and game companies have each had time to get accustomed to what this new generation of hardware can do; as such, we’re all ready to take a chance and start pushing the limits of these new machines. Just to make sure we were all ready, Bethesda took a moment a month or so prior to shock everybody and announce that, yes, they’re finally ready to do an E3 presentation. Much like Gatsby attending his own party, this was huge news; as we learned this week, this kind of surprise was entirely justified (but more on that later). For the sake of making this article fun, we sliced it up into three fairly representative categories based on the big hits. First, we’ve got the Brand News; these are the game demos that we’d either been waiting for, or were concealed well enough to just be coming to light this week. Next, the Redo’s; particularly for the PS4, we got to see some great reimaginings of older titles, brought up to speed on the next gen setups. Last, the How’d We Do’s; this category is reserved for the announcements that just went above and beyond what anybody could have expected, and seeing them was a phenomenal treat.
The Brand News
Where oh where can we begin? E3 2015 was absolutely choc-full of title announcements, some of which we expected (like a new Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate trailer), some we’d been waiting for for what seemed like centuries (Battlefront and Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst), and some who just got their moment in the sun this week (A Hitman reboot and Dishonored 2). However, it was Bethesda who stole the show with their announcement; after years of begging, a false trailer, and a release to great fanfare, we finally got our first in-depth look at Fallout 4, the next major installment in one of Bethesda’s most widely acclaimed series. From what we got to see in the trailer, we’ve confirmed that this latest edition of the Wasteland is going to be more over-the-top than even its predecessors.
While Bethesda is being incredibly tight-lipped about the story, we already know from the gameplay that we’re getting Vertibird combat, a customizable armor and weapon setup that makes use of literally everything in the Wastes, an improved V.A.T.S system that incorporates slowly moving targets, voice support for some of the most common American names (AKA, the only reason some of you would ever use your real name in a Fallout game), and yes, another dog (which you’ll probably name Dogmeat. Don’t lie). With a city builder/tower defense aspect thrown in, this Fallout is going to be worth all the hype and, fingers crossed, will set a brand new standard in gaming.
Let’s face it; some games are just too good to let die. Whether it’s because they were revolutionary, influential, or just plain fun, it’s always nice when our favorite games get re-done in newer, shinier graphics for a new generation to enjoy. At this year’s E3, however, Sony decided to throw down the big one; from the franchise that’s going strong even after over sixteen titles, spawned its own culture, and given us some of the most iconic characters gaming has ever known, we’re getting the remastered version of Final Fantasy VII.
Easily one of the most iconic games in the thoroughly iconic franchise, the updated FFVII will have some absolutely jaw-dropping graphics that’ll make use of everything the PS4 can offer. Looking just like the Final Fantasy movie Advent Children, this updated classic is sure to bring a new generation of gamers into one of the most beloved franchises of all time, as it blurs the line between games, movies, and art.
The How’d We Do’s
Short for “How did we do this?”, the games in this category are truly exceptional, even among E3 contenders, and while they may not be the most exciting pieces at the show, certain circumstances about these two titles just defy normal explanation. First off, it was announced by Yu Suzuki that an obscure Japanese game was going to be getting a sequel with Sony’s help and thanks to a generous Kickstarter campaign. At this point, it sounds pretty routine; maybe an indie studio trying to reimagine an obscure game or something. However, the whole truth is something that’s absolutely flooring. The game in question is the next entry in the Shinmue franchise, Shinmue 3, and if that doesn’t mean anything to you, it means worlds to companies like Rockstar, Bethesda, and, to an extent, even Mojang, the folks behind Minecraft, because each of them owes a tremendous debt of gratitude to the ideas this obscure Japanese game brought out. You see, Shinmue, the story of a man trying to solve his father’s mysterious murder, was one of the first video games in the 3D sandbox genre, an enormous world spread across four disks full of fully voiced characters, a living, breathing city, and a huge budget of $90 million that makes it the most expensively produced video game in history. Even though sales were mediocre on this title (being an exclusive of the floundering Dreamcast certainly didn’t help), the game really challenged the notion of what a video game could be.
Moving back to this year, Shinmue 3 makes this list because, like all Shinmue stuff, it goes big. Remember how it was funded on Kickstarter? It was fully funded for two million dollars in under two hours, the quickest funding in Kickstarter history and a Guinness World Record breaker. Despite its huge length and a sequel, the story of Shinmue never wrapped up. The speed in which it got funded puts it squarely in this category, proving that there’s still a lot of life left in this franchise, and we all hope to see it blossom.
Naturally, covering everything about E3 wouldn’t fit in just one article; stay tuned for more details.