E3 has come and gone, and it proved to be one of the best conferences to date. Despite most companies previewing what they were going to show off at E3 before the official fireworks even began, there still were some shocking announcements that took the gaming world by surprise, with several titles making strong showings that garnered positive feedback. With that being said, here are five moments from E3 that were awesome, and make us excited for the future of gaming -- and with only a little bit of hyperbole -- the future of all humankind.
5. The “Nintendo World Championships” Sets the Tone
Two days before E3 actually began, Nintendo held a tournament pitting competitors against each other in various challenges ranging from Splatoon matches, Zelda speedruns, and even Balloon Fight duels. The concept seemed gimmicky and doomed to fail, but in a pleasant surprise, it was genuinely exciting and fun. If you watch anything, be sure to check out the Splattoon round, where host Marcus “d.j. WHEAT” Graham’s son, “miniWHEAT,” was brought on stage to be a guest commentator, and ended up being the highlight of the tournament. His enthusiasm is infectious, and his commentary is absolutely on-point. Also, be sure to check out the last round, where the finalists faced off against each other in a speed run contest in the world premiere of Super Mario Maker, a Mario level editor for the WiiU. The developers themselves made the levels they had to play through, and it was exciting and hilarious to watch, as well as being a great way to show off the game. The NWC would set the tone of this year’s E3, showing that yes, it was okay to get excited for video games again.
4. Microsoft Shows the Future with Hololens and Minecraft
Virtual and Augmented Reality technology still has a long way to go, but Microsoft showed that it has made big strides with Hololens during their annual press briefing. Using a special lens that allowed people watching the stream to view through a Hololens camera, the demonstrators showed a Minecraft overworld that was able to be manipulated without the need for a mouse or keyboard. Unlike platforms such as Occulus Rift and Morpheus, this wasn’t done in a virtual space, but on a physical table that was on stage. Granted, this was a carefully set up demonstration, and there is still the matter of how much this would all cost to set up for personal use, but it was still shocking to see technology getting one step closer science-fiction/cyberpunk. Now we just need neon colors to come back in fashion.
3. Fallout 4 Makes It’s World Debut
Bethesda held its own press briefing at E3 this year for the first time ever, and the centerpiece of it was the first gameplay of the recently announced Fallout 4. Game director Todd Howard took the stage and showed off a ton of new features for their latest entry in the renowned series. We now know that the game starts out before the fabled nuclear war mentioned in the previous games, and the player character is the sole survivor of a Vault in the area of Boston, Massachusetts. The player character is fully voice acted for both male and (thankfully confirmed) female characters, and dialogue is now conducted through Mass Effect-style dialogue branches. Most exciting, though, is the sheer customizability for both the player and the world. Literally hundreds of modifications can be crafted and found for weapons and armor, and players will now be able to set up settlements and trade routes throughout the Wasteland. The sheer scale of the game seems daunting, but that’s what fans of the series love. It remains to be seen if Bethesda will be able to fully follow through with their ambitious features, but what we’ve been shown so far looks very promising.
2. Metal Gear Solid V Gives One Last Preview
One of the few games shown off that will actually release soon, Metal Gear Solid V held one last gameplay demonstration at E3, and it was the longest and most promising one yet. Clocking in at around 40 minutes, the demo contained gameplay and new features that were until now only shown to the press. Just like Fallout 4, the main focus of MGS V is player choice and customization, and the demo showed off options from custom logos for your personal vehicle, to different ways to complete missions, and even to a selection of hit 80s songs that can be played on your personal Walkman. Two new companions were shown off as well, the first being Big Boss’s canine companion Diamond Dog. DD can be ordered to distract and attack dogs, and he’ll even warn where nearby enemies are located. The best feature with DD, though, is that there is a context sensitive button action that allows you to pet him whenever he is next to you. The second companion shown is D-Walker, a personal mecha able to be ridden by Big Boss into battle. Any fans of the Armored Core series will feel right at home when the demo shows off D-Walker’s maneuverability and firepower as Big Boss takes on scores of enemies. Just from the preview shown, MGS V looks to be the best of the series, and is undoubtedly one of the best games of E3 2015.
1. Sony’s Performs the Unlikely…Three Times
Every year, gamers like to debate which of the “Big Three” companies are going to have the best showing at E3. Nintendo had already done well even before their Nintendo Direct, thanks to the NWC, and the Super Smash Bros. reveal of Ryu from Street Fighter, Roy from Fire Emblem, and Lucas from Mother 3. Microsoft had a solid press briefing where they announced backwards compatibility for Xbox 360 games on the Xbox One, showed off some neat games, and had the amazing Hololens presentation. The ball was in Sony’s court to “wow” the crowd… and that’s what they did. The show opened with the premiere gameplay footage of The Last Guardian, a game many people thought was long dead with Sony was just denying the inevitable. Sony proved the naysayers wrong, and not only did they show that the game is very much alive and in development, but is set to be released next year. That alone was huge, but that wasn’t enough for Sony. Later in the briefing they presented what looked to be another trailer for the Final Fantasy VII port, possibly the biggest disappointment of last year’s E3. As the trailer went on, doubts on what it was actually for grew, as it featured way too elaborate CGI to be just a trailer for a port. By the time it was revealed that it was for a Final Fantasy VII remake, huge cheers filled the LA Memorial Sports Arena. Despite being consistently requested by the fanbase, Square-Enix had long denied that a remake was a possibility, and many thought it was something that would never be. Now, a FFVII remake is reality, and it will be on PlayStation first. At this point, gamers were joking that as long as Sony was making all of these gaming impossibilities a reality, they should announce Shenmue 3, thought to be gaming’s biggest pipe dream, next. Not five minutes later, their wish was granted. Before the audio cut out on the live stream, the audience can be heard going absolutely nuts as the Shenmue theme started to play, and a single flower petal fell down on the screen. A video of Shenmue creator Yu Suzuki was shown as he talked about the legacy of the series and how he always wanted to finish it, and how he now had the chance to thanks to Sony and Kickstarter. After the video concluded, Suzuki was brought on stage, and he and the audience counted down the opening of the Shenmue 3 Kickstarter, which would go on to make its goal of $2 million in under 24 hours, and, at the time of this writing, is currently at over $3.6 million. The reaction to the reveal cannot be described, but it was best shown by Game Trailers’ Michael Huber (the man in the flannel shirt):
E3 2015 was overall a fantastic experience, and there were many more great moments throughout the conference that weren’t mentioned in this article. However, with so many games that were presented not being released until at least next year, it will be interesting to see if publishers and developers will be able to maintain the momentum they’ve gained. Time will tell what the future of these games will be, but for now the future looks bright, and looks to be an exciting time for anyone interested in gaming.