E3 officially begins today, as the show will open to denizens of reporters (not named Theory Flaw) ready for terrible food, hourly deadlines and product demos galore. But while many games will get their moment of glory in the coming days, the major players have already opened their hands for heads-up poker. Franchise reboots, new exclusives, new consoles and product strategy highlight this list of the biggest news to come out of the pre-show presentations.
10. Crimson Dragon
I had to try my hardest not to write Dragoon because this is clearly designed in the vein of the stellar dragon riding series Panzer Dragoon. Even bringing back Panzer Dragoon series director Yukio Futatsugi this Kinect based Xbox One game features massive bosses and gorgeous dragon-borne aerial combat. While I fear it may play a little too closely to Child of Eden, this is clearly a bold move by Microsoft.
9. Killer Instinct
When rumors first began swirling that Rare would be bringing back a classic franchise, Killer Instinct is the game that made the most sense to me. The iconic C-C-C-Combo Breaker still resonates in the gaming world today and it was something that at least deserved revisiting after its decent success in arcades and the SNES. I’m not entirely sold on the free-to-play mode or the fact that it still looks dated when compared to the work of Capcom, Arc Systems Works and SNK, but clearly Rare and Microsoft were listening.
While I had been quietly curious over Respawn Entertainment (the studio of former Infinity Ward executives) and EA’s Microsoft exclusive, I had never really taken a long look at it. I am excited at the prospects of a competitive mech-based shooter, but I can’t help thinking that Titanfall looks old, a little generic and a bit too much like Call of Duty. The news here is that I don’t think this is the killer app MS is hoping it to be.
7. Forza 5, GT6, Driveclub, NFS Rivals, The Crew – So many racers
Yeah, racing games are inevitable, they are great to show off new hardware and there is always an audience for each one. Forza Motorsport 5 appears to be heading in the right direction with cloud based driveatars that will pattern AI opponents after yours and other players’ driving styles (similar to that in Real Racing 3). Meanwhile, despite Gran Turismo 6’s claims of revamping its physics and graphics engines, it still looks incredibly sterile to me. They might actually have a lot to learn from Driveclub, the PS4 launch exclusive, which embraces the experience and exhilaration of racing. NFS Rivals appears to be mostly the same and makes Criterion look less pristine in the process. The title I am most intrigued with is The Crew, which will feature coast to coast racing in a persistent world. It is a bold move, but the team at Ubisoft Reflections appears to be up to the task.
Activision doesn’t appear to be mourning the loss of Respawn Entertainment as Destiny just might be the most intriguing game in the next two years. I dare say Bungie has another legitimate hit on their hand. The first gameplay trailer is stunning.
5. Mirror’s Edge 2
A title I always recommend for people who want to play something a little different, I am so incredibly excited that Faith is back in Mirror’s Edge 2. While billed as a prequel telling Faith’s story before the original game, DICE has stormed back with their Frostbite 3 engine to give the game some serious muscle.
4. Final Fantasy XV
While we have definitely seen this game before, I am glad that Square Enix has finally decided to drop the act and make FF Versus XIII into FFXV. Noctis looks to have an interesting story and XV doesn’t appear to play like any FF game before it. While making the switch buys Square Enix a bit more time to properly develop the game, they need to be sure to do this correctly.
3. Star Wars Battlefront
Everybody was sad when Lucasarts canned Battlefront 3. Everyone was even sadder when Lucasarts was canned themselves. When Disney and EA signed up to work together everyone dreamed of a DICE created Battlefront. Dreams do come true.
2. Kingdom Hearts III
It’s about damn time. And boy that is a lot of heartless…
1. PS4 is nothing like the Xbox One
Xbox One requires at least one online connection daily to function, limits used, rented and shared games, is region locked and will cost $499 at launch. PlayStation 4 does not require internet connection, supports used, rented and shared games, is region free and will cost $399 at launch. For the first time in 12 years, I am solidly in Sony’s camp. Sony just punched Microsoft in the gut, and they know it.