Last updated: June 26. 2014 3:58PM - 1148 Views
By Robbie Vanderveken Special to the Weekender



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It’s that time again! The most exciting three days of the year for video gamers is the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3), the biggest video game press conference in the world. It is a gathering of all the top game developers and game journalists to show off what they are going to do for the upcoming year. Although I didn’t make it to the Los Angeles Convention Center to attend in person, I did record the coverage on TV and watch all of the major press events online.


Last year’s E3 introduced two new game consoles from Microsoft (Xbox One) and Sony (Playstation 4), so this year, it was all about the games. Since the consoles were released in 2013, there has been a bit of a drought when it comes to good games, but this year’s E3 can put to rest any worry that there aren’t any games worth playing on the new generation of consoles.


The first press briefing was for Microsoft; they began the show with the new “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare,” “Forza Horizon,” and some hilarious DLC for last year’s “Dead Rising 3.” They didn’t show much in the line of Kinect games this year, but they did show off some new IPs, such as “Sunset Overdrive” and several interesting looking indie games, like a new game from the creator of “Limbo” called “Ori and the Blind Forest.”


Microsoft also announced sequels to some of their biggest games, such as “Halo 5,” a new “Tomb Raider,” “Assassin’s Creed Unity,” “The Crackdown,” and maybe their biggest news – the release of “Halo: The Master Chief Collection,” which is an Xbox One next-gen collection of the first four “Halo” games with remastered visuals, music, and functionality. The new game I am interested in the most is “Project Spark,” which allows you to make your own game. There are many critics out there that say Microsoft had the best press conference of the show; I thought it was pretty good, and it looks like an exciting year for Xbox One owners.


The next press event was for EA Games, and it was very straightforward. They showed off this year’s “Madden 15,” a new “NHL,” “The Sims 4,” and a new “Battlefield” game. The highlight of this year’s EA event was a video right at the beginning showing off next year’s new “Star Wars: Battlefront” game.


Another third-party publisher event was for Ubisoft; it was a really fun event hosted by Aisha Tyler. Ubisoft showed off “Assassin’s Creed Unity,” “The Division,” a new driving game called “The Crew,” “Rainbow Six,” “Just Dance,” and a fun-looking exercise game called “Shape Up.” All in all, their press briefing was really strong, Ubisoft’s best-looking game of the show was “Far Cry 4.”


One of the biggest shows at the event was for Sony and the PS4. Sony opened it up with “Destiny,” a new shooter from the makers of the original “Halo.” They also showed new footage from “The Order: 1886,” and they also announced some huge sequels, such as “LittleBigPlanet 3” and “Uncharted 4.” In the middle of the show, they gave more details about their upcoming Netflix-style game streaming service called Playstation Now, and they unveiled a new piece of hardware called Playstation TV. They did show off a new survival horror IP called “Bloodborne” and announced a remaster of a classic game, “Grim Fandango.” The most interesting thing during Sony’s press conference was the announcement of several new indie games, such as the highly anticipated “No Man’s Sky.”


The last major press conference of the show was the all online Nintendo Direct, and they definitely came out swinging – literally. The show opened up with a “Matrix” style fistfight between Nintendo of America’s Reggie Fils-A-Mech and Nintendo Japan’s Shigeru Miyamoto. This fight ended in a draw, so they decided to settle it in the new “Super Smash Bros.” on the Wii U. The beginning of this clip showed off how you can now import your Mii into “Smash Bros.” as a fighter, and Mr. Miyamoto was losing until he pulled out a little Mario figure from his pocket and placed it on his Wii gamepad, which imported Mario into the game. This introduced the new line of “Amiibo” figures, which are figures of classic Nintendo characters, and when you put them on the gamepad, it will transfer their info into the game, similar to “Skylanders.” Other than the new “Smash Bros.” footage, they showed a new “Star Fox,” a new “Yoshi” game, “Hyrule Warriors,” and a new “Xenoblade Chronicles.” The two highlights of the Nintendo show were a new game called “Mario Maker,” where you can make your very own “Mario Bros.” levels, which sounds very exciting, and they announced a new “Legend of Zelda” for the Wii U, which looked incredible.


Overall, this year’s E3 was pretty exciting. Each of the big developers showed off some really impressive looking games. Each of the big publishers put on a good show; I think Nintendo and Microsoft had the most to lose, and they both had their best conferences in years. My most anticipated games of the show were “Batman: Arkham Knight,” “Project Spark,” “Sunset Overdrive,” and “No Man’s Sky,” but there is a lot more to be excited about. There aren’t a lot of big releases coming out in 2014, but 2015 will be a really great year for video games.


-Robbie Vanderveken is the digital operations specialist at The Times Leader. E-mail him at rvanderveken@timesleader.com.

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