If we were asked to describe the special E3 Nintendo Direct in one word, that word would be “safe”.
The itinerary read like a list of everything we expected, with very little in the way of surprises. That’s unless you count Bayonetta receiving a new haircut, anyway.
Pokemon X & Y started the pre-recorded exposé off, with the announcement of an 18th Pokemon type – fairy. Giggle all you want – this new type is super effective against dragons. The lovely looking sequel will also have some virtual pet elements that let you feed and play with your Pokemon to “form a bond” between them.
No time was wasted introducing the promised Super Mario 3D World for Wii U. It’s a continuation of the Super Mario 3D Land series, viewed from a very similar perspective. A few people on our Twitter feed even mistook it for a new 3DS game, due to it sharing the chunky visual-style. Iwata drew a comparison with Super Mario Bros. 2 – four different characters are playable and each has their own unique skill, including Peach’s ability to float. Mario can also don a cat costume that allows him to run along walls and pounce on enemies. If Nintendo doesn’t bring back Mouser for one of the boss battles then that would be something of a missed opportunity.
Mario Kart 8 was another title Nintendo had previously promised to show, and the Kyoto giant really delivered the goods with this one – it looks superb. Visually it’s very appealing, plus there’s a sprinkling of innovation – the karts (and bikes!) can transform into futuristic-looking vehicles that are able to drive along walls and such. Underwater and gliding sections feature too, as per Mario Kart 7. Nintendo claimed that the online modes will be far greater in number than ever before. The bad news? It’s not out until next year. This is something of a blow – if there was one game almost certain to make the Wii U fly off shelves this Christmas, it would be this.
On the console front, Sony clearly gave Microsoft a bloody nose last night. However, both the PS4 and Xbox One were slightly lacking in amazing new first party titles, so it was left to Ubisoft to come up with one of the most impressive new titles of the show.
Ubisoft’s Tom Clancy’s The Division is an online open-world co-operative shooter/RPG, set in a future New York after a deadly pandemic. The Swedish Ubisoft Massive are at the healm, having previously worked on World in Conflict, Assassin’s Creed: Revelations and Far Cry 3.
The gameplay combines cover and shoot style mechanics with an MMO style party system, with groups of players shooting both AI bad guys and opposing human teams. Visually it looks rather stunning, with an incredible attention to detail. Watch the video below for the full presentation of the game. Who’d have thought a Tom Clancy game would be a contender for best of show.
There are high expectations for this year’s E3 conferences. Microsoft filled in the blanks surrounding the Xbox One, and now it’s Sony’s turn to elaborate on the PlayStation 4. Specifically, what will it actually look like, and how excited should we really be?
You can watch the video stream of Sony’s E3 conference below, which goes live at 2AM GMT. Below that may be some words if we stay interested and awake enough to liveblog it all.
Microsoft didn’t so much pull a rabbit out of the hat for their E3 conference, but rather a whole warren’s worth of them – the return of franchises new and old, and surprises galore.
Apart from a short SmartGlass demo, the conference was solely about software and began in the best possible fashion – in-game footage of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, which showed of Konami’s new FOX engine with style. Snake’s latest has been revealed to be an open world affair, set in a very sand environment presumed to be Afghanistan. Snake makes his appearance riding a horse – which thus lead to Red Dead Redemption comparisons – with other modes of travel including tanks and jeeps. The demo ended by revealing a line-up of new characters, including Skullface – a ghost sniper.
The next announcement was rather unexpected – a new model of Xbox 360 is being released today across the US, Canada, UK, Ireland and Australia. The sleeker new design is intended to resemble that of the Xbox One, but it won’t cost any less than the current model. Three different “editions” are being released – 4GB, 250GB, and a 4GB Kinect bundle.
Sticking with announcements for the current Xbox, Xbox Live gold members will receive two free full game downloads a month from 1st July until 31st December. This would appear to be a knee-jerk reaction to PlayStation Plus, which has proven to be more than slightly popular. The first two confirmed freebies have been aren’t exactly the freshest of faces – Assassin’s Creed 2 and Halo 3 – but decent titles nevertheless.
Xbox Live gold members will receive two free full game downloads a month from 1st July
Fable III is also available for free, this month only. Eagle-eyed gamers spotted this early this morning, where upon first glance it was understandably thought to be a glitch. It’s about time Microsoft gave gamers a little bit back in return for their subscriptions, especially seeing that countless adverts are creeping onto the Xbox dashboard.
The freebies don’t end there – global hit World of Tanks is coming to Xbox 360 as a free to play title, albeit for gold members only. We very much doubt this is because Tank! Tank! Tank! is now a free download over on the Wii U eShop.
Next IP was revealed next. Well, kind of – it was kept very quiet that 2D platformer Max and the Cursed Brotherhood is sequel of sorts to the not very popular Wii/DS game Max and the Magic Marker. The next game on show couldn’t be any more different – Dark Souls II. Production values look significantly higher than the last Dark Souls, although we’re still slightly anxious about the new casual approach.
The next demo bore resemblance to Saving Private Ryan’s famous beech landing scene. Quite amazing seeing that Ryse is set in ancient Rome, without even a rife or gun in sight. When Crytek’s Ryse was first unveiled it was destined for the Kinect, but with Kinect sales on the decline it has now been shifted over to Xbox One and gained joypad controls along the way. Visually it looks impressive, with a very cinematic look to the presentation, but the amount of button-bashing QTEs was rather worrying.
Panzer Dragoon’s spiritual successor Crimson Dragon has made a jump from Kinect to Kinect 2.0 also, making an appearance much later on in the conference.
Grab a jar of granulated coffee and a spoon – E3 is about to begin, and it should be a corker. Well, better than last year’s damp squib at the very least.
Microsoft kicks off the conferences tonight at 17:30pm (UK, GMT). With the Xbox One already unveiled all signs point to Microsoft focusing solely on software. We hope that’s the case, anyway – we don’t think we could tolerate being told all over again how Xbox One will revolutionise television.
Respawn’s shooter Titanfall was ousted last week as the cover game of the new issue of GameInformer. Expect a big fuss to be made – apparently it uses the Xbox One’s cloud features in new and innovative ways. LocoCycle, Fable Anniversary and Fantasia: Music Evolved are likely to be shown as well, along with more Forza 5 and Quantum Break footage.
Here’s the new, and mildly amusing, trailer for LocoCycle you missed it last week:
Hopefully we’ll also see what Rare have been up to, and discover what has become of Crytek’s Ryse. And maybe the future of Halo as well? We only have a few more hours to go until we find out.
Later tonight both EA and Ubisoft have their conferences, at 21:00 and 23:00 respectively. As well as wheeling out their yearly franchises – including Need for Speed Rivals – it’s has been suggested that EA will unveil plans for their newly acquired Star Wars license. Battlefield: Battlefront, anybody?
Ubisoft meanwhile are rumoured to be showing a new racer entitled The Crew, developed by Reflections. It could potentially be this year’s Watch_Dogs – a genuine show stealer.
Curiously, Beyond Good & Evil 2 may make a appearance. The piece of art-work displayed to the right was uploaded to their Facebook page over the weekend. We’d love it to be a Wii U-exclusive, but we can’t see that happening after Ubisoft did that massive U-turn on Rayman Legends. That’s unless Nintendo themselves are funding it, a la Bayonetta 2. Stranger things have happened.
Sony’s conference is what you’ll need that caffeine for – it’s not until 2:00am Tuesday morning. Sony played their next-gen card early, showing off dozens of games alongside the new PS4 controller, so we’re not entirely sure how many surprises they left other than the design of the PS4 itself. With a bit of luck though we’ll find out what has happened to The Last Guardian, and maybe get the first glimpse of the next Naughty Dog project. There’s also the mysterious Destiny of Souls. This was once rumoured to be a PS Vita-exclusive Destiny spin-off, but that was soon rebuked when it announced that From Software are behind it.
Then we’ve got good old Nintendo. As you’ve no doubt heard the Kyoto giant are skipping E3 this year, opting for a special Nintendo Direct instead. That’s at 15:00pm on Tuesday. Mario Kart, Sonic Lost World, Pikmin 3, Wind Waker HD, Smash Bros. and a new 3D Mario for Wii U are dead certs to be shown.
You can bet that Nintendo will give the publishers who have stuck with the Wii U during the last six months some limelight too, so expect footage of Assassin’s Creed IV, Batman Origins and Scribblenauts Unmasked at some point. As much as we’d like to see some actual gameplay footage of Bayonetta 2, CVG reports that Platinum will only be promoting Wonderful 101. We wouldn’t be surprised though if Bayonetta shows her face in the new Smash Bros. trailer.
After months of speculation, we should also finally find out what Retro Studios have been working on. A new IP? Something with Star Fox? More Metroid? Whatever it is has been kept tightly under wraps, that’s for sure.
Of course, all the other usual suspects will be there – Activision, Square-Enix, Konami, 505 Games, SEGA, Bethseda, Capcom and more. With Xbox One and PS4 just around the corner, they’ve no doubt got a couple of surprises each.
We’ll be doing our best to provide round-ups of all the conferences in decent time, as well as sniff out the smaller, more curious, games on show. Somebody has to look out for the little guys, especially during the biggest week of the gaming calendar.
Nintendo’s conference left fans a little perplexed. No less than 23 games were on show, which is a figure none too shabby, but most had already been announced while the rest felt distinctly casual.
At least things got off on the right foot with a demonstration of Pikmin 3 on Wii U. The visuals are a clear step up from the humble Wii with environments both detailed and smooth. A new Pikmin type was also shown – rock Pikmin – who are able to smash glass blockades and large crystals. The trailer also has a quick glimpse of flying Pikmin. Keep an eye out for them right at the end:
A triple helping of Mario titles were shown including New Super Mario Bros. U and New Super Mario Bros. 2 for 3DS. During the demonstration for Wii U, Reggie confirmed that two Wii U GamePads can be used on a console at a time. A second player is able to drop support items in for player one which can be used to assist during the new speed-run elements. New Super Mario Bros. 2 on the other hand has a focus on coin collecting – the shiny things are everywhere. An American release date was confirmed – 29th August. Paper Mario for 3DS finishes off the trio and now has the title of Paper Mario: Sticker Star, thanks to the ability to place stickers in the papery levels. In the short demo we saw a fan sticker being used to power a windmill.
Batman Arkham City: Armoured Edition was the first third-party Wii U title to be given an airing. Rather than simply slap a map onto the Wii U GamePad screen, the developers have clearly put a great deal of thought into how the additional screen can be used. A batarang can be guided through the air by tilting the device and the screen can also be used to scan areas when held up facing your TV. Warner Bros. has another Wii U game in the pipeline – Scribblenauts Unlimited. The touch screen is used here to draw items that then appear in the game. A 3DS version is also planned.
After these short but pleasing demonstrations a showreel of other Wii U games gave us a look at the future. Darksiders II, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Aliens: Colonial Marines and Trine 2: The Directors Cut should need no introduction, and nor should the surprise Wii U version of Mass Effect 3. Namco’s Tank! Tank! Tank! is a previously unannounced game, however. We assume this is a conversion of their 2010 arcade game. Environments are destroyable and there are fantasy elements including hydra-like enemies.
Things then took a turn for the casual with footage of the self-explanatory Wii Fit U – which can be used in conjunction with a pedometer – and SiNG (working title) from DJ Hero developers FreeStyleGames. Thankfully Reggie wasn’t forced to have a good old jive to show off Ubisoft’s previously announced Just Dance 4.
As for additional 3DS games, another showreel provided quick tasters of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, the 2D Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, Scribblenauts Unlimited and Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. Luigi’s Mansion on 3DS now also has a new subtitle – Dark Moon. We can’t wait for this one.
Since we last saw LEGO City it has received a name alteration to LEGO City Undercover. It looks incredibly fun, resembling a LEGO GTA with the slightly warped sense of humour we’ve come to expect from Traveller’s Tales. The trailer ended with a LEGO man building a familiar looking green pipe, followed by a familiar sound-effect when leaping down it. A 3DS version is also in the works.
Just Dance 4 wasn’t the only Ubisoft game to get an airing. The ZombiU trailer which was first shown during last night’s Ubisoft conference was played again in full. This is what Killer Freaks from Outer Space has become – a zombie game set in London, complete with the ability to map your face into the game. It looks pretty decent, and much like Batman Arkham City the GamePad is being put to good use. We saw it being used as a torch and as a sniper rifle. Don’t expect such innovations in Assassin’s Creed 3 – it has been confirmed the touchscreen is simply being used as a map and to swap weapons. The Avengers: Battle for Earth is one we can’t really comment on just yet as not much has been shown. It’s worth nothing though that it also stars Spider-Man and the X-Men. Rayman Legends was confirmed to have a five player mode and those Rabbids aren’t too far away either, this time starring in Rabbids Land. Sports Connection and YourShape: Fitness Evolved 2013 should need no explanation.
The conference ended with Nintendo Land – a virtual theme park housing several mini-games based on various Nintendo franchises. Last year’s Catch Mii demo appears to have evolved into an Animal Crossing endeavor subtitled Sweet Days. Other mini-games confirmed were the single-player Donkey Kong’s Crash Course and Takamaru’s Ninja Castle along with the multi-player The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest and Luigi’s Ghost Mansion which bares more than a slight resemblance to Pac-Man Vs.
Nintendo left us with a trailer of Nintendo Land, complete with fireworks and trumpets.
Judging by our Twitter feed many Nintendo fans felt disappointed that there was no other big name Nintendo franchises on show other than Mario. In fact, “no Zelda” even started trending on Twitter just minutes after the conference ended. Is it too much to expect a new Zelda just eight months after Skyward Sword? Perhaps, but a showing of another big-name Nintendo franchise wouldn’t have gone amiss. There wasn’t even the slightest hint of Pokemon.
After disappointment came confusion – just moments after the conference ended word broke that Spike TV were announcing a new Platinum Games Wii U title currently known as P-100. It looks like a mixture of Viewtiful Joe and Pikmin, giving you the chance to control an army of tiny superheroes able to morph into giant hands, swords, aircraft and more. Spike TV had bagged the exclusive but quite why Nintendo didn’t fight to get this trailer is a mystery. As you can see below, it already has all the hallmarks of a classic:
Moreover, Nintendo’s press site contains footage of a new Wario Ware title – Game & Wario – which was also not shown. Why choose to demonstrate Just Dance 4 over this? E3 conferences are for the Nintendo hardcore; not the casual market.
While the conference did help to put a lot of faith into the Wii U hardware – Nintendo’s games look even more charming in HD – we’d be lying if we didn’t say we expected a few more surprises and big name titles.
Sony’s E3 2012 press conference came and went, much as expected, and a little light on dramatic unveilings. Whilst the big hitters such as The Last of Us and God of War: Ascension oozed quality, the biggest surprise of the night was arguably Wonderbook, an augmented reality… book. In its favour, the first Wonderbook title, The Book of Spells, is a creation of Harry Potter’s J. K. Rowling.
Sony’s show was also heavy of the Ellen Page. In addition to The Last of Us featuring Ellen’s doppleganger, Quantic Dream’s new title Beyond actually stars Ellen Page, with the actress providing the voice and motion capture for the game’s main character. It’s a game about telekinesis and the after life, so hopefully it should be as good as Quantic Dream’s last game, Heavy Rain.
PS Vita titles were a little thin on the ground – the main news being an exclusive version of Assassin’s Creed III for the Vita and the ability to use the Vita as an additional super control pad in various games, such as Little Big Planet and PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale. Speaking of the All-Stars… Super Smash Bros wants its game concept back.
Fittingly, the show was played out with The Last of Us, which reinforces Naughty Dog’s position as possibly the best developers around right now and easily producing the most impressive titles on Sony’s system since the first Uncharted.
As always, an E3 without a new system unveiling can be a little quiet, and Sony didn’t really throw out any big surprises to set the world alight, but there was nothing particularly wrong and they’ve shown that there’s some life left in the old dog.
Should you want to sit through the whole conference yourself, Sony livestreamed the event online, and you can catch it on Youtube below.