Just because we didn't get to go to E3 2013 last week does not mean we aren't going to talk about the biggest event in the video game industry before the new console generation is upon us. Games Section Editor Nick Boisson and Co-Managing Editor Nick Hanover break down their favorite announcements from the expo and why you all should be looking forward to these games (or consoles) being your new interactive overlords.
Microsoft Announces Crimson Dragon
The Details: Announced as an Xbox One exclusive for the Live Arcade, Crimson Dragon is a new work by Yukio Futatsugi, the mastermind behind the first three Panzer Dragoon games. Though it's not officially part of the Dragoon series, its style and gameplay recall that franchise, with the modern additions of online co-op and some Kinect integration as well as the requisite HD graphics.
Why We're Excited: This is basically a new Panzer Dragoon, regardless of what it's called. It's set on a world inhabited by dragons, which you will ride and control as you fight your way through this rail shooter, and the aesthetic in the trailer screams Dragoon. Panzer Dragoon may be a bit of a cult franchise at this point, but its cult is sizable and vocal and for good reason. Because, well, it's dragons, dammit. AND YOU RIDE THEM!
by Nick Hanover
Ubisoft Announces Tom Clancy's The Division
The Details: During their press conference, Ubisoft showed off a gameplay trailer for a brand new game series in the Tom Clancy franchise, The Division. But while the Tom Clancy games have usually been a mix of shooters and stealth games (with exception only to Tom Clancy's Endwar, I believe), The Division is something we never expected to see with the “Tom Clancy's” tag: a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. But, on the other side, no one would really expect an MMORPG to be dropped into the middle of the Tom Clancy universe.
Why We're Excited: Present day MMO, guys! The Division is far from the usual MMO that we've seen time and time again. Rather than thrown into a fantasy or science-fiction universe, the player is dropped into a near-present day time on Earth, weeks after a deadly virus has hit New York City on Black Friday. This hasn't just never been done, but it actually looks like it will be terribly fun to play. And like a few other games announced at this conference, The Division has a multiplayer campaign story that players can choose to play either solo or with friends. New IPs doing new things with already established genres is exactly what we need in this industry and, of course, Ubisoft is the publisher to realize that.
by Nick Boisson
Bethesda Announces The Elder Scrolls Online for Consoles
The Details: The Elders Scrolls Online itself isn't a new announcement, but at this year's E3, Bethesda announced that the MMO would be coming to consoles, specifically PS4 and Xbox One, and that betas would be open to those consoles, too. As Bethesda's first foray into the MMO world, the expectations for The Elders Scrolls Online are ridiculously high, but the console announcement raises those stakes that much higher, as there arguably hasn't been a successful console MMO yet. Too bad The Elders Scrolls Online won't feature cross-platform play, though.
Why We're Excited: As someone who primarily games on consoles and who is an Elder Scrolls devotee, this is tremendously awesome news. Bethesda, in typical fashion, has kept most of the details secret, but we know it's set several hundred years before the last three Elder Scrolls entries and specifically 1,000 years before Skyrim and that there will be three factions to choose from – the Aldmeri Dominion, the Daggerfall Covenant and the Ebonheart Pact. Between the story elements it will add to the franchise, specifically as the game seems to focus on all out Tamriel warfare that explains much of the current politics of the world, and the lack of a real successful MMO on consoles, this is bound to be a huge hit and if anyone can keep console players interested in an MMO, it's Bethesda.
by Nick Hanover
Square Enix Announces Kingdom Hearts III
The Details: To be perfectly honest, there aren't a lot of details yet. What we do know is that this will mark the first time Kingdom Hearts has been available on a Microsoft console, and that it once again features Sora as the protagonist. There will be two storylines, one with Riku and Mickey looking for Sora's predecessors, while the other storyline will have Sora and his crew tracking down Seven Guardians of Light. It has even been suggested by series director Tetsuya Nomura that the announcement was slightly premature.
Why We're Excited: Beyond the excitement over Kingdom Hearts III finally coming to fruition, there's also the excitement over what could be included in the game now that Disney has acquired Marvel and Lucasfilms. Will this Kingdom Hearts feature Deadpool giving Sora some fourth wall breaking assistance? Will Endor be a setting? We don't know, but it's possible and given the series' track record, it's not all that unbelievable. Only time will tell.
by Nick Hanover
Warner Bros. Interactive Announces Mad Max
The Details: Due out next year from Avalanche Games, the studio responsible for the excellent Just Cause 2, Mad Max was apparently originally intended as a tie-in for the new Mad Max film coming out soon, but somewhere along the way it mutated into a standalone, canon story. Which is totally cool by me. It will be available on all platforms (including PC), except for the Wii.
Why We're Excited: Mel Gibson's various meltdowns and Beyond Thunderdome notwithstanding, everyone can agree the Mad Max world is pretty exciting and a chance to explore it in a game would be amazing. Avalanche's pedigree makes perfect sense for this kind of material, and the trailer already indicates it will be much darker than the Just Cause series. Sure, it might just be Fallout but with cars, but is that really such a bad thing?
by Nick Hanover
EA Announces Mirror's Edge 2
The Details: All we know about Mirror's Edge 2 at this point is that it's coming when it's “ready,” and that it will be available on PS4, Xbox One and PC.
Why We're Excited: The original Mirror's Edge is a severely underrated game featuring gorgeous design and a unique take on action gaming, which minimized gun play in favor of creative solutions. Though we basically only got a sneak peek at E3 this year, it seems like the sequel will follow that template with the added bonus of next gen graphics. Maybe this will be the sequel that finally makes the series the success it deserves to be.
by Nick Hanover
Sony Announces the PlayStation 4 Price Tag and So Much More
The Details: After Microsoft wet the proverbial bed with their “no used games” initiative and DRM-designed rig, then announced a list of rich, exclusive content for it at E3, Sony had an odd hand to play against once they took the stage to speak to the media and gamers as a whole. But quite a few things fell into place. They showed off the trailer to Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy XV, both of which will be out for Xbox One as well, but Sony got to show them off. We got a slew of independent developers showing off their games playable on the PS4, including Octodad: Dadliest Catch, Don't Starve, Transistor and the Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee remake, Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty. Finally, after all the fantastic news from the conference, we are told the PlayStation 4 will be released at $399, a whopping C-note less than the Xbox One.
Why We're Excited: While I was not too impressed by the PlayStation 4 announcement in February for many reasons, the Xbox One announcement managed to pale in comparison and everything that Sony has said since February has made the core gamer audience all the more excited to play the new console. This announcement solidified many a gamer's choice for Sony over Microsoft and quite possibly switched a few people over. Plus, Octodad: Dadliest Catch looks like QWOP without all the heartbreak and frustration that comes from with playing QWOP.
by Nick Boisson
Insomniac Games Announces Sunset Overdrive for Xbox One
The Details: Announced during Microsoft's E3 press conference, Insomniac President Ted Price described Sunset Overdrive as “a stylized, open-world shooter in which the experience can change everyday”. Price pretty much said that they could change the environment, add new weapons, create challenges and manipulate pretty much any part of the game on a whim facilitated by both the players and the almighty cloud. This game is also an Xbox One-exclusive, so Insomniac has gone from PlayStation-exclusive to multi-platform to Xbox-exclusive in the span of just three years. Going by what has been said about the game, it looks to be not just open-world, but completely online, as well (like Titanfall).
Why We're Excited: Frankly, Sunset Overdrive is reminiscent of Overstrike, what Fuse was back when we all were interested in playing it. It looks fun, cartoony, expansive and it has a gun that fires LPs at monsters! It almost makes me want to get an Xbox One…almost.
by Nick Boisson
Nintendo Announces Super Smash Bros. and Super Mario 3D World
The Details: While Nintendo opted not to do a press conference along with its younger brothers (Microsoft, Sony, Ubisoft and EA), they did livestream a 40 minute E3 Nintendo Direct announcing some cool stuff. But, just as every Wii U-owner (including myself) was beginning to lose hope, they show off two new entries into beloved franchises that were easily the most asked for. First, Super Mario 3D World by the same development team that brought us the Super Mario Galaxy series on Wii as well as 2011's Super Mario 3D Land for 3DS.
Then, the next announcement – while there was no actual press conference and therefore no video to call back to – must have caused everyone watching to let out a collective squeal of glee! Super Smash Bros. 4 on both 3DS and Wii U, announced with a character that has never been in a Super Smash Bros. game, the nameless Villager from Animal Crossing.
Why We're Excited: Having been an early adopter for Nintendo's new console experiment, the lack of software on the Wii U has been a major disappointment for me and pretty much anyone else who purchased the device. And though New Super Mario Bros. U is fun enough, I was remarkably disappointed at not having a true 3D Mario game built just for the Wii U. If I am going to have Mario in high-definition, I want him to do a whole lot more than just move left, right and jump. While I am not wholly sure that Super Mario 3D World is the game that I want, the last three games developed by the team have been some of my favorite iterations of the 3D Mario games. Plus, we get four player co-op in a 3D environment and I get to see Mario and Luigi dressed in cat suits. Who could ask for anything more?
Well, we can and we'll get a new Super Smash Bros. game for Wii U and 3DS. While we are unsure of whether one can do cross-platform multiplayer (that better be a thing, Nintendo!), we do get a new character to the franchise that fans of the series have been dying to play. And no, I do not mean the Villager…
YES! I am so in!
by Nick Boisson
Respawn Entertainment Announces Titanfall
The Details: At the end of Microsoft's press conference, Vince Zampella took the stage to announce the new game from Respawn Entertainment – a new studio from the founders of Infinity Ward – Titanfall.
Titanfall is a massive multiplayer online campaign shooter where the player can play as a pilot (free-running human character) or a Titan (a mech!!!). While the game has a single player campaign, it is entirely played online, which is good considering it is an Xbox One game, I guess.
Why We're Excited: Since 2010, when Vince Zampella and Jason West were escorted off the Activision lot and fired from their own studio, we have not known what they were working on after starting their own studio, Respawn Entertainment, with EA. Then, when Jason West left the studio in March of this year, we all worried just what was going to happen with the development of whatever the studio was working on. But, when we finally got to see it, Titanfall was a bit of a surprise coming out of the team that brought us the Call of Duty franchise. I certainly was not expecting mechs and the completely online mechanic. And while I treasured the early Infinity Ward-developed Call of Duty games for their brilliant single player campaigns, I am quite interested in just how the Respawn team is doing this multiplayer shooter. While I have not been a fan of what Microsoft is doing with their DRM-designed console, having a game that is always online and always connects you to people is a brilliant way to do a shooter as vast as Titanfall appears. Hell, we were all skeptics when we heard about Journey, and now, a number of other game genres are bridging the gaps between MMO and single player campaigns. If nothing else, Titanfall will be what we should hope to expect from shooters and action games in this upcoming console generation and I cannot wait to see more.
by Nick Boisson
Pop culture geek, Nick Boisson, lives in front of his computer, where he is Section Editor of Comics Bulletin's video game appendage and shares his slushily obsessive love of video games, comics, television and film with the Internet masses. In the physical realm, he just moved to Austin, Texas and is trying to figure out just how many times it is possible to go to the Alamo Drafthouse theatres without seeming too weird.
Nick Hanover got his degree from Disneyland, but he's the last of the secret agents and he's your man. Which is to say you can find his particular style of espionage here at Comics Bulletin, where he reigns as the co-managing editor, or at Panel Panopticon, which he started as a joke and now takes semi-seriously. Or if you feel particularly adventurous, you can always witness his odd rants about his potentially psychopathic roommate on twitter @Nick_Hanover and explore the world of his musical alter ego at Fitness and Pontypool.