Gamers are rejoicing this week as it is the biggest week for the gaming industry and gamers alike with the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or more commonly known as E3. This is when the console manufactures and game developers announce all the latest video games and hardware lineup for the forthcoming 12 to 18 months. As an avid gamer it kinda feels like you’re getting a preview of Christmas morning six months early, making for a very exciting week.
These days video games have continued to evolve into immersive interactive experiences that keep you engaged through compelling stories with well written plots and character development, fluid action driven gameplay, and complete extra sensory visuals and sounds to keep us captivated for hours on end. I’m a sucker for games, I find them so much more entertaining than watching TV or going to the movies. Often they are more like interactive movies where you control the action, with some games you also change the outcome of the story based on the decisions you make in the game. This combination pulls you in to be engaged with the story, characters, plot, and action instead of simply watching a TV show or movie. Plus they often last a whole lot longer, for example I’ve poured over 300 hours into The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim game and there are still things for me to do in the game.
Every year brings an onslaught of great game announcements at E3 and 2012 is no exception, in fact I think this year feels stronger than the last few years. There were a lot of sequels announced to many of the industries biggest franchises including Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Dead Space 3, Gears of War: Judgement, Need of Speed: Most Wanted, along with more insight and gameplay footage from games that have been announced earlier including Halo 4, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Assassin’s Creed III, FarCry 3, Crysis 3, Resident Evil 6, Tomb Raider, Dishonored, and God of War: Ascension. Each looking to be an exceptional sequel to their respective stellar franchises.
While the sequel announcements were exciting, they are familiar ground and we have a general idea of to expect from them. There were a few really exciting surprise game announcements that really impressed me including Star Wars: 1313, Beyond: Two Souls, and Watch Dogs. These three games were huge surprises and each one looks to introduce a completely new gaming experience that we have yet to play. Beyond: Two Souls and Watch Dogs in particular look to change the landscape by bringing an original concept in gameplay with a captivating story.
Here is some insight into the new games that I’m most excited and looking forward to playing. I’ve included at least one video, if not more, showing off a trailer or actual gameplay footage. I hope you enjoy it.
The biggest surprise came from Ubisoft with Watch Dogs, and entirely new concept game that allows the player to use our digital shadow against us. A digital shadow or digital footprint is the trail of data that we leave behind us, be it where we’ve been, transactions we’ve made, our medical data, all our personal data, social data, and so on, basically everything. In Watch Dogs they show how surveillance and hacking exposes that data and how it can be used against you. The hacking also ties into everything that is connected around us, for example the main character hacks the stop light and changes it just as a certain car is about to cross the intersection causing for big pile up in the middle of an intersection. As this concept isn’t too far from our current and near future reality, it will make for an interesting game for those of us who are wired in to our technology, much like myself and especially our younger generation.
While there is a full story and plot to the game, this element of hacking our data to progress through the story and plot seems to be a key gameplay element in Watch Dogs. As you will see in the gameplay demo video, the action kicks in towards the end and looks tight and focused creating for an intense adrenaline focused action. The demo also shows off the city of Chicago with great accurate detail, it really reminded me of our recent trip there. Watch this 10 minute video to see why there is a lot of excitement about this game, easily the best surprise from E3.
Beyond: Two Souls
At the Sony press conference developers Quantic Dream announced and showed off a completely new exclusive Playstation 3 game with Beyond: Two Souls. Quantic Dream brought us the critically acclaimed Heavy Rain, a game that showcased a new level of character emotion and dramatic gameplay that is considered by many to be the next evolution in dramatic gameplay. Beyond: Two Souls expands upon that dramatic character emotion while introducing a new paranormal element into the gameplay and story. To help elevate the depth of the game, Quantic Dream was able to bring in actress Ellen Page to play the role of the lead character Jodie Holmes. The story is supposed to showcase 15 years of Jodie‘s unique life and adventures with some type of paranormal character or connection. The scenes that were shown along with the trailer looks to make for an exciting new game that will emotionally captivate us.
Here are three videos I found, the first showing off the game, the first is the trailer, second is the sequence from the press conference, and the third is about 25 minutes of actual gameplay footage shot off-screen.
The Last of Us
While The Last of Us isn’t a new announcement, during the Sony press conference Naughty Dog did showcase new gameplay footage from the game. The Last of Us is an original game concept set in a “what if” real world scenario where a dangerous parasitic fungus has spread to humans and wiped out most of civilization leaving behind a post apocalyptic world where your character and a teenage girl are trying to survive. Naughty Dog excelled in creating an immersive world with solid gameplay and story telling in Nathan Drake’s Uncharted games, here they are taking a new survival approach and changing up the gameplay to be much more dramatic and impactful. After seeing the gameplay demonstration the style reminds me a little bit of the gameplay from Condemned which created a visceral realism unlike any other game I’ve played. The Last of Us looks to take that intense action to the next level.
Here are three videos, the first is the new gameplay footage from E3, the second is a recent trailer showing a truck ambush, and the third is the debut announcement trailer.
Star Wars: 1313
A great surprise for Star Wars fans coming from Lucas Arts, Star Wars: 1313 is a new chapter in the famed universe we all know, but this time providing a more mature action adventure game that is supposed to show a grittier crime filled side of the Star Wars universe. You’re a bounty hunter that navigating the planet Coruscant’s subterranean level 1313 underworld as they try to uncover the truth surrounding a criminal conspiracy. This finally sounds and looks like it’ll be the Star Wars game for us grown ups, leaving the kiddy stuff behind. There isn’t much more info yet, but I’m happy to see a mature action game from this universe, let’s hope it turns out spectacular!
I wasn’t able to find a video clip that showed all the footage combined so this video is from the Spike TV E3 show which has some of the interview discussion in it as well, but at least you’ll see the footage shown.
A new original neo-industrial steampunk stealth action game from developers Arkane Studios, Dishonored brings us a new dark creative world that appears to mix old and new technology to create a captivating gameplay experience. On the surface it looks like it blends in gameplay and level design elements of Half Life 2, Assassin’s Creed, and Bioshock with hints of Pink Floyd‘s The Wall into a new universe for us explore. A great creative combination that should make for an exceptional gaming experience.
Dead Space 3
Dead Space 3 brings us back to the suspenseful survival horror in space from developers Visceral Games. For the first time they are introducing the ability to play through the game with a friend. Co-op gameplay is quickly becoming a standard in games, however I don’t know how well it’ll work in Dead Space 3. For those of you who have experienced the first two games know that you get the best experience by playing in the dark, with surround sound turned up, and playing it alone. The game excels in making you feel alone and hopeless in desolate situations forcing you to turn up your senses and keep your head on a swivel with quick reactions forcing you to survive.
By having a buddy playing with you means that your no longer alone, so some of that survival horror tension is lost. However I learned that when you play alone, you are alone, there isn’t an AI buddy following along side you. It’s only when you engage in co-op that you have someone with you and the game adjusts. I suspect I’ll be playing through the game alone first. Regardless it is more Dead Space and I’ll take all I can get. I loved the first two games for the intense gaming experience they create and I look forward to the next chapter.
Here are two videos, the first is the trailer while the second is the co-op gameplay demo from the EA press conference.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted
The one game that caught me off guard that has me intrigued is Need for Speed: Most Wanted. I haven’t cared for the Need for Speed series, however this one is the first one that looks like it could be the spiritual successor to the Burnout series. I say this because it is by the same developer who brought us the Burnout games, Criterion Games. It looks to come off as a combination of the two series but set in a Burnout Paradise style open world and structure. While I’m not sold on this yet, I’ll be keeping an eye on it as Criterion is known for making some of the best arcade style driving games.
The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim: Dawnguard
The one other exciting tidbit of news was a gameplay trailer for the first Skyrim DLC titled Dawnguard. In this DLC you choose to be a vampire hunter to stop a vampire lord or become a vampire lord. There are new perks and features to support the main quest, including mounted horse combat, cross bows, and new factions. The video gives some insight. With Skyrim being one of my favorite games I’m looking forward to diving back into it when this is released.
There are many things to be excited about from E3, however the lack of information or any news on The Last Guardian is a big bummer. Originally announced at E3 in 2009, the next game from Team ICO who brought us the amazing Shadow of the Colossus originally released for the Playstation 2. We’ve seen a few screens and teaser trailers for the game and they look amazing, but lately the studio has been having some troubles, including some of the lead creative folks departing. While Sony did say the game is still in development, they said it is not ready to be shown. So who knows, maybe we’ll see it next year, I just hope they don’t cancel the game. Here is the official trailer they showed off at E3 back then.
Other games missing from E3 this year included Grand Theft Auto V, Pray 2, Rainbow 6: Patriots, Bioshock: Infinite, and Half-Life 3. We know Rockstar is hard at work on GTAV and they said they would not be at E3 this year. Pray 2 has gone through some development challenges causing delays in the game, however not having any signs of the game that surprised everyone last year is not good. It’ll probably be another year before we see more from this game. Rainbow 6 is in full development so I guess they decided to skip the show and continue focusing on developing the game. As for Bioshock, Irrational Games said they wanted to focus on the game and would be skipping E3 this year.
The gaming world has been waiting for years for Valve to give any hint of Half-Life 3 or Episode 3, but they won’t say anything. It’s been 5 years since Episode 2, and 8 years since Half-Life 2. Granted they’ve released several other games including the Portal, Left 4 Dead, and Team Fortress games since then, but come on, they know that gamers are frothing at the bit for any signs of a new Half-Life game. Get on the ball Valve and give us what we want!
Like many gamers I’m obviously looking forward to the list of blockbuster sequels throughout the next year, so I didn’t want to touch on them here with the exception of Dead Space 3, I think that is one game worthy of standing out. This year E3 turned out to be very solid with some great surprise announcements along with lots of new gameplay footage of upcoming games. You can clearly see the evolution of games continuing to become more engaging and immersive while creating deep interactive experiences that captivate our imagination.
Needless to say it is a good time to be a gamer and appreciate the art of well made video games.
One the flip side it can also suck to be a gamer because it can easily consume a large part of your life when you could be doing more constructive and productive things with your life. It’s balancing act. I’ve always had the philosophy to living life in balance, enjoy your life while being with your loved ones and pursuing your dreams, you can do them all together.
What did you think about the E3 and the games? Please feel free to share you thoughts in the comments below and thanks for reading.