E3 2015

10 Biggest Surprises At E3 2015

http://www.polygon.com/2015/6/18/8801679/the-last-guardian-ps4-development-history-shuhei-yoshida Source: polygon.com

E3 2015 has been one of the most exciting renditions of the annual video game trade show in years. With a heavy focus on new games (and the return of some old favorites), there were less earth-shattering announcements than usual, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t a number of big surprises that many didn’t see coming. If these 10 big reveals are any indication, the next few years are shaping up to be an exciting time for gaming.

10. Skylanders/Amiibo Crossover Figures

The so-called “toys to life” market has exploded in the last few years thanks to the popularity of Activision’s Skylanders games and toys, and Nintendo’s highly-sought after amiibo figures. Seeing as these two companies are engaged in a pretty competitive battle for the gamers’ toy shelves, it was odd to see Nintendo announce Donkey Kong and Bowser crossover figurines for the upcoming Skylanders: Superchargers game. Combined with Nintendo’s announcement earlier this year that they were partnering with mobile developer DeNA to make games for mobile devices, it looks like the traditionally isolationist Nintendo is becoming more willing to share their brands with other companies in the gaming space.

http://www.destructoid.com/ul/294144-/DD1-noscale.jpg Source: destructoid.com

9. Dishonored 2’s Female Protagonist

The original Dishonored was a critical darling when it was released in 2012 and fan speculation has been ongoing as to what direction a possible sequel might take. One of the more prominent fan hopes was that Emily Kaldwin, the young girl that players rescued in the original game, might return as a playable character. Given that this wish felt like a long shot, it was all the more satisfying to see Bethesda and developer Arkane Studios not only announce that Emily would be the game’s protagonist alongside original hero Corvo, but that the trailer centered around Emily. Focusing on a female protagonist is a major statement for a big publisher to make and games like Dishonored 2 deserve recognition for giving players the choice of a male or female avatar.

http://www.vg247.com/2015/06/15/dishonored-2-first-trailer/ Source: vg247.com

8. New Game And Collection Of Classics From Rare

Rare, one of the most beloved game developers of the 90s, has fallen on tough times ever since they were purchased by Microsoft in 2002. Instead of focusing on their unique brand of creatively varied game designs seen in classic titles like Perfect Dark and Conker’s Bad Fur Day, Microsoft began relegating them to Kinect motion games, much to the dismay of the studio’s fans. Seemingly aware of the way they’ve been misusing Rare’s talents, Microsoft not only announced Sea of Thieves, a pirate-themed game that looks like a return to form for the studio, but the Rare Replay Collection for the Xbox One, a 30 games for $30 celebration of Rare’s past achievements due out this summer. Needless to say, it looks like Rare is poised to make a comeback in a major way.

http://stevivor.com/2015/06/rare-is-bringing-30-games-to-xbox-one-in-rare-replay/ Source: stevivor.com

7. EA Gets Into the Artsy Indie Space With Unravel

EA’s (Electronic Arts) E3 2015 press conference was the typical snoozefest that the publisher has come to be known for. As incredible as the new Star Wars Battlefront looks, it doesn’t justify spending an hour and a half of sitting through extended sports game presentations. To the surprise of many though, EA threw in a treat in the form of Unravel, a charming physics-based puzzle game starring a creature made of yarn (called Yarny, of course), that uses his body to traverse the game’s environment in creative ways. Seemingly taking a page out of fellow major publisher Ubisoft’s book, who released a number of artistic indie titles last year to critical acclaim, EA looks to be exploring avenues of game design that don’t just involve guns and sports.

6. Nintendo Announces Sequel to Metroid Prime…Sort Of

Metroid Prime is one of Nintendo’s most beloved series and fans have been very vocal in their desire for a new game, as there hasn’t been one since Metroid Prime 3: Corruption in 2007  for the Wii (the less said about 2010’s Metroid: Other M, the better). There was speculation that Nintendo might finally reveal the next title at E3 and they did…at least to a point. Dubbed Metroid Prime Federation Force, the game looks to be a multiplayer-centric first-person shooter for the 3DS scheduled for release in 2016. While at this point it’s nice to see anything Metroid-related, many fans have been up in arms over the announcement, with some going so far as to release an online petition calling for Nintendo to cancel it altogether. It looks like fans still have a long wait ahead of them for a proper Metroid Prime sequel.

5. Minecraft Hololens Demonstration

Virtual and Augmented Reality are currently two of the gaming industry’s hottest new technologies, but companies are having a difficult time presenting them in action due to the inherently closed-off nature of the experience. As such, Microsoft made a big splash at their press conference by successfully presenting the Hololens — an augmented reality headset — in a way that showcased the device’s capabilities. By showing how the Hololens could be used to interact with Minecraft, one of the most popular games in the world, Microsoft was able to create significant buzz around the device and give it a boost against competitors like the Oculus Rift and Sony’s Project Morpheus.

4. Shenmue III Kickstarter

Sony’s press conference was practically a work of fan fiction thanks to shocking reveals like the Shenmue III Kickstarter campaign. Shenmue was one of the Sega Dreamcast’s most legendary series and is arguably one of the biggest cult franchises in gaming. Most fans had long ago given up hope of ever seeing a new game, which made it all the more strange when series creator Yu Suzuki took the stage to announce that Sony was partially funding Shenmue III along with a crowd-sourcing Kickstarter campaign. The game reached its $2 million funding goal in less than twelve hours, setting a new Kickstarter record in the process. While the ethics of holding a game hostage until fans cough up enough money are still suspect, it’s still hard to believe that we now exist in a world where Shenmue III is happening.

3. Final Fantasy VII Remake

Yet another crowd-pleasing moment from a press conference filled to the brim with them, Sony and Square Enix’s reveal of a Final Fantasy VII remake officially silenced fan demands for a modern rendition of the PlayStation 1 classic, which came out eighteen years and three console generations ago. As of right now, no release date has been announced and there is only a short cinematic trailer to go off of, but this is without a doubt one of the most prominent examples of fan service in E3 history.

2. Xbox One Backwards Compatibility

The big talk of Microsoft’s Xbox press conference this year wasn’t new tech, but rather, a consumer-friendly move directed as a salvo against the competition. Surprising everyone, Xbox head Phil Spencer strode to the stage and announced that Xbox One would be getting backwards comparability with Xbox 360 games, which had previously seemed out of the realm of possibility given Microsoft’s own claims that it wouldn’t be possible. While it looks like this service will be extremely limited when it first rolls out this holiday season, the move is more significant for its symbolic implications, as it not only represents Microsoft taking wind out of Sony’s sails (the PS4 has no backwards compatibility functionality), but is also indicative of the significant re-branding success Microsoft has been having with the Xbox One over the past two years.

1. The Last Guardian Lives

It’s difficult and rather pointless to declare a “winner” of E3, considering it’s a trade show designed to appease the business side of the gaming industry. That being said, many would not argue with the sentiment that Sony pretty much won E3 as soon as their press conference began on Monday, June 15 thanks to the long-awaited re-reveal of The Last Guardian. The game was announced at E3 2009 as a PlayStation 3 title and became vaporware soon after, to the point where many started to believe the game was cancelled. Instead, Sony finally broke the silence and released a crowd-pleasing gameplay trailer (now a PlayStation 4 title) that retains the charm and wonder of the initial trailer from six years ago. While it’s hard to feel confident that the game will make its 2016 release window, there’s little doubt that The Last Guardian‘s resurrection was the biggest surprise of E3 2015.

Nick Steinberg (@Nick_Steinberg)

Nick Steinberg (@Nick_Steinberg)