Every June, the gaming industry converges on the Los Angeles Convention Centre for the Electronic Entertainment Expo, affectionately known to gamers worldwide as E3. The expo has, in parallel to the industry itself, grown from rather humble beginnings to become a multi-billion dollar enterprise that easily surpasses cinema in terms of sheer revenue. As such expectations tend to mount year after year. Indeed, how a company fares at E3 can make or break them for the year ahead. Of course, E3 hasn't actually officially started yet, and the vastness of the expo itself means that it would be impossible to sum it all up in one article anyway. I will, however, do my very best to cover the most interesting announcements from the “Big Two” press conferences (Microsoft and Sony), both of whom hosted their pre-E3 press conferences yesterday.
God of War
OK. I'll kick off by stating that Sony pretty much knocked it out of the park this year. Whilst Microsoft might have had the upper hand when it comes to new hardware, when it comes to games, there was really no contest. The great Japanese media giant's press conference last night (or yesterday if you're reading from the US) kicked off rather dramatically with a full orchestra stirring up anticipation, before we were treated to footage from the latest entry in the epic God of War franchise as the orchestra continued to score the on-screen footage (they continued to do so for the entire conference). My first impressions were of genuine surprise. This is certainly NOT the God of War we've all come to know, this seemed more like an action/adventure game heavy on the adventure, and with a combat system that seemed to take more than a little inspiration from Dark Souls and an atmosphere that was pure The Last of Us. It looks great. I'm still a little unclear as to whether it's a sequel or a reboot though. What followed this opening home-run was a solid hour of nothing but gameplay footage. This was a very wise decision from Sony, especially seeing as how, by the time of the conference, Microsoft had already started to suffer a backlash with the new hardware push (see my thoughts above).
Horizon Zero Dawn
So. We saw more footage from The Last Guardian, which has been in development now for a solid decade, but finally got a solid release date for October THIS YEAR. We also saw the unveiling of a new IP from Sony Bend; the studio behind the classic Syphon Filter games. “Days Gone” looked, on the surface at first, to be a bit of a Last of Us clone (a lot of that going around recently), but when it was brought back for a full gameplay trailer later in the show, we got to see the sheer vastness of the zombie hordes that will follow you throughout the game. It looked very impressive, technically, but pretty derivative from a gameplay and story perspective to be honest. Still, it will be interesting to see how it progresses as the months pass. One game that certainly didn't disappoint was “Horizon Zero Dawn” from the Killzone-makers at Guerrilla Games. This is a game that looks (to me at least) like every other AAA game released in the last 5 years glued together. Take Tomb Raider, Assassins Creed, Far Cry, The Last of Us (of course) and Metal Gear Solid 5 and add in a hefty dose of tribal atmospheres and science-fiction enemies, and put in a blender. Good times.
Resident Evil 7
Before we get onto the VR of it all, we also caught glimpses of the new game: Detroit, from Heavy Rain-makers Quantic Dream, which looks like more of the same, but more so. The long awaited return of Crash Bandicoot was also announced, and we also got some time with the new Call of Duty (it's in space now), the new Lego Star Wars, and, most excitingly, a tease of a new Spiderman game created by Ratchet and Clank's Insomniac Games. The real jaw-drop moment, however, was when Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima rather boldly make his entrance on stage in order to present his latest creation. Starring The Walking Dead's Norman Reedus (who, gamers will remember was due to star in Kojima's now cancelled Silent Hill game), “Death Stranding” looks like a truly bizarre cinematic beast. No gameplay footage yet, but I'm hopeful. I mean, it's Hideo Kojima, and when has he ever let us down before?
Finally, it would be remiss of me not to mention PSVR, which made its presence felt in a big way. The big game was definitely the new Resident Evil (I'm still not sure if it's Resident Evil 7 or a complete reboot), which didn't even look like a Resident Evil game. At least at first. It does look interesting though, and terrifying. A demo was also announced as being available right now. Of course the VR aspect won't be unlocked yet, but as soon as I'm done here, I'm booting up my PS4 ASAP and getting on the store! There was also the FPS space game/Halo-clone Farpoint, a VR version of the Batman: Arkham games, a VR version of the next Final Fantasy game and a Star Wars: Battlefront X-Wing experience. The PS VR launch date was also set for October (in the US). And that's that. I could go on, but it would probably dovetail into shameless gushing. Sony definitely won this one though. If you disagree though, I'd be happy to hear from you. Sound off in the comments below and I'll try to get back to you once I'm done with that Resident Evil demo.
The Last Guardian
Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer and struggling musician from Kidderminster in the UK. He owns all three consoles and a gaming PC so is not biased in any way. But SONY WON. See HERE for my thoughts on the Microsoft conference.