So I watched E3 2013… Here Are My Thoughts.

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Microsoft’s E3 2013 Press Conference

Microsoft’s Press Conference was the first one out of the gate.  It opened with a showing of Metal gear Solid V for the Xbox One. It was weird hearing Kiefer Sutherland as the voice of Snake, but the game itself looks amazing, a photoreallistic   open world on Konami’s proprietary Fox Engine.  You can ride horses, and the game environment reflects the reallistic passage of time (day to night, the weather changes, etc.)  Hideo Kojima himself was on-hand to present the game, but he refrained on praising Microsoft’s new system specifically, since this will be a multi-platform title.

Next hey showed World of Tanks for Xbox 360. The free-to-play game is already immensely popular on the PC, and I have no doubt it will be right at home on Xbox Live.

Microsoft thet showed the indie-looking Max the Curse of Brotherhood.  It looks like a fun game, but it was the Demon’s Souls 2 trailer that really got people’s attention.  Looking incredible, and incredibly hard, a lot of fan are eagerly awaiting this one.

Microsoft then announced that there’s a redesigned Xbox 360 console it’s more rectng, available to by right now.  The new 360 is more rectangular and boxy, and very similar to the Xbox One.  Microsoft also announced that Xbox Live Gold now will now include a selection of free games, just like Sony’s successful Playstation Plus service.

Moving on to the Xbox One, Microsoft showed gameplay for Ryse, a former Xbox 360 title now converted to Xbox One.  It is an action game taking place in Ancient Rome.  The trailer depicted Roman sldiers arriving on an fortified enemy beach and disembarking amid a hail of arrows. As I watched the admittedly amazing-looking trailer, I wondered “how much of this is pre-scripted”, and how much can you control?  I did appreciate how the Romans marched in phalanx formation on the enemy city, though.

Next up was literally the last game announcement I would have expected.  As they showed the character models with the names, I was thinking “no way!”.  But it turns out that Killer Instinct is back, exclusive on Xbox One.

Insomniac then appeared onstage to show their latest game, Sunset Overdrive.  The game features an open, living world.  Insomniac claims it uses Microsoft’s cloud processing platform to help with the heavy lifting, though you wouldn’t know it from looking at the screen.  The game has a wacky, humorous overtone that was completely missing from Insomniac’s last game, “Fuse”.  There’s even a weapon that shoots old vinyl LP records.

Microsoft then returned to show Forza 5. The game just looks photoreallistic, and the big new feature is that it has a “drive-vatar” that plays online for you when you’re not around.  People’s drive-atars supposedly will compete against each other and with online players.  The whole thing just sounds creepy, to tell the truth, and I hope the final game lets you opt out of it.

Microsoft also had a new trailer for Quantum Break, a game they had shown at the Xbox One reveal in last month, and which they described as a marriage of television and gaming.  I’ve heard those claims before (Defiance, I’m looking at you), but, other than some FMV footage that was show at the game’s reveal in May, Microsoft has not explained what they mean by this.  They showed more of the game’s story, and some actual gameplay.  Time is broken and stutters and freezes. The player can freeze time, to try and change disasters, and save victims, by moving people and objects around the environment before time starts flowing again.   It looks really amazing.  They must have seen “The Girl, The Gold Watch and Everything”, or “Clockstoppers.”

D4, another exclusive, D4, an episodic murder mystery, with attractive, somewhat cell-shaded graphics.  The trailer depicts hand-to-hand fighting in a crashing airliner.  Definitely one to keep an eye on.

What Microsoft showed next was one of two games that really wowed me, and the best thing in their entire presentation.  The game is called Project Spark… and it’s a game about building games.  At first sight it looks like Little Big Planet 3D meets Black & White.  You can create the environment, create mountains and valleys, place player characters, place enemies, and play your creations in multiplayer.  This one is coming out for Windows PCs as well, and it’s definitely a must-buy.

Microsoft then talked about the new Xbox Live, and how it will work on the Xbox One It uses Xbox Smartglass more.  It has game sharing and DVR features, and records your gameplay, which you can edit for sharing with friends.  Xbox Live will have built-in Twitch integration.  You can broadcast on Twitch live.  Also, there will be no more Microsoft points, only cash/currency. The Xbox Live account will become a console account, not a user account anymore.  Up to ten family members can share the same Xbox live subscription.

Microsoft also showed Dead Rising 3.  The third game in Capcom’s zombie series features an open world, with no load times.  The action is fast and furious, there are plenty of weapons to use against the undead, and you can improvise your own.  However, it seems to be lacking the wacky, over-the-top tone of the original, though.

CD Projektt RED showed The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.  The dev team has added  Kinect 2.0 to the gameplay.  The game also  uses smartglass for character development and inventory management. The combat system looks to be particularly deep.

EA showed Battlefield 4, which will be on the PC and PS4 too.  They bungled the presentation… the video wouldn’t play, and the suit/presenter freaked out.  The game looks like its previous iterations, with improved graphics.

Microsoft showcased Below, an indie action-adventure from the makers of Superbrothers:  Sword and Sorcery. The game looks Zelda-ish in ga,meplay, and that’s a good thing.

Near the end of the conference, Microsoft showed Halo 4… in n amazing cutscene.  But just a cutscene, no gameplay.  Oh, and they had a woman onstage!

The final game shown was Titanfall by Respawn Entertainment.  It’s an amazing mech-combat game in which you can get out of your mech for some FPS action.  The graphics are amazing, and the gameplay seamless and deep, both in single and multiplayer modes.  Just like Project Spark, this looks like a must-have.  TitanFall from Rewspawn will be available on PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4.

The Xbox One will cost $499, and will be released in late November in North America.  The price is kind of steep for a gaming console — it’s more than I expected.  The AMD hardware in the Xbox One does not justify such a price, so the Kinect 2.0 must be expensive.

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Sony E3 Press Conference

The Sony Press Conference ran late… at 15 minutes past they were still seating people in the auditorium. First, Sony  showed a video with Sony’s various developers expressig their views about the PS4. This reflects Sony’s expressed commitment to design the PS4 in accordance with developers’ preferences, to make it both powerful but easy to work with.

After the initia; video, Jack Trenton came onstage.  He talked about the PS Vita first.  —  The Walking Dead is coming to PSVita, both the original game as well as the new episode. Soy promises PSVita will play a strong role in the PS4 ecosystem.  PS4 games will play on PS Vita through Wifi streaming.  God of War collection HD, Final Fantasy X and X2 HD, Tearaway will also be coming to the PS Vita this year.

Trenton then talked about the PS3, starting with The Last of Us, the best reviewed game of 2013(to be affair, it seems the game is pretty awesome.).  He then showed Puppeteer, which is cute and impressive, and Rain, a game where you play an invisible character you can only see because of the rain.

Beyond Two Souls looked as amazing and cinematic as ever, with real-world actors putting in an appearance.

Gran Turismo 6 was shown.  It will ship later this year, as a swan song to the PS3.

Warner Interactive showed a Batman Arkham Origins trailer.  Playstaiton is getting exclusive skins and content, such as Adam West Batman from the 60’s, and Azrael Batman from Knightfall.

Sony also announced that Grand Theft Auto 5 will be getting an exclusive bundle for PS3 at $299.  There will also be a specially branded headset.  Sony promises to deliver the ultimate GTA 5 experience for gamers.

Sony then moved on to the reveal (finally) of the Playstation 4.  The PS4 is a slanted black box… smaller and sleeker (and definitely more attractive) than the Xbox One.  It can stand vertically, like the PS2, and has a groove in the middle that glows blue when the machine is powered on.  It definitely looks like a game console.

Shu Yoshida, President of Sony Worlwide Studios, takes the stage.  He shows the other games Sony has in store for PS4, starting with Ready at Dawn’s The Order 1886… a Victorian London steampunk adventure where the characters werewolves and other supernatural monsters with various steampunk weaponry right out a Jules Verne novel.  it looked amazing.

Killzone Shadow Fall looked more complete than the last time it was shown at the PS4’s announcement in February..    Drive club was shown in trailer form. They showed a longer trailer for  Infamous:  Second Son, focusing more on the characters and story.  It looks fun and amazing, as does Knack.  These will be launch titles, except for Infamous, which will release Q1 2014.

The Dark Sorcerer trailer was pretty funny,  with the already-shown talking old man revealed to be a wizard preparing an incantation… and later revealed to be an over-the-hill actor playing a part in a cheesy TV show.  It was a cute reveal, and the characters express emotion better than any other developers characters’, except maybe Ninja Theory’s (they always get the eyes right, which is extremely difficult.)

Sony also reaffirmed their commitment to indie developers, by showing their games onstage.  Supergiant’s “Transistor” is  from the makers of the surprise hit “Bastion”. Sony confirmed that indie devs can self-publish on the PS Store.

Other indie titles showcased by Sony at the conference were Clay Entertainment’s (Shank) “Don’t Starve”; “Mercenary Kings”; “Secret Ponchos”.. a shooter/dungeon crawler.  Oddworld Inhabitants is also back, and developing for PS4.  “Oddoworld: New and Tasty” for is a new game in the Oddworld universe, and will be available for the PS4.17 Bit Games’ (Skull of the Shogun)  “Galaxy” (a cool space shooter.)  Sony’s headlining their indie devs on stage was a very cool, very nice gesture, especially their showing of “Octodad”, a game literally made by a first-time developer in his dorm room.

Blizzard announced Diablo 3 for PS3 and PS4.  The game will have exclusive items not found on other versions.

Square Enix appeared in video form, announcing Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III for PS4.  Fnal Fantasy XV is the game formerly known as Final Fantasy: Versus XIII.

Ubisoft showed Assassin’s Creed : Black Flag for PS4, which will let you play as Aveline from the PS Vita-exclusive Assassin’s Creed Liberation.  They showed actual PS4 gameplay.  It looks terrific… it looked so good it rivaled pre-rendered trailers shown in past E3’s.

Ubisoft also showed its multi-platform title showing Watch Dogs… Playstation owners get an additional hour of gameplay, among other exclusive features.

Jack Trenton then came back onstage, and, with a big smile, announced that Playstation 4 games will have no DRM restrictions at all.  No Online requirement. No restrictions on sales of used games.  No territorial lockout.   Playstation Plus membership carrier over to PS4.  Members will get a special version of Drive Club at the PS4’s launch, and other free games every month.  The crowd went wild.  I felt sorry for Microsoft at that moment.

The final game shown was Bungie’s upcoming multiplatform title “Destiny”.  It was a long, gameplay trailer, and it seemed reminiscent of Defiance, but in a seamless world.  Definitely one to watch.

Sony then announced the price… PS4 will be $399.99, available this Holiday in the U.S and Europe. The crowd went wild again.  And, again, I felt sorry for Microsoft.

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Nintendo Direct E3

Iwatata’s video presentation started Pokemon X/Y for 3DS.  The graphics are tremendously improved.  And now you can pet, fondle and feed your Pokemon (the kids will eat this up, mark my words.) There’s even a new type of pokemom (fairy pokemon, effective against dragon-type pokemon.)  The graphics on 3DS are a marked improvement from previous Pokemon games.

Next, Nintendo Super Mario 3D World, a proper 3d Mario title in every sense of the word.  Mario now has a cat-suit, that lets him use his claws to clim walls and scratch his enemies.  The gameplay has more in common with Super Mario 3D for Nintendo 3DS than with the Super Mario Galaxy games.

Nintendo announced Mario Kart 8 is coming to Wii U in 2014.  The cars can now transform into a hover mode and race on walls and ceilings.

Next, Wii Party U was shown… it’s still the definitive party game/mini-game collection.  It has been delayed until late 2013.

Nintendo showed it sprrogress on The Legend of Zeda: The Wind Waker 3D runs at 1080p on the Wii U.  It looks and sounds amazing. In a nod to the Demon’s Souls series you can send MiiVerse messages and screenshots that will then wash ashore in a bottle in other players’ games.

They showed more of Platinum Games’ The Wonderful 101’s gameplay.  You can draw shapes on the Wii U pad to select unite powers for your heroes.  You can buy additional powers to use in battle from an in-game shop.  If you draw a sword or a gun, that’s the shape your heroes will form.  The game also features previously undisclosed multiplayer modes.  It looks like a must-have for game-starved Wii U owners this year.

There’s also going to be a new Donkey Kong Country title:  Donkey Kong Country:  Tropical Freeze.  Konkey Kong, Diddy Kong and Dixie Kong have to defend Donkey Kong Island from invading Vikings.  Each character will play very differently, and open up new paths in levels.

Platinum games showed an amazing-looking trailer for Bayonetta 2… the graphics are amazing, and so is the gameplay, including screen-filling bosses and fast-paced, crazy attacks. Bayonetta herself has been redesigned, with a new, shorter haircut.  It will be released in 2014.

Monolith Soft’s “X”, their follow-up to Xenoblade”, will feature open-world gameplay and mechs you can pilot in combat.  The graphics looka t east as good as anything on PS4 or Xbox One shown at E3 so far.  It will be also be released in 2014.

The final game Nintendo showed was….Super Smash Bros 4 for Wii U and 3DS… now featuring… Megaman!!! 🙂  The trailer reveal brought a smile to this veteran gamer’s face.  Animal Crossing characters will also be in the game.  It is also slated for release in 2014.

In all, it was an impressive showing for all three console-makers, with Nintendo having the smaller presence, since they have already released their next-generation console (Wii U.)  Sony absolutely destroyed Microsoft, with the PS4’s price undercutting the Xbox One’s by $100, and the lack of all the annoying Xbox One requirements and restrictions that have clouded Microsoft’s next-gen system over the past few months.

As I post this, E3 is still going on, so enjoy all the cool gaming news coming out of Los Angeles this week.  😉

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