I had a feeling that E3 2013 wouldn’t disappoint, and I was more right than I could have imagined. Games were announced that no one expected, a new console was finally shown, and one gaming company made a move that will be remembered for years to come. If I had to use a word to describe the event it would be “epic.” Microsoft started off strong during their presentation by showing off a new trailer for Metal Gear Solid V. From its open-world stealth action to its beautiful visuals, every time I see that game I can’t help but grin. Dead Rising 3 was also another pleasant surprise at the conference, but the other surprise that it was an Xbox One exclusive wasn’t as pleasant. Still, a next-gen entry with a brand new protagonist, advanced weapon crafting, and thousands of zombies on screen make it a very tempting purchase.
What literally made my jaw drop, however, was the surprise announcement of Killer Instinct. I’ve been waiting for a sequel to Rare’s legendary fighting franchise for so long. When I saw the initials “KI” and heard that familiar announcer yelling, “Coming to your home in 2013…,” I completely lost it. I love the new character designs, remixed music, and effects; everything about it except the fact that it’s coming exclusively to the Xbox One. Please guys, just don’t screw this one up! Then there was Titanfall, the newest game from Respawn Entertainment whose existence was leaked a few days before the event. A massively-multiplayer online shooter featuring highly agile and deadly mechs? Yes, please. It’s the kind of shooter that could keep me hooked for quite a while, and thankfully it’s not coming only to Microsoft’s next-gen console.
Why do I keep trying to avoid buying the Xbox One? Because for all the great games that Microsoft showed off, two things absolutely killed the mood and made the whole event feel like a wake. First, Microsoft made no mention of the draconian restrictions that have been stirring gamers into a frenzy for weeks. I guess I was foolish for hoping that they would somehow quell our fears and reveal that the Xbox One’s architecture wasn’t so bad after all. Instead, it was all glossed over and then made painfully worse by the announcement of the console’s price: $499. Thanks to this, I now feel torn. I’m interested in the games the X1 has to offer, but not it’s DRM and price. It seemed that this was exactly what Sony was waiting for, as they took Microsoft’s mistakes and used them to their advantage.
After showing off their continued support of the PS3 and Vita, Sony finally unveiled what the PlayStation 4 console actually looked like. The design was sleek and harkened back to the PS2, but at that point I couldn’t care less about its appearance, I was interested in the games. To be honest, though, Sony didn’t really show that many new exclusive titles for the PS4. Killzone and Infamous still looked fantastic, and a new IP from Ready At Dawn Studios called The Order: 1886 showed promise. Sony’s commitment to indie games was a true highlight, though, announcing that many well known developers would be bringing their games to consoles on PS4 first. Notable highlights included Klei Entertainment’s survival game Don’t Starve and 17-BIT’s new space shooter Galak-Z.
Seeing over a dozen indie developers on stage playing their games on PS4 hardware was quite a sight, and it showed that Sony is seriously committed to supporting the scene more than anyone else. There was also plenty of multi-platform love given to the console, including a gameplay reveal of Bungie’s new online title Destiny. It looked like a combination of Halo and Borderlands with some very fun co-op. What really made Sony’s presentation legendary, though, was the reveal of a number of bombshells. Almost as if they were rubbing salt on Microsoft’s wound, Sony announced that the PS4 would not restrict used games at all; players could trade them in, sell them to someone, lend them to a friend or keep them without any limitations.
In addition, they also divulged that PS4 games would not need internet access or any kind of authentication to function (unless publishers required it), and that the console itself would not require any periodic check-ins of any kind in order to work. Basically, the antithesis of everything that Microsoft was doing with the Xbox One. Of course, the crowd went absolutely bonkers when hearing this. The amount of applause and cheers is something I haven’t seen at E3 in years, and it was only more passionate once Sony announced the PS4’s price: $399. By just following the status quo and actually listening to the concerns of gamers, Sony has now positioned themselves into a considerable advantage for the next generation. Microsoft has quite a challenge on their hands now, but underdog Nintendo has quite an opportunity.
While the Kyoto-based game company canceled their traditional E3 press conference in favor of a pre-recorded Nintendo Direct webcast, they still had plenty to show. The new Super Mario 3D World and Mario Kart 8 looked very refreshing and colorful compared to the rest of the games at E3, and they both showed what the Wii U is capable of. The HD remake of The Wind Waker also looked wonderful and will finally give me an opportunity to play this unique entry in the series. Then there was Monolith Soft’s mysterious game X, with its vast open-world and attention-grabbing sci-fi aesthetic. This could end up being an amazing exclusive for the console, but for now we don’t know much regarding gameplay or when it’s actually coming out. But it was the reveal of the highly anticipated Super Smash Bros. for 3DS/Wii U that stole the spotlight.
Both versions of the game looked right at home on their respective platforms and seem designed specifically for them (e.g the 3DS version had outlines around characters for better visibility on the small screen). The addition of Mega Man, The Villager from Animal Crossing, and the Wii Fit Trainer are oddly amusing choices and the game is sure to move consoles. The only problem Nintendo needs to overcome is their lack of third-party support. They won’t be able to single-handedly keep the Wii U afloat, no matter how good their first-party lineup is. They also need to lower the console’s price and increase its storage if they want to compete with even the current gen PS3 and Xbox 360. Besides that, Nintendo shows a lot of promise now. They’re free of restrictive DRM and have some unique titles coming to the system, they just need to start getting the Wii U into people’s homes.
Overall, this year’s E3 was one of the most pleasant events in years. There was little to no annoying crap like so many E3’s in the past. No embarrassing stage demos with awful actors, no Skittles impersonators, no kids, no motion-sensing waggling action, and no boring sales figures for the investors. This year was focused on games and consumer freedom, and in those two areas the show definitely delivered. The repercussions from what took place are already being seen, and they will set the stage for the bitter next generation battle that is ready to begin this holiday season.