E3 2014 roundup: Uncharted, Halo and Zelda
With both Sony and Microsoft having had their latest consoles on the market for more than six months, this year’s E3 was always going to be about the games. There was a wealth of new titles announced, including appearances from Nathan Drake, the Master Chief and Link, as well as closer looks at previously revealed games. The sheer volume of announcements made during the press events makes it impossible for us to cover everything, but here are some of the highlights from E3 2014.
There were a lot of new announcements from Sony this year, with the company providing details on a range of PlayStation 4 exclusive titles. The previously announced The Last of Us Remastered received an all new trailer showing off the game’s improved visuals. It was also announced that the title will be released on July 29 for the PS4, some 13 months after its original PS3 debut.
The company provided a first look at the gameplay of The Order 1886, with a release date of February 20, 2015. The title is looking solid, combining dark and moody aesthetics with supernatural themes and third-person shooter mechanics. Media Molecule's popular platforming franchise LittleBigPlanet is also getting a third installment, which will introduce new playable characters alongside the legendary Sackboy. LittleBigPlanet 3 hits the PS4 this November.
Sony’s biggest reveal was also its most predictable, and came right at the end of the press event. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End, the latest title from developer Naughty Dog’s Indiana Jones-meets-Tomb-Raider franchise, is one of the most anticipated PS4 games. The E3 trailer certainly earned its “teaser” moniker, providing just a glimpse at the game and a predictable 2015 release window.
Sony did mention its Project Morpheus headset during the media brief, but no major announcements were made in relation to the virtual reality accessory. That said, it did announce a July 31 release date for its PlayStation Now service, which will allow users to stream older PlayStation titles to their PS4s. The availability of the service will later be expanded to the PS3, PS Vita and even certain Sony TVs.
One announcement that’s certain to get more attention than anything else shown at Microsoft’s press event is the strongly rumored Halo: The Master Chief Collection for Xbox One. The package, set to hit shelves November 11, will include the original Halo: Combat Evolved, as well as sequels Halo 2, 3 and 4.
All four games will run at 1080p and 60 fps, and the collection will include the multiplayer components of all the games, providing more than 100 multiplayer maps. The Ridley Scott helmed Halo: Nightfall live action series will also be included in the set, as will access to the Halo 5: Guardians beta.
The company also made a decidedly quieter announcement in the form of Xbox One ethereal platformer Ori and the Blind Forest. The game has a dark and moody aesthetic and off-beat charm that puts it somewhere between Rayman Legends and Child of Light. Other announced titles include a new entry in the Crackdown franchise, and a new monster-based action IP from Platinum Games known as Scalebound.
The Japanese company had a lot to prove with its E3 press briefing, and it certainly delivered a wide range of new announcements to help get consumers interested in its ailing Wii U console.
The biggest headline for Nintendo fans will undoubtedly be the sort-of unveiling of The Legend of Zelda Wii U outing. While no title was announced and only a vague 2015 release window detailed, series producer Eiji Aonuma took the opportunity to show off the game’s new art style and open world design. Visually, the title is similar looking to Skyward Sword, but with far greater detail and refinement.
Another big announcement came in the form of a new range of NFC toys known as Amiibos. The concept is similar to Skylanders and Disney Infinity, with the physical figures appearing in game when placed on the Wii U GamePad’s NFC sensor. However, Amiibos are a little different to those examples in that they can be used in multiple games (Super Smash Bros. Wii U being the first, with Mario Kart 8 later) and data can be transferred both ways, allowing unique stats to be retained inside the physical toy.
The company also revealed the leaked Mario Maker, a game in which players can create and share their own 2D Mario side-scroller levels on Wii U, switching between modern and 8-bit art styles. The company also revealed a third-person multiplayer shooter game in which players fire ink instead of bullets and can turn into a squid at will. Known as Splatoon, it’s definitely one of the company’s more out-there ideas (and that's really saying something).
Action title Bayonetta 2 was given a release date of October 2014 and will also include the first installment in the series, originally released on PS3 and Xbox 360. Further details and release information were provided for other upcoming games including Super Smash Bros. on 3DS (arriving Oct 3) and Wii U (Holiday 2015), Yoshi’s Woolly World (2015) and Dynasty Warriors/Zelda mash-up title Hyrule Warriors (Sept 26).
Though there’s certainly no lack of first party announcements at this year’s E3, there’s been a wealth of third party news.
One piece of headline news came in the form of the confirmation of the much rumored PC, PS4 and Xbox One versions of last year’s hugely popular Grand Theft Auto 5. The game is set to release this Fall (Northern Hemisphere), with updated graphics and a higher resolution. There’s no word yet on whether there will be any new content in the re-release, but it was confirmed that users will be able to transfer their GTA Online progress from PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game.
There’s a significant focus on co-operative play at E3 this year, with key games such as the next-gen only Assassin’s Creed Unity and new title Rainbow Six: Siege focusing heavily on teamwork. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare looked impressive during its segment in Microsoft’s event, showing a wide range of futuristic gadgets and technology that indicate that this year’s franchise entry might not be simply more of the same. Developer DICE provided an early look at its reboot of the Star Wars: Battlefront series, and from the brief in-engine shots, it’s looking very impressive indeed.
EA gave gamers an early look at its Mirror’s Edge reboot, showing off smooth parkour gameplay inside an early build of the game. Despite the game's far-away (and unknown) release date, the title already looks fast-paced and pleasing to the eye – definitely one to watch.
Aside from the above, Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham Knight received an impressive new gameplay trailer, as did Ubisoft published co-op third-person shooter Tom Clancy’s The Division, EA title Dragon Age: Inquisition and open-world shooter Far Cry 4. Lastly, the second game in the recently rebooted Lara Croft series was announced by means of teaser trailer. It’s called Rise of the Tomb Raider and will hit sometime in 2015.
This year’s E3 is definitely all about the games, but that didn't stop Sony from sneaking in a couple of hardware announcements. The company revealed that it will launch a white version of its next-console, complete with white Dualshock 4 controller, alongside the launch of hotly anticipated online shooter Destiny. The system, which will include a copy of the game and pack the same 500 GB HDD as the standard version, will launch Sept 9.
Secondly, the PlayStation TV, previously released in Japan under the name PlayStation Vita TV, will make the jump to North America and Europe this year for US$99 for the system only, and $139 for a bundle including an 8 GB memory card, HDMI cable and digital copy of The Lego Movie Video Game.
That’s all for our roundup of the big news from the E3 2014 press events. Once again, this is far from an exhaustive list of the new announcements. To let us know your favorite announcements, or to tell us if anything else caught your eye, head to the comments below.