You've already read our welcome to the brand-new USgamer, and we're launching during the biggest annual event in the gaming community. While E3 may not have quite the pull it once did with shows like PAX, Gamescom, and Eurogamer Expo giving publishers another chance to show off their best, there's still something magical about the week-long pilgrimage to the Los Angeles Convention Center.
The team at USgamer wanted to give you a chance to get to know us! We've all written about our most anticipated E3 2013 titles and the games we hope that publishers and developers announce while at the conference.
Most-Anticipated Game: Dark Souls II
Like every other masochist who actually enjoys Dark Souls, I'm drawn to the series for its insane difficulty. I'm happy to see From Software pushing the bar further with Dark Souls II. The enhanced enemy AI is going to make it even more inaccessible for people put off by just how hardcore the action-strategizing can get, but I'm ready for it. Plus it's going to be available for PC, so the amazingly detailed visuals in the first-look demo are going to pop.
Game I'd Like to See Announced: Final Fantasy VII HD
It's never going to happen, but I'm still rooting for a Final Fantasy VII HD remake. It's been on my mind since Sony teased us with a tech demo at E3 2005, remastering the introduction of the game in HD to show off the capabilities of the PlayStation 3. It's really just wishful thinking, but because Sony is releasing the PlayStation 4 soon, it would be a highlight for the company at the show. The fan service that would come along with the remaking becoming an actual thing would be a showstopper.
Most-Anticipated Game: Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
After an uneven and disappointing Assassin's Creed III: Red, White, and Blue Flag, I'm expecting Ubisoft to tighten up the next entry and right the ship. Connor lacked the instant magnetism of Assassin's Creed II protagonist Ezio Auditore, and the rogue-ish Edward Kenway looks to be a return to that style of hero. Assassin's Creed III also seemed to falter under the weight of integrating the work of six global studios. Ship combat in ACIII felt good, but detached from the rest of the game. The pirate-themed sequel gives Ubisoft the chance to prove it can bring eight studios together to create a single cohesive game.
This will also be the first Assassin's Creed for next-generation consoles, so we'll get a chance to see if the new AnvilNext engine will scale up to a new environment. Hopefully, Ubisoft's tech team has spent the year hammering out the rampant engine bugs that plagued Assassin's Creed III. Fingers crossed.
Game I'd Like to See Announced: Killer Instinct
I know as a hardcore fighting game, Killer Instinct hasn't really stood the test of time. The characters were goofy, the graphics haven't aged well, and the combo system was paint-by-numbers. But that feeling when you pulled off an Ultra Combo for the first time? That's up there with pulling off your first Fatality in Mortal Kombat.
Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat both returned in the current generation, bringing modern sensibilities and graphics to classic series. The Rare that made Killer Instinct isn't around anymore, but I'm hoping the new Rare (or whoever Microsoft puts on the property) can treat the game with the respect that it only deserves in my childhood memories. New generation, new Killer Instinct. Make it happen, Microsoft.
Most-Anticipated Game: The Witcher 3
When it comes to role-playing games, I'm normally one for the colorful excesses of Japan, but CD Projekt Red's dark fantasy epic had me enraptured from the moment I started playing the original game. I think the reason I regard the The Witcher series so fondly is that unlike many other Western RPG franchises - I'm looking at you, Bethesda - the strong protagonist figure of Geralt is well-written, interesting and fun to play as, even while the game provides enough flexibility in its choices to allow you to feel as if you're still "role-playing."
I must confess to feeling some concern at the series' shift to an open-world format. In my experience, open-world games tend to sacrifice depth of narrative in favor of providing a sprawling, lovingly-rendered world to explore, and I personally would rather have the former by far. That said, I have faith that the talented guys and gals at CD Projekt Red will be able to pull something spectacular out of the bag to bring Geralt's trilogy to a close.
Game I'd Like to See Announced: Persona 5
Persona 3 and 4 are some of my favorite games of all time, and Catherine gave us a tantalizing peek at what a "next-gen" Persona might look like - in terms of presentation, at least. And yet we've heard nothing from Atlus on the subject of a new sequel. Instead, we've seen a variety of Persona 4 spinoffs, including an excellent anime, a fantastic fighting game, a brilliant remastered version of the game itself on Vita, and a dreadful mobile offering (thankfully confined to Japan only). I love me some Persona 4, don't get me wrong, but it's about time we saw something new.
I'd like a new game to maintain the 'work-life balance' nature of 3 and 4, where you have to juggle your real-world social life with battling the mysterious shadows in other dimensions. It would be interesting to move out of the high-school setting and explore the world through the eyes of a slightly-older protagonist. The core themes of 'pursuing your true self' found in the Persona series certainly aren't exclusive to teenagers; there are many people in their twenties and thirties who still haven't found their life's true direction, and it'd be interesting to see that angle explored.
Most Anticipated Game: The Guided Fate Paradox
In 2010, Z.H.P.: Unlosing Ranger vs. Darkdeath Evilman turned the typical super hero power fantasy on its head. Instead of taking the trite Harry Potter/The Matrix approach of picking someone from obscurity and telling them they've always been "The Chosen One," Z.H.P. picked its protagonist from obscurity and gave him the responsibilities of "The Chosen One," but not the necessary power. The resulting game was a fascinating statement on the nature of heroism, an ode to determination where the themes of the gameplay perfectly matched the themes of the narrative. And while that narrative was filled with the same sort of playful wit developer Nippon Ichi had built its Disgaea series around, it was also ambitious. Z.H.P. touched on weighty concerns like suicide, terrorism, the war in Iraq, and child molestation, managing to balance humanity and grace with a sense of humor that didn't trivialize actual tragedies.
This fall's PlayStation 3-exclusive Guided Fate Paradox appears to be a spiritual successor to Z.H.P., but Nippon Ichi is tweaking the formula. Instead of taking an ordinary person and turning them into a super hero, Guided Fate Paradox will turn him into a god, intervening in various characters' lives to change their destinies. I call this my most anticipated game of E3, but I'm honestly not sure how much more I want to know about it going into the experience. It's without a doubt the one game I'm most looking forward to, and my hope for E3 is that it gets some of the attention Z.H.P. deserved, but sadly never received.
Game I'd Like to See Announced: Dead Rising 3
The most disappointing thing to me about the wave of zombie love in pop culture of late is that so little of it seems influenced by George Romero's classic films. Right from the original Night of the Living Dead, Romero infused his films with a layer of social commentary, whether it was about race, capitalism, the military industrial complex, class inequity, or social media. Though it borrowed its premise from Romero's Dawn of the Dead, the Japanese-developed Dead Rising offered a sharp criticism of American consumption culture, and as the most successful part of Capcom's push to make Western-friendly games, brilliantly sold it to the very object of its scorn. Vancouver-based Blue Castle kept just enough of the satire for Dead Rising 2, from the deathsport-as-primetime-entertainment intro sequence to the shambling undead masses looking right at home in the middle of a Las Vegas-like sprawl of casinos and capitalism.
Capcom could go any number of places for Dead Rising 3, but I'd love to see them drop any hint of subtlety and go straight to Washington, D.C., dropping players in the midst of a zombie civil war where two unthinking hordes are constantly locked in a senseless conflict that accomplishes nothing.
Most Anticipated Game: ????
This promises to be a fairly slow E3 in terms of actual hands-on gameplay, since we're in the gap between generations. We'll see a final few current-gen stragglers from familiar series and a lot of next-gen titles that play it safe or incorporate every new console feature at the expense of actual fun -- you know, the way it goes at the start of every new cycle. So while some of the games I know I'll see sound interesting, I'm more interested in the unknown. For example, I have an interview with an undisclosed developer at Nintendo. Who could it be? I don't know! But the last time I had one of those, the company announced Metroid: Other M at their press conference and I was whisked immediately away to speak to Metroid creator Yoshio Sakamoto. Granted, Other M didn't turn out so well, but damn if (for that morning, at least) the whole thing wasn't insanely exciting to me as a lifelong Metroid fan. So yeah, I want some of that again this year. Something that comes out of left field and hits me right in the game-loving part of my brain.
Game I'd Like to See Announced: Something new, original, and sustainable
The games industry has been painting itself into a corner over the past few years. Growing budgets and resource demands for all those would-be blockbusters mean that a game can sell millions of copies and still be considered a failure. A decade ago, that only happened for grossly misjudged train wrecks bogged down by expensive licenses (specifically, Enter the Matrix); today, it's business as usual. So lately all we're seeing are safe, predictable sequels with vast resources behind them. The really cool, refreshing, inventive games are indie titles built on shoestring budgets. There's gotta be a middle ground, guys. Big publishers, show us some really cool, interesting games built on a lean budget and bursting with a creative visual style that doesn't demand resource-hungry "realism." A game that blows my mind with its originality and doesn't have to move Call of Duty numbers to be deemed a success. Oh, and do me a favor and DON'T lay off all the talented people who made this mystery game the second it goes gold, OK?
Most-Anticipated Game: Gran Turismo 6
It’s not so much a case of most-looking-forward-to, but rather more of a hope-to-God-they-do-something-new, but I’m dying to see Gran Turismo 6. While the franchise has been a long-term love of mine, the last few releases have made me feel that Polyphony has been resting on its laurels. Sure, GT is the king of all PlayStation racing games – but it’s also pretty much number one in a field of one. And recent entries to the storied series felt like the developers were seriously easing off on the gas when it came to innovating new stuff, rather than keeping their foot down and forging ahead. It’s what Microsoft did with Windows for years when it had the monopoly on O/S, and GT feels like it’s the racing game equivalent. With significant new features being few and far between, and overall gameplay improvements being made at a glacial pace, the last few games have felt like slightly shiner new bodies on the same old chassis. So this time around, I’m hoping that the promises of a modern, more usable interface, well designed and robust online modes, and changes to the fundamental racing structure will see the series truly surge forward. We shall see.
Game I’d Like to See Announced: Music Games
If truth be told, I'd most like to hear Blizzard announce its next MMO. But that won’t ever, ever happen at E3 – it has its very own Blizzcon for that fateful day, sometime in the distant future. So instead I’ll sit and hope for… a really fun music game. Yeah. I’m lame – but I put a lot of time into them during the outgoing generation. For some reason, I found them perfect for mental relaxation. The combination of music and repetitive, but structured button pressing, while sometimes intense, always left me feeling mentally refreshed after a session. Maybe it’s just me, but few other games do that, apart from specific puzzle/matching games like Tetris and Drop7. So I’m hoping to see something like that this generation.
Maybe Harmonix’ Fantasia-themed game will do the trick? It sounds highly intriguing, using Xbox One’s inbuilt Kinect to enable players to control the music with gestures, and I’m looking forward to finding out whether it’s more of a work out for your limbs than your brain. If the former is true, and I end up with my puny arms weakling dangling like a gibbon’s, I guess my search will continue for something for my brain to chew on.
Most-Anticipated Game: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD
When The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker came out it was met with critical acclaim, but initially there was a rejection of the cel-shaded visuals that would make the game so unique within the Zelda timeline. Eventually, Nintendo would regress back to a more "traditional" style with their subsequent (less fun) Zelda games, but with their HD remake they have the chance to give gamers a fresh look at one of the greatest Zelda games of all time. Bottom line, The Wind Waker HD may help remind us that some of the biggest risks can lead to some of the greatest rewards, and that's damned exciting.
Game I'd Like to See Announced: Grand Theft Auto V on next-gen consoles
Grand Theft Auto V is on my shortlist of call-out-sick games that, in true Rockstar form, gets more desirable as more information trickles out. In my opinion, the only way to make it even better is to try it out on a next-gen system. I know that's not going to happen, and really, it shouldn't matter. Still, how many of us would like to give our new Xbox One or PlayStation 4 a go with the latest adventures in Los Santos?