While the new generation of machines have been around for 18 months, and were indeed premiered six months before that, I don't yet believe we've seen software that feels truly "new generation."
Sure, there have been some stellar games released over the last 18 months, but to me, most of them have felt like the previous generation of games with better graphics, rather than something that simply couldn't have existed before this generation. Games like Watch Dogs, Shadow of Mordor, Bloodborne, Project CARS and Forza Horizon 2 are all excellent, but feature content and concepts that have been seen and done before on prior generation. Sure, they're more refined, smoother, and more detailed than games we've seen before, but they don't offer much in the way of something completely new and different. Their experiences feel largely familiar.
That's what I'm looking out for this E3. Games and concepts that feel like they could only exist on the latest generation of hardware. Games that clearly put a gap between the software we've seen on PS3 and Xbox 360, and the new-generation PS4 and Xbox One.
Perhaps such games simply don't and won't exist. Perhaps the technology gap between the last generation and this is too small to provide anything like a significant step forward for gaming? I'm hoping that's not the case. As we saw with No Man's Sky last year – and it'll be shown again this year – that does feel more like a new generation game. Perhaps there will be other games that follow its lead, taking us to places we've never seen before? I hope so, because what we do know is that there will be a lot of new iterations of franchises that will feel like – as they always do – the slow evolution of a game series. Products like FIFA 16, Forza Motorsport 6, and Call of Duty are pretty much incapable of taking a huge leap forward, because they're not really meant to. They're simply a refinement of an existing concept, rather than games designed to push technology and gameplay into new realms. Products designed around conservatism and big budgets, created to give gamers more of what they want, rather than something completely revolutionary and new.
One area where there might be completely new experiences is VR. I attended the launch of Oculus Rift a few days ago, and while I was impressed with the technology, I wasn't exactly blown away by the games. They mostly felt like regular video games that you can look around in. Surely there are new and exciting ideas just waiting to be unleashed by that technology? With both Oculus Rift and Sony's Morpheus being heavily promoted at the show, I hope we'll see some exciting new experiences that show us something we haven't seen before. Or at least if we've seen it before, it's done in a way that's truly unique to VR. A killer app, if you will. I think the technology really needs that to sell itself as something worth having.
So we'll have to wait and see. I'm definitely excited about this E3, and think that we will indeed see cutting edge products that will push new boundaries for gaming - perhaps from enterprising independent studios whose new ideas aren't held back by conservative marketers and investors. Whose innovative spirits aren't dampened by concerns that perhaps gamers won't like whatever new ideas they've come up with. I'll be keeping my eye out for these examples and reporting on them. And if not? Well, there's always next year I guess.