With the video gaming industry's biggest yearly showcase just around the corner, we thought we'd focus on E3 this week. More specifically, what are you most looking forward to about the show? Is there a specific game you're hoping to see, or are your interests more hardware-oriented? Perhaps you're not looking forward to E3 at all! Whatever your opinion, we're interested in hearing it.
As always, here's the USgamer team on what they're most anticipating about next week's show.
Truth be told, I feel a little deflated by this year's E3 slate. My favorite thing about the show has always been the opportunity to wander around and check out all the little niche games no one else wants to write about. That was how I filled time my very first E3, back in 2004 — since I wasn't technically a staff writer yet, I didn't have any juicy assignments. So instead, I drifted around the show floor and picked up all the games that were going to be overlooked by all the writers with "desirable" appointments… and I ended up having a great time!
But as E3 has become smaller and most of those oddball releases have shifted to Steam and the indie space, E3 offers fewer opportunities for those pleasant little surprises. The odds of coming across something unexpected and wonderful at E3 along the lines of, say, a Scurge: Hive or an oddball RPG spinoff — the kinds of games that were everywhere a decade ago — have dropped to something approaching zero. With Nintendo using its voluminous floor space exclusively for demoing a Zelda game due next year, my last real resort for the unexpected has basically shriveled away. Nintendo was the final bastion of promoting third-party B-tier games, and now E3 is almost entirely going to be AAA material that everyone already knows and expects. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I miss being pleasantly surprised by releases out of nowhere.
So I will savor the last survivors of the old ways: XSEED, Atlus/SEGA, and Natsume. Their booths will be my precious oasis. Don't get me wrong — I'm excited for my Dragon Quest and ReCore and Final Fantasy XII demos and interviews, 100%. But games off the well-defined, beaten path have always been the lifeblood of my games writing since I first launched my little Geocities page 20 years ago, and E3 is no longer the kind of show where you can find those quiet oddities. I'll miss them... and I will be thrilled to find even a single weird but wonderful handheld game that no one knew about somewhere out there on the show floor.
This one's an easy question for me to answer. As a huge racing fan, I'm most looking forward to getting my hands on Polyphony's Gran Turismo Sport on PS4. It's certainly taken its sweet time arriving - the last Gran Turismo title was released in 2013 on PS3. I was hoping for an early demo of a current-gen game last year, but no dice. Still, at least it's coming out this year - the game has a November release date, and hopefully with three years development time behind it, it won't slip into 2017.
The big news for what is the seventh in the Gran Turismo series is that the game has been given official FIA certification, meaning that certain tournaments in the game will be sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile and essentially treated as real motorsport. If that doesn't deliver the most realistic video game racing yet seen, I don't know what will. I'm not sure exactly how tournaments will play out, but I imagine they'll run something like they did on PS3 - qualifying laps first, with the very best players invited to race in the top tier series. That unfortunately won't be me, but I'll certainly give it my best shot.
But what I'm really interested in seeing is just how good the game looks and feels. To me, the Forza Motorsports series has always played second fiddle to Gran Turismo - well, up until Forza 6, which I think is currently the finest racing game available on any system. Its selection of cars is top-notch, and it has incredibly realistic racing that looks absolutely gorgeous. The big question on my lips is will Gran Turismo be able to compete with it? It may do on a technical racing level, but will its car selection be as interesting as Forza's, will it have as many tracks, and will it be as much fun to drive? That's what I'm looking forward to finding out next week when I sit down with the game. I can't wait!
At this point, I'm looking forward to the unexpected. We have discussed - on From US to You and our E3 roundtable - that fact that games are now announcing ahead of the show, rather than at E3 itself. This makes sense for publishers, because it gets the name out there ahead of the deluge of titles during E3 week. But from an anticipation standpoint, it doesn't leave a lot.
I want someone to surprise me. Last year, Sony rocked the house with The Last Guardian, No Man's Sky, Horizon: Zero Dawn, and Shenmue 3. Sure, none of those games are out yet, but the announcements were legitimately surprising. I want to be metaphorically hit in the jaw. I want to walk away from these conferences feeling like I'm getting something I can only see at E3.
That's not to say there won't be stuff I want from E3, just that I already have a solid idea of what's coming down the pipeline. I'm down with Watch Dogs 2, Dishonored 2, Forza Horizon 3, Agents of Mayhem, Mafia 3, The Legend of Zelda, Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, more Lego Dimensions, and more. I just… know they're coming. I want more. I want to not be able to write about some of this stuff ahead of time.
But, since we need to answer the question… Persona 5?
I always go into E3 anticipating the latest crop of sports games. This is the time of year when all of the publishers are making their big promises for the upcoming year; and it's always exciting to take the controls and see what's new and different about this year's version (and maybe play with some of my team's new acquisitions, too). Even better, EA will have a VIP section for its booth this year, which means I theoretically won't have to elbow my way past fans in Raiders jerseys monopolizing the demo kiosks.
With Madden, I'm keen to try out the new running controls and see how the new defensive AI looks, as well as to hear the new commentary by Charles Davis and Brandon Gaudin. On the FIFA front, I'm interested to see whether the move to the Frostbite Engine will be a step forward or a step back for the series. And with NHL… well… I just want to see meaningful improvement.
I suppose all this makes me like Charlie Brown with the football, because the final product rarely lives up to the outsized E3 hype. But then again, Madden has been improving year by year, and FIFA seems on the verge of making some big changes. I think there's legitimate reason to be excited this year.
I just hope that EA doesn't trot out Pele for their press conference again.
I'll be working this year's E3 from home once again, meaning I won't actually have the chance to personally play any upcoming games. But that's mostly okay: The hot and noisy show floor isn't really the ideal scenario for gaming, even if they shove you into an air-conditioned cubicle. I have to admit I'm feeling a few pangs of disappointment over missing out on the new Legend of Zelda, though. We critics have a reputation for being naturally cynical, but this is one game I want--no, need to be good. Since 2003's The Wind Waker, I've been waiting for another console-based Zelda sequel to wow me like the series did in the past, and the idea of waiting another 5-6 years if this new one backfires is simply too horrifying to imagine. With the stakes high and expectations low for Nintendo these days, Zelda Wii U/NX could have the power to restore some of the reputation the company has lots over the last console generation.
Above all, though, I'm dying to see what it looks like. Outside of a tease from two years ago--after which the game could have changed drastically--very little evidence of this new Zelda actually exists. Knowing we'll see a whole lot more of it soon has me excited, but also slightly anxious about the series not making the changes it needs to stay modern. I guess we'll all find out soon!
Really on the edge of my seat for the next Legend of Zelda game. It’s the safe, predictable answer, but I don’t think it’d be any different if this year’s E3 was hinting we’ll also see a bunch of games that will turn the industry on its head. I’m just really excited for this big, beautiful, open-world Zelda game.
I think I have good reason to be excited, and it’s a reason people tend to overlook: 2013’s The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. It’ll almost certainly be the last major Zelda release before we get whatever’s currently cooking for the Wii U and NX, and many of the fans who played it agree it was the best Zelda game in a long, long time on any system. I played through the title again recently to make sure my high opinion wasn’t woven by nostalgia alone. Nope. The game’s bloody fantastic. I don’t know if it dethrones A Link to the Past, but you know what, it comes preeeeetty close.
But consider why producer Eiji Aonuma and his team made A Link Between Worlds the way they did: They knew Zelda had become too safe, to linear. They specifically implemented ways to let you sequence-break and explore Hyrule (and Lorule) with few boundaries. In a Link Between Worlds, the world is open to you -- provided you can pay Ravio to rent the items you need. And that’s not hard, because Rupees are everywhere.
Finally, Aonuma performed his crazy experiments on the most beloved game in Zelda canon, A Link to the Past. He trod in the Sacred Realm itself, and he could’ve mucked everything up badly. Instead, he knocked it out of the park. If A Link Between Worlds is truly the “warm up” for a new breed of Zelda, how can I help but not be excited for what comes next? Don’t break my heart, Nintendo.