E3 - What To Expect And What To Hope For

Mark Botwright

Distinguished Member
There's nothing like a fresh batch of hardware to get the gaming juices flowing, and with the criticism that E3 (the Electronics Entertainment Expo) has become increasingly predictable in recent years, the impetus of two major console manufacturers eager to slug it out for your hard earned money is an appetising prospect; just what the show needs. So, what can we expect?

Lessons learned

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Microsoft, fresh from a post-One reveal PR nightmare, will hopefully have been suitably chastened by the coldcock they received at the venomous fingertips of furious gamers taking to forums and social networking to vent their frustration at the perceived signposts on the path to a licence-based console gaming future.

Since the hurried mixed message interviews - desperately trying to set the record straight about DRM, Kinect's integration and the console's online status without actually confirming or denying anything - it's been radio silence from Redmond, with the only comment being that E3 will bring games, games, and games. Good. But if ill feeling isn't to breed any further, clarification must be forthcoming, otherwise all that's laid out could still be viewed through the prism of internet rage. Clear up DRM, trading games and how often the console has to log in to MS central, and hopefully everyone can get back to chatting about the exclusives. But which of the mooted fifteen exclusives - eight of which are new IPs - for the One can we expect to see other than the already shown Quantum Break?

Shooty-racey-ball

It's established to roll out one big shooter, racing game and footy title, both Sony and Microsoft are reliant upon EA for the latter but have exclusives for the former two genres. Drive Club and Killzone: Shadowfall (Sony) will no doubt go toe to toe with Forza and, fingers crossed, whatever weapons-fuelled blaster Black Tusk have up their sleeves for Microsoft. If that doesn't materialise, the One can always attempt to fall back on the timed exclusivity of Call of Duty: Ghosts' downloadable content. For all the valiant attempts to create a perceived chasm in shooting titles offered, it may be that Battlefield 4 and Bungie's Destiny - both set to be multiformat - steal most of the limelight. That is, unless Fallout 4 arrives.

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So, that's a couple of One exclusives, but what of the rest? Well, eagle-eyed viewers of the reveal noted the presence of a Crackdown orb on the dashboard behind Yusuf Mehdi, so that's a distinct possibility. As is the inevitability of a raft of the fifteen being titles designed to finally convince all and sundry that the Kinect, in its new 2.0 form, is far from the family-oriented clunky gimmick many have written it off as in its current guise.

The key for Microsoft will be to act like there was a masterplan all along. Tell the world that they got the boring media-centric fluff out of the way, not to indicate what market the console would be aimed at but rather to clear space so as to keep E3 solely for games. With Sony set to finally unveil their box at the show, and having been less than forthcoming with details regarding functionality, it could prove to be a sound decision, as the Japanese company faces the prospect of filling half a presentation with the same material that saw the One reveal so derided. The first mention of multitasking and web browsers will draw a collective sigh.

Turning Japanese

Sony keeping schtum has been interpreted by some as taking the high road regarding DRM. However, there's a very real possibility that the decision to enforce such a measure emanates equally from the large publishers, eager to find a way to break the current business model of expanding budgets and risk taking by clawing further money back from second hand sales. It's a contentious point, but were Sony to follow suit, it wouldn't be a huge surprise.

The big moment will undoubtedly be the unveiling of the PS4 itself. The blurry teaser gave little away, other than it looks black and boxy, so perhaps the likenesses to Microsoft's console - already set to house very similar architecture - will keep coming.

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There's no better time to try to stress a difference though, and Sony have a couple of weapons in their arsenal. Firstly, they have a very capable portable format in the shape of the Vita, that looks to offer second screen functionality - a move that simultaneously aims a well placed slap in the direction of Nintendo's GamePad and Microsoft's SmartGlass, as well as being intended to boost sales of the handheld. Then you've got the misstep of Microsoft, not allowing indie games to be self published, and Sony can play both the sleek tech and humbly egalitarian cards at the same time. An open goal, providing they haven't already shot themselves in the foot with a DRM, ever-connected or PS Eye-is-required shaped bullet.

Games-wise the already mentioned Drive Club, Killzone: Shadowfall and Final Fantasy should provide the main eye candy, hopefully of the gameplay variety and not carefully edited footage. Infamous: Second Son is one of the few third person titles we yet know about for either console and it's sure to be pushed. Speculation that Naughty Dog - masters of the genre - may have something for the PS4 could be wide of the mark, what with The Last of Us only just hitting shelves for the PS3. Sony aren't exactly low on studios who could bring something new though, with Santa Monica, Media Molecule and Ready at Dawn all possible entries, but it's worth noting that in the run up to the PS4 launch Sony will likely hold some news back for Gamescom and the Video Game Awards.

The PS3 will obviously continue to play a big part in Sony's show, but the amount of completely new titles may be dwindling at this point, Gran Turismo 6, Metal Gear Solid V: The Interminable Title - sorry, The Phantom Pain and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn tick the returning fan-favourite sequels box, whilst David Cage's Beyond: Two Souls offers at least one standout new IP.

It's-a-me!

One company that'll be eager to capitalise on the second hand games furore will be Nintendo. The Wii U is faltering and needs a healthy dose of positivity. A price cut, perhaps a streamlining of the two SKUs to one affordable package (who needs a GamePad stand?) with a game code in the box would do nicely.

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With the new Zelda for the Wii U taking a while, the appeasement of a HD redux of Wind Waker is a fair stopgap. We can expect to see lots more of the old guard as well, with a certain Italian plumber featuring heavily - a new Smash Bros, Mario and Mario Kart all look to be on the cards. Third party support also looks reasonable, with The Wonderful 101, Bayonetta 2 and Shin Megami Tensei X Fire Emblem.

Oh, and don't forget the 3DS, which has recovered from an inauspicious start to gather momentum. Nintendo used their recent Nintendo Direct broadcast to show footage of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney 5 and Monster Hunter 4, and you wouldn't bet against a new Professor Layton and Zelda title making an appearance. They may not favour the event - this year eschewing the grandstanding of a large presentation - but Nintendo know their fans.

PC gone mad

Those more at home with a keyboard and mouse may not see the greatest coverage aimed towards their favoured machine, but quality rather than quantity may be the order of the day this year. The long journey for the DayZ standalone to make it to retail looks to be nearing an end, as it'll be playable at E3; considering this mere mod made many a game of the year list - against stiff competition - it shouldn't go unheralded. Want more shooting? ARMA 3 should tick that box.

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If you needed any further prompting that the PC was still the place to be for social gaming, look no further than Elder Scrolls Online; The Old Republic may have dulled the appetite for such titles, but this still has the potential to get the formula right.

Sitting on the fence

As ever, some publishers walk the line between allegiances, and it'll be strange to see so much attention aimed towards the exclusives when arguably the biggest AAA titles will be multiformat. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag (sadly not the Henry Rollins sim I was hoping for), CoD: Ghosts (now with added dogs) and Batman: Arkham Origins are the big three colon-heavy sequels expected to wow.

If you want to put your money on a showstopper though, a cut-scene laden further peek at any new Metal Gear Solid game garners huge - and predictable - praise, whilst Thief has the ability to steal a few hearts. And then there's the possibility of Fallout 4, which could push even Battlefield 4 to one side as the game of choice for early adopters, were it to make the PS4/One launch windows.

A left field punt at an outsider to get tongues wagging is Killer is Dead on the 360 and PS3, a spiritual successor to the cult Killer 7 Gamecube title. Though not confirmed at this point, an appearance from a Suda 51 game that looks every inch the stylised antidote to the formulaic appeal of the industry event could help the oddball gaming auteur finally get the hit his work deserves.

MIA

Sadly Valve have already made it clear that they have no intention of showcasing the Steambox at this year's event. The one piece of hardware capable of making Sony and Microsoft look over their shoulders with fear, should they choose to lock people into a restrictive games market of their own making, will be a little while longer in gestation. Considering numerous reports claim it could launch literally at any time, non attendance is disappointing.

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At least it exists though, which is more than can be said with any confidence about the Last Guardian. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst is the motto of Team Ico fans awaiting the elusive PS3 game, and there's little reason to think - even at this late stage in the console's life cycle - that this year it will prove it's nearing completion.

Stay tuned

E3 will take place June 11th-13th. Be sure to catch up with the gaming team's pre-E3 podcast, and stay tuned for our reactions to the event in a post-E3 podcast special, as well as further coverage during the event.
 
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kav

Distinguished Member
Thanks for the write up. As a long time gamer, I have to say the new console releases have done little to pique my interest. This is possibly because I went back to PC gaming a couple of years ago and so a lot of the stuff that may seem great when viewed from a previous gen console perspective is little more than "meh" when viewed from a PC gaming perspective. (I don't mean that in an elitist way, but the fact is playing PC games for a while sets your expectations high whether you want it to or not.)

Fundamentally, though, it will always boil down to the games for me. All the trinkets and associated trumpetry about trying to get one box to be the centre of your life becomes redundant if they can't provide quality titles to flog their hardware. For now, I'm on the fence, but will be watching keenly to find out whether exclusivity on some of my favourites old titles (or some promising new ones) will be enough to make me splash out on release day.
 

MartinH32

Well-known Member
I had high hopes for this next gen but the MS again treating Europe like second rate citizens I won't be bothering this time around. It seems like they are way off what people want from a gaming machine. TV, TV and erm, TV. Another thing that has put me off is the requirement for Kinect! I've just upgraded my PC for under £500 and got a great gaming spec. Sticking with this now and bye bye console! Nice write up though!
 

IvorB

Active Member
Just wanted to correct a few inaccuracies in this write up. Sony has already given official word on used DRM. They are basically leaving it up to publishers.

No Used DRM on PS4

Also Monolith Soft is a first-party Nintendo studio not third-party.

I think it's clear to everyone that Sony have been waging a brutal campaign in the run up to this new Console War against Microsoft and they are running circles around them. Now news is surfacing that MS is having manufacturing issues because they are basically not ready with their machine. Sony stole a march on them in a big way and caught them with their pants down.

Now instead of countering this in a formidable and effective manner Microsoft has, for want of a better expression, completely lost its sh*t. It's actually unbelievable how badly they are executing right now. The forums are enraged, the memes are coming hot and fast and MS is quickly becoming the enemy - universally reviled.

What's interesting is positions are neatly reversed from this current gen where Sony was on the receiving end of a heavy backlash from gamers. Sony came back strong and Miscrosoft can too but they have just got to get their sh*t together. Like really. Whether you think the whole TV thing and the DRM stuff sucks or doesn't suck that's what they've gone with. I don't think it's reasonable to change it at this stage without launching way after Sony and being in an even worse position. But they can do a better job of convincing people to sign up than they are doing now. This tragic PR spectacle has university case study written all over it. It's like you want one of Microsoft's mates to take him to the bathroom and slap him a few time on the face, give him a pep talk and get him back out there. Their reveal was so bad that everybody stopped slagging off the WiiU for like two full weeks. That's bad.

I don't have any confidence MS will turn this around for E3. They've cancelled their press round table which seems to indicate they are scared of more bad PR. There is strong possibility of bad news coming on the hardware front. But mostly they have shown themselves to be completely out-of-touch with everything and that is something you can't easily fix.

Whatever happens I think we are in for an extremely entertaining Console War.
 
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Mark Botwright

Distinguished Member
I agree with many of your points there Ivor (btw cheers, i didn't know Monolith Soft had been entirely bought :D), but i still think there's a long way to run with DRM and Sony. Perhaps i'm a cynic, but i don't have as much faith in that statement as others do.

Whilst on the face of it is an answer to the main query, it doesn't actually change much beyond pointing the finger at who's the bad guy in the potential scenario. It's like saying to your kids you won't make them do their chores, but then adding that their mother may.

Similar to Cerny talking about the PS4 not needing a permanent connection, it leaves a lot hanging in the air with regards what publishers are allowed to do. Do Sony have the power or inclination to stand up to the likes of EA?

With my cynic hat on, Sony are just doing better in the PR stakes - leave it up to the publishers, assume they'll all take advantage of it, take a cut of any activation fees levied similar to MS, and by not making it technically universal you escape coming off as needlessly draconian.

I can't see third party titles not having the same DRM on both consoles, so it really just emphasises how important the exclusives are.

It is funny how the curse of the third console tends to hit though, perhaps MS are tripping up as Sony did by pushing too far in the multimedia territory.
 
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IvorB

Active Member
No worries. I've never played a Monolith Soft game but it's a random piece of gaming trivia I have. :)

We'll see if Sony has anything further to add on the used game issue but their track record suggests they are not as heavy handed on this as some. They give loads of games away for free on PS+ so they must understand the value of players who may not necessarily have paid full price for a game. Also Vita was released recently and it has no used DRM. But we'll have to see. But the fact is, regardless of Sony's policy's, Sony is not stupid enough to reveal this stuff at the big announcement. You don't lead with the bad news. What is Microsoft thinking? Unless they genuinely believed it wouldn't be bad news which is even more worrying...

That follow up console curse is certainly strong. I think it's the hubris that sets in. If they have a successful console I guess they get used to the idea of having that huge captive audience and it goes to their heads. The one thing they always forget is for a new gen the boards are wiped clean. Success in one console gen in no way guarantees follow up success in the next one. Companies forget this time and again. They have to work for their audience again.

Well I see there is more bad news from the Microsoft camp this morning. Say what you like about the Xbone but you can't say it's not entertaining. :laugh:
 

Darkmatter21

Active Member
MIA

Sadly Valve have already made it clear that they have no intention of showcasing the Steambox at this year's event. The one piece of hardware capable of making Sony and Microsoft look over their shoulders with fear, should they choose to lock people into a restrictive games market of their own making, will be a little while longer in gestation. Considering numerous reports claim it could launch literally at any time, non attendance is disappointing.

I love it when people seem to completely forget that Microsoft and sony consoles are going to be exactly the same as the steam business model, you have an account, you add CD keys.

How often is your internet down? I can't remember the last time i lost my internet at home, I can understand if you live in a very rural location in america, but i can't imagine there is many places left in england with internet that goes down for over 24hours at at time.

I personally don't feel that the console manufacturers have done anything to harm me as a normal consumer. The DRM is not intrusive, i can buy a game from a shop and play it. So what i lose the small discount you get from buying a game used, games drop in price so quickly these days its not worth worrying about.

Its still much better than the PC market which has no standised system, you have to have origin, steam etc etc with different accounts for all of them, as well as stupid things like limited installs. The console market DRM is looking to be quite tame in comparison to what the big publishers on the PC front are forcing onto you.
 
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IvorB

Active Member
I love it when people seem to completely forget that Microsoft and sony consoles are going to be exactly the same as the steam business model, you have an account, you add CD keys.

How often is your internet down? I can't remember the last time i lost my internet at home, I can understand if you live in a very rural location in america, but i can't imagine there is many places left in england with internet that goes down for over 24hours at at time.

I personally don't feel that the console manufacturers have done anything to harm me as a normal consumer. The DRM is not intrusive, i can buy a game from a shop and play it. So what i lose the small discount you get from buying a game used, games drop in price so quickly these days its not worth worrying about.

Its still much better than the PC market which has no standised system, you have to have origin, steam etc etc with different accounts for all of them, as well as stupid things like limited installs. The console market DRM is looking to be quite tame in comparison to what the big publishers on the PC front are forcing onto you.

Well I'm guessing you're an Xbox fan. I love it that all you doom criers claiming it was inevitable that Sony would have similar need to eat your words now. I guess Internet prophets don't know squat after all. Sony is currently a very consumer-focused organisation and it shows. They've got my money. Any you know what? I won't sell my games or buy used. I'll continue to spend my money on brand new software because I want to. And my PS4 will probably be online connected the whole time. Microsoft can eat that.
 

Darkmatter21

Active Member
Well I'm guessing you're an Xbox fan. I love it that all you doom criers claiming it was inevitable that Sony would have similar need to eat your words now. I guess Internet prophets don't know squat after all. Sony is currently a very consumer-focused organisation and it shows. They've got my money. Any you know what? I won't sell my games or buy used. I'll continue to spend my money on brand new software because I want to. And my PS4 will probably be online connected the whole time. Microsoft can eat that.


Eat what words exactly? Speculation about sony following a similar used game policy as Microsoft? Makes no difference to me that they didn't. I have no problem with using the steam system which seems to be what Microsoft is adopting. I remember it got a similar reaction from the public when it was released but has since become a great hit.

I have owned every major console released over the last 15 years, I am a fan of the gaming industry, hence why I have no problem with going online, or spending money on new games.

Up to you where you spend your money, I will buy the console which offers me the games I want at the price point I want.
 
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IvorB

Active Member
I love it when people seem to completely forget that Microsoft and sony consoles are going to be exactly the same as the steam business model, you have an account, you add CD keys.

These words mainly. But the comment wasn't entirely directed at you. There were many, many people coming out of the woodwork saying everyone should just get over it. That Sony would do exactly the same as Microsoft and that there was nothing we could do about it. There advice was just to accept it.

I'm glad that you are happy to pick up a Xbox One when it's out. I hope it serves you well but it's definitely not for me. To be honest I have no idea why anyone would accept so many restrictions but obviously different people have different thresholds for this sort of thing.:)
 

Darkmatter21

Active Member
I'm glad that you are happy to pick up a Xbox One when it's out. I hope it serves you well but it's definitely not for me. To be honest I have no idea why anyone would accept so many restrictions but obviously different people have different thresholds for this sort of thing.:)


I won't be buying one at launch as I think they have priced it too high.
 

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