Electronic bonanza: Unusually strong E3 showcases titles to make hardcore gamers salivate
By BRIAN BOWERS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 23, 2015
A nuclear blast blew away the competition at the Electronic Entertainment Expo earlier this month.
The video game industry's premiere showcase offered one of the best lineups ever, with developers hitting their stride in producing games for the powerful generation of consoles that launched a year and a half ago. There were plenty of new games in venerable series, such as "Halo," "Uncharted, "Gears of War" and "Call of Duty." There were impressive reboots of "Star Wars: Battlefront" and "Guitar Hero." And there was a cool new medieval fighting game called "For Honor." But the most impressive announcement was for Bethesda Softwork's "Fallout 4."
The "Fallout" series lets the gamer wander a huge open world 200 years after a global nuclear war. The land is beset by ravenous mutant monsters, zombie-like ghouls and ruthless human raiders. The game is very popular because the world is incredibly well designed, the gameplay is addictive and the story and quests are enthralling. Any tidbit of news about the game is greeted with enthusiasm.
The game's very existence was confirmed only about a week earlier so anticipation was high at Bethsoft's first-ever E3 media event on June 14 in Los Angeles. The lavish graphics and innovations in gameplay - such as the ability to build your own settlement of survivors and a more robust crafting system - were crowd-pleasers. But the audience went wild when head developer Todd Howard announced that the game would actually be available Nov. 10. It was a stunning move in an industry where a game can be highlight for three years in a row at E3 and still be almost a year off - Ubisoft's "Tom Clancy's The Division" is the most recent offender in this area.
In the console wars, Xbox One came out on top this time around. It presented the most impressive lineup of exclusive titles, but that's been routine for the last couple of years. What gave Microsoft's console the edge over Sony's PlayStation 4 - and Nintendo's nearly forgotten Wii U - was the announcement that the catalog of games for the old Xbox 360 will be playable on Xbox One. If you bought a game for the 360, you will be able to play it on the new console free of charge. After the "Fallout" announcement, this probably drew the biggest cheer at E3's press events.
But there were plenty of great titles to applaud this year. Here's a list of some of the most promising that were announced or highlighted. Most are available on the two big consoles and personal computers.
"Assassin's Creed: Syndicate" - Ubisoft | The battle between the Assassin's and Templars moves to Victorian London as a brother and sister struggle to free the city's gritty streets from the oppressive control of the Templars. Due Oct. 23.
"Battleborn" - 2K Games | A motley collection of warriors gather to defend the last burning star in the universe in the off-beat sci-fi shooter. The developers at Gearbox, which also created "Borderlands," have combine a wide variety of genres and added a good dose of humor to a game that offers a cooperative campaign and multiplayer competition. Due this winter.
"Call of Duty: Black Ops III" - Activision | You play as a cybernetic solder in a setting 50 years in the future. You can instantly see and analyze threats and opportunities, and perform superhuman feats of skill and strength. It's sort of like "Call of Duty" combined with "Prototype" - or like "Titanfall" without the giant robots. The game play is very fluid and satisfying. Due this fall.
"Dishonored 2" - Bethesda Softworks | The stealthy operative Corvo teams with Emily Kaldwin, the daughter of his former empress, to fight back another threat to their native land. Once again, you can play the way you like, bringing peace to the land or wreaking bloody vengeance. Release date was not announced.
"Guitar Hero Live" - Activision | A more realistic guitar simulation and some interesting new game options make this reboots a contender - or at least the most interesting rhythm game in about five or six years. Due this fall.
"For Honor" - Ubisoft | Developers let E3 attendees get their hands and a very impressive four-on-four combat demo that featured medieval knights. Eventually, gamers will be able to step on to the battlefield as knights, vikings and samurai in a game that relies on realistic physics, tactics and martial prowess rather than simple button-mashing. Release date was not announced.
"Halo 5: Guardians" - 343 Industries | Master Chief's adventure build from the ground-up for the Xbox One promise four-player co-operative play, 24-player competitive matches and a story that looks like an intriguing blend of deception and duplicity. Exclusive to the Xbox One and PC. Due Oct. 27.
"Horizon: Zero Dawn" - Guerrilla Games | In this post-apocalyptic tale, you play as a young woman equipped with stone-age weapons in a battle against mechanical beasts. The settings are lush and the action looks intense. Exclusive to the PS4. Release date unknown.
"Just Cause 3" - Square Enix | Rice Rodriguez's latest effort to free a beleaguered land constituted the ideal game for those who revel in wild shenanigans and unbridled destruction. Sometimes you destroy a government communications tower as part of a just cause. Sometimes you do it just 'cause. Either is fine in this game. Due this winter.
"Rise of the Tomb Raider" - Crystal Dynamics | Lara Croft returns to search for ancient treasures in dangerous locations. The series was rebooted with a younger, though deeper, Lara a couple of years ago and this game seems to be following the same thrilling trail blazed by that game. Exclusive to the Xbox and PC. Due Nov. 10.
"Star Wars: Battlefront" - Electronic Arts | Dice was able to bring more than a decade of digital refinements to the reboot of this cherished classic. The same old fun was evident in the hands-on demo that pitted the rebel alliance against the forces of the evil empire. However, new technology made the gameplay smoother, delivered more combat options and boosted the graphics to a level unimaginable in the old PS2 version of the game. Due Nov. 17.
"Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege" - Ubisoft | A wide variety of combat options, tactical player vs. player showdowns and the popular terrorist hunt mode are likely to make this one of the best shooters arriving this fall. Due Oct. 13.
"Tom Clancy's The Division" - Ubisoft | Secret operatives try to reclaim an infected city from chaos in this team-based shooter. Although it's hard to get too excited about a game that's being pushed for a third consecutive year, it does seem to offer some impressive gameplay in an incredibly realistic setting. Due in March.
"Uncharted 4: A Thief's End" - Naughty Dog | Nathan Drake returns for more gun battles and treasure hunting in exotic locations. The "Uncharted" stories are always top-notch and the action is thrilling so any new entry is a cause for gamer joy. Exclusive to the PS4. Due in 2016.
"XCOM 2" - 2K Games | Alien forces have conquered Earth and it's your job to lead the XCOM team in a fight for freedom. New units as well the new scenario promise to make this a fresh follow-up to the popular squad-based tactical game. Exclusive to PC. Due Nov. 10.