E3 2016: Watch Nintendo’s press event and catch up on Sony, Microsoft and Ubisoft
E3 2016: VR
2016 is going to be a big year for virtual reality, with the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR beginning to ship in March, April and October respectively. Virtual reality loomed large at E3 2015, but expect it to take on a different tone in 2016, with the hardware available (or soon-to-be available) to the general public.
For Oculus – who will definitely be in attendance that means a focus on games. Oculus recently released a list of 30 launch titles, including ADR1FT, Elite: Dangerous, and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. Intriguingly, Oculus also included a handful of games without a specific launch date, including Rock Band VR and VR Sports. These may factor into Oculus’ E3 2016 lineup, as well as some as-yet-unannounced titles.
HTC Vive hasn’t yet confirmed its attendance, but it’s probable that the high-end VR headset will at least have a booth on the show floor. As for Sony, E3 2016 will be a big moment for PlayStation VR: by launching later than its competitors, the company can gauge what goes down well in the opening few months of Oculus’ and HTC’s rollouts. There will be games, but there’s also the potential for Sony to tap into its film wing and launch some form of VR movie service.
E3 2016: Games
Mass Effect: Andromeda will certainly be shown at the EA conference; Ubisoft will probably show something of the next in the Assassin’s Creed series; and there’s likely to be news about Battlefield 1, Kingdom Hearts III and Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.
Nintendo has announced that the upcoming Legend of Zelda game will be a cross-platform title for both the NX and the Wii U, although only the latter version will be on show at E3 2016. previously the company has planned to show only this game, but it has now said it’ll showcase new Pokémon games (Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon) and a number of other releases such as Dragon Quest VII and Monster Hunter Generations.
There are murmurs that Bethesda may use its pre-E3 briefing to reveal an as-yet-untitled Elder Scrolls 6. Bethesda has previously stated it would only come to E3 with big announcements, and it’s been five years since Skyrim (the same time gap as between Oblivion and Skyrim). We’d say that, with Fallout 4 only just receiving DLC, it’s a little too soon for Bethesda to announce Elder Scrolls 6. More likely is a focus on Dishonored 2. A new Elder Scrolls game would be great, though, so fingers crossed.
(Above: Dishonored 2)
In an email detailing Ubisoft’s plans for E3 2016, the company has said it plans to “present highly anticipated titles such as Watch Dogs 2, For Honor, and Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands.” There’s also a few unknowns on the horizon, as Ubisoft said it will “unveil some surprises”.
The official confirmation comes in the wake of a leak by YouTube’s The Rad Brad, who broadcast a “gift box” sent by Ubisoft, including Watch Dogs 2 Ray Bans. The game was also announced during the company’s earnings call, so the official news looks to be an attempt by Ubisoft’s PR to wrest control of a cat that’s already escaped from its bag.
During the earnings call, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said the next Watch Dogs game would have a “new tone”, although he didn’t specify exactly what that would entail.
Watch Dogs 2 now has a flashy announcement trailer, with Ubisoft showcasing the sequel’s protagonist and new San Francisco setting.
Players in Watch Dogs 2 will take the role of Marcus Holloway, a member of the fictional hacking group Dedsec, who’s been accused of a crime he didn’t commit (à la The A Team). The cinematic trailer gives a feel for tech-dominated world of San Francisco, while the announcement video gives more insight into the development process behind the game.
Described by Ubisoft as “the Wild West of technology”, San Francisco is an obvious choice for a game centred around hijacking networks that feed into everything from cars to phones. As well as tools for hacking, Holloway will have access to 3D printed guns, quadcopter drones and homemade explosives. There will also be more of a focus on parkour than in the first Watch Dogs.
E3 2016 kicks off this weekend, and we will undoubtedly see more of Watch Dogs 2 through the week.
Other sequels thought to appear at E3 2016 include Red Dead 3 and Bungie’s “next adventure” in Destiny – now known to be a new DLC expansion called “Rise of Iron”
Elsewhere, there are rumours of a Skyrim remaster. Industry insider and frequent source of leaks, Shinobi602, said on the Bethesda-dedicated H.A.M Radio podcast that we should expect a remastered release from developer Bethesda. German gaming site, Gamepro, then made the prediction that the game in question would be Skyrim. This has since been corroborated on NeoGAF by industry insider Enter the Dragon Punch, who claims the remaster would encompass all the DLCs, improved visuals and mod support.
If Bethesda were indeed planning a remaster, Skyrim would be the clearest contender. It sold extremely well on initial release, and would require relatively little in the way of improvements to bring it up to current-gen standards. While a remaster of fan-favourite The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind would cause a fair share of excited squealing, rebuilding it would be a massive undertaking. It wouldn’t be a simple case of improving textures – many of the game’s systems would need to be fundamentally rejigged to fit the tastes of a post-Skyrim audience.
Regardless, we don’t have long to wait before we find out if there’s any truth to the mater. Bethesda’s press conference takes place on 12 June, 7pm PST/3am BST
E3 2016: A changing E3
E3 is opening its doors to the public for the first time in the gaming expo’s history, with a 3-day gathering to go alongside E3 2016 called E3 Live.
While E3 has for the past few years been an industry-only event, the new gathering is open to general members of the public and will take place close to the LA Convention Centre. It will include hands-on games and hardware, live music, merchandise and presentations by “industry personalities”.
The new event is free to attend, but will require a ticket. You can head over to the E3 Live website for more details on registering interest.
The creation of E3 Live hints at the future direction of the expo. Indeed, E3 2016 could mark a tide change for the annual games show. This year, major publishers Activision and EA won’t be part of the main fray, choosing instead to tout their wares at separate, public-focused briefings. They join a growing number of publishers that are opting for smaller, independent showcases over the clatter of booths in the LA Convention Center.
Does the lack of EA and Activision signal E3’s dwindling importance? Or does it simply reflect the realities of a 21st-century conference? When the internet allows companies to live-stream announcements, is there no longer an impetus to fight for industry attention in a crowded hall?
Opening doors to the public, even in a portioned-off format, suggests that E3 is exploring new ways to frame itself. Gamescom, the world’s largest gaming event, is open to the public, as are smaller events such as EGX and EGX Rezzed in the UK.
E3’s organiser, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), has defended the show. “E3 is beyond relevant, it is essential and critical to the game and entertainment industry calendar,” the ESA’s Rich Taylor told MCV. “It changes, it has never been a stagnant show and this year is no different.”
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