E3: What video games to expect for the new-gen consoles
- 8 June 2014
- From the section Technology
Prepare for an onslaught of high-definition hack-and-slash, shoot-em-up, treasure hunting, sci-fi, role-playing, super-heroic, time-bending, social-racing mayhem.
If last year's E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo was all about new hardware, this year's event is focused on the games themselves.
It's a chance for developers to show off what they can do now they've had more time with the "new-gen" consoles, and to stimulate chatter about their often huge-budget releases.
"E3 is much more than a convention, it's a celebration of all things gaming - a place where the industry comes together to really show its stuff", Peter Moore, chief operating officer of EA - one of the biggest publishers - tells the BBC.
"The biggest games, the biggest stage, an opportunity to talk about what's coming now and in the future, and more so than ever to put the games in the hands of players."
The Los Angeles event isn't open to the public, but it does give the media the opportunity to get hands-on with forthcoming titles and to quiz their developers.
Consumers can, however, take part by watching live streams of the various announcements via the companies' own websites and the gaming service Twitch.
Games creator's picks:
One of the big surprises of the early new-gen games has been Wolfenstein: The New Order. In particular, the Nazi-shooter's alternate-history storyline has been praised for helping revitalise the brand.
The BBC asked the man responsible, Sweden-based narrative designer Tommy Tordsson Bjork, for the games he most anticipates at E3:
1. Mirror's Edge 2
"The idea of playing [female protagonist] Faith again, and leaping from building to building is just really exciting. I know the lead designer on this project and he's a very talented and smart guy, so I'm sure this will be nothing short of excellent."
2. The Evil Within
"What I've played feels sort of like a great mix of the best of Silent Hill and Resident Evil. It feels like we've been starved of triple-A horror titles recently, so I think this is very timely."
3. Quantum Break
"I don't know that much about it beyond the fact that you can use time-manipulation powers. But I've always liked Remedy Entertainment studio ever since playing the first Max Payne game."
4. Alien: Isolation
"Not only do we get a game that invokes the horror of the first Aliens movie - my favourite of the series - but also I really like the analogue tech 1970's-vision-of-the-future atmosphere that they are going for."
5. Mad Max
"I remember watching Mad Max as a kid, which I probably wasn't supposed to do. It was a precursor for my fascination with science-fiction and dystopian visions, so I'm excited to see what they've done with it."
6. Elegy for a Dead World
"It's an indie game where the player-explorer observes a dead world and has to write down what he observes in a journal and send it back to his home world. It's inspired by British romantic poets like Shelley and Byron, and that's something that makes it appealing to me."
Sony was the undisputed victor at the last E3 - its PlayStation 4 beating the Xbox One on both price and positive buzz as Microsoft struggled with criticism about its desire to restrict second-hand sales, a position it later abandoned.
Microsoft aims to head off another backlash by announcing it will start selling the XBox One without its Kinect voice/vision sensor.
In addition, it promises a software update will unlock extra grunt for its graphics chip when the Kinect is not in use, addressing the fact that several Xbox One games have had lower frame rates and resolutions than their PS4 equivalents.
"Microsoft's decision to aggressively reposition Xbox One as a gamers' machine and to remove the need to buy Kinect at this early stage will have undoubtedly taken Sony by surprise and is likely to have resulted in some change in emphasis for Sony's E3 press event," says Piers Harding-Rolls, a games industry analyst at the IHS Technology consultancy.
"Now that the price differential is less of an issue, games exclusives and value-added services are expected to be the key strategic battle between the two consoles."
We already know some, but not all, of the exclusives to be showcased.
Microsoft is promising more details about Halo 5 - the latest in its epic alien-battling series - at the show, although it's not clear if it will show anything more than a pre-rendered tease.
It should, however, allow attendees to try out Sunset Overdrive -a brightly coloured title in which players slide along rails blowing up mutants - and Quantum Break - a game in which the characters control time.
Sony will offer up its multiplayer racing title Driveclub, and Victorian London-set monster hunting shooter The Order: 1886.
It is also expected to disclose details about a new game in its hit Uncharted third-person action series, and to show off its forthcoming Project Morpheus virtual reality headset.
However, hopes that the firm would reveal what Britain's Media Molecule studio has been working on as a follow-up to its quirky Little Big Planet games appear to have been dashed by a tweet from the developer.
And don't forget Nintendo.
The Wii U may have been abandoned by some third-party publishers, but Nintendo has long developed many of its platforms' most desired games.
At E3 it will stage a tournament to promote a title likely to boost sales of the struggling console: Super Smash Bros 4.
As well allowing attendees to try the game - which pits characters from various other games against each other - it should also explain how special add-on toys will unlock extra content, in its attempt to match Activision's success with its Skylanders characters.
"Super Smash Bros won't turn around Nintendo's fortunes, but it will get the Wii U up off the mat and encourage people who enjoyed previous versions of the game to buy the console," says Lewis Ward a games analyst at research firm IDC.
Nintendo also promises to reveals details about a Wii U Legends of Zelda game.
Of the cross-platform titles, Destiny is arguably the most anticipated.
Publisher Activision has already boasted that it expects the post-apocalyptic game, set 700 years in the future, to become the "best-selling new video game IP [intellectual property] in history".
But developer Bungie has still to prove Destiny will be an evolutionary leap forward in the same manner the studio's original Halo game influenced others.
It does, however, have the advantage of going on sale in September to what at this point appears to be pretty barren release schedule.
Many other big budget games - known in the in the industry as triple-A titles - have been delayed after their developers realised they needed more time than expected to build the super-detailed worlds that new-gen consoles allow.
Rocksteady Studio's third Batman game, Arkham Knight; Ubisoft's open-world Tom Clancy's The Division; Avalanche Studio's car-combat-themed Mad Max; and CD Projekt Red's role-player Witcher 3 are just some of the games postponed from 2014 to 2015.
That does, however, present the "indies" an opportunity.
"For these smaller teams who can make things faster and develop things cheaper, there's loads of little gaps in the market that they can quickly jump into," explains Christopher Dring, editor of the trade magazine MCV.
"This summer there's loads of opportunities. There will be loads of gamers with little to play once they've finished Watch Dogs, who'll want something different."
Sony devoted a sizeable section of its press conference last year to indie games, and Microsoft is already signalling its interest this time round by staging an indie showcase ahead of its presentation on Monday.
Most console gamers are still on last-gen hardware. E3 offers the firms involved a chance to convince them that the new kit, and its more expensive games, are worth the investment.
And if you're still not impressed by the time E3 ends on Thursday?
"The one thing I'd say to the players out there: we're just getting started," says EA's Peter Moore.
"We're just scratching the surface of what's possible with the new consoles - the systems, and the games we deliver, will only get better as we unlock new capabilities."