E3 2016: My Favorite Surprises and Announcements

Just like last year, the week before E3 was rife with leaks, rumors, and reveals, putting into doubt anything would be saved for the show. Thankfully that wasn’t the case as the show was still a rocking good time with a ton of reveals and gameplay for things we’ve never seen before. As usual there was a ton to take in and I’m pretty sure I haven’t experienced everything that was shown off.

E3 2016 logo

As usual, I was able to take Monday off as that’s the busy day for press conferences.  Thankfully, many of them this year had a number of announcements and games that somehow managed to avoid detection. As such, I’ve picked some of the cooler news and games which were announced earlier this week and compiled them into a handy list.

Here are some of my favorite announcements and surprises this past week in no particular order. Click the jump for more:

1. Microsoft Goes For Hardware Gold.
Those cheeky folks at Microsoft did a lot to downplay potential hardware announcements leading up to the show, but dropped not one but two big announcements during their press conference. The first is that a slim version of the Xbox One is coming later this year, called Xbox One S. The white console is 40% smaller than the current Xbox One, has the power supply integrated right into the console, has 2TB of hard drive space, features high dynamic range technology, and for those that can utilize it, 4K resolution.

The second major announcement came at the end of the show and revealed what many people didn’t expect to see: Project Scorpio. Essentially, this console is being developed in conjunction with other developers. Microsoft is anticipating this to be 4 and a half times as powerful as the current Xbox One system and has 6 teraflops of computing power. For comparison, the current model only has 1.3 teraflops, so you can see how much more power we’re working with. The nitty gritty details such as release date and price were not revealed, but considering the high specs already being mentioned, I would expect a premium price on this console.

2. Nintendo Pulls the Lid Off of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
We knew this was coming long in advance, as Nintendo didn’t hide the fact that they’d pretty much be devoting E3 2016 to Zelda. One of the biggest reveals was the subtitle called Breath of the Wild. The name is very accurate as this Zelda feels more in line with traditional RPGs and massive open world games like Skyrim. Not only is the world massive, Link can now climb just about anything thanks to a stamina meter, has to cook food to regain health, weapons degrade and break the more they are used, and Link can forage for supplies like wood and apples to his hearts content. The visual art style is also breath taking thanks to bright colors, and almost a painting type of quality to it.

Oh yeah, Link also has a dedicated jump button as well. It’s such a simple thing, yet the series has never had this before. Crazy!

legend of zelda breath of the wild

3. Dishonored 2 Deep Dive
Considering that Fallout 4 launched last year, many expected Dishonored 2 to be the highlight of Bethesda’s E3 show and that’s exactly what happened. Dishonored got the most stage time, and used it well. Creative Director Harvey Smith came out to reveal gameplay for the first time, letting fans see the new Void Engine at work and getting a good sense of what Emily Kaldwin bring to the table. Many of her new powers like Domino, Mesmerize, and Shadow Walk were featured, giving her a much different look than Corvo. Gameplay looked familiar for fans of the first game, though the island of Karnaca is a much more interesting looking place, filled with sandstorms that change encounters, and there was even an interesting mechanic that let Emily warp through a timeline while exploring an abandoned old house. The segment ended with a brand new gameplay trailer which hinted at some surprising twists and turns.

4. Titanfall 2
I think we all knew it was coming but for me at least, Respawn surprised me by how robust this new game appears to be. Multiplayer continues the fast paced shooting and parkour style moves from the first game, but players are given way more options this time around. Six new titan classes, a grappling hook, new gadgets, expanded customization, and free DLC. I’m already on board with this. The big change however is the fact that the team has fixed the biggest flaw from the first game. A single player campaign is on the way and based on the trailer footage, the studio has tapped into that creative energy which helped create some of the most memorable campaign scenes from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Modern Warfare 2.

titanfall 2 cooper and BT

5. Ubisoft Reveals Steep
Ubisoft is known for their “One More Thing” moments, where they drop a major surprise on the audience by announcing a game right at the end of their show. This year was no exception, though what they showed off was pretty surprising. Instead of being a game like Far Cry or a Clancy game, Ubisoft showed off Steep, a game centered around skiing and snowboarding. The online focused, extreme sports title showed a vast open world, letting players explore the Alps. From what we saw in the trailer, players will be able to ski, snowboard, paraglide, and wingsuit around the mountain, alternating as they see fit. Ubisoft has said that player expression and exploration is really important, but overall I’m not 100% on how this thing plays outside of setting various times for specific runs? Is that enough to sustain an audience for long periods? It does look interesting however and if it plays more on the arcade style like SSX rather than a sim then I’m interested.

6. God of War Gets Emotional
Longtime fans know that God of War is known for visceral, fast paced combat, brutal god killing, and rage. With rumors swirling that a new God of War would be shown, many were not ready for the fact that not only is Kratos returning, but he has changed. Here we see an older and bearded Kratos, clearly in a Norse inspired land, teaching what appears to be his son about hunting and surviving. While combat appears to be fast paced as expected, the brunt of the demo showed the sometimes strained interaction between Kratos and his son. It gave off a Last of Us vibe almost, something really unheard of in this series.

What struck me about this demo is that we’re seeing the humanity in Kratos, who is clearly trying to change his ways, and strip away the anger he has harbored for so long. It has been said that Kratos is trying to teach his son how to be a god, while his son is teaching Kratos how to be human. It’s an interesting twist on the familiar formula and I’m really intrigued to see what comes from it.

7. Sony Exclusive Spider-Man
This one blew me away. Again, rumors indicated that Sony was working on a new SPider-Man game, only the inFAMOUS devs at Sucker Punch were hard at work on the title. Folks got that half right, as Sony is working on a PS4 Spider-Man game, but it’s Insomniac who it in charge. Given the fact that they released the excellent Sunset Overdrive just a couple years ago which featured unbelievable open world traversal, I’m over the moon excited to see what they can come up with for Spider-Man. The debut trailer already looks fantastic, so I can’t wait to see more on this one.

8. The Lack of Red Dead
Leading up to the show rumors starting popping up all over the place about the Red Dead series. I heard everything from a Remastered version of Red Dead Redemption to an outright new game. Then Take Two announced that they’d be at E3 “in a big way” which pretty much confirmed everyone’s theory that Red Dead would be there.

Only, it wasn’t.

Surprisingly, E3 was devoid of anything John Marston or Red Dead related. With the odd way in which Sony chose to end their press conference, many speculated that the new game would have been revealed there, but was quickly cut from the show due to a scene in the trailer that showed a character gunning down NPCs in a bar. Given the events that transpired just a couple days before, there was no way Sony wanted to potentially cross a line, so it cut the footage and moved the Days Gone gameplay to the end of the show…even though the debut trailer was still in the front. Whether or not any of this is true is probably something we’ll never hear about. One thing is for sure though: Red Dead fans will need to continue to be patient.

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6 Responses to E3 2016: My Favorite Surprises and Announcements

  1. C. T. Murphy says:

    Was Take Two at E3 at all? This post only just now reminded me that they exist …

    • I guess they were but not for the game everyone thought they would be. From what I heard, they had a pretty big and impressive booth set up for Mafia III, so all of the pre-E3 hype was for that game I guess, not a potential Red Dead reveal.

      Ah well, time to keep waiting.

  2. Hatm0nster says:

    I think the sheer amount of DisHonored 2 was my favorite part of E3 this year. They showed so much more than I thought they would, and the game is looking excellent!

    Also, still no Beyond Good and Evil 2. Ubisoft did confirm that it’s “still coming”, but they’ve been saying that for 8 years though. Someday, perhaps…

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