Last week we covered Apple's WWDC keynote, but there was another event going on at the same time - E3, perhaps the biggest gaming announcement venue of the year. Today, we have a look at the next-generation consoles announced there as well as five of the coolest games of the show.
Next-generation consoles: PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
The stars of the show were the two next-generation consoles: the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. These new consoles are long-awaited upgrades to the current generation PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, which were released almost eight years ago. The new generation brings a massive increase in graphic fidelity - of course - but there is a lot more going on here too. Both consoles feature an upgraded 3D camera, easy sharing of game footage, better multi-tasking (particularly for the Xbox One) and stronger media capabilities.
But while the consoles have similar capabilities, their stances on hot-button issues - topics like used games, offline play and game sharing - were wildly different. Microsoft's Xbox One attracted significant negative press for offering nebulous restrictions on all of the above, requiring gamers connect their consoles to the internet once a day even to play singleplayer games and making it harder to sell used games. Sony's PlayStation 4, on the other hand, was praised for keeping things exactly the same as they are now.
Pricing and availability
Another stone in Microsoft's shoe was the price of the Xbox One, which at £429 is significantly higher than the PlayStation 4 at £329. A big part of that is the Kinect 3D camera which comes bundled with each Xbox One; Sony's equivalent 3D camera is an optional £59 add-on. While the Xbox One has a definite release date - November 21st - the PlayStation 4 is merely "Holidays 2013".
A course reversed
Just yesterday, Microsoft bowed to public pressure and reversed almost all of their unpopular Xbox One policies - the mandatory daily checkin has been scrapped, as has any fees on used games. Sadly, there's a downside here, as the loss of the daily checkin will mean that Microsoft will no longer offer game sharing between up to 10 family members or allow gamers to access their disc-based games via friends' Xbox One consoles without needing to bring the disc. Without the daily check, these services would be too open to exploitation.
Even with these recent developments, Sony enjoys a small advantage in consumer opinion following E3 particularly given that lower price point.
Now that we've got the hoo-hah about the consoles covered, let's move onto the fun part - looking at the many awesome games that were announced! I don't think I've ever seen so many in one E3 - I guess that's what a new generation of consoles will do for you. Here are ten of my personal favourites.
5 awesome games shown at E3
Watch Dogs - hacking-centric open world
Watch Dogs is a cool mashup of Grand Theft Auto and Deus Ex. Like GTA, you'll be set loose in a sandbox city with opportunities to jack cars, perpetrate violence and explore both the singleplayer campaign and the game-world at large. Unlike GTA, the setting is an alternate-reality Chicago and the emphasis is much more on stealth, with the protagonist Aiden Pearce using his hacking skills to infiltrate ATMs, jam mobile phones and see from the vantage of security cameras while on the run.
Watch Dogs is in many ways the poster child of the next-generation revolution, and will be launching with the new consoles in late November. It'll also be coming to current generation consoles and PC.
Titanfall - high mobility multiplayer first person shooter
Where Watch Dogs offers a vision of the future of singleplayer open-world games, Titanfall is an evolution of competitive multiplayer first person shooters. Developed by Respawn Entertainment, a company founded by the makers of the immensely popular Call of Duty series, the game features asymmetric combat between giant walking mechs (titans) and soldiers on the ground (pilots). There's a much higher degree of mobility than you'd find today, with wall-running and jetpack-assisted double jumps for pilots and relatively agile titans. It also incorporates some single-player elements, including AI-controlled "popcorn" enemies that will allow lower-skilled players easy kills.
Titanfall is expected for PC, Xbox One and Xbox 360 in Q1 2014.
The Crew - group-based racing across the continental US
The Crew is a next-gen take on a racing game, with a heavy emphasis on group play. Players join their friends in crews, which work together to tackle cooperative missions or face off against rival crews. The arcade-style racing takes place across the continental United States, with the largest game world ever in a racing title - it takes 90 minutes, real-time, to drive coast-to-coast in the fastest cars in the game.
The Crew will be out in early 2014 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.
Destiny - cooperative sci-fi RPG shooter
Destiny is the first new game in a long time from Bungie, the makers of Halo. The game is set on a far-future Earth, where only a single city remains after a mysterious event shut down humanity's golden age. The game takes the form of a first person shooter in a sci-fi setting, like Halo, but with elements of RPGs (character classes, skills) and MMOs (boss battles with a larger-than-normal amount of players).
Destiny will be coming to next-generation and current-generation consoles next year. Bungie reportedly want to do a PC version, but haven't yet committed to doing one.
Tom Clancy's The Division - modern-day shooter MMO RPG
The game of the show for me was The Division, a game set in New York City during the collapse of the United States in the wake of a disease spread on bank notes. The game is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), but its third-person shooter mechanics and current-day setting distinguish it from others in the market. The game also features the most gorgeous graphics and an amazing holographic user interface.
The Division will be available next year on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, although there is a petition in support of a PC version.
So there you have it - an awesome E3 with a ton of cool games that I'm super excited to play, and if you're a gamer I'm sure you are as well. If you'd like, have a look at the full list of games shown at E3 and let me know what you're the most excited for!