So it has been a very busy week in the world of video games, indeed THE busiest week of the year for video games. With the next-generation of consoles having been announced weeks before, this year’s E3 was about one thing… THE GAMES!

Sure, we also got some additional details on the upcoming consoles but for the most part, the games are what stole the show. From console specific exclusives, to multi-platform extravaganzas, we were shown what to expect in the next twelve months of gaming. We covered each Press Conference, live on our Twitter feed but now it is time to reflect on what are our own personal highlights of the 2013 Electronic Entertainment Expo.

Turner - 

E3 really began to get exciting for me, when ‘Project Spark’ was revealed on Xbox One. A title which promises to allow the player to create their own video games within the video game itself. The lack of a new ‘Viva Pinata’ made me slightly disappointed, but then I realised that ‘Project Spark’ could possibly be the next-gen sandbox game to fill that empty space. I can already see myself pouring as many hours into it, as I did with the original gardening sim from Rare.

My attention was once again engaged when a trailer, featuring a mysterious robed figure, began to play. I thought to myself “Halo?”, the music kicked in and I heard a brief hint to the ‘Halo 4′ theme. Despite having decided it was indeed ‘Halo 5′ (or at least a next-gen Halo title), that early on, as soon as the robe peeled back to reveal Master Chief’s hand, I gasped. As the Promethean beast emerged from the dusty planet surface, I knew. But when the Chief’s visor was revealed, I screamed with joy. As much as I anticipated it, confirmation was sweet indeed. It remains my second favourite moment of this year’s E3.

The top spot, of ‘Personal Best E3 Moment’ goes to the stage demo of ‘Battlefield 4′ multiplayer. I watched the beginning hoping that those sky scrapers were affected by the new Frostbite 3 engine.  Ever since ‘Black’ on PlayStation 2 opened the first-person-shooter to a destructible environment mechanic, I have wanted the player to have the ability to level whole cities. As soon as that massive skyscraper groaned and began to tilt, under the strain of enemy fire, I knew that my first-person-shooter had finally arrived. The player jumped from the weakened structure, parachuted down and looked back as the tower fell with convincing physics. Needless to say, I wore a big smile,

If I had to have a least favourite moment of E3, it would be slew of negative comments against a console that has not even yet been released or given the chance to prove it’s mettle. I am of course referring to Xbox One. It felt as though the entire internet was out to hate the latest console from Microsoft. As a person who sees myself having a more enjoyable gaming experience with Xbox One, I was made to feel like a ‘non-gamer’. I will save my reasons for my choice of Xbox One for our upcoming ‘PS4 vs Xbox One’ article but what I will say is that, personally speaking, I prefer the exclusives coming to Xbox One and care little for the exclusives PlayStation 4 has to offer. As a person who is in fact not a ‘non-gamer’, I believe that it’s the games that matter. But we will get to the console debate, in good time.

Woody - 

As Turner has already said this E3 promised to be BIG, and personally I don’t think it disappointed. We had two of the heavy weights going tow-to-tow on their new consoles, (check out our PS4 vs XBone)  and a plethora of game titles and film releases. The shear enormity of launches made some of the team here lose their minds requiring us to pull out the really big brown paper bag and cattle prod in extreme cases.  For me the show stoppers were Final Fantasty XIII and The Division.

Ubisoft have always put in a good shin-dig at these affairs and they didn’t disappoint showing off the new title: Tom Clancy’s, The Division. The gameplay video was fantastic show casing a rich environment, cutting edge graphics and a deep story thanks to pen hand of Mr Clancy. Fast forwarding the gameplay trailer had me giggling like a school boy that had just placed a pin on the teacher’s chair.

And then there was the Square-Enix reveal. Now I have to say I have been a strong advocate of the Final Fantasy franchise for many years, but like many long standing franchises like Star Wars, Resident Evil, I found myself justifying weak releases and weaker storylines. So I wasn’t really focused on the release of Final Fantasy XIII, but boy did the reveal trailer grab my attention!!!!

I can remember seeing tiny bits of this game over the past six years. The latest showing was about two years ago at Tokyo Game Show. It looked slow, under developed and about five years behind the curve. Well it seems someone decided to push Verses XIII to the PS4 platform and what a great decision. The gameplay looks fantastic the story intriguing and what we can only hope is Square-Enix’s return back to form.

Aaron-

Everyone knew that E3 was going to be pretty spectacular this year; new consoles, means new and exciting next gen experiences and I was not disappointed.

So what got me excited the most? Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. The beauty about the Metal Gear series is how it has always evolved, each game in the saga feels and plays completely differently and The Phantom Pain looks no different. Whatever your opinion on the game may be, you cannot deny how gorgeous it looks, thanks to the new Fox engine, from every other next gen game I have seen, this is the one that truly looks next gen. The vast landscapes look; crisp, beautiful and filled with the smallest of details, Snake is brimming with detail and the animations of his character make him almost photo realistic. More importantly though the gameplay looks phenomenal, for the first time in the series Metal Gear Solid V will take place in an open world, which appears to add endless amount of options for different play styles. In short this has the potential to be the best stealth game ever created.

The announcement of Star Wars Battlefront has got me very excited. I am not a huge Star Wars fan but I adore the original Battlefront. It wasn’t tied with a story line, it was just good, simple fast paced action and you could play with a range of characters and styles, similar to what you have now in Battlefield.  Speaking of Battlefield, having DICE develop the new Battlefront is the perfect fit. Imagine 64 players competing against each other on Hoth, relieving the opening moments of Empire Strikes Back…Bliss.

Finally the amount of support that Indie developers are gaining from Sony is staggering and has really got me excited for future projects. As a result of having no restrictions (indie developers can publish titles themselves), games like Day Z are now being ported over to the PS4. It’s an exciting prospect and I am excited to see fresh new ideas from small developers made possible because of Sony.

Vicki -

What an E3! It’s easy for me to say right now: I know which console I’m getting.
The PS4 is truly going to take gaming to the next level, with exciting exclusive titles like inFAMOUS: Second Son, Knack and The Order: 1886. Multi-platform titles also add to the mix of interesting titles, such as Watch Dogs and Destiny that are also set to blow everyone away.

Sony’s dedication and commitment to their consumer base was demonstrated with their clear blow to Microsoft when they described how they support used games and trade-ins, as well as not requiring an online check-in every 24 hours. And with the release of the PS4 arriving in just a few short months, they still managed to completely whet my PS3 appetite with teasers of new titles coming this autumn - Batman: Arkham OriginsMurdered: Soul Suspect, Rain and, the one I’m most excited for: Beyond: Two Souls. Having been a big fan of Heavy Rain, the cinematic style looks immensely exciting – especially in the new war zone clip we were treated to.

I was equally impressed with their commitment to the indie industry, and Sony showcased some real talent – the most intriguing for me being the [REC]-like digital camera horror Outlast. I absolutely can’t wait to try it out.

The most surprising and engaging trailer for me was for Final Fantasy XV – seemingly taking on more of an action stance and hopefully will be a refreshing entry into an increasingly stagnant yet beloved franchise. Square Enix continued to impress me with the prospect of a new Kingdom Hearts sequel in Kingdom Hearts III – since Disney has had its fingers in many different pies (such as Lucasfilm, Marvel and potentially Studio Ghibli) since Kingdom Hearts II, one cannot help but wonder about the new possibilities for Sora’s adventures.

As a Resident Evil buff, and having noticed (as many of us have) the gradual transition in the series from true survival horror to action-based cinematic adventures, I cannot suppress my excitement for The Evil Within (known in Japan as Psychobreak). The demo shown brings back all that was precious to me about Resident Evil and demonstrates how real tension and scares should be generated in a video game – with slow-burning suspense, devilishly placed camera angles and relentless, grotesque monsters (not the glorified blobs on legs that Resident Evil has been producing of late).

With regards to Microsoft, I believe it’s more a case of we have to wait and see how the console plays. Whilst I’m more excited for the PS4 and whilst I’m disappointed in Microsoft and the XBox One (having to be online once every 24 hours doesn’t seem fair to me, nor does the lack of support in used games or the overpricing) – I still have hopes for this console and I’m looking forward to trying it out.

The title that intrigued me most for XBox One – but has me somewhat torn – is Capcom’s Dead Rising 3. The engine looked immense – handling so many zombies on screen without the dreaded loading times – and the map looked vast. However it seems the title has a more serious tone to it, and I hope it hasn’t lost all its humour (please, Dead Rising, don’t make the Resident Evil mistake of taking yourself too seriously when you’re really just good ol’ goofy fun!). I hope to see many crazy bosses and characters that never fail to make me laugh! With the zombie genre becoming ever saturated, Dead Rising 3 needs to be something really special.

All I can say is – I can’t wait for Christmas!

John -

Wow! Just wow! What an E3 it has been from beginning to end! Full of exciting and long awaited announcements from all sides of the industry! And what could have been a better way to kick things off than for Microsoft to show some exclusive gameplay footage of easily my most anticipated sequel, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. I absolutely love that feeling of utter excitement as if I was 7 years old again waiting to unwrap what I hoped was a Nintendo 64 at Christmas (turned out it was in case you were interested)! Kojima manages to do this every time with his trailers for Metal Gear, and this was no different all the way from beginning to end. Along with the amazing looking new and improved Fox engine, MGS is set to not only go open world, but the typical MGS formula we know and love has been redefined, and by the looks of the trailer, this is going to open up a gigantic box of possibilities in terms of how we play. With what I’ve seen so far, I cannot wait to shut myself in my bedroom for a week to finish what I know will be another epic instalment in the series!

There were a lot of other announcements and trailers throughout Microsoft’s conference that I’d love to talk about, but if I did you’d be here until next E3, so I guess I’ll stick to my absolute best bits.

Though there are a lot of announcements during Microsoft’s conference I would like to talk about such as Project Spark, Titalfall and Ryse: Son of Rome (you’d be here until E3 2014 if I did), the highlight of this particular conference for me was the announcement of Capcom’s return to one of the best Zombie series around, the long awaited, Dead Rising 3! The first thing you instantly notice is NO MALL! Yep, Capcom have ventured into the outside world with this instalment. It also looks to have a more gritty, apocalyptic colour scheme, as they have also said goodbye to the bright, colourful look; which I think suits the new world just fine, and will certainly aid in immersing us into the game some more. But to reassure us a little that they haven’t moved too far from the familiar zombie fun house that is Dead Rising, they show us the new protagonist combining a sledge hammer with a circular saw to slice through some undead, which also helped sharpen the hype for the upcoming title!

Another major highlight out of all the conferences has to be during EA’s event, where DICE were on hand to liven the EA party with a 64 player-multiplayer demo of Battlefield 4! As a long time fan of the Battlefield series, and even having a custom built PC made for Battlefield 3, I can’t wait to start shopping for upgrades to make sure I can see the Skyscraper that fell during the E3 trailer come crumbling down in it’s full 1080p Ultra quality glory! If all that wasn’t enough, DICE left the stage with a piece of news that left me VERY happy, an announcement trailer made with in-game footage of Mirrors Edge 2! Unfortunately they didn’t leave much more than that in terms of details, and as for a release date, well Dice have stated through the game’s website that they don’t want to rush it and it’ll be ready when it’s ready, which is always good to hear!

*That video was no uploaded by myself. Credit to the guy that did.

As for Sony’s conference, you’ve probably already heard or read about the upper-cut they gave Microsoft in terms of their console’s price (£349 compared to Xbox One’s £429) and DRM related issues. The price is something that I personally am not too fussed about, however in terms of DRM, I hope it forces Microsoft to re-evaluate their stance on the matter. Although, one thing that has concerned me is though Sony have said they will not be imposing any restrictions on DRM, who’s to say that the publishers themselves will not? Only time will tell I guess. But Sony certainly win the beauty contest between the PS4 and Xbox One. They have done an amazing job at crafting a beautiful console with a neon blue strip and a ‘slanted’ shape that unlike the Xbox One, retains the ability to be positioned vertically. Back to the games however, Sony also surprised me with a few very well-received announcements such as Bungie’s Destiny, and the exclusivity of the Elder Scrolls Online beta. Square Enix were also on hand to announce Kingdom Hearts, and Final Fantasy Versus XIII becoming Final Fantasy XV! Though the trailer for FF:XV looked stunning, I just hope they are able to deliver with the gameplay after personally finding FF:XIII a disappointment.

However, after everything that happened, what surprised me the most about this years E3 is that the most exciting part and my overall highlight of it all wasn’t during Microsoft’s or Sony’s events; it was Ubisoft’s. I’ve always been a massive fan of Tom Clancy’s family of games such as Splinter Cell, Ghost Recon, and Rainbow Six, but now Ubisoft are almost ready to get me hooked on one more with another awesome looking addition to the family, The Division! Something about it just ticked all the right boxes. In case you haven’t yet heard about it, The Division is set to be a third-person open world RPG set in a post-apocalyptic Manhattan, except there are no zombies (shocked face!), it is instead based 3 weeks in to a global pandemic caused by infected bank notes that has almost wiped out humanity. The game, being built by Massive Entertainment, looks beautiful on their proprietary Snowdrop game engine, and is one of the few games announced at E3 that actually looks “next-gen” and doesn’t just look like a 360 or PS3 title. The co-operative play looks fantastic as the players in the trailer move slowly through a neighbourhood keeping in contact, looking for loot, before running into another group of players and tactically taking them out, and then looting the building. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend checking out the trailer/gameplay below, because this looks to be one hell of game!

Oh and a worthy mention definitely has to go to what I can only assume to be the one fan of Ubisoft’s announcement of Just Dance 2014! If you don’t know who I mean, check the video below and prepare to feel slightly.… awkward.

So that’s my (what was supposed to be) “short” E3 piece, can’t wait to see what’s in store for us at the Tokyo Game Show!

Well now you know what some of us at Throwing Digital Sheep thought about this year’s E3. Stay tuned for more news on the mentioned games and the console war itself. These are exciting times for gamers and our team is committed to keeping you all informed on new developments!

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