The biggest gaming and hardware news from E3 2016
The Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3 as it’s better known, has come and gone. The much-anticipated E3 was greeted with a lot of excitement as always, and it didn’t disappoint either. It gave us a lot of super cool games and consoles to look forward to in 2016 and 2017. Here are some of the highlights from this year’s Los Angeles-based event:
Microsoft’s Xbox One S and Project Scorpio
Microsoft has wowed gamers with the announcement of the Xbox One S (or Slim). It is set to be about 40% smaller than the Xbox One with a 2 terabyte hard drive and 4K support. The wireless controller that comes with it has also been redesigned for a sleeker look and feel. The Xbox One S is set to be released in August of this year. The pricing will vary based on hard-drive size.
Alongside the Xbox One S, Microsoft also announced Project Scorpio, a competitor for Sony’s high-end Neo console. The Project Scorpio console will run at a performance speed of six teraflops, have support for 4K gaming and high fidelity VR. This console will allow gamers to play older Xbox games on new consoles and vice versa.
Microsoft also announced their Play Anywhere programme. This initiative means that with any game you will receive both the Windows 10 and Xbox versions so no need to buy two copies of the same game anymore. You will be able to start a game on your PC and continue it on Xbox or vice versa. One downside is that upcoming games will have to be designed to work on both, which isn’t always the case now.
Sony’s releases games galore with a splash of VR
As is the case each year, Sony was a hit as it catered directly to the gaming community and its thirst for new gaming experiences:
• PlayStation VR was given an official release date of 13 October 2016 and it will have 50 launch titles. These game titles include Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, Star Wars Battlefront: X-Wing VR Mission, Final Fantasy XV, and Batman Arkham VR. It also has PlayStation VR World that includes a selection of mini games.
• Hideo Kojima, creator of Metal Gear Solid, debuted his new game called Death Stranding. The trailer stars Norman Rheedus of hit TV show The Walking Dead. The trailer didn’t give much away, if anything, so we’ll have to wait and see what Kojima has up his sleeve.
• The Last Guardian has been a long time coming. Development of this game already started in 2007. It was formally announced at E3 2009 and set for PS3 release in 2011. However, many delays and hardware difficulties as well as exchanging development companies from Team Ico to genDESIGN caused the released to be postponed. Finally, at this year’s E3, it was announced that the Last Guardian will be released on 25 October 2016. The story revolves around a young boy trying to escape with the help of a giant hybrid cat-eagle creature after he was kidnapped for mysterious reasons.
• Trailers were plentiful at this year’s Sony event and included God of War, Spider-Man, Days Gone and Detroit: Become Human, to name but a few.
Games aside, Sony is also busy with an upgraded, high-end PlayStation called PlayStation 4 Neo, but not much is known about it as of yet. The only thing we do know is that it will support 4K and is getting some major power boosts. It is set to be released later in 2016 and might even beat the Xbox One to the punch.
Nintendo’s NX (or NeXt) console
Ever since the Wii U failed to reach the same success as the popular Wii, Nintendo has been out to release a console that will help it to compete with big players like Microsoft and Sony. They are hoping that the NX would do just that.
However, Nintendo hasn’t released a lot of information about this upcoming console but there is some speculation from E3 and interviews with Nintendo developers. A new controller option is set to be released after the controller/touch screen hybrid of the Wii U failed to impress developers. It is said that Nintendo is departing from its risky portable gaming days and created a traditional plugged-in console with features of a portable one. Nintendo has also made a commitment to making more smartphone-focused games.
The Nintendo NX will only be released in March 2017 and it will feature games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Smash Bros and perhaps a new Dragon Quest. Let’s hope that the NX will match the power of other consoles and that Nintendo will design the console to make third-party releases easier and steer away from trendy but useless features.
Now let’s look at some big name games that created big buzz at this year’s E3:
• The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Legend of Zelda series and the main character, Link, has been iconic in the gaming world since its first release on Nintendo in 1986. There have been 19 original releases and countless remakes of the classic since then. Now this action-adventure gets the HD treatment with the Breath of the Wild instalment.
It will be open world (12 times the size of the overworld in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess) and brings back the free roaming style the game first became known for with little to no instruction on gameplay. Players don’t have to play the game in any specific order to advance with quests and missions all across the map. New gameplay elements have been added such as a jump button (something never done in the game before) and sneaking actions as well as a new tool that gives Link special abilities.
Breath of the Wild will be available for the Wii U and Nintendo’s new NX console. The game was already announced in 2013 and set for release in 2015, but it has now been pushed forward to 2017, likely to accommodate the release of Nintendo’s new NX console.
• Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Fans of the horror gaming genre will know that the Resident Evil series has been around since the 1990s and has branched out into comic books, novels and very popular live-action films. However, the Resident Evil games have lost their allure in recent years, especially when focus shifted to it becoming a third-person shooter with fewer puzzles and greater emphasis on weapon upgrades.
Capcom is now bringing back the Resident Evil series with a seventh instalment called Resident Evil: Biohazard. It was made clear that this is not a reboot and that they have taken positive and negative feedback regarding Resident Evil 6 on board. RE 7 is returning to its horror roots whilst stepping away from the third-person shooter vibe and confining the gameplay to one location. It has been inspired by classic 70s and 80s horror films, and the creators have decided to keep as much mystery surrounding the plotline as possible to take us back to the old days of excitement around new games. Mechanics like the green life-restoring herbs from the 1996 original are returning.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is set to be released on 24 January 2017 for PlayStation VR, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. To get your fix in the meantime take a look at this 17-minute long gameplay demo – if you dare.
• Battlefield 1
Battlefield 1 is a World War I-based first-person shooter epic developed by EA Dice and published by Electronic Arts. The first instalment in the Battlefield series, Battlefield 1942, was released in 2002. This new release, Battlefield 1, is the first in the series since the original to be set in the past.
The game is set in World War I and players can use World War I weapons like automatic and semi-automatic rifles, bolt-action rifles, flamethrowers, mustard gas and so forth. There is melee combat where players fight in the trenches with clubs, shovels and sabres. Those who have played so far report that it has a massive sense of scale (which is illustrated beautifully when a huge Zeppelin meets a fiery end) and aircraft are easy but realistic to control. Also, there are weapons that cater to every type of fighting and playing style.
A big multiplayer event to promote the game was held at E3 where celebrities like Jamie Foxx and Snoop Dogg as well as popular online gamers took part. The graphics are awe-inspiring and, according to many, it is very realistic in its wartime look and feel. It is said that after lots of complaints about the Star Wars: Battlefront game, EA has taken complaints on board and applied them to Battlefield 1 with evident success.
Battlefield 1 is set for official release on 21 October 2016 for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.