The best of E3 2013: this is the future of gaming

From trash-talking companies and the return of the Blue Bomber to legendary filmmakers talking about the challenges of storytelling in gaming and the future of sports games, it’s been one wild week here in Los Angeles at the annual E3 conference. After years of teases and glimpses, we’re finally getting a serious look at the next generation of consoles and games. Here are all the games, news, and developers that will matter most in the year to come.

For all things E3 Top Shelf 013: Heart, Mind, and Console

Major Updates

  • Update
    17 about 1 year ago 85

    The guns of E3: what can gaming learn from its bloody mistakes?

    If you remember one thing from E3 2012, it’s probably the neck stabbing.

    Over three days, attendees watched game after game showcase increasingly creative methods of murder. Press events were so bloody that Gameological began publishing an "E3 Murder Report," detailing the body count of Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo’s events. "Between Microsoft, Sony, EA and Ubisoft's shows on Monday," wrote Fred Dutton of Eurogamer, "we counted roughly 78 throatstabs, 63 snapped vertebrae, 57 exploded...

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    Violence can be power, but power doesn't have to be violence
  • Update
    16 about 1 year ago 15

    Art trumps explosions at Horizon, an 'alternative' E3 press conference

    E3 is loud. Whether you're in a press conference or on the show floor, the audiovisual spectacle is overwhelming. You can barely hear the games you're playing, let alone enjoy them. Announcements at press conferences are drowned out in noise — music, laughter, cheers, and oh so many hoots and hollers.

    Horizon was different. Billed as "an alternative press conference showcasing a lineup of incredibly beautiful games," the event was tucked away in the basement of the Museum of Contemporary...

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    These are the elements that I think are really beautiful.
  • Update
    15 about 1 year ago 395

    What is a next-gen game?

    This November, the Xbox 360 will be eight years old. The PlayStation 3 will be seven. At the 2013 Electronic Entertainment Expo, we finally got acquainted with their successors. The new Xbox One and PlayStation 4 represent a new generation of consoles, the fabled "next generation," and with them comes the tantalizing possibility of "next-gen" games. Why else would we spend upwards of $399 on a new game console?

    What does a next-gen game look like, though? What does "next-gen" even mean?...

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    There's more to next-gen than tightening up the graphics
  • Update
    14 about 1 year ago 24

    'Mercenary Kings' is 'Borderlands' meets 'Scott Pilgrim' on PS4 and PC

    There are plenty of big shooters coming to the PlayStation 4, from Destiny to Killzone: Shadow Fall. These games emphasize massive, open worlds, social connectivity, and incredibly detailed high-definition graphics. Mercenary Kings, an upcoming PS4 and Steam title from Tribute Games, goes a different route. It's a title that feels like the Metal Slug game that time forgot — a 2D shooter for a next-gen console.

    Mercenary Kings is a run-and-gun shooter in the vein of Contra and Metal Slug....

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    The 'Metal Slug' game time forgot
  • Update
    13 about 1 year ago 20

    'Rymdkapsel' mixes Tetris and StarCraft into one great mobile game

    I played a hundred new huge-budget video games this week, but the only one that really made sense to me was a cellphone and Vita game called Rymdkapsel.

    Like many tower-defense games the primary objective of Rymdkapsel is to grow and defend your population. But when designer Martin Jonasson set out to make a viable StarCraft for mobile, he discovered that StarCraft probably isn’t something you’d want to play on your phone, and its most memorable component would probably be how much it...

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    Simplicity rules
  • Update
    12 about 1 year ago 293

    Can Mario save the Wii U?

    Nintendo's booth at E3 contained nothing unexpected. There was a new Donkey Kong Country, Mario Kart, and 3D Super Mario, and a version of Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS that we weren't allowed to play. Meanwhile, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is getting a sequel, and Wind Waker is getting a remake. The lack of surprises is in no way surprising; people buy Nintendo consoles and handhelds to play Nintendo games.

    But with each successive generation, the company is losing any semblance...

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    Nintendo's plumber is doing all the heavy lifting
  • Update
    11 about 1 year ago 18

    Ride into the trailer zone: inside E3's bloody, bass-heavy battle to get noticed

    Nothing says “welcome to the most important trade show in the world” like a horde of zombies screaming and attacking you from behind a chain-link fence only to get bored and go back to gnawing on a blown-apart torso. If you survive this living diorama from Dead Rising 3 at the foyer of the South Hall, you’re left to explore the fantastic shitshow that is E3: It’s got all the giddy neon chaos of Blade Runner wrapped in the human density of a Martian Coachella, and navigating the floor requires...

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    In the midst of all the high-budget eye candy how does a top game get itself noticed?
  • Update
    10 about 1 year ago 72

    The Oculus Rift was made for space battles: inside the virtual cockpit of 'EVR'

    Even as the Oculus Rift has gotten tremendous attention from the gaming world (among other things, Epic announced a partnership with it for Unreal Engine 4), designing a good game for it has proved difficult. Virtual reality throws a wrench in well-established genres like the first-person shooter, turning something as simple as aiming into a conundrum. Oculus itself has suggested things like exploration games, but EVE Online studio CCP thinks it's found another answer: send everyone to space.


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    Hands-on with 'EVR,' a dogfighting space game from the makers of 'EVE Online'
  • Update
    9 about 1 year ago 121

    Lucas and Spielberg on storytelling in games: 'it's not going to be Shakespeare'

    With titles like Quantum Break and the upcoming Halo series, the convergence of gaming and narrative storytelling has become an intense focal point — but the men behind Indiana Jones and Star Wars think gaming will never be able to provide the same type of rich experience traditional storytelling does.

    Speaking Wednesday at a panel at the University of Southern California — joined by Microsoft’s Don Mattrick — George Lucas and Steven Spielberg argued that introducing the concept of...

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    Storytelling is about two things. It's about character and plot.
  • Update
    8 about 1 year ago 16

    'Watch Dogs' director on PRISM surveillance: 'It's like reality is catching up to the game'

    In the upcoming video game Watch Dogs, you play Aiden Pierce, a rogue hacker in a seemingly dystopian future Chicago — a city where every piece of technology is controlled by a supercomputer, where every citizen is monitored by a citywide operating system. It's a surveillance state which wormed its way into place by providing Wi-Fi as a basic human right, and where the government claims it can use surveillance to stop crime before it happens.

    Ubisoft announced the game nearly a year ago,...

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    Make-believe dystopia, or tomorrow's reality?
  • Update
    5 about 1 year ago 26

    Remedy's 'Quantum Break' could meld TV and gaming, but it's got a long ways to go

    Most AAA games try to be like movies to some extent, but Finnish studio Remedy has done it better than most. Max Payne was a masterful John Woo-styled noir title, and Alan Wake drew from the tradition of Stephen King horror, each incorporating fragments of novels, comic books, TV shows, or radio dramas. Now, the team is taking on science fiction with Quantum Break, an ambitious cross-media project. As the first details are revealed, the game promises a lot — but every answer raises a new...

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    The 'Max Payne' studio's take on sci-fi could be a unique cross-media story, a cutscene-filled mess, or both
  • Update
    4 about 1 year ago 475

    Don't flinch: the new Kinect could be the end of motion gimmicks

    The first version of Kinect promised to completely change how we play games. Instead of sitting on our couch with a controller, we'd be running, dancing, throwing, and shouting our way through level after level. The new version of Kinect, the one that will ship with every Xbox One console in November, initially seemed like more of the same: more data, more accuracy, to the same end. But as we talk to game developers at E3 2013, it's quickly becoming clear that the next generation of motion...

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    Xbox One Kinect games will win big by thinking small
  • Update
    3 about 1 year ago 77

    Testing the Virtuix Omni: a walk on the virtual side

    First you put on the shoes. They're Converse knockoffs, and you don't even like Converse to begin with, but you don't care because they're special shoes. There's a plastic plate on the bottom, which lets you skid across the floor like a bowler. You walk across the floor carefully to the harness. It's demeaning, with a strap that threads under your groin and gives you the full-on diaper feel / look. The harness has structure to it. It all means something. And then you swing open the hatch, and...

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    The Omni makes Oculus an in-body experience
  • Update
    2 about 1 year ago 1360

    PlayStation 4: Sony outmaneuvers Microsoft on price, design, and common sense

    Before yesterday's E3 keynotes from Sony and Microsoft, opinion was split on the very different paths each company is taking. Some found the PlayStation 4 the more appealing proposal on paper — a more powerful, developer-friendly box that seemed to have been created with gamers' best interests in mind. Others, however, were more impressed with the Xbox One's expansive entertainment options and Microsoft's audacious plan to take over the living room. Now that both companies have played their...

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    Xbox One controversy reaches its peak as Sony twists the knife
  • Update
    1 about 1 year ago 182

    Sony PlayStation 4 at E3 2013: everything you need to know

    Sony’s E3 press conference started a full six hours after Microsoft’s ended, plenty of time for everyone to digest the Xbox One’s $499 pricetag, glut of AAA games, and sparse utilization of Kinect and SmartGlass. Now Sony gets the last word, a chance to explain why the PlayStation 4 won’t repeat the mistakes of the PlayStation 3, a chance to explain why this time it has figured it out. It’s a full on console war from here on out, and this was Sony’s best chance to prove it can win it.


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    The games... the features... and yes, the pricing
  • Original Story
    about 1 year ago 136

    Xbox at E3 2013: everything you need to know

    Microsoft’s Xbox One announcement last month left something off the list: video games. Yes, Microsoft was very clear that the Xbox One would dominate and absorb every facet of your living room and your entire entertainment lifestyle. But it wasn’t clear about “Halos.” Well, there’s a Halo TV show, but in our prior experience Halo was a video game, and based on unconfirmed reports, the Xbox One was a video game console.

    E3 was Microsoft’s chance to correct that oversight, and boy oh boy...

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