E3 2017 is finally here. Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, and all of the major publishers will be making big announcements, ranging from the latest hardware updates to official reveals of the most anticipated games. Here are the highlights, trailers, screens, gameplay videos, and impressions from E3 2017.
Jun 30, 2017
After scouting the show floor at Tokyo Game Show 2009, Keiji Inafune came to a grim conclusion: “When I looked at all the different games on the event floor, I said, 'Man, Japan is over. We're done. Our game industry is finished.’”Read Article >
The famed game designer, who cut his teeth on the Mega Man series and later launched the AAA franchise Dead Rising, realized in the sprawling halls of the Makuhari Messe convention center that his home nation of Japan, once the leader of the video game industry, had fallen. In its place atop the market — and across the venue — stood Western-made blockbusters like Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty.
Jun 23, 2017
Ryozo Tsujimoto didn’t set out to create a Monster Hunter game aimed at Western audiences. It’s more like he stumbled upon the idea. Four years ago, Tsujimoto, who serves as producer on the upcoming Monster Hunter World, sat down with his development team at Capcom’s Osaka headquarters to brainstorm just what the next Monster Hunter should look like. Their first goal was to create a game for the modern generation of consoles. This was a big shift for a series that, despite debuting on the PS2 in 2004, has since become synonymous with portable platforms.Read Article >
First, there was the question of what to do with all of that extra power. The team decided they wanted to create a world that was much more realistic than in games past. A place where the creatures that players hunt behave in ways that seem natural; where there’s a plausible ecosystem of plants, animals, and weather; and where it’s all connected by one huge, seamless map. For a series like Monster Hunter — where new games have very slowly evolved over the years — these changes are huge. As the name implies, the series has long been about hunting monsters, as players earn skills and gear to take down bigger and bigger foes as they progress through the game. But past Monster Hunter games were often rigid, with arcane rules and worlds that felt like a series of boxed-off areas. That was something the team wanted to change.
Jun 21, 2017
The retro gaming market is having a bit of a Renaissance lately, thanks to Nintendo’s NES Classic console and the ever-expanding industry dedicated to re-creating, refurbishing, and resurrecting nostalgia-fueled products of the past. Hardware maker Retro-Bit is a big part of this community — the company makes classic console controllers, adapters, consoles, and USB emulators. It even revealed an all-in-one Game Boy cartridge-compatible gadget called the Super Retro Boy earlier this year.Read Article >
Now, Retro-Bit has a new product that is more outlandish than any old-school gaming hardware you might have seen before. It’s called the Mega Table, and it’s a full-blown coffee table-sized NES controller that can actually be used to play classic games. The company brought the device to the E3 show floor last week, and we got a chance to try it out ourselves.
Each time Nintendo releases a new console, it’s safe to assume the usual suspects will follow: a new Mario Kart and Super Mario Bros. are all but guaranteed; new Smash Bros. and Zelda games are likely to make appearances at some point; and maybe another Metroid launches before the next console makes it to market, and restarts the cycle.Read Article >
In its first few months of existence, the Nintendo Switch has made good on that nascent promise. It debuted alongside the stunning Zelda adventure Breath of the Wild, and its holiday will be propped up by Super Mario Odyssey. At E3 2017, Nintendo teased new Pokémon and Metroid Prime adventures, establishing a release calendar punctuated with familiar faces. But sandwiched among those major releases is a handful of something far less common: new Nintendo franchises.
In September 2008, to celebrate the studio’s 10th anniversary, Japanese developer Level-5 announced that it was creating a brand-new fantasy role-playing game called Ni No Kuni. What made the project special, though, was who Level-5 was partnering with: Studio Ghibli, the famed animation house behind films like Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro. The chance partnership happened thanks to musician Naoya Fujimaki, who had previously worked with both companies, and introduced Level-5 boss Akihiro Hino to Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki. It was the first time Ghibli had been so deeply involved with a video game. The resulting experience had all of the care and whimsy you’d expect from Ghibli combined with the RPG knowhow of Level-5, a studio known for genre hits like Dragon Quest IX and Dark Cloud.Read Article >
Since then, things have changed for Ghibli. The studio hasn’t released a film since 2014’s When Marnie Was There, and iconic director Hayao Miyazaki has retired (and unretired) multiple times. The studio no longer functions as a traditional animation company that produces most work in-house. Instead, Ghibli now often serves in a producer role on projects, while other studios handle the heavy lifting.
Jun 19, 2017
It’s easy to pick out Koji “Iga” Igarashi in a crowd. Clad entirely in black, with a cowboy hat perched above a long ponytail, Igarashi looks the part of a renegade. Exactly what you’d expect from the man who brought Castlevania back to life with the seminal Symphony of the Night in 1997. He’s even been known — as was the case when I interviewed him at E3 last week — to carry around a whip, the favored weapon of Castlevania’s vampire-hunting Belmont family.Read Article >
After leaving Castlevania developer Konami in 2014, Igarashi set straight to work on independently creating exactly the kind of game he’s known for: a gothic horror-themed action adventure. Given his career thus far, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is a game designer who lives and breathes vampire-tinged action. But according to Igarashi, his decision to return to the themes and genre of Castlevania had little to do with his own personal desire. “It wasn’t really about me,” he says. “The genre was dying during that time when I quit Konami. But [the fans’] voices were very loud — they wanted to play that kind of side-scrolling game once again. I thought this is a great opportunity to give back to the fans.”
Jun 17, 2017
One of the highlights of Microsoft’s E3 press conference last week was the reveal of an all-new fighting game for the Dragon Ball Z universe. Now, there’s been quite a few DBZ fighting and action games over the years — nearly 150 titles in all. The long-running anime hasn’t always had a stellar reputation for quality, but Dragon Ball FighterZ, as the newest title in the franchise is called, should change that.Read Article >
In the reveal video, we saw an explosive and disorienting fighting game that has characters teleporting left and right, doling out massive doomsday event-style energy blasts, and throwing punches and kicks at blistering speeds. It was clear from just 30 seconds of gameplay that developer Arc System Works has achieved something special: an art style and flow that made the game feel like the first true video game adaptation of an anime.
Jun 16, 2017
Bungie’s upcoming Destiny 2 is going to be more than just a fresh start when it comes to the game’s quests, multiplayer structure, and expansive list of guns, armor, and other collectibles. In a brutally honest interview with Kotaku’s Jason Schreier this week at E3, game director Luke Smith says the development team is effectively rebooting the core narrative pillar of the Destiny universe. It’s all starting with a complete scrubbing of any mention of The Darkness, the ominous yet vague unifying force players fought against in the first game. It turns out that not even Bungie knew what it was supposed to be or even stand for.Read Article >
“So, I think that at a point, just totally candidly? We had no idea what it was. Straight up. We had no clue,” Smith says of The Darkness. It’s a surprising admission from the typically tight-lipped public-facing members of Bungie, but it shouldn’t really shock any hardcore fans of Destiny. The Darkness always felt like a lazy stand-in for evil or the bad guys — it started as the underlying reason to fight back, but it was never fully fleshed out as a narrative tool. “We didn’t know what it was, and we, for a period, we chose [that] we’re going to lump all the races [in together], and you see this in the tooltips in the game — ‘minions of the darkness.’ And we had taken all the races and said, ‘Ah, they’ll just be The Darkness.’ But that’s not what the IP deserves.”
Jun 16, 2017
E3 felt different this year, and not in a subtle way. For the first time, the Entertainment Software Association sold 15,000 tickets to a video game trade show that had previously been accessible only to industry insiders and the press. And E3 transformed to meet them, building physical spaces that served as temples for the digital worlds they represent. Game developers have always built massive structures for E3, but these served a different purpose. The result was an event that felt less like the corporate schmooze-fests of yore and more like a glimpse of gaming’s theme-park future.Read Article >
Walking into the Los Angeles Convention Center this year, you saw a much more vital show than in years past. Fans wearing the new neon-yellow expo badges hung out in a Wolfenstein-themed diner, posed for Instagram pictures on top of a Shadow of War-themed dragon, and lined up for burgers at a Far Cry 5 food truck named the Meat Wagon. Cosplayers — once a rarity at E3 — were out in force this week. And the fans I spoke with seemed to be relishing the experience.
Jun 15, 2017
As a standalone story, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy will leave behind Nathan Drake in favor for a team-up between Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross. It’s a first for the series, but not for developer Naughty Dog, who has experimented with this one-off style with experiences like The Last of Us: Left Behind — an experiment that gave the studio the confidence to experiment with smaller experiences, says game director Kurt Margenau.Read Article >
When Naughty Dog released Left Behind, they told a story about Ellie that includes moments that both pre-date and take place during the full game. “I think [Left Behind] proved that it was worth it, and for [The Lost Legacy] it was bigger,” Margenau tells The Verge. “The new challenge is now can we make this huge thing, and there’s new characters with brand-new story, so it gave us confidence.” These smaller stories allowed Naughty Dog to turn a project around quickly, while also playing with new characters.
Last E3, Cory Barlog revealed a wildly ambitious plan for his update on God of War: the game would take place in a single, uninterrupted shot. This year, the director shared that, in the early days of production, some members of the development team were hesitant to take on the ambitious plan. So, to show the power of the film technique when done well, he screened the hospital scene from John Woo’s action movie masterpiece, Hard Boiled.Read Article >
“There’s that great one shot [in Hard Boiled],” Barlog said, “where Tequila and, I can never remember the other guy’s name, are shooting there way into the hospital. They end up having a conversation as they’re moving through. They go by an elevator and then the other guy accidentally shoots a cop.
When Ubisoft showed off the new sequel to its open-world racer The Crew on Monday, the publisher wanted to keep a big secret under wraps until players could try the game here on the E3 show floor. Considering The Crew 2 will let you switch with ease between cars, bikes, boats, and planes of all shapes and sizes, it’s worth asking how exactly you’ll be able to move from one vehicle type to another.Read Article >
Ubisoft’s answer: an on-the-fly system that lets you transform vehicles regardless of where you are or how fast you’re moving. It’s silly, ludicrous, and a ton of fun in a way racing games rarely are.
Sony’s new God of War on PS4 will be the first game in the series to ditch quick time events, according to its director Cory Barlog. The franchise is arguably most responsible for popularizing the quick time event design, which allows players to have minimal input into elaborate and cinematic action sequences.Read Article >
Typically referred to as QTEs, the design requires players to obey an on-screen button prompt with precise timing (e.g., tapping the triangle button as it flashes on screen). Failing a QTE typically triggers a fail state, beginning the sequence all over again.
It’s not often you come across a video game concept you’ve never seen before. Here at E3, gaming’s biggest and most lavish marketing extravaganza, it’s more common to find yourself inundated with sequels, reboots, and remakes than to stumble on a creative, original idea. That’s precisely what makes Minit, a new indie game from developers Jan Willem Nijman and Kitty Calis, so exquisite. The game has a simple premise: every 60 seconds, you perish. Your small, blob-like character is then sent back to your monochromatic house, tasked with exploring the world anew and attempting to discover more of its secrets.Read Article >
It’s one of those ingenious game design tricks that hits you over the head with equal parts novelty and depth. It only works because Nijman and Calis have designed such clever rules and mechanisms to guide your progress. In Minit, any item you find stays with you, be it your handy sword, a water pal, or a flashlight. When you awake again in your house, after the last 60 seconds have ticked down, you’re able to use those items to solve new puzzles and progress further through the game’s crude yet cryptic environments.
An extended demonstration of Days Gone came a few announcements into PlayStation’s E3 press event, surrounded by the rest of the console’s upcoming releases. This is fitting placement for a game that, as it’s being presented in behind-closed-doors sessions, feels buried beneath the features of its contemporaries, never elucidating how or if it will be ready to break loose and establish its own identity.Read Article >
An open-world zombie game, Days Gone follows the members of a motorcycle-club-cum-survivalist-group stationed in the Pacific Northwest, raising the question: is there a tax incentive to set video games in Oregon? In the big public demo, available on YouTube, the burly protagonist hops on his motorcycle and ambushes a collective of shabbily dressed people we are to assume play the villains. In the attack, we get a hint at the game’s potential differentiator: a horde of zombies approaches the compound, systemically, and is manipulated to feed on the protagonists enemies like a litter of very bad kittens fighting for a single saucer of milk.
Jun 15, 2017
Sega is releasing two new Sonic the Hedgehog games this year that represent polar opposites of the sides of the franchise. On one hand, there's Sonic Mania. Due to release this summer, it’s a retro, 16-bit-styled 2D platformer that appears to ignore any Sonic games released after Sonic and Knuckles in 1994. And on the other end of the spectrum is Sonic Forces, the latest entry in the ongoing 3D Sonic series. The two Sonics were set back-to-back at Sega's booth — stand on one side of a wall, and you can play the re-created ghost of Sonic past; walk around to the flip side, and you can gaze upon Sega's vision for the future.Read Article >
I got the chance to try the pairing, and it was an odd juxtaposition, like chasing a fine aged wine with Red Bull. Mania looks like classic Sonic not as it is (low-resolution), but as your remember it (sleek, HD). Sega has melded the original retro style with some smooth animations that give the character just a little more personality. Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles’ sprites are all impressively detailed, and things like Sonic’s ears or Tails’, er, tails will subtly ripple in the wind when the characters are running. Gameplay is pure, classic Sonic — if you've played any of the Genesis Sonic games, you'll know exactly how Mania feels to play. Levels feature layered paths from one end to the other, and you get the overall sense that the game’s mandate is: the thing fans love but more.
Jun 15, 2017
The announcement of Uncharted: The Lost Legacy in December was a welcome surprise. But lower-than-usual pricing, combined with the relatively quick timing of the release, raised questions about how substantial the fifth installment of the series could be. Will The Lost Legacy have legs — or will it be one $40 afternoon?Read Article >
It seems the game will be longer than at least some of us expected. “It’s longer than some previous Uncharted games — and not as long as Uncharted 4,” Shaun Escayg, creative director of the game, said in an interview with The Verge. “It’s a nice, tight story. But it’s an Uncharted game for sure. We’re not even done yet — it’s expanding as we talk.”
If you paid close attention to the 9-minute Spider-Man demo at Sony’s E3 2017 event, you might have noticed the superhero knocking a goon off a skyscraper — only to sling him safely back onto the building. Bryan Intihar, creative director of Insomniac Games, explained that the game won’t allow players to use Spidey’s abilities to kill villains, or anybody else for that matter.Read Article >
“We wouldn’t not allow that,” said Intihar. “Marvel would not allow that, the world would not allow that.”
Jun 14, 2017
Alto’s Odyssey, the sequel to the runaway mobile hit Alto’s Adventure, is set for release this summer, and amid all the hype and noise of E3, developer Snowman quietly showed off our first good look at gameplay for the upcoming endless snowboarding game.Read Article >
As teased in the initial trailer, Alto’s Odyssey moves the action from the snow-capped peaks of the first one to “a variety of desert locales.” Rails are attached to moving balloons instead of stationary buildings, which characters will be able to bounce off of to reach greater heights. Dust devils dance at the edge of jumps, ready to propel players upward. And in addition to the jumping, flipping, and rail-grinding mechanics from the first game, Odyssey is adding the ability to wall ride, allowing characters to scale up the side of cliffs with a single tap.
Crackdown 3 — an open-world crimefighting game in which you can leap over small apartment buildings in a single bound — isn’t the most graphically gobsmacking game on the Xbox One, nor is it the most technically refined. Melee attacks are a little floaty; the physics, unpredictable; and the sound of its rampant destruction hits the eardrums like a dump truck crushing another dump truck. But the game is scrappy and charming and unlike anything else on the show floor of E3 2017. A half-hour demo of super agents fighting supervillians was as enjoyable (if not more so) than many hours spent with Microsoft’s fancier, big-budget exclusives.Read Article >
In a hands-on portion of the demo, I bunny-hopped across a neon-lit future metropolis, collecting green orbs to upgrade my strength and agility, and grabbing overpowered weaponry. After a couple minutes of exploration, I bombarded foot soldiers with a volley of rockets, then vacuumed their corpses (and all nearby loose objects) with a projectile black hole. The story or goal wasn’t clear from the short session, but I wasn’t really looking for either as I skipped from one rooftop to the next, sending baddies ragdolling into the air and down to the pavement hundreds of feet below.
Jun 14, 2017
When it arrived in 2014, Warner Bros.’ Shadow of Mordor delivered a masterful action role playing game set in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth. But the game offered just a hint of the developer’s actual vision, says Bob Roberts, the game’s design director. Shadow of Mordor told only about half of the story they originally envisioned, and its most novel design feature — the “nemesis system” that generates new stories for everyone who plays — was also pared back.Read Article >
Middle-earth: Shadow of War, the sequel to be released this fall, offered an opportunity for Monolith Productions to fill in those blanks. Both the scope of the storytelling and the nemesis system have been greatly expanded, and they come together in the game’s fortress sieges — a series of epic, chaotic encounters that have been a highlight of this year’s E3.
Jun 14, 2017
Call of Duty: WWII is supposed to be the Activision franchise’s back-to-basics moment: an opportunity to shed recent COD installments’ future-obsessed trappings and craft a “serious” shooter game against the backdrop of the world’s most horrific war. Developer Sledgehammer Games said as much here at E3 in Los Angeles. “Coming off of Advanced Warfare, it felt right for us,” says Aaron Halon, the game’s multiplayer lead, in an interview with The Verge. “We really want Call of Duty to get back to the grittiness, the brutality of war. That’s really what WWII did for our game.”Read Article >
But judging from one recorded video of a campaign mission and some time with the game’s multiplayer mode this week at E3, COD: WWII comes across as just another shooter from the aging franchise. It doesn’t appear to have much to say about one of history’s most devastating conflicts — at least, nothing that hasn’t already been said by countless films, books, and television shows before it. And if WWII as a concept is supposed to revive COD as a game series, Sledgehammer doesn’t seem equipped to take the risks necessary to pull it off. Striking a balance between artful war commentary and mass-market pulp is hard enough. It becomes a daunting, perhaps impossible, task for a major game studio to do so with the expectation that it sell as many copies as Activision demands.
Jun 14, 2017
There's a peculiar dynamic going on in Los Angeles this week, as E3 — the biggest gaming showcase of them all — is taking place and, once again, paying little attention to the hugely profitable mobile games market. By most estimates, mobile gaming is generating in excess of $30 billion per year, and it's projected to eclipse consoles and the PC as the single most lucrative platform for games. And yet, cast your eye across the vast gaming landscape of E3 and you'll see mobile as only a space filler in between the traditional AAA blockbusters and barnburners. Why, I wondered, does the form of gaming we're increasingly spending the majority of our time and money on get so little hype and attention?Read Article >
I realize that, on one interpretation, this question is tantamount to asking why there are no Oscars for YouTubers. And I want to encourage that interpretation! Because, seriously, why are there no Academy Awards for the work people publish on YouTube? Some of the cinematography and performances I've seen inside Google's bottomless pit of user-uploaded content now rival the best Hollywood has to offer. And, moreover, YouTubers are rarely as inane and uncreative as the latest Tom Cruise summer flick or yet another shakedown of the Pirates of the Caribbean money tree. My instinctive answer with regard to both E3 and the Oscars is that it's simply a matter of inertia. That's the way we've always done things.
Jun 14, 2017
After years of neglect, Metroid is back: yesterday Nintendo revealed two new entries in the iconic sci-fi exploration series. One, Metroid Prime 4 on Switch, isn’t due for some time. But the Nintendo 3DS title Samus Returns is launching on September 15th, and it’s not just the first proper Metroid game since 2010 — it’s also a return to the series’s roots. Samus Returns is a remake of Metroid II on the original Game Boy, and it’s the first traditional 2D Metroid release in over a decade. The announcement may have come as a surprise to many, but it’s far from a new idea for series co-creator Yoshio Sakamoto. “I’ve been wanting to create a 2D Metroid for a while,” he says.Read Article >
I had a chance to play through a 20-minute demo that represented the opening sequence of the game. Just like in the original Metroid II, Samus Returns opens with the titular bounty hunter landing on the desolate planet SR388, and then exploring hostile caves home to angry aliens, including energy-sucking metroids. As in most Metroid games, you start pretty powerless; you need to seek out abilities like the morph ball and charge shot, which in turn help you open up new areas to explore. Samus Returns is a 2D game that features three-dimensional graphics, but the more detailed visuals don’t slow down the pace at all. In fact, Samus Returns is a much tighter action experience compared to the now-ancient Metroid II. Samus can now aim in any direction, and chain together attacks; if you time it right you can bat away an enemy and then immediately blast it with a critical laser shot. It feels fast and fluid, with a sense of immediacy that fits well with the series.
Jun 14, 2017
Up until the official start of E3 on Tuesday, Nintendo’s presence has been limited to appearing on the stages of other companies. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, confirmed with an appearance from Shigeru Miyamoto himself at Ubisoft’s press conference, is being produced by that publisher. Downloadable Zelda-themed Skyrim items appeared during the Bethesda event. And a giant Switch showed up in Microsoft’s presentation on Minecraft.Read Article >
No wonder Nintendo didn’t bother with a big stage show at E3. Once again, the company opted for a prerecorded 30-minute Nintendo Direct stream, filled with announcements and gameplay footage.