It’s that time of year again, when the biggest game companies in the world descend on Los Angeles to show off just what they’re working on. In 2018 the focus will be on the runaway success of Fortnite and the Nintendo Switch, but expect plenty of surprises from Sony, Microsoft, and big publishers like EA and Ubisoft. If you include the press conferences, the show lasts nearly a week, and it can be tough to keep up with that much news in such a short span. Stay tuned here for all the important announcements and reveals as they happen.
Jun 26, 2018
When the original PlayStation launched in 1994, it helped usher in a golden age for Japanese role-playing games. Led by the blockbuster Final Fantasy VII, developers managed to craft thrilling new experiences that merged the turn-based gameplay the genre was known for, with a technology-fueled cinematic approach to storytelling that lured in huge new audiences.Read Article >
But among the biggest hits of the time, there’s a glaring absence: Dragon Quest. DQVII was a hit in Japan, but it didn’t launch until 2001 in North America, well into the PlayStation’s life, and it suffered for it. Though the series has long been a staple in Japan since its inception in 1989, it has struggled to garner much of a global audience — and series executive producer Yuu Miyake believes missing that early PlayStation window is one of the major culprits.
Jun 21, 2018
For the past few years, Remedy Entertainment has toyed with different ways to tell its stories. Its thriller game Alan Wake played out through episodic installments, not unlike a TV show. Sci-fi action-adventure game Quantum Break took the idea of television more literally, with a live-action series grafted on to a game. If players expect the developer’s latest game, Control, to follow in these more experimental footsteps, however, they’re in for a surprise. “With Control, we’re focusing on other ways of telling stories,” says game designer Sergey Mohov. Rather than toying with the conventions of television, it will be a game focused on environmental storytelling, and the missions that players embark on will be more than just linear fetch quests.Read Article >
Control is a supernatural action-adventure game set in a reality-bending version of New York. Its lead, a woman named Jesse Faden, becomes entangled in a struggle between mysterious invaders known as the Hiss, and a secret government agency called the Federal Bureau of Control. After the Hiss invades the Bureau and murders its director, Jesse is chosen to take on that mantle through “a strange and ritualistic process,” says Mohov.
Jun 21, 2018
BioWare is known primarily for one thing: well-crafted, branching stories. Through series like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and Knights of the Old Republic, the studio has carved out a lucrative niche of making choice and character-driven role-playing games. On the surface, BioWare’s next game, Anthem, looks like it goes in a completely different direction. It’s a shared online world, where players can team up to take on missions and gather loot, Destiny-style.Read Article >
But the studio doesn’t see it as a drastic departure. Instead, BioWare looks at Anthem as a way to fix one of the problems with massively multiplayer online games — namely, that they rarely have a compelling story to dig into. “It is solvable,” BioWare general manager Casey Hudson says of making a narrative-driven online experience, “but you have to design the game from the ground up to deal with that.”
Jun 20, 2018
Five years ago, Nintendo made an internal change that may not have seemed important at the time, but has since become a major part of the company’s dramatic turnaround. In 2013, Nintendo merged its two game development divisions, which were previously separated by platform. One focused on home consoles like the Wii U, while the other created games for handheld devices like the 3DS. Combining the two was meant to speed up development, and allow Nintendo’s creative teams to better share ideas and technology.Read Article >
It didn’t help the Wii U much — the console suffered from huge gaps between major releases — but it’s finally paying dividends with the Switch. This new structure has made it possible for Nintendo to release a steady stream of well-received titles over the Switch’s first 16 months of availability. It started with a bang, when the tablet launched alongside The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and has continued through games like Splatoon 2, Super Mario Odyssey, this week’s Mario Tennis Aces, and upcoming holiday releases like Pokémon: Let’s Go and Super Smash Bros Ultimate.
Jun 19, 2018
Back in April, Nintendo launched a bold new initiative called Labo. A collection of DIY cardboard accessories for the Switch, Labo was designed primarily to reach brand-new audiences outside of the traditional game-playing demographic. While the company says that the first two iterations of Labo have sold well — the “variety kit” reached the top 10 on the NPD sales chart during launch month — there’s still a lot of work to do.Read Article >
While more typical games like Breath of the Wild or Super Mario Odyssey tend to have a surge of sales at launch, Nintendo believes Labo will have a longer lifespan. “Labo represents something else entirely,” says Shinya Takahashi, general manager of the company’s software division, Nintendo EPD.
Jun 19, 2018
Scuf Gaming, one of the leading makers of custom game controllers for competitive play, has a new device coming out next month that promises to even further enhance the ability of gamepad users. The device is called the Scuf Vantage, and it’s a custom PS4 controller with back paddles, two additional side buttons, and an instant remapping feature that lets you customize every one of those additional input mechanisms on the fly.Read Article >
It sounds like an obvious upgrade for serious competitive players and aspiring streamers, but the question remains: do you really need a controller that costs as much as $200 to improve your game? Last week at E3 in Los Angeles, I got my hands on a finalized version of the Vantage. I demoed it on the one game most professional streamers and competitive gaming fans are sinking their teeth into these days: Epic Games’ Fortnite.
Jun 17, 2018
Under the scorching California sun last Tuesday, 50 celebrities and 50 professional video game players gathered near the north end of a soccer stadium in Los Angeles to play Fortnite for $3 million in prize money. It was the very first officially sanctioned tournament for developer Epic Games’ mega-hit battle royale game, organized by the company itself and geared toward raising money for charity. And it was a monumental success by most metrics: It handily eclipsed the first official day of the game industry’s E3 expo, which was happening just two miles north at the city’s convention center, and drew more than 1.1 million viewers live on Twitch.Read Article >
The line to get in sprawled across every available stretch of sidewalk around the Banc of California arena, the 22,000-capacity home of the new Los Angeles FC soccer team that opened back in April. Inside the gates, past the check-in area and robust security, a gigantic replica of Fortnite’s ocean-blue Battle Bus, with its hot air balloon propulsion system, sat openly out on the pavement. Characters dressed as popular Fortnite characters, including a man donning an anthropomorphic tomato suit, wandered the lot taking pictures with fans. Onward into the stadium, the letters F-O-R-T-N-I-T-E could be seen spelled out in white against the purple backdrop of the entire eastern half of the venue’s seating area.
Jun 15, 2018
Ahead of this year’s E3 conference, a number of game studios and publishers announced news that, in years past, would typically have been reserved for the big press conference keynotes. That left many wondering whether there would be any substantial surprises in store for fans and critics who were tuning into the industry’s biggest annual gathering here in Los Angeles.Read Article >
Thankfully, it was a show jam-packed with news. Nearly every press conference contained an eye-popping number of big reveals, new trailers, and confirmed release dates. And beyond the slew of keynote headlines, a number of big narratives came together. Fans were displeased and intrigued by the possibilities of an online-only Fallout. Electronic Arts took a stand to quell gamer backlash toward Battlefield V. And Sony is still grappling with a massive controversy over its decision to block PS4 Fortnite accounts on Nintendo Switch devices.
Jun 15, 2018
E3 is finally over. After kicking off with EA Play on Saturday, all of the press conferences are now wrapped, and the show floor has closed. No more waiting in line for hours to get a taste of the latest Super Smash Bros. I spent the week in Los Angeles covering the show, and even I had a hard time keeping up with all the news. There was a lot — so here’s a handy cheat guide to catch up on all of the important stuff.Read Article >
Bethesda decided to officially unveil the existence of the next Fallout ahead of E3, but it saved all of the juicy details for the show. Fallout 76 represents a big shift for the post-apocalyptic series. It’s an always-online, multiplayer survival game that launches in November. It’s also a game that might not be so friendly — especially since some players will be able to get their hands on nukes. And while the thought of a new Fallout was exciting for some, especially those who really dug into the lore, other fans found themselves uneasy about the future of the franchise.
Jun 15, 2018
The arcade version of Donkey Kong is a pretty big deal in retro gaming circles, as seen in the classic documentary King of Kong. Until today, though, it was impossible to legally acquire or sell an arcade-perfect version of the game without tracking down an actual arcade cabinet, reportedly due to complex legal issues over authorship of the code. Now those issues appear to have been resolved: Nintendo just put out Donkey Kong on the Switch for $7.99 through its Arcade Archives series.Read Article >
This Donkey Kong release actually contains three versions of the game: the Japanese original, the more common updated Japanese version with bug fixes, and the international version. You can rotate the Switch 90 degrees to play with a vertical screen layout, mirroring the arcade cabinet.
One of the big, noteworthy announcements ahead of this year’s E3 show was that the new Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, first revealed back in March, would contain a battle royale mode in the style of Fortnite and Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds. The game mode is going to be called Blackout, and at the time, developer Treyarch and publisher Activision revealed only a few small details about it. We knew Blackout would feature the largest Call of Duty map ever made — approximately 1,500 times larger than the classic Nuketown map — which would also contain land, air, and sea vehicles. Beyond that, we weren’t told anything else.Read Article >
Unfortunately, Treyarch didn’t have Blackout here at E3 to try ourselves, but The Verge did get some time with co-studio head Dan Bunting, who was able to confirm a few additional details about the mode ahead of a more formal reveal closer to the game’s October launch. Here’s what Bunting had to say about Blackout.
Jun 14, 2018
When PT — a playable teaser for Hideo Kojima’s reboot of Silent Hill — left the PlayStation Store in 2015, it took on an urban legend status. No longer downloadable and with the larger game canceled to boot, only those who already had PT on their system could continue to play it. But after Sony’s E3 press conference earlier this week, some fans think that the legend isn’t entirely dead.Read Article >
PT originally came out in 2014 and instantly became viral on social media. In a departure from most horror games, PT scared players largely by making them walk through a hallway over and over again; the appeal was in how even the mundane could be terrifying in the right hands. As players dove deeper into the game, they realized that there was a much larger mystery hiding within it. To solve it, fans from around the world had to cooperate and share knowledge about how to keep progressing. Once players reached the end, they were surprised to find that PT was actually a teaser for the upcoming Silent Hills. It was made by Metal Gear Solid designer Kojima and director Guillermo del Toro, and it was going to star Walking Dead actor Norman Reedus. Hype around PT exploded and then turned into disappointment after the game was canceled and Kojima left Konami.
Jun 14, 2018
Few games pack the emotional wallop of The Last of Us. The tale of a grizzled and grieving survivor of a zombie apocalypse reluctantly agreeing to ferry a child to the resistance, only to find that she has given him a new reason to live, introduced a new maturity to developer Naughty Dog, previously best known for its more lighthearted Crash Bandicoot and Uncharted series. It also gave the company a hit: The Last of Us sold more than 17 million copies, all but ensuring the company would invest in a sequel.Read Article >
At the end of 2016, Naughty Dog revealed that it was working on The Last of Us Part II. And at E3 this week, we got our longest look yet at the game: a 12-minute sequence that blends cinematics and gameplay footage. A special moment at the outset, which finds the game’s heroine Ellie sharing a tender moment at a dance, grimly transitions into violence. Joel, who has become a father figure to Ellie after the events of the first game, is mentioned but never seen.
In an air-conditioned chrome trailer sitting across the street from the Los Angeles Convention Center, Masanori Takeuchi watches patiently as I boot up a game he produced nearly 15 years ago. Now the senior managing director at FromSoftware, a legendary Japanese game studio most known for the Dark Souls series, Takeuchi has been with the company since long before it made the video games that vaulted it to worldwide fame.Read Article >
That includes a time in the studio’s past, in the ‘90s and early ‘00s, when it didn‘t primarily make cryptic action RPGs, but was best known for making the beloved Armored Core mecha games. Those featured large armored war suits inspired by Japanese anime like Mobile Suit Gundam. And in 2004, FromSoftware was tasked with making a mecha game for the original Xbox. Microsoft was desperately trying to break into the Japanese market and compete with dominant homegrown platforms from Nintendo and Sony. Making a mecha game could help it do that. (In theory, anyway. Microsoft never did quite become dominant in Japan.)
It’s been three years since we’ve seen anything from Square Enix regarding its episodic remake of Final Fantasy VII. The game was a no-show again at E3 this year, but it remains in development, according to Tetsuya Nomura, who has a hand in the title along with directing Kingdom Hearts III. “We are developing [Final Fantasy VII] in parallel, and it’s not just in the early concept stages,” he tells The Verge. “We are actually in development.”Read Article >
The longtime Square Enix developer says he’s been giving equal effort to both highly anticipated games. “So right now, it’s like I’ve been putting in 100 percent into Kingdom Hearts, 100 percent into Final Fantasy VII, 100 percent into Kingdom Hearts... just going back and forth,” he says. “It’s just like [working on] two titles is just going to be one [after Kingdom Hearts III’s launch]. That’s pretty much how I see it.”
Nintendo’s Labo kits captured the imagination of gamers everywhere with their creative cardboard constructions, so it was only natural that we’d eventually see other companies start to build their own cardboard creations.Read Article >
At E3, Nyko announced the Labo’s first competitor: the $20 PixelQuest Arcade Kit, which turns a Nintendo Switch into a miniature two-player arcade cabinet. And like the Nintendo Labo that the PixelQuest Arcade is, shall we say, ”heavily inspired” by, players actually have to assemble the PixelQuest Arcade out of cardboard.
Kingdom Hearts III is set to arrive 17 years after the first game in the series launched, but the franchise has enjoyed a long and healthy life outside of its main installments. More than a dozen spinoff titles have expanded its world, sometimes with befuddling titles or convoluted plotlines while also jumping around in time. It’s enough to confuse anyone but the most die-hard fans.Read Article >
Director and creator Tetsuya Nomura says that while he has a firm grip on where the game’s story is heading, sometimes the whole thing gets a bit chaotic for him as well. “I do have a general storyline in my head,” he tells The Verge. “What is the most confusing is that, because there are so many characters in this storyline now, it’s hard to keep track of who actually met who already,” he says. “I’m always like, 'Okay, so who knows who in this situation, and who’s meeting this person for the first time?’ And that always gets really confusing.”
Jun 14, 2018
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild came out more than a year ago, which means enough time has passed that we’re starting to see its influence on other games. One upcoming game that draws heavily from Link’s adventure is Sable, a new title from Shedworks, a two-person indie team from London. Development on the game started around the same time that the Switch launched last year, and when the team played Zelda for the first time, they realized it was built on many of the same core fundamentals as their fledgling project. “We’ve learned so much from Breath of the Wild,” says Daniel Fineberg, lead programmer on Sable.Read Article >
The titular lead character in Sable is a young girl who sets out on a pilgrimage of sorts. When people reach a certain age in this world, they head to the desert to meet new people and understand different cultures. But before the story kicks off, the first thing you’ll probably notice is how incredible the game looks. It’s like a comic from Jean “Moebius” Giraud has been brought to life in three dimensions. The version of Sable that I played at E3 was still fairly early, but even with some technical hiccups, the world looks gorgeous. It’s the kind of place where there’s always something cool-looking just over the horizon, begging to be explored — which is good, since that’s the core of the game.
Spider-Man has a long legacy that covers almost every form of media, including comic books, movies, TV shows, and video games. He’s one of the most popular superheroes on the planet, and it’s hard to find someone who isn’t familiar with the webslinger’s powers and history.Read Article >
That means that Insomniac’s Spider-Man game for the PlayStation 4 has a lot of expectations to live up to, especially when it comes to the most important piece of the puzzle: the web-swinging. After playing the game E3, I’m pleased to report that Insomniac has nailed it, and it’s shaping up to be one of the best superhero experiences you can play on a console.
Jun 14, 2018
Sony is facing a growing backlash from PlayStation 4 fans who are angry they can’t log into the Nintendo Switch version of the game. Thousands of Fortnite fans have been reacting angrily since news broke earlier this week that you can’t use a Fortnite account that’s been used on the PS4 with the Nintendo Switch. Sony is blocking Epic Games from allowing cross-play and progression sync between the PS4 and Nintendo Switch or Xbox One. This means that any progress, skins, and purchases can’t be shared between PS4 and Nintendo Switch or Xbox One.Read Article >
After a couple of days of radio silence, Sony is finally starting to respond:
Cyberpunk 2077 isn’t necessarily what’d you expect as the follow-up to The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. CD Projekt Red’s next big release is still a role-playing game, of course; and from what I saw during a 50-minute hands-off demo at E3 this week, those RPG elements are incredibly deep. But it also fuses that structure with with a first-person shooter, and a dynamic open world that’s primed for Grand Theft Auto-style mayhem.Read Article >
CD Projekt Red describes Cyberpunk 2077 as a “narrative-driven RPG.” It takes place in an alternate-reality version of Northern California, in a sprawling mega-city filled with augmented humans. The demo opened, as most role-playing experiences do, with a character creator. You can choose your character’s gender, pick a look, and assign skill points to better suit your playstyle. But Cyberpunk 2077 also goes a step further, and lets you craft your own simple backstory. You can choose from childhood events that shaped your character, and these in turn will influence how people perceive you in the game. It’s a nod to the game’s history, as it’s based on a pen-and-paper RPG called Cyberpunk 2020.
Jun 13, 2018
Yesterday, Nintendo announced the immediate availability of free-to-play megahit Fortnite for its Switch console. And in under 24 hours, the game has been downloaded more than 2 million times, according to Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé. Speaking with Polygon today, Fils-Aimé said the metric speaks to a lot of pent-up demand for the game on a console like the Switch, because of its inherent portability and the ability to sync your Epic account across multiple platforms and have all your in-game items and progress unlocked.Read Article >
Unfortunately, the launch has been somewhat mired by a controversy around cross-play and cross-progression between the Switch and Sony’s PlayStation 4, with Sony remaining silent on its decision to block PS4 players from using their accounts on competing platforms. Despite that, it seems Switch users are nonetheless interested in getting the game up and running, especially given that it’s free.
There was a lot to get excited about during Nintendo’s E3 presentation this week, but one game was conspicuously absent: Metroid Prime 4. Nintendo announced the game at E3 last year with no details beyond the title, and many fans were hoping to hear more about it at the company’s presentation on Tuesday. According to Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé, there’s a very specific reason why the company announced Metroid last year, even though it was still so early in development.Read Article >
“Last year with Metroid Prime 4, it was important to highlight for the Metroid fan that that franchise was going to come to Nintendo Switch, so that we could also share Metroid: Samus Returns for the 3DS, and not have them be so disappointed that a mainline Metroid experience isn’t coming,” he tells The Verge. Fils-Aimé added that the company prefers to focus its marketing efforts on games that will be available in the near-term, hence Prime 4’s absence from this year’s event. "There’s an exception to every rule,” he says of the choice to reveal the game in 2017.
This week at E3, Nintendo and Epic revealed that the biggest game of the moment — Fortnite — would be coming to the Switch. While it was exciting news for fans of the battle royale game, it also represented something of a trend; multi-platform games that launch on the Switch often do so long after they’ve already been available on other platforms.Read Article >
Fortnite first hit other consoles back in July, for instance, while Bethesda’s Wolfenstein II originally came out last October but won’t be on the Switch until later this month. However, while these kinds of delays have been common during the early stages of the Switch’s lifespan, Nintendo believes that this will change very soon as the platform matures.
Jun 13, 2018
When Nintendo unveiled Smash Bros. Ultimate at E3 on June 12th, the Japanese developer promised a bevy of smaller tweaks to the platform brawler. According to Smash Bros. director Masahiro Sakurai, some fighters are more expressive now, while others feature new voice acting and sound effects. What wasn’t announced: the anatomical proportions of some characters have mysteriously changed, too.Read Article >
Smash Bros. Ultimate sees the return of Solid Snake, the protagonist of Hideo Kojima’s stealth series, Metal Gear Solid. Last seen in the Wii’s Smash Bros. Brawl, Snake was known for being a powerful character in a flattering suit. Though the suit is meant to help Snake move around silently, it is also known for enhancing Snake’s physical features.