Conference Call 2013

Another year, another round-up, another desperate relationship with sleep.

What an exciting Electronic Entertainment Expo. If you ask me the 2013 major publishing conferences were the most interesting, surprising and, in at least one case, outright brutal I have seen for a long, long time. Wow.

Just as I did last year, I’ve broken down and ranked each conference from least to most impressive in my own opinion. Of course each company just showed so very many games that I cannot possibly hope to remember them all, so please keep that in mind. I will say that even though last year I placed Ubisoft on top of the list, this year’s EA conference (which is ranked lowest here) would have given that purple French showcase a real run for its money. 2013 was just that good for E3 conferences.

Link: here
What they showed: Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare, Peggle 2, Titanfall, Star Wars Battlefront, Need For Speed Rivals, Dragon Age III: Inquisition, a bunch of EA Sports games, Battlefield 4, Mirror’s Edge
Highlight: The Star Wars Battlefront teaser trailer
Impressive-ness: Though I was always expecting the EA conference to be my least favourite by sheer virtue of my lack of interest in the majority of their franchises, their 2013 effort really surprised me and is only in this position because the other conferences were so very, very good. Two of my only reasons to care about EA, namely Plants vs Zombies and their new Star Wars game license, struck me in surprising ways (a third, FIFA, has yet to wow me with the 2014 edition yet). EA’s Battlefield 4 demo was far more impressive than the one at the Microsoft conference, Titanfall is so damn impressive that it is pretty close to a must-buy for me and the reveal of a new Mirror’s Edge just put the icing on a very delicious cake.

U b i s o f t
Link: here
What they showed: Rocksmith 2014 Edition, Splinter Cell Blacklist, Rayman Legends, The Mighty Quest For Epic Loot, South Park: The Stick of Truth, The Crew, Watch_Dogs, Just Dance 2014, Rabbids Invasion, Assassin’s Creed IV, Trials Fusion & Trials Frontier, The Division
Highlight: The multiplayer of The Crew and The Division
Impressive-ness: Another very strong conference. Though at a glance their game line-up may appear to have had more “fluff” than EA’s, there was considerably less time spent on such fluff. I was rather disappointed that we still don’t have a release date for South Park: The Stick of Truth, and there was no Rainbow Six Patriots to be seen, but new Rayman Legends footage made up for that and another look at the intricate world of Watch_Dogs got me even more excited for the game. The true power of Ubisoft’s conference, however, lay in the unveiling of two new multiplayer-focused IPs, both heavily integrated with next-gen social features and tablet integration. The Crew remains the only racing game of the show (aside from Mario Kart) that I may actually want to play, while the customisation and sheer seamlessness of The Division is just so tantalising.

N i n t e n d o
Link: here
What they showed: Pokemon X & Y, Super Mario 3D World, Mario Kart 8, Wii Party U, Wii Fit U, Art Academy for Miiverse, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, The Wonderful 101, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Bayonetta 2, X, Super Smash Bros for 3DS, Super Smash Bros for Wii U
Highlight: Pretty much all the new stuff but particularly Smash Bros
Impressive-ness: Oh Nintendo. You frustrate the hell out of me and then blow my mind two seconds later. The Japanese giant stepped out of the E3 Press Conference ring this year to let Sony and Microsoft duke it out, choosing instead to deliver some of their big news to their fans directly. They have been doing this kind of thing regularly for over a year and a half now, and yet for some unforeseen reason this particular live stream feed was marred by terrible glitching, freezing and crashing problems. It took me far too long to find a working source for the stream, but once I did I was left rather pleased overall with the Wii U’s immediate future. There is much more to say on the topic of the very weird position in which Nintendo finds itself at present within the industry, but for now, POKEMON HAS A FAIRY TYPE! BAYONETTA HAS SHORT HAIR! MECHS EVERYWHERE! MEGA MAN IS IN SMASH BROS!

M i c r o s o f t
Link: here
What they showed: Metal Gear Solid V, World of Tanks, Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, Ryse, D4, Sunset Overdrive, Killer Instinct, Forza 5, Minecraft, Quantum Break, Project Spark, Crimson Dragon, Dead Rising 3, The Witcher 3, Battlefield 4, Below, a new Halo game, Titanfall
Highlight: The opening and closing games: MGS V and Titanfall
Impressive-ness: Microsoft ensured 2013 would be an E3 to remember by kicking off the conference line-up with an unmistakably next-gen feast for the eyes. Metal Gear Solid V showed series fans that Snake was more than ready to go open-world and that the series was just as crazy as ever. A slew of visually impressive, surprisingly creative titles followed, one after another (Forza 5‘s impressive new AI approach and Project Spark‘s emergent streak in particular stood out), in a seemingly unending line-up of wow-factor. A cleverly cloaked Master Chief reveal and the beyond-exciting mechanised fracas of Titanfall left Microsoft in a strong position. They finished strongly with a price point that was largely expected – $499 US, and bid adieu. And not a single mention of TV, sports or even *gasp* Call of Duty. They were looking very hard to top, until…

S o n y
Link: here
What they showed: A new season of The Walking Dead, The Last of Us, Puppeteer, Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, Gran Turismo 6, Batman Arkham Origins, The Order: 1886, Killzone Shadowfall, Infamous: Second Son, Knack, Transistor, a bunch of other indie games, Final Fantasy XV, Kingdom Hearts 3, Assassin’s Creed IV, Watch_Dogs, The Elder Scrolls Online, Mad Max, Destiny
Highlight: The double Square Enix reveal and the merciless Microsoft-targeted string of good news at the end
Impressive-ness: Sony’s conference was an absolute sucker punch, starting slowly (and steadily enough) and at times threatening to mire itself in the dreaded talk of TV and sports. But when the real meat of the PS4 content started to unravel, particularly after a truly stellar line-up of indie games took the stage all at once and then the operatic double whammy of FFXV and Kingdom Hearts 3 hit, the company built some real momentum. Then bam – Sony systematically pummelled the Xbox One blow by blow with a series of counter-announcements that were music to gamers’ ears – “It plays used games” – “It doesn’t need an online connection”. Cue raucous applause. Then Destiny – then that glorious price tag – $399 US. Congratulations, Sony, you win E3 2013.

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