The Electronic Entertainment Expo is wrapping up in Los Angeles, after console makers and game publishers made their big announcements for the new gaming season. And while much of this year’s focus has been on Sony’s new PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One, there’s little point to owning a console if the games aren’t any good.
Happily, developers are looking to impress with a big portfolio of games that are all-new — many of the biggest titles at this year’s show are original and not just the next chapter in a blockbuster series, as they have been in past years.
While Microsoft may be facing a bit of a setback after Sony announced it would undercut the Xbox’s $499 price tag by a cool $100, the company has not disappointed when it comes to delivering a great lineup of exclusives. Of the 15 titles it’s named for the Xbox One so far, eight are completely new.
These include Quantum Break, a title that will also have a tie-in with an Xbox TV show, the open-world shooter “Sunset Overdrive” and “Ryse: Son of Rome,” a first-person sword fighting game — originally made as a Kinect title, now with a combination of controller and voice control.
Microsoft also offered a peek at a new, as-yet-untitled game from Black Tusk Studios, formerly Microsoft Vancouver, which is being groomed as a studio to produce strong Xbox games meant to rival titles, such as in Microsoft’s Halo franchise. A short teaser for its new game showed off a shadowy figure rappelling down a building and then spoiling for a high-tech fight.
Sony, meanwhile, said that it will have 20 exclusive titles in its first year, ranging from big studio titles, such as “The Order: 1886,” a new, steampunky title that imagines what may have happened if the Industrial Revolution had made machines of war rather than commerce. The conference also showed off more of Destiny, a new first-person shooter from Bungie — the former Microsoft studio that recently handed off its “Halo” franchise. But Sony also gave plenty of love to independent developers — in keeping with its general pitch at the conference to give love to the gaming community — with titles such as “Don’t Starve,” a cartoony survivalist game that gives players a pretty basic mission. As Jamie Chung, the co-founder of the “Don’t Starve” studio Kiel, put it on Sony’s official blog: “Basically, you try not to die, but you will. A lot.”
Finally, Nintendo has put the most focus on games at this year’s conference — a move that makes sense given that their latest console, the Wii U, has already been on shelves for months. The company is, in general, keeping to its usual cast of beloved characters for its games as well as a number of third-party developers to build out the appeal of the Wii U.
Familiar faces grace new games in the Nintendo lineup, including “Super Mario 3D World,” “Sonic Lost World” — which features everyone’s favorite hedgehog — and “Donkey Kong Country Returns: Tropical Freeze.”
Nintendo also has a lot of new updates to familiar franchises, including MarioKart’s eighth installment and a remade version of the Gamecube title “Zelda: The Wind Waker” in high-definition for the Wii U. Nintendo is also reaching out to existing fan bases with the launch of “Pikmin 3,” and of “Bayonetta 2,” a third-party game. Both titles are among the most highly anticipated games for the Wii U.
To keep excitement for its products high, Nintendo is giving players the opportunity to try out E3 titles in Best Buy stores around the country. The firm already held an event Wednesday, but if you missed it, they will have another session on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
There are no demos at D.C. stores, but there are sessions in Maryland and Virginia at stores in Frederick, Glen Burnie, Wheaton, Charlottesville, Newport News and the W. Broad store in Glen Allen, Va.
A full list of participating stores is available on Best Buy’s Web site.
Even with all of those original titles, of course, there are still plenty of new additions to classic franchises on all of the platforms, including Forza 5 (an Xbox One launch exclusive), Assassin’s Creed 4 and Battlefield 4.
And one of the most-buzzed about games out of E3 is the new addition to one of gaming’s longest-running series: Final Fantasy. With Final Fantasy XV, which originally debuted as Final Fantasy Versus XIII at E3 2006, publisher Square Enix is dropping the turn-based play that’s been a hallmark of its games for years.
And of course, there’s always the next installment of Halo, which users got just a taste of at the end of the Microsoft news conference Monday. That title — the fifth in the Halo series — is expected sometime in 2014.
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