What will you be playing when the next generation of gaming arrives?
The fun guy at this year’s E3 console brawl between Playstation and Microsoft, Nintendo blew their next-gen load last year with the introduction of the WiiU hardware, so this E3 is all about delivering a lineup of characters who tug on the heart strings of gamers of all generations. It worked on us.
Super Smash Bros.
Nintendo’s legendary fighting game doesn’t have the fatalities of Mortal Kombat or the brute force of Tekken but what it does have is a slew of iconic characters beating each other’s asses. Smash Brothers was the ultimate procrastination tool for four friends who didn’t want to study for finals or needed a four-way method of settling disputes. After six years without a new one, we’ll be seeing (what looks like) a triumphant return of the series in 2014, complete with new roster additions in the enticing shape of the WiiU fitness trainer and the guy who originally blue himself, Tobias Funke MegaMan.
The other game that is a totally legitimate alternative to rocks, paper, scissor for settling scores, Mariokart was just begging for an HD WiiU version and, in the least surprising announcement of the show, we’re getting one. That’s not meant to be a complaint. We love Mariokart even when a blue shell cheaply robs us of a gloat-worthy victory and Mariokart 8 promises to preserve the simple perfection of its gameplay while adding little touches like gravity-defying hovercrafting. Hovercraft, boat, hanglider or kart – we don’t care, as long as you can turn off motion controls and steer with a d-pad. (We checked, you can.)
Super Mario 3D World
Continuing the nostalgia fest of E3 announcements, Ninty didn’t just announce the obligatory Mario game, they blended some of the best parts of the Super Mario Bros. franchise together to make an ultimate version for their new console. Take Super Mario Bros. 2’s character choice, mix it with Mario 64’s open, three-dimensional world; add the four-player on the screen simultaneity of the WiiU-launch title New Super Mario BrosU, and a cat costume power-up, and you get Super Mario 3D World. OK, that was a lot of times to say “Mario” but we hope you get the idea.
Since they didn’t have a proper press-conference at E3, Nintendo decided to do an informal presentation with their developers instead. Makers of the three titles above all looked like anime characters, down to the cat costumes they donned. Then the dudes who make Bayonetta 2 came out, looking like straight-up Yakuza by comparison. And that makes perfect sense, because Bayonetta 2 stands out in the Nintendo lineup in the exact same way. Stylized and lethal, Bayonetta 2’s slash-and-shoot gameplay firmly plants it in the “Mature” category, a plea to the hardcore to continue taking Nintendo seriously. It may not single-handedly convince anyone to forgo purchasing the PS4 or Xbox One, but it’s a damn compelling argument for continuing to make Nintendo’s console a part of your living room, even if it’s as a sidekick.
Microsoft’s missteps with the Xbox One have vilified them in a way that only pissing off the Internet can, but that didn’t stop them from dropping a slew of bombs when it came to Xbox One exclusives at E3 this year. New IPs abounded and some old favorites returned, making it potentially difficult to dismiss the Xbox One without some heavy gamer remorse. And that’s the worst kinds of remorse. (Ok, that’s a lie; there are much worse kinds of remorse out there, we just like being dramatic. The games are good though. Check ‘em out.)
Ryse: Son of Rome
Ryse is the story of Marius Titus and his epic rise from soldier to general in the Roman army. So yeah, it’s got a clever name. But Ryse is doing something we haven’t really seen before: it’s setting a third-person, combat-oriented game in the historical context of ancient Rome. Granted, we’ve confirmed that the developers on this one have played fast and loose with Roman history, but we’re not the kind of people to care about historical accuracy in our video games. We are the kind of people who want to bum rush a Visigoth encampment, sever their heads up-close, and toss them off the walls. And that’s why we’re looking forward to Ryse.
Microsoft’s very own racing sim is coming back for fifths, and it’s doing so with the power of the Xbox One’s cloud computing capabilities behind it. Forza 5 comes with the graphical excellence of the next-gen with textures of both the car and the world being so extremely realistic you wanna reach out and touch the leather interior of the supercars in the game, but it’s the personal calculations that Forza 5 does on you and your driving style that sets it apart. Jokes about being “so advanced you don’t even have to drive” aside, Forza and Xbox have done something impressive with Forza 5’s “Drivatar” system. It goes like this: play the game, win (or lose) races, drive (or crash) all kinds of cars and, instead of AI, my own Drivatar will show up in your game and pull in credits even when you’re not there.
We probably won’t see it for a while, but Quantum Break is an Xbox exclusive that ties episodic gameplay to actual episodes of a live-action TV show and bundles them both together in a single package. The “time-experiment goes awry” certainly piqued our interest as we began obsessing about getting to the bottom of this mystery game with a diabolical plot. We’re definitely gonna keep an eye on this one as more details emerge, but what we saw still looked like it was early in the stages of development and we can’t wait to find out more about this unique and inventive game.
Dead Rising 3
Setting aside the over-the-top mayhem of Dead Rising 2: Off The Record, Dead Rising 3 is coming, and, with it, comes an entirely new world of zombies for you to kill. Crafting weapons to make even deadlier versions is now even easier – and it’s a good thing, because you’re gonna need those weapons to escape the world of Dead Rising 3 which, we’re told, is bigger than both of the previous two worlds in the series combined. Top it off with some of the smartest uses of Xbox’s smartglass app for your tablet or phone and Dead Rising 3 is one of the most innovative sequels we’ve seen at E3 this year. Now, we just need to figure out what you call it when you mix a chainsaw and a sledge hammer. Sledgesaw?
Sony seems to have returned to fighting form and come out swinging this year, putting the Xbox One in its crosshairs and pulling the trigger until the clip was empty...and then they pulled it three more times. Gamers were so enamored with Sony’s “working-man, we-listened” attitude that the announcement that online gaming would no longer be free on Playstation and, instead, will cost around five bucks a month, wasn’t met with sneers or jeers but more of a “I’m not even mad” response. After seeing the exclusives in person, we’d gladly pay five bucks for these.
Driveclub is Sony’s free gift to PS Plus users, as it was just announced that the game would be a free download for the premium PSN subscribers. That’s a brilliant move on Sony’s part, because Driveclub is a game that is better when more people are playing it. It’s a socially forward arcade-style racing game that depends on gamers teaming up and creating race clubs. The idea of a massively multiplayer online universe isn’t a new one, but it is new to make a racing game exist in one. And if this happens to be the best, safest therapy to exercise the road rage that’s built up in us over the years, well, that’s just a bonus.
Killzone Shadow Fall
Guerilla Games, the jewel in the crown of studios that Sony owns, is back with their signature First Person Shooter series. Gone are the bleak environments of previous Killzone games; Shadow Fall’s jungle is bright and beautiful and makes it impossible to mistake this game for anything but a next-gen title. We’ve always had a soft spot in our hearts for Killzone and we’ve had an equally soft spot for ziplines. Combining the two in Killzone Shadow Fall is just the kind of game-winning tactics we’d expect from Amsterdam’s awesomest game studio.
We don’t even know what to think of Warframe. It’s a game that’s currently in beta for PC but has also been confirmed as a launch title for the PS4. It’s also free to play. That’s an incredible bit of execution for the good-guy PS4 that’s already won over so many hearts with its approach to online. Speaking of execution, it was Warframe’s trailer that caught our eye, opening with a definitively sci-fi approach to ninjas. Not just ninjas, motherfucking SPACE NINJAS. Warframe’s co-op nature is gonna have at least a few gamers immediately downloading this piece on launch day and we’ll be proud to be among those to see it go down.
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