Winners and losers from the E3 video-game show
At E3, Creators Highlight Virtual Reality’s Progress.
LOS ANGELES (AP) – The video-game industry’s annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, which occupied the Los Angeles Convention Center this past week, was an overwhelming, exhausting experience – so many games, so little time. During this year’s video game extravaganza, a variety of women — virtual and otherwise — have been featured more prominently than in past years of the annual trade show where game makers highlight their forthcoming creations.
If the 21st annual E3 Expo is any indication, you’ll have no shortage of extraordinary entertainment experiences to indulge in over the coming months and years.The three-day event at the Convention Center in Los Angeles, California, is home to the world’s premier trade show for computer, video and mobile gaming. The conference is attended by software developers, programmers, distributors, entertainment industry representatives, venture capitalists, and video game consumers. Oculus, which jump started the latest VR trend in 2012, allowed attendees to go hands on with Oculus Touch, the pair of controllers it unveiled ahead of E3 last week for its Oculus Rift system. Microsoft, for instance, kicked off its E3 presentation with 343 Industries head Bonnie Ross introducing a “Halo 5: Guardians” cooperative gameplay demo that featured men and women playing together as male and female members of Spartan Locke’s squad.
Oh sure, there were some all-new games that stood out – like Horizon: Zero Dawn, No Man’s Sky, Unravel and Mad Max – but sequels dominated this year’s E3. The doodads feel like a mash-up of the Wii Remote and PlayStation Move controllers with a twist: sensors surrounding users’ hands can detect basic motions like pointing an index finger or giving a thumb’s up. We’ve picked out our favourite new titles from those revealed so you’re ready to fill your birthday and Christmas lists for the next 12 months and beyond… The company later hyped “ReCore” and “Rise of the Tomb Raider,” which both feature female heroines. “We’re about everybody playing games, and we want to represent that in the content that we put on screen,” said Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s head of Xbox. “We opened the show with Bonnie. Available in 2016, Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End once again stars treasure hunter Nathan Drake – and other returning characters – in a large-scale, third-person and action-heavy adventure.
Video game console, Xbox (owned by Microsoft) had a plethora of their gaming presentations operated by female leaders and executives, according to NBC News Los Angeles. “Sometimes, girls feel as if video games aren’t meant for them,” said Erica Hampson, a game developer for Virgini to NBC News. “Games used to be very sexualized but it’s been getting a lot better.” Emily Kaldwin, the assassin in Bethesda Softworks’ “Dishonoured 2,” Rae, a blind female character in Microsoft’s “Beyond Eyes,” and a female hunter in Sony’s “Horizon: Zero Dawn,” were some of the new heroines presented, according to the Associated Press. And this year’s E3 featured new games and new content from what are arguably the three biggest names in first-person shooters right now: Halo, Destiny and Call of Duty. In the Oculus “Toy Box” demo, for example, one hand could grip a lighter to ignite a Roman candle held in the other, resulting in virtual fireworks comically blowing up in a wearers’ face — all without a trip to the emergency room.
She’s got such authenticity as someone who has been with Xbox a long time, running our biggest franchise and being a spokesperson for the platform, the industry and ‘Halo.'” Ubisoft, which came under fire at last year’s E3 for revealing that female avatars wouldn’t be an option in “Assassin’s Creed: Unity,” reversed course last week by focusing on female “Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate” co-star Evie. The trailer for this PlayStation 4 exclusive showed off the larger levels, high-definition characters and environments, and both on-foot and in-vehicle combat. As beautiful as an irradiated waste-land can look, the sprawling open world RPG sequel is set in Boston, many years after a nuclear war left most of America a smouldering ruin.
Microsoft won over many fans by promising it would be making the most of the games for its previous console, the Xbox 360, playable on the newer Xbox One. The publisher also brought Angela Bassett on stage to announce she was portraying the first-ever female boss in “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege.” Others introduced all-new female protagonists, including bow-wielding huntress Aloy of “Horizon Zero Dawn” and 10-year-old blind girl Rae of “Beyond Eyes.” Bethesda Softworks announced Sunday that stealth sequel “Dishonored 2″ would feature a female co-star and post-apocalyptic “Fallout 4″ would allow players to create male or female avatars of different races. “We’ve always believed that this is not a boys’ club and should never be a boys’ club,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, CEO of Nintendo of America, who is Haitian-American. “That mentality permeates our games and our corporate environment. Meanwhile, Bethesda’s “Fallout 4,” EA’s “Mass Effect: Andromeda” and Ubisoft’s “Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate,” gave players the option to play as female characters. Drake and his longtime friend and mentor Victor “Sully” Sullivan attempt to make their way to a seaside tower but are ambushed in a crowded marketplace.
The next instalment in the saga of the Master Chief will feature a brand new online mode called Warzone, which pits two 12-player teams against one another in large arenas dotted with objectives and some powerful AI enemies. An untethered HoloLens was shown off with a holographic “Halo” battlefield map appearing on a table, an interactive shooting game called “Project X-Ray” simulating alien bug-like creatures popping out of walls and a version of “Minecraft” that seemingly constructed the beloved blocky franchise in the real world. “The hope is that game developers will now see HoloLens and come back with great ideas and ways to take advantage of it,” said Shannon Loftis, head of publishing at Microsoft Game Studios.
But there are still plenty of eye-catching new titles on the horizon, from the universe-spanning “No Man’s Sky” to the down-and-dirty brawler “For Honor.” Even established properties like “Fallout” and “Call of Duty” have some new tricks up their sleeves. A small all-female gaming development group from South Carolina called 3 Queens also made an appearance at E3, to introduce their new game “Creeping with the Crudashians,” a mobile game parody of “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” according to MTV News. Racking up points – by securing areas, eliminating dangerous aliens and slaying opposing players – allows you to access bigger and better weapons and vehicles to bring onto the battlefield, ensuring a slow but steady increase in the chaos and carnage as matches progress.
While a demonstration of HoloLens broadcast with a special camera on stage at Microsoft’s E3 briefing wowed many viewers, the reality is the imagery inside HoloLens doesn’t completely envelop a user’s field of view. Warzone is a refreshing new spin on Halo multiplayer, and I found it allowed me to choose how I wanted to participate in each battle, whether it was splattering enemy players in a Ghost, hanging back to protect my team’s base or fighting the AI mini-bosses that regularly entered the fray.
Visually impressive, there’s not much to go on at the moment beyond the promise of big enemies, big thrills and even bigger guns, although the game looks set to focus keenly on a frenetic single player mode first and foremost. The important part is that if you’re a man or woman, it doesn’t really matter, as long as you’re the right person for the job.” In recent years, the industry has rallied in support of gender diversity, especially over the last year when an online campaign began targeting women and others in gaming for criticizing the lack of diversity and how women are portrayed. Set to drop on October 27, 343 Industries’ next Halo game wowed crowds at E3 for its intense campaign — including many cinematic moments — which you can run through with three friends in a cooperative (co-op) mode.
The positive vibes at the expo served as a counterpoint to the prevailing image of the gaming industry as sexist, and even potentially dangerous, for women. Although sometimes I got a little too intent on this, and ended up getting assassinated from behind by an opposing player while my attention was focused on the alien baddie. Just last year, Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist critic who has written extensively about misogyny rampant in video games had to cancel a planned lecture at Utah State University after mass murder threats were made. “I think that women and young girls have a different perception of gaming or even anything in technology or software-related. I think the perception is off, and if they could see more and be exposed to these types of events or opportunities and even see other women, like us, who are actually being successful at these types of opportunities, that would really inspire them.
The Taken King is a meaty new downloadable expansion pack set to release on the one-year anniversary of Bungie’s online shooter, adding new story-based chapters, character sublcasses, a raid and lots more. For instance, “Rigs” pits teams of three Morpheus-clad gamers against each other as mechanized laser-blasting combatants in a futuristic arena, while the latest version of “Playroom VR” casts one Morpheus wearer as a Godzilla-like creature who must chase and evade three other gamers portraying robots on a TV screen. “I think being in VR with someone else is a really different experience than being alone,” said Richard Marks, senior director of research at Sony Computer Entertainment America. “With something like ‘Rigs,’ it’s just like a regular multiplayer game except the other players feel like they’re right there with you. A sneak-peek teaser was all we got for Dark Souls 3, but if you like your adventure games crushingly difficult, this offering will almost certainly be the one for you.
With crumbling castles, extraordinary vistas and twitch-perfect dark fantasy combat, it’s the first brand-new Souls game for the latest generation of consoles, if you don’t count the PS4’s spiritual successor Bloodborne. Sony’s Project Morpheus is still rough around the edges, though we were quite taken with a Harmonix-designed app that lets users zone out to psychedelic images synched to music. Skylanders SuperChargers once again fuses action figures with a video game – the toys come alive on the television screen when placed on the Portal of Power, which is connected to the console – but now Activision has added collectible vehicles to the mix. The Nightstalker proved especially useful in this mode, with a super-move that can immobilize groups of enemies and a new grenade type that creates a wall of purple fire, perfect for blocking foes who are trying to rush into your base and slam their spark into your rift.
Players can tackle missions by land, sea and air, in a number of customizable and upgradeable vehicles including cars, motorcycles, boats, tanks, helicopters and submarines. To a Johnny Cash soundtrack, the CG-clip of the space-faring action RPG showed off a dusty desert world, a starship’s bridge and the return of the Mako jeep, revealing a whole galaxy not previously seen in a Mass Effect game to explore. WINNER: Oculus. “TOYS TO LIFE” MELEE: This category, in which physical toys become animated onscreen characters, got more crowded with Warner Bros.’ “Lego Dimensions,” which features Batman, Scooby-Doo and favorites from “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Lego Movie.” Disney has added the cast of “Star Wars” to its “Infinity 3.0.” Nintendo’s adorable “Animal Crossing” critters are heading for the amiibo lineup, and Donkey Kong and Bowser are crossing over to Activision’s “Skylanders.” That franchise is also adding toy vehicles, so don’t expect it to put on the brakes anytime soon. The game will also introduce 20 new Skylanders characters, but parents should be relieved to learn the game also supports all existing Skylanders characters.
True story: during my first of five Black Ops III matches at publisher Activision’s massive E3 booth, I was playing against a team that included actor Tom Arnold (True Lies). YOSHI: Yarny, an awkward little creature made from wire and red yarn, is the unlikely hero of Electronic Arts’ “Unravel.” His creator says the yarn represents “love, and the bonds that we make,” and a physical version of the character charmed social media with his adventures on the E3 show floor. Available November 17 – one month before Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens debuts in theaters — Star Wars Battlefront from DICE and Electronic Arts will drop players into intense intergalactic battles based in iconic Star Wars locations. Still, he’s no match for Nintendo’s Yoshi, whose upcoming “Yoshi’s Woolly World” is being accompanied by an adorable woven-yarn amiibo of the spunky dinosaur.
For example, attendees at E3 were treated to a live 40-person multiplayer match on the snowy planet of Hoth, which pit Rebel forces against the Empire. Respawning and getting immediately blown to bits again and again by a high-tech gunship circling the map, all because some uber-dude racked up the mother of all killstreaks.) It’s just different enough to feel fresh, but familiar enough to feel like good old Call of Duty: fast, frantic and lethal. Kicking off the 2015 E3 Expo was Bethesda Softworks’ Fallout 4, the long-awaited return to the beloved single-player open-world role-playing game series. Heading first to the PS4, little is known about the remake, but if it can marry the original’s vision to the potential of modern consoles, it could be truly awe inspiring.
Played from a first- or third-person perspective, you’ll freely roam around huge environments, interface with memorable characters and gain access to more than 50 base weapons and over 700 modifications available. A classic from the Dreamcast era that’s been left on a 14-year cliffhanger ending, it was announced at E3 as a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign and was fully funded less than a day later. Mixing martial arts with a thrilling murder mystery – and, possibly, some classic day-job forklift truck driving, if the older games are anything to go by – it’ll be on PS4 and PC towards the end of 2017.
Continuing directly on from the franchise’s relatively recent reboot, Rise will see a young Lara Croft growing in experience, tackling harsh icy terrains and, of course, raiding tombs to uncover long-lost treasures. Along with single-player and local multiplayer options, FreeStyleGames and Activision are introducing a mode called GHTV, an always-on 24-hour music video network that lets you log on, strap in and play to a continually updated collection of music videos and concert footage. That is, instead of the cartoon-like animated bands from previous games, you can rock out to your favorite artists and discover new music, while challenging others for high score.
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