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E3 2014 round-up: Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo in new battle for games console dominance


Well, it’s all over for another year. The 2014 Electronic Entertainment Expo has been and gone, and the staff of the Los Angeles Convention Centre are busily mopping up nerd-sweat off the floor. But if you missed any of the big announcements, fret not! Absolute Gadget has waded through all the hours of conference blather and mocked-up trailers to deliver all the news that’s fit to print type on the Internet. Shall we?

Since all three big name console makers have finally got their newest machines on shelves, this year’s E3 was, with a couple of minor exceptions we’ll come to, all about the games. Here’s a very quick rundown of what was revealed:


Having basically admitted that Kinect was a massive waste of everyone’s time without actually saying it, Microsoft was keen to make their conference this year squarely game-centric. The biggest hitter, unsurprisingly, was Halo, with Halo 5: Guardians being bigged up and the rumoured Master Chief Collection confirmed. The latter squeezes Halos 1-4 onto a single shiny Xbox One disc (no sign of Reach or ODST) along with every Halo multiplayer map ever (over a hundred!) and a pass to the Halo 5 beta, which opens in December. Look for Guardians next year and Master Chief Collection on November 11.

In other returning series, Forza Horizon 2 will be on both 360 and Xbox One – the next-gen version arriving September 30, no 360 release date yet; Fable Legends showed off its first gameplay footage, with the beta promised in autumn; Crackdown is finally confirmed as returning, with series creator Dave Jones on board; a remake of cult classic original Xbox game Phantom Dust is on its way; and Rise of the Tomb Raider, sequel to the 2013 reboot, was announced (presumably this’ll be on PS4 as well, but it was revealed as part of Microsoft’s conference) with a trailer showing Lara in therapy. Not surprising if you’ve played the 2013 game.

There was a bit of new stuff as well, with Limbo creator Playdead revealing Inside, which looks, well, quite similar to Limbo; Platinum Games showing off Scalebound, which seems to be about standard for a Platinum Games title (i.e. completely nuts); and the news that Evolve’s beta will be Xbox-exclusive. Speaking of Xbox-exclusives, the DLC for both Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Ubisoft’s open-world tactical shooter The Division will be on Xbox first before Sony gets to tuck in to tasty micro-transaction pie.


One suspects Sony isn’t that bothered about having to wait for the aforementioned DLC, as there were loads of new titles heading PS-wards. Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was revealed with an enigmatic trailer (jungles! pirates! That’s about it!) while the Naughty Dog theme was kept up with a release date of July 29 for The Last of Us Remastered (Europe might get a different day); the new title from Demon’s/Dark Souls creator Hidetaka Miyazaki and From Software was shown as the similar-in-spirit (pun not intended) Bloodborne; Grasshopper Manufacture (Lollipop Chainsaw, Shadows of the Damned) showed off the vicious-looking PS4 exclusive Let it Die, which looks startlingly brutal even by Grasshopper standards; there’s a LittleBigPlanet 3, to no-one’s surprise; the very first Ratchet and Clank is getting a PS4 remake; the ridiculously brilliant Day of the Dead/film noir point and click mash-up Grim Fandango is coming to consoles – namely PS4 and Vita – some sixteen years after its PC release and now we feel really old; Destiny’s beta will arrive as a timed exclusive on PlayStation in July; Dead Island 2 has been announced, leaving us wondering what Riptide was; The Last Guardian still exists, apparently; the improbably ambitious Elite-alike No Man’s Sky will be PS4-first; and a new digital curio called Entwined was released the moment it was revealed and can be bought on PS4 now with PS3 and Vita versions imminent. Additionally, one of the aforementioned exceptions to the game-centric rule this year was a sort-of hardware announcement in the form of the PlayStation TV, which, as we detailed yesterday, will be here in the autumn for £84.99.


Carrying on its recent habit, Nintendo chose not to directly attend E3 but instead do its own thing and pop the relevant info and videos up on the interwebs. The Kyoto company had the other major sort-of hardware announcement with the debut of the Amiibo range of figurines. You might remember when the Wii U was first revealed hints were made that the GamePad’s NFC capabilities would be employed with Skylanders-style figures you could scan into the game – well, these are they. Amiibos (amusingly, no-one seems to have settled on a plural yet) will work across a range of Nintendo games and give you access to special versions of characters – they’re all based on established Ninty faces – that will level up as you play. Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart 8, Mario Party 10 and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker are among the first titles to use the system. Look out for the figures by Christmas.

As for the actual games, you may have noticed two new Mario spin-offs in that list of Amiibo-compatible games. Mario Party 10 is probably best forgotten about already, but Captain Toad might be more fun – a spin-off from Super Mario 3D World with the returning solve-rotatable-mazes-without-jumping gameplay. There’s also a third Mario title inbound in the form of Mario Maker, which – yes! – allows you to make your own Mario levels. We can’t wait to see what hellish obstacle courses the Internet will come up with.

Moving on to other games, Shigeru Miyamoto had no less than three new titles, all still in an early stage of development – tower defence game Project Guard, giant fighting robot game Project Giant Robot (note these are possibly not final titles…) and – finally! – a new Star Fox; the intriguing Splatoon is Nintendo’s attempt at an online shooter, albeit one with paintball guns and the ability to turn into a squid (?); Yoshi Yarn got the new title of Yoshi’s Woolly World and a delay ‘til next year; Bayonetta 2 was confirmed for an October release and will also come with the first game bundled in just ‘cos Platinum loves you; the latest Pokémon remakes (Pokémakes?), Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, will hit 3DSes on November 28; Devil’s Third, the new one from Ninja Gaiden director Tomonobu Itagaki, is now Wii U-exclusive; and there was a raft of new Super Smash Bros. news. Bad first: the 3DS version will slip from summer to October 3 (the Wii U version’s still on for its original winter release). Good news: new fighters! As well as the aforementioned Amiibo support, you’ll be able to play as Miis in-game, Kid Icarus’ resident goddess Palutena will be laying some divine smackdowns and, most excitingly, Pac-Man! Yes, the yellow dot-muncher will appear, and yes, he’ll be going “waka waka waka”.

Finally (and we’ve saved this bit ‘til last because it was the single most exciting moment of E3 for us), some Zelda news. Oddball spin-off Hyrule Warriors got a September 26 release date, but everything paled in comparison to the announcement of a new Wii U Zelda. The unnamed game had a snippet of footage shown – it looks gorgeous, seeming to be halfway between Wind Waker’s cel-shading and Skyward Sword’s Impressionist style, there’s some sort of weird magic robot spider thing and Link has a fancy new bow and, most importantly, it’s fully open-world. The footage showed a huge field with Link astride Epona and mountains in the distance – series producer Eiji Aonuma assured us you can ride all the way to the mountains and climb them if you want. It’s Zelda does Skyrim and we are very excited.

Third Parties

We’ve covered most of the third-party stuff above but there are a few more titbits to mention (EA and Ubisoft both had their own conferences, after all).

On the EA side, BioWare was on hand to both mention a brand new title they’re working on (no specifics other than it’s “contemporary”) and formally reveal Mass Effect 4; there were glimpses of the new PGA Tour, Mirror’s Edge and the Star Wars: Battlefront reboot; the Battlefield Hardline beta is available on PC and PS4 right now, with the game probably arriving on October 24; and Burnout developer Criterion said it was working on a new multi-vehicle, first-person driver.

Over on Ubisoft‘s stand, Far Cry 4 looks like Far Cry 3 with extra bits – the co-op storming of a fortress was brilliant, and you get a delightfully silly little one-man helicopter to putter about the Himalayas in; Assassin’s Creed: Unity also loves the co-op, looks very, very nice and will be on sale on October 28; The Crew will be out on November 11; the iffy looking Rainbow Six Patriots has made a short trip to the bin and been replaced by the much more promising Rainbow Six Siege, an asymmetrical multiplayer title; and Just Dance 2015 and a fitness title called Shape Up both exist and were probably not the best place to end this list on.

As for the rest, Konami was showing off Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, which looks to make absolutely no sense; Netherrealm had Mortal Kombat X on show – looks much like the 2011 game, but with the possibility of more interactive backgrounds as well as a couple of new characters and some really gruesome Fatalities shown; in addition to the new Tomb Raider game mentioned a while back, there’s a new spin-off following on from Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, called Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris; and Final Fantasy Type-0, a PSP game that only ever saw Japanese release, will be hitting Xbox Ones and PS4s worldwide.

That’s about it for the major news. You may have noticed a lack of release dates – as a rule, unless we specified otherwise, expect the vast majority of these games in 2015. Best start saving now…