E3 2015: Press conference roundup

The Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) is the biggest week in the gaming calendar. It’s when the world’s top game makers show off their new titles and technologies - what did we see this year?

Last night, Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft and Sony hosted their annualpress conferences, giving us an idea of what we can expect fromgaming over the next few years.

If there's one thing that was came across loud and clear, it'sthat game companies really don't want us to play aloneanymore. Multiplayer and connected worlds are the order of the day.Arguably the biggest releases of 2015 - Star Wars Battlefront, forexample - are primarily online multiplayer games, and any singleplayer elements seem more like little training modes for the mainevent.

Similarly, many of the new franchises announced - a pirate gamecalled Sea of Thieves from Microsoft studio Rare, and Ubisoft'sViking-themed battler For Honor - are also online-focused.

The upshot is that gaming enthusiasts will need a decentbroadband connection if they want to play the highest profilegames, plus download all the updates and extra content without lotsof waiting. And unfortunately, those with slow broadbandconnections could find themselves left behind…

Microsoft

So how did the conferences go? It's Microsoft that has thestrongest lineup for 2015. It showed many of the games we expected- Halo 5, Forza Motorsport 6, Gears of War 4 and Tomb Raider, allof which look both fun, and extremely visually impressive.

However, it also dropped some exciting surprises: a newsci-fi shooter called Recore, an impressive demo of its Hololens augmented reality headset, and backwards compatibility withXbox 360 games - something that should help persuade old consoleowners that haven't upgraded yet.

Sony

If Microsoft went for gamers making the jump to new consoles,Sony's presentation was precision-aimed at long-term gamers. Theannouncement of a remake of 1997's Final Fantasy VII - one of thegames that put the original PlayStation on the map, and by far themost fan-requested to return - was met with rapturous excitementboth in the room and on Twitter.

And then, while the audience was calming down, it hit them withShenmue 3 - or at least a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign forthe game - a unique mix of storytelling, martial arts and everydaymundanity. The first two Shenmue games were critical darlings witha particularly committed fan base, but neither was a massivecommercial success. However, less than 9 hours after theannouncement, Shenmue 3's £2 million Kickstarter was fullyfunded.

Other highlights included another strong showing for spaceexploration game No Man's Sky, an incredibly impressive demo forUncharted 4 - a game that's looking more and more like the bestaction movie we've never played - and first gameplay of theoft-delayed The Last Guardian.

Best of the rest

Ubisoft had a surplus of Tom Clancy games, including tacticalshooters Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon, plus Assassin's CreedSyndicate, which will give players the chance to run aroundIndustrial Revolution London. The biggest surprise was South Park:The Fractured, but Whole - a sequel to the excellent South ParkStick of Truth. Just try not to think too hard about the name.

Overall, it was a great night for games, with tons of veryinteresting looking titles. In fact, the only real stinker of thenight came from EA, with a thuddingly dull, filler-filledpresentation that spent far longer talking about games than showingthem. Outside of a charming new platform game called Unraveled, avisually impressive Star Wars Battlefront demo, there wasn't muchto surprise. Still the popularity of its sports games, includingFIFA, can't be overstated, so we're sure it'll be alright.

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