E3 is upon us. And if that makes no sense to you whatsoever, you're in the wrong corner of VICE entirely. Best go read some other stuff.
Assuming you meant to land here (hi), let's chat a little about the video gaming industry's biggest conference of the year, and what we want to see at it in 2015. By which I mean: here's a list of things that I'd like to witness. But whatever happens over the next few days, VICE Gaming has journalists on the ground at the LA Convention Centre, so if anything amazing occurs – like, the entire EA presentation goes up in flame, or the PC Gaming Show admirably struggles on through appalling Wi-Fi – you'll read about it on these pages.
With so much leaked already – Fallout 4 was just the beginning of the pre-E3 spill-the-beans splurge – it might be that E3 2015 serves up precisely zero surprises at all. But if it was to stick to my own hopes for what happens now, heads wouldn't so much turn as slip from shoulders and roll down the conference hall aisles, right to the front of the stage, where Microsoft's Phil Spencer would collect them up before catapulting the dead-eyed bonces directly towards the Memorial Sports Arena, the venue for Sony's own presentation. Not that it'd put them off again owning their dearest rivals. Probably.
The overdue death of a franchise on its arse
E3 is always about the New What's Next, but what'd be incredibly refreshing is if someone from Ubisoft or EA – one of the major publishers – came out and said: "You know, we've fucked up this series for long enough. So that's it: it's dead." I can think of a couple of prime contenders for this unprecedented honour.
Firstly, Assassin's Creed. Ubisoft has been playing the franchise's fanbase for utter mugs recently with a bunch of wholly underwhelming games. 2014's Rogue and Unity were forgettable (the bugs aside, of course) entries into a series that has long outstayed its welcome.
I appreciate that Syndicate is on the horizon, but the Victorian London-set game looks to be a laughable embarrassment of cor-blimey-guv'nor clichés from its reveal trailer, and adding horse-and-carriage gameplay to the mix isn't about to electrify anyone's nerve endings. What is really going to change? You get to play as a girl, I guess, but Liberation already gave players that overdue luxury, and made Aveline its star. Does anyone expect Syndicate to do the same with Evie Frye?
And then there's Sonic. I loved Sega as a kid. I fooled myself into thinking that their games were head and shoulders above those coming from Nintendo. Looking back now, it's clear to me that the SNES had far superior games available for it than the Mega Drive ever did (not to knock Sega's 16-bit console, as its greatest hits have proved evergreen attractions, which is why I'm so excited about Streets of Rage II for the 3DS), but the first clutch of Sonic titles really did feel different, special; the kind of experiences Nintendo would never deliver.
Until they actually began to, gaining exclusive rights to release Sonic games for its systems, the Wii U and 3DS. Which, quite naturally really, has dragged the blue hedgehog's reputation through all manner of mud and shit and shattered memories.
Today, Sonic games are a joke. 2013's Lost World was tolerable, albeit mainly because it looked so evocative of the original games' crisp blues and luscious greens; but last year's Rise of Lyric was the sort of shambles no series should be permitted to recover from. We know that Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice is coming, later in 2015, but please let that me it. If I may be permitted to repeat what I said back in January: show mercy, Sega, and put Sonic out of his misery. And E3 is the perfect place to let history become just that.
'Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice' trailer – it's just so hard to care anymore
Any sign at all that the triple-A market isn't slowly destroying itself
I don't know how many more yearly Call of Duties we can have before the commercialism-first side of contemporary games making collapses under the incredible weight of its own greed. Massive-budget mega-games can be amazing when done properly – I mean, just look at Grand Theft Auto V and all the wondrous things you can do with it, in it, around it. But Rockstar, unlike so many other major publishers, doesn't rush its releases – GTAV came out when it was ready, an initial launch date of spring 2013 moving to later that same year, a situation mirrored (and more) by the time it took to properly bring the game to PC.
Truthfully, I just find it hard to stomach so many developers and publishers constantly recycling the same garbage, dressing up everything we've played before as fresh experiences. I'm into the return of Deus Ex, and a new Doom might be just what the FPS genre needs right now. Then again, they both come loaded with audience expectations that they can't possibly match. Isn't it time that the triple-A market really did inject some new IP into proceedings? A new Forza, you say? Jesus wept. Splatoon might be only a slight step in the right direction for Nintendo, a company that's traditionally leant on its archive of veteran characters for new-title inspiration, but progress is progress.
Basically, any new IP from companies obsessed with their pasts would be cool
Capcom's E3 2015 goes as follows: Mega Man Legacy Collection, Resident Evil 0 HD, Devil May Cry 4 Special Edition, and some low-profile brawler or other called Street Fighter V. The latter title aside, which we'll rank as new despite its obvious roots in the retro world (and my own intense desire to play it, despite the baffling madness of this background), the rest is so beyond last-gen that its place in 2015 is questionable, likewise the demand for any of it even existing.
Capcom's not alone in switching its "new" game focus to rerubs of past glories, of course, and you might well be in a camp I've not come across, full of modern gamers demanding high-res versions of old NES games. But I'd love to see an iconic studio like Capcom bringing something truly fresh to gaming in 2015. Perhaps the poor performance of Remember Me in 2013 – in my opinion, an underrated gem of the previous gen – has made them entirely risk averse, but were the Clover days really so long ago? Ōkami, Viewtiful Joe, God Hand: these titles swam in longevity and ingenuity. Resi Zero? Rather less so.
That said, a new F-Zero game would be amazing
C'mon, Ninty, seriously. You let us smack down Diddy Kong with Captain Falcon in Super Smash Bros., but setting the speed demon back in his natural environment isn't on the cards? This controller interface excuse? Not buying it, at all. Unless it's a smokescreen – making the Mute City circuit addition to Mario Kart 8 a water-tester, perhaps? Or perhaps having two major racing games on the same platform would be one too many for Nintendo right now – making the next F-Zero a launch title for the company's so-called NX? I don't know, but I'd play the shit out of another F-Zero, be it on Wii U, a platform with a "brand new concept", or my phone if need be.
Likewise a new Red Read Redemption
Rockstar is supposedly announcing one more new game for 2015, and it may well use E3 to do so. Might it be a sequel to 2010's wonderful cowboy adventure? Internet rumours have circulated for years about what may or may not feature in a second wander around the Old West, but this "leak" from someone claiming to be an ex-employee of Rockstar makes for some interesting reading (assuming any of it is true, of course).
'SOMA', E3 2015 trailer
A strong indie showing
The standout game of E3 2014 was No Man's Sky. Since then we've not learned a great deal more about the upcoming indie title, in development at British studio Hello Games, but the excitement for it seems to have been maintained (if the traffic for this piece we ran on the game is anything to go by). And there are a few indie games lined up for 2015 that could well become stars of the show.
Both SOMA and Adr1ft look like amazingly immersive experiences – the first an underwater-set new game from the makers of Amnesia: The Dark Descent, the other an interactive Gravity, going by the footage seen so far. I'm really looking forward to playing The Chinese Room's Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, a post-apocalypse ghost story of uncommon beauty. Mike Bithell's back with Volume, a stealthy follow-up to his breakthrough solo hit Thomas Was Alone, and Abzû's announcement at 2014's E3 will surely be succeeded by some more gameplay footage. (Some journos have already got their hands on the game, which doesn't make me jealous at all.) Something more of Vane would be appreciated, too, which is the new game from former members of Team Ico.
It's in the indie sector where the brightest innovations are happening, and you can guarantee that E3 will showcase a handful of compelling new experiences that exist outside of the triple-A machine. And, hopefully, enough of the press will cover them.
'Adr1ft', Moonlight trailer
We know it's confusing for some of you, but Motherboard does gaming, too
Silent Hills isn't canned at all
Hideo Kojima suddenly appears on stage in the middle of Sony's show, stepping through a mystical portal from whatever realm he calls his own, mist bellowing into the conference hall, and announces: "I have taken it upon myself to make this game regardless of Konami's direction. But you still can't download P.T., sorry about that." That'd be nice. Wouldn't it?
Quit whining about being at E3
Journalists, editors, camera operatives, PR people, anyone not reading this because they're on a plane to LA right now: you have one of the greatest jobs in all the world. Quit whinging about it on Twitter, because it's upsetting.
The Last Guardian
Ahaha. No, but, seriously. Even though it's beginning to feel like we'll see Half-Life 3 before director Fumito Ueda's long-awaited follow-up to Shadow of the Colossus, just imagine the noise if this finally got a release date. My behind will be in Blighty, but it'll still be shaken. No word on the game this year, though, and I think that we can all put the idea of it ever coming out to bed for good.
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