It’s not a stretch to call E3 the biggest / most important / historically significant (etc / etc) event in gaming. There are others, all the ‘Cons’ provide platforms, TGS, Gamescom, Pax has grown considerably, but when you chart the history of gaming, the meteoric rise, the major milestones, there can be no doubt E3 is king of the digital hill. Since ’95, which could be argued to be when the gaming thing happened in earnest, no single event has been the source of more excitement, news, and  dropped jaws than E3. From the Gamecube forward, Nintendo has been revealing most of their vaunted legacy at E3. E3 was also where we first learned that Sony and Microsoft had designs on the world of gaming and hardware ( and just think about how that pairing alone has spun countless interesting story lines over the years). Naughty Dog, Ubisoft, Bungie, Unreal/Epic studios, Infinity Ward  to name but a few of the household names of game development, and not just the games they produced either. Hard as it might be to believe, they were all at one time unknowns that many of us first discovered at this grand event. On the verge of E3s newest installment (June 10th, just in case you hadn’t been paying attention), let’s have a look at some of the big boys, the major players and what we can expect to see at E3 2014.

Ubisoft –  At this point, Ubi has become an annual ‘one to watch’ highlight. While the Assassin’s Creed series had gone a tad stale, they did managed to breathe some fresh (salt) air into it with Blackflag, and surprising nobody there’s going to be more of everyone’s favorite backstab friendly memory diving series with two entrees, a project currently titled ‘Assassin’s Creed Comet’ and Assassin’s Creed Unity. That’s hardly all… coming in what seems like a really short time since the very entertaining Far Cry 3 (and its incredible DLC Blood Dragon) Far Cry 4. These games are big and a lot of fun for those of us who like to roam, this time they’re taking it to the Himalayas.   

Microsoft – After burning whatever good will they’d earned in two generations of consoles and games by telling the masses ‘You’ll take what we give you and like it’ in that debacle last year, you better bet they have some ground to make up. Sony (near as I can tell) is the clear winner between the two… hopefully they’ve learned their lesson. Anticipate something about Smart Glass, or, maybe like the ill fated Kinect in years past, EVERYTHING will be about smart glass. Games include Gears of War 4 (such an ugly number) I don’t know what more they can do with this series that isn’t beating a dead horse. Sold by Epic and bought by Microsoft, they have some Epic people involved, but of all the 4’s this one feels the most hollow… maybe I’ll be surprised. Halo 5: Gaurdians, my feelings are so mixed here, I choose not to comment, but wait and see. Forza horizon 2 will give racers a taste and Sunset Overdrive which might be the only genuinely new and interesting title I’ve heard associated with them so far. A sort of coop/sunny, happy apocalypse/kill monsters with fun weapons game, last year’s trailer was genuinely fun, and this recent first look put a smile on my face (the respawns), its Insomniac, so chances are good we have something to look forward to. Project Spark, possibly a cool bit of innovation, its basically a game engine/creation kit packaged as a retail game… having had a lot of fun making stuff in game engines professionally this has real potential.

Nintendo – All the more intriguing for opting out of a live presentation, in true quirky Nintendo fashion, the folks from Japan might just be the most successful for going against convention and doing their own thing – it’s certainly worked for them in the past. I know this is my most anticipated presentation and not because of the anticipated game lineup (Zelda!) but simply because they’re doing things a bit differently. Sometimes these things get super corporate and transparent (looking at you Kinect), so If Nintendo has put together something different, my little nerd appetite is whetted. Not the least, in fact, probably something that will get a fair chunk of time and space is Nintendo’s version of Infinity/Skylanders. If there’s anyone more suited to this business model… well, let’s face it, there isn’t.  The toy / game thing has made buckets of money, and Nintendo is pretty good at toys and games. What else? Super Smash Bros for Wii/U/3DS, X (Xeno series) is bringing current gen robot fighting to the Wii U, Hyrule Warriors (Dynasty Warriors meets Hyrule), there is some Pokemon coming down the pipe, and that’s not including whatever else they’ve got waiting for us. I love these guys.

EA – Always a big dog, particularly with their portfolio of evergreens – that’d be the yearly games, Fifa, UFC, Madden, Tiger Woods, NHL in this case. ls also strapped with a pair of Bioware offerings, including Mass Effect 4. I thought we were finished here? We’ll see. I’m rarely a fan of popping out another sequel after closing down a series; at least without something interesting to spur it on. In this case, that would be a new protagonist, which if nothing else, has my attention. Also, Dragon Age: Inquisition, a franchise I absolutely adored until the second one came out. There’s also a pair of Battlefield games, first the standard sequel which is as interesting to me as any other yearly iteration of a shooter (though I know it’s big for lots of folks). It’s the second one that has me curious. Opening up a secondary branch that, while an First-person Shooter, has nothing to do with military simulation – Battlefield: Hardline. Being referred to as ‘Cops and Robbers’, this was a clever move to add some distinction to the franchise – color me interested. Cap that off with a new Sims, and Mirrors Edge 2, and this is a big year for EA.

Sony – As I mentioned in the intro, E3 has been a major space for these guys since they changed everything with the PlayStation. This is the console (other than PC) that I’m really behind this generation. One delightful looking game is The Order 1886. No, steam punk isn’t dead, and yes it’s still incredibly awesome… mix in some classic monsters and meaty, fun looking weapons? Please… this is a match made in heaven. Uncharted 4, this is a year for 4’s, which always feels like a dispiriting number for franchises, and I was hoping poor old Nathan could hang up his sidearm.  But who are we kidding? Treasure hunters never die… until they do, likely swallowed up by a combination of old age and some horrible old trap in a tomb. Though it feels like there’s confirmed content where Sony is concerned, it won’t be lost on them that big things are expected and required, and I’m interested in what they’ve got up their sleeves. I was asked specifically not to speculate in this article, but the indie scene has changed hands from Xbox to Sony in a major way. Given the impact the Indie thing has had on games these last few years… other than Nintendo, let’s just say I’ve got my schedule cleared for Sony.

And all this is just what I can comfortably (ish) talk about in one post. Needless to say this should be an interesting year. With the current generation of hardware in full swing (or at least getting there) the time is right for the powers that be to set themselves apart, and generate interest in their new systems. This is also why I am very curious about the Nintendo conference, because their ability to seem like the underdog and turn it to their advantage through timing and foresight is all but legendary. Expect to see the studios/publishers putting their best feet forward, justifying their hardware with catalogues of games designed to grab your attention.  OOoo, feel that?  I just got goosebumps…

Dont forget to keep it locked right here at the Plug-in blog’s E3 Hub for all your juicy E3 news and announcements. 

You can find all of the latest information about E3 and the latest discussion topics on gaming at Best Buy’s E3 page. 

Kurtis Diston
A firm believer in "you have to get old, but you don't have to grow up," I've been an unabashed lover of nerdy things for a good long while and don't plan to stop anytime soon. With experience on both sides of the video game, both as a consumer and a producer, and a love of the written word, I've managed to combine all three right here with the Plug-in blog