Based on the positive reception/abject failure (delete as appropriate) of the first of my articles looking back in time to an entire E3, that of 2010, I’ve decided to be a glutton for punishment and do another retrospective. This time, we are jumping into the world of E3 2015, when the Xbox One was all new and shiny, and we were gagging to see what we were going to be playing next on our big, black dust collectors under the TV.
Obviously, at E3, something around a million games get announced, so I am going to have to apply some filtering to this piece, if only to save you reading forever more. I won’t be covering any of the PS4 stuff, mainly because the wife says I don’t need another console, and I will also filter them by games that I have personally played, both for good and for bad. So, I present to you my five favourite things that came out of E3 2015 – and some that flopped as well. Buckle up, it may be a bumpy ride!
I have loved DOOM ever since the early days, playing on the network at school when the teachers weren’t looking (and even then, spending some time playing against them too). I played it on my PS1, and I played it on my Xbox 360, so the reveal of DOOM on the Xbox One had me spinning around in circles in my living room, squeaking.
The speed the game ran at, and the ultra violence on display, in particular the new Glory Kills that looked amazing, pretty much sold DOOM in a heartbeat – I was rendered dumbstruck by the end of the 15 minute long gameplay reveal.
Having pre-ordered the next Wolfenstein game – The New Order – I was eligible to play the multiplayer alphas and betas of DOOM, and did so with extreme pleasure. It had been a good long time since I had played DOOM multiplayer, as my K/D by the end of the sessions showed!
But still, to this day, DOOM on Xbox One is one of my favourite games to load up and blow off steam with, beating a few demons to death. I have to say, Bethesda really did bring their A-game to E3 2015: in addition to Doom, they showed Fallout 4, Dishonored 2, Dishonored Definitive Edition and the Tamriel expansion for Elder Scrolls Online. Seriously, could it have got any better?
Destiny: The Taken King
I have written extensively over my career as an internet-based games scribbler about my love of the first Destiny. I didn’t care that the end game of the vanilla Destiny was almost dead. I didn’t care that the first two expansions – The Dark Below and House of Wolves – were short and not very exciting. I didn’t even care that the Crota Raid was so broken that people were cheesing their way through within a couple of days. Nope, I just loved the game, I loved the universe and I loved being part of a Fireteam that knew each other, played well together and could predict pretty accurately what we would need to do to win.
So when The Taken King expansion was revealed, with its whole new area, new enemies, and new raid, well, I was beside myself. With a proper story expansion, and a whole lot of content added, this was pre-ordered before you could say “Titans are the greatest!”. And for the most part, it delivered on the promises too.
Activision did also reveal some other interesting games. I will be forever grateful to them for showing Skylanders SuperChargers, as my son decided on his Christmas list there and then, and my wallet took a kicking when they released the array of all the Skylanders in the world to be played with. Other than that, it was stuff I didn’t care about: Black Ops III, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5 and a Guitar Hero game.
Nothing could touch The Taken King, though!
Dark Souls III
Ah, Dark Souls. How many times have I tried to complete the first two games? How many times have I uninstalled the first two games, swearing that I would never touch them again? How many times have I broken that promise and restarted, with a different character and build in an attempt to get further? More times than I care to remember, that’s how many.
So, the reveal of Dark Souls III had me all kinds of intrigued. The gameplay looked the same, with massive bosses designed to kill players in new and interesting ways, and even the run of the mill enemies – if there is such a thing in a Dark Souls game – being very capable of messing up your entire day. Luckily, whether it was FromSoftware finally taking mercy on us poor players, or whether I had finally managed to “Git Gud”, this remains one of my proudest game completions to this day. Yes, I finally finished a Souls game!
In true Souls fashion, of course, I had no idea why I was running around and fighting all these things, but had a jolly good time doing it nonetheless.
Unfortunately, the rest of Bandai Namco’s reveals were of less interest: the only other Xbox One game they announced was Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4. Now I know what a Ninja is, and a Storm… but the rest? Not so much!
Gears of War 4
Microsoft delivered a double whammy with the Gears franchise in this particular year: not only was a remastered Gears of War announced (which was awesome, by the way), they also revealed the new game from The Coalition, the first numbered Gears game not to be developed by Epic Games.
And what a reveal it was.
The gameplay on display in Gears of War 4 was supposed to hint at a darker direction for the franchise, although I remember wondering at the time how much darker the games could get, given that the human race was on the verge of destruction and the Locust were busy rampaging across the world. I was still in mourning for Dom, I guess, and the wounds were still raw. Getting Zombie Dom as a multiplayer character for pre-ordering seemed to help me find closure, anyway.
There was never going to be any doubt that I would get Gears 4, as all the previous games had been completed and really enjoyed, so Microsoft were preaching to the choir with me, and I suspect a lot of other viewers also that day.
The rest of the game line-up was also pretty impressive: games like Cuphead looking fabulous and promising a rollicking good time, ReCore delivering the goods, and the addition of a cute robot dog never hurt any game’s chances, Forza Motorsport 6 was a sure thing, and the new pirate game from Rare, Sea of Thieves, was hotly anticipated. And speaking of Rare, Rare Replay was announced, allowing us to really go back in time and explore the company’s back catalogue. It was worth it for Killer Instinct Gold alone, in my view.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands
Despite the long title, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands was an almost complete surprise when it was shown at the end of Ubisoft’s presentation.
I had heard rumours that they were working on something, but assumed it was The Division, another game that was shown in the same event.
However, for me, the open-world feel and setting for Wildlands blew The Division out of the water, and while I would go on to purchase and play both, I still feel that Wildlands is the better game with the better premise. It seems it wasn’t just me that thought that way either, as it went on to garner some awards based on the reveal, with it being nominated for one of IGN’s Best of E3 2015 awards, and also won one of Gamespot’s similarly named awards.
So, with a massive world and 4 player co-op, along with intelligent AI companions if you were playing alone, I remember sitting there, with my jaw agape, wondering which internal organ I was going to have to sell in order to play all these games.
Ubisoft nailed much at E3 2015 too – a lot of Tom Clancy related games were accompanied by the likes of South Park: The Fractured But Whole, Trackmania Turbo and Just Dance 2016, utilising the Xbox One hardware to its utmost.
These then are my five personal memories of the E3 2015 show, but there are many games that could have made the list. It just goes to show what a strong year it was in fact, especially when you have games like Need For Speed (the reboot, with the strong “yoof” vibe), Assetto Corsa leading the charge for the more simulation-based racing game, Shadow Warrior 2 delivering a very enjoyable sword and gun romp, and Batman: Arkham Knight rolling into town; just to name a few.
Of course, they can’t all be zingers, and E3 2015 also had its share of games that wouldn’t go on to set the world on fire. Games like Battleborn, which despite being fun to play just wasn’t up to the standards of 2K’s other franchise, Borderlands. EA stepped up to the plate and promptly fell over with Mass Effect: Andromeda, which was almost New Vegas-style broken at launch, and went on to become almost a meme for not meeting expectations, and CI Games allowed another Sniper: Ghost Warrior game, the third in the series, to dribble out onto the market, where it proved to be just as predictable as the earlier games.
Now, in the spirit of award ceremonies everywhere, I have a surprise nomination to my list. This wasn’t a particular game, but was more of a concept, more of a mould breaker. You see, it was at E3 2015 where Microsoft announced backwards compatibility for Xbox 360 games on Xbox One, with the release of an emulator that would allow you to play a limited (at first) number of Xbox 360 games on your Xbox One. Of course, when I say limited, there were 104 games announced as ready to play at the conference, and if you owned them digitally, they could be downloaded to the Xbox One and enjoyed straight away. Or, if you still had the original disc, it could be inserted and the newly licensed copy of the game would be downloaded and installed, with the disc only used for licence verification.
This was a real game changer for many, with the Xbox One game library expanding almost immediately, finally letting us play CoD: Modern Warfare 2. It was worth it just for that, eh? I’ll never forget putting an Xbox 360 copy of Destiny into my Xbox One, thinking it would be fun to restart the game fresh. Instead, the game unlocked all the achievements instantly, as apparently the game progress was shared across all the platforms. More than 1000 Gamerscore in the space of about three seconds. Winner!
So, these are my memories of E3 2015, and the games that came out of it. What about you guys out there? Do you remember this conference, and do you have a favourite game from it? Let us know in the comments – Unless it’s Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3, of course. You should probably keep that to yourself.