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Thursday, June 5, 2014

E3 2014: Shaan's expectations for the show

Opinion by Shaan J.

It's that time of year again; the industry gets together to show off the big games and technologies that we'll be playing in the year ahead. E3 2014 will no doubt be a big show, but what are the DDNet staff looking forward to?

This week we're running a series of articles looking at what we're anticipating and worried about from E3 this year. Today we've got the thoughts and expectations of reviewer and contributor, Shaan.

Before I get into my thoughts on this upcoming E3, I should probably take the time to paint you a picture of my past E3 experiences. In the years prior to my foray into 'games journalism' (if we want to call it that), I wasn't nearly as into the industry. Don't get me wrong, I still loved and played many games, but I didn't spend hours searching NeoGAF and Reddit for the newest piece of information, an activity I now participate in, perhaps too much.

Past E3 Expos were always a treat. For someone whose knowledge of the game's industry (and more importantly, upcoming titles) was fairly limited, each June was a treat for me. A new wave of previews, gameplay trailers, and all the information I could want was compacted into a span of a few days, and fueled by my love for games (and a bevy of caffeinated beverages), I would spend an entire week dissecting stories from across the net. It was good fun, and I wish I could relive some of those years.

Fast forward a few years, and the picture isn't as rosy. Sure, I still love video games (heck, I want to make a career out of making them), but when you play over 100 games in a given year, your opinions and interests begin to shift. Five or so years ago, my small list of "Top 10 Games of the Year" would have most likely consisted of AAA titles. Nowadays, I spend a week or more curating the same list, and it's usually filled with more unique, or original indie titles.

And therein lies my issue; E3 is, first and foremost, an event that caters to business investors first, and the mass market second. Therefore, most of the show floor and press conferences will be littered with big-budget, name-grabbing titles. And there's not a problem with that, but as somebody who is more interested in smaller, more off-the-beaten-path games, something like PAX or Gamescom is more up my alley. Still, E3 is an important event, so I'll take the time to lay out my thoughts and expectations from the big publishers.

Of the three big console developers, I can't say I'm all that excited for Microsoft's newest console. While I was a big supporter of the Xbox 360 last generation, the direction that the Xbox One is heading in doesn't interest me all that much, and I will most likely end up picking it up years down the line. Sadly, the one game I was interested in (Quantum Break, which is being developed by the talented Remedy Entertainment, the studio behind Alan Wake) is instead being shown off at Gamescom. I imagine most of Microsoft's press conference will focus on other big budget titles (Halo, Sunset Overdrive, and a new Forza game) and we will probably hear some news regarding the console's expansion of its TV services. Fairly standard stuff overall.

I'm most interested in Sony's conference, as its dedication towards supporting independent game developers hits home with me. I picked up a PlayStation 4 on launch day, and have not regretted the decision one bit. While it may be lacking big budget titles for now, the steady stream of free content on PlayStation Plus and indie titles has made my early purchase completely worthwhile. While I hope the Sony conference focuses on smaller, more experimental titles (I'm hoping we see something from thatgamecompany, and maybe a glimpse of whatever Quantic Dream is working on), I'm also looking forward to Sony's bigger names, like The Order: 1886, and perhaps a new Uncharted game. I'm not sure at which conference it will be featured at, but I'm very interested in hearing more about Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Lastly, I'm hoping that Sony's PlayStation Now service is fully unveiled; an affordable and easy-to-access backlog of Sony titles would do wonders.

And then there's Nintendo. Most of my interest in the Big N has been focused on its shortcomings with the Wii U (I know that sounds harsh) but I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience with the 3DS over the past three years, and I'm hoping they announce the next wave of upcoming titles (I'm hoping to hear North American release dates for Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney, and Persona Q). The Wii U is also looking more appealing these days, and while I have yet to pick one up, upcoming titles like Bayonetta 2, Hyrule Warriors, and Super Smash Bros. might finally be the push I so desperately needed.

And that's pretty much all I have. As I mentioned earlier, most of my interest lies in smaller/independent titles, and those are a bit hard to predict, especially when it comes to E3 appearances. I'm still waiting on The Witness (which will hopefully see a release this year), and with the upset that was Battlefield 4 last year, maybe titles like Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare (which is out on PlayStation 4 in a few months) and Evolve (the newest title from Left 4 Dead developer Turtle Rock Studios) will reignite my love for co-operative shooting.

- Shaan J.
Contributor
Follow me @KneehighPark
E3 2014: Shaan's expectations for the show
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