It’s the equivalent of Christmas for the gaming world. But what presents did the big developers leave under our tree this time around? Mat Ombler unwraps the key announcements…

Every year, E3 fills gamers with more emotion in just a few days than they’re likely to feel for the rest of the year. From uncontrollable excitement to shattering disappointment (cheers, Nintendo), this year’s E3 was full of surprises. Here are six things we’ve learned from the expo.

Nintendo loves disappointment

There’s no denying that this years Nintendo conference was extremely underwhelming. Animal Crossing fans were treated to a half-arsed showcase of what looked like a re-skinned Mario Party, and anyone expecting a new Metroid game was left enraged after being shown footage for Metroid Prime: Federation Force on the 3DS. So enraged, in fact, that there’s currently an online petition with over 15,000 supporters demanding the cancellation of the game.

Whilst we were shown a new Zelda game in the form of Triforce Heroes, it wasn’t the Zelda footage we were expecting. And whilst the new Star Fox game looked impressive, there were no signs of a new Mario title or F-Zero game.

So what does this all mean? After recently announcing that the development of a new Nintendo console codenamed ‘NX’, it’s very likely that Nintendo are stalling the releases of their treasured IP’s in order to have them on their next home console. It’s no secret that Nintendo’s Wii U has been a commercial failure, and with little to come in the form of major releases and third party support for the console, it wouldn’t be surprising if Nintendo were focusing their efforts on releasing the NX with a strong line-up for launch. We’ll find out more about the NX in 2016.

Bethesda nailed their first ever E3 conference

This year was Bethesda’s first ever time hosting their own conference at E3, and with Todd Howard taking to the stage like a duck to water, they absolutely nailed it. Showing off the likes of Fallout 4, Doom 4 and Dishonoured 2, Bethesda has proven that they’ve got the guns to stand tall amongst giants.

Gameplay footage from Fallout 4 looked spectacular. Not only does the game look graphically superior to its predecessors, it boasts an alarming amount of new features that none of us could have seen coming. Customizable houses, console mods and a seamlessly infinite amount of other creation options? Thanks, Bethesda, because this game wasn’t going to take up enough of our time already…

Doom 4 is set to bring new life to what has fast become a very stale FPS genre. Focusing on fast-paced action and frantic gameplay, Doom 4 is a throwback to the golden age of arena shooters such as Quake and Unreal Tournament. As well as featuring an unparalleled amount of ways to dismember your opponents’ limbs, Doom 4 has some hilariously sized weaponry, including the return of the notorious BFG. This game is going to be big, in every sense.

We all still care about backwards compatibility

Quite surprisingly, one of the biggest announcements of E3 was when Microsoft announced backwards compatibility for the Xbox One. The crowd lost their minds, and Phil Spencer stood there gleaming, basking in the crowd’s applause as if he’d just beaten Andrew House in an arm-wrestling match.

There don’t seem to be that many people complaining about backwards compatibility, especially since the majority of XB1 owners still seem to own their original Xbox 360s. Regardless, it’s another reason to not get rid of your Xbox 360 games collection, but the stand out factor here is the ability to transfer your digital purchases over to your XB1. It’s a fantastic feature, and if you’ve spent triple figures on downloading Xbox Arcade titles, it’s great to know that your money hasn’t been wasted on games you can no longer play.

With Xbox One owners collectively losing their shit over the announcement, it will be interesting to see if Sony follows suit and decides to roll out backwards compatibility for the PlayStation 4, (they almost certainly will).

Remakes are still as popular as ever

We get them every year; old favourites get released again, but this time with all the DLC attached to them. Or we get something a little different; an old franchise gets a complete remake and the end result is a game that shines better than the originals. After years of waiting, we’re finally getting it – a Final Fantasy 7 remake.

Final Fantasy 7 released way back in 1997, and is regarded by many as the best game in the series. That’s a lot of pressure on Square Enix not to mess it up, especially after Square Enix director Tetsuya Nomura has said the game won’t be a simple remake, but a full remake involving changes to plot devices and evolved gameplay features.

With the original game being so close to a lot of gamers’ hearts, it will be interesting to see what changes the game has in store for us. As long as the remake expands on the storyline and includes new gameplay features, rather than diluting them (please don’t touch the Materia system, Square), Final Fantasy 7 could be the biggest and best remake we’ve ever seen.

Indie games are full of innovation

Cuphead, Castle Crashers: Remastered and Ashen were just a handful of the indie titles announced this year. It’s great to see the likes of Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft helping to bring so many of these titles onto our consoles, and given the success of previous releases such as Braid, Fez and Super Meat Boy, it’s certainly no surprise that we’re seeing more and more developers making names for themselves with innovative titles.

Not only does Studio MDHR’s platformer Cuphead looks like a fantastically darkened Disney cartoon, from what we’ve seen of the gameplay trailer, it’s shaping up to be a truly hardcore experience for fans of the old-school side-scrolling shooters that were so popular in the days of the Sega Mega Drive and Super Nintendo. Castle Crashers: Remastered promises four-player multiplayer action, but this time with even more features on the Xbox One. The original Castle Crashers was probably the most fun four people could have in one room without breaking the law.

One of the best games on show was Unravel, a new IP created by Swedish developer Coldwood Studios. The game is a puzzle-platformer in which you play as a character made of yarn, who has to unravel to cross the obstacles and enemies you encounter in the game. Perhaps the most humbling thing from the games presentation was how excited the developer was to show off this game. With so much love and enthusiasm going into the creation of the game, it’s sure to win over our hearts when it releases.

We know why the creators of South Park have been so quiet

With South Park seasons being dramatically cut in length to just a mere ten episodes, and certain episodes prompting fears that Matt Stone and Trey Parker have grown tired of the series, we’ve been left wondering what the creators of South Park have been up to in their spare time.

That was all revealed when a new South Park game, appropriately titled ‘The Fractured but Whole’, was shown during the Ubisoft conference. Parker and Stone announced that the game would be a direct sequel to the Stick of Truth, only this time the boys are playing as superheroes instead of fantasy characters.

The last South Park game was met with success and regarded as one of the best RPG’s in recent years. Thanks to its turn-based combat system, the game featured gameplay reminiscent of old-school RPG titles, and this combined with the typical tasteless humour you’d expect from South Park made for a fantastic game. Parker and Stone announced that, by the end of Stick of Truth, they had “learned how to make video games but it was kind of too late.” Given the success of Stick of Truth and also the tasteless humour in it (Nazi Foetuses, anyone?), we can’t wait to see what lines the next game will dare to cross.

Words by Mat Ombler for Highsnobiety.com

Words by AJ Gwilliam
Features Editor

Proud Brit. Pathologically addicted to white trainers (AKA "sneakers").

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