What will the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Wii U generation of games bring to the table. At E3 2014, we begin to learn. All three consoles have made it past launch, and must now begin to prove their worth to the gaming masses. Nintendo’s Wii U, even with a year’s head start, has already been outsold by its rivals, but Sony and Microsoft aren’t out of the woods yet. Their consoles are expensive, and their rivalry has never been more pronounced. Xbox One has already seen a price (and Kinect) cut, and neither system has a truly killer next-gen game yet.
DT’s Gaming Editor Adam Rosenberg and I will be at E3 this week to help you wade through the madness. Beginning early Monday morning, we’ll be on hand to report the major announcements before the show, and all three days of E3.
Major E3 press conferences to watch:
Publisher E3 rumors and schedules
Our most-anticipated games of E3:
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (Xbox One, PS4, PC)
Shadow of Mordor takes place between Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit film trilogy and The Lord of the Rings, following a guardian of the Black Gate named Talion, who is cursed and back for vengeance against Sauron, who murdered his family and left him for dead. He looks a lot like Aragorn, and has a ranger skillset to match. The game isn’t just about combat though. You can manipulate the world to your advantage, getting orcs and other baddies to do your bidding and help you out. And since you’re cursed, you have a few special magical abilities as well.
This is a third-person action-RPG that we can’t wait to play from Monolith Productions, the team that brought us FEAR, Condemned, and Guardians of Middle-earth.
Evolve (Xbox One, PS4, PC)
Good enemy AI is still something games are trying to figure out. Evolve is one of the first next-generation games to take a new approach around this problem. This game has teams of four players cooperatively hunting down select enemies in its “Hunt” mode. The twist? The enemy is controlled by another player, whose mission is to kill the team, which has Assault, Medic, Support, and Trapper class types. We’ve seen modes where players control enemies before, but nothing like this. The team will track the beast player’s movements, looking for clues in levels like the deep jungle. The player who’s controlling the beast can evolve and get more powerful by devouring local wildlife and win by killing the players or their generators. Winning teams will be those who can stick together to destroy the smartest enemies to grace a game screen.
This one comes from Turtle Rock, the developer behind Left 4 Dead.
Assassin’s Creed: Unity (Xbox One, PS4, PC)
We know it’s set in Paris during the 18th-century French Revolution, but we don’t know much else about the next Assassin’s Creed. Still, you can bet Ubisoft will talk about its flagship series, which may try a few new things this time around. Rumor has it that there will be a co-operative mode where up to four players can participate in the “narrative.” AC has had co-op before, but never as a part of the story. There’s a possible second Assassin’s Creed game coming this year as well. You bet we’ll be watching Ubisoft’s pre-E3 press conference with both ears and eyes wide open.
Far Cry 4 (Xbox One, PS4, PC)
Your guess is as good as ours. We know Far Cry 4 is coming to all non-Nintendo consoles on Nov. 21, 2014 and will take place in Kyrat, a “breathtaking, perilous and wild region of the Himalayas struggling under the regime of a despotic self-appointed king.” It’s said to double down on everything people like about Far Cry, with a larger and more “immersive” world. Ubisoft should reveal more information about the game at its pre-E3 press conference.
Destiny (Xbox One, PS4, PC)
What happens when you take the developer behind Halo and release it from the shackles of releasing sequel after sequel? One exciting new game. Developer Bungee’s Destiny appears to have an FPS feel like the Halo series, but adds massive worlds, interactive environments, puzzles, random world events, cooperative missions, RPG-style leveling, and many other MMO elements. You can choose between several classes, ride vehicles, and fight to save the solar system from the Hive and Fallen. We’ll have a full hands-on look at Destiny during the show.
Still not excited? It’s rumored that publisher Activision is spending more than $500 million to make and promote this game.
Super Smash Bros. Wii U (Wii U and 3DS)
We have nothing against Nintendo (I’m an unabashed fan), but it hasn’t given gamers many reasons to buy a Wii U. Super Smash Bros. Wii U may change that. With new entrants like Mega Man, Wii Fit Trainer, and 27 other announced characters, it already has a packed roster. The game will be online and also have a 3DS version that is different, but compatible (online) with the Wii U version. Sadly, there doesn’t appear to be a story mode this time around, but we’re excited to destroy each other (and all of you) in Smash Bros. anyway. We’ll have a hands-on look at E3, and Nintendo has already announced E3 Demos are coming to Best Buy sometime in June. To celebrate, it’s also holding a tournament during E3.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U will come out before the end of the year, and the 3DS version may hit selves this summer.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (Xbox One, PS4, PC)
Another year, another Call of Duty. The reigning champ of online shooters will return this year, this time with a little help from Kevin Spacey. The actor plays the head of a private military organization (we think named “Atlas”) that appears to go rogue and try to take over the country. The game will undoubtedly have classic CoD action, but also a few new goodies like a special high-tech uniform that gives new abilities like high jumping like Halo, cloaking, hovercraft, some sort of weapon that lets you see sound (maybe), a new cover system, and full-on mech suits because, why not? This is what we’ve gleaned from the trailer, at least.
Advanced Warfare hits shelves Nov. 4, 2014 and is developed by Sledgehammer Games, which worked alongside Infinity Ward on Modern Warfare 3.
No Man’s Sky (Xbox One, PS4, PC)
No Man’s Sky is hoping to take procedurally (randomly) generated worlds to a whole new level. The developers have created an engine that can create entire planets of content on its own, and what we’ve seen so far looks amazing. Developed by a four-man team called Hello Games, it has gone through some serious trouble, too. Last December, a flood destroyed the UK studio of Hello Games, destroying all its PCs, laptops, equipment, dev kits, and more. But the team didn’t give up and No Man’s Sky is still in development, supposedly without delay.
We can’t wait to learn more about the game, which could have first-person, dogfighting, and space-exploration elements.
Tales from the Borderlands (Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, PC)
You gotta love Telltale. The studio which recently found huge fame with The Walking Dead series has been serializing games for years now, bringing back classics like Sam & Max, Monkey Island, and many other franchises. Now it’s going to do its thing with Borderlands, and we couldn’t be happier. Tales from the Borderlands (see screenshots and a trailer here) is set on Pandora after the events of Borderlands 2 and has you play characters Rhys (data miner) and Fiona (con artist). It’s going to be up to us to figure out their past and the truth throughout the first season.
If you play other Tales games, you can transfer your loot here as well. The goal is to bring the Borderlands series to players who aren’t as interested in shoot-em-ups.
Mortal Kombat X (Xbox One, PS4)
Fatalities are making a comeback. NetherRealm Studios, the new home of Ed Boon and the MK team, has released the first trailer for Mortal Kombat X showing Scorpion and Sub-Zero fighting to the death. It appears pre-rendered, but the footage makes us feel like it’s 1992 all over again. The new game appears to take after Mortal Kombat 9 (2011) with a 2.5D fighting engine, but may have more interactive environments. Boon and his team claim it’s “fueled by next-gen technology” but we’ll have to wait until next week to learn what that means.