The 2014 Electronic Entertainment Expo wasn’t as dramatic as last year’s, when Sony and Microsoft were battling for attention in advance of the autumn debuts of their new game consoles, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
This year, the focus was on new games to play on those machines, so those who attended E3 at the Los Angeles Convention Center this week had a lot more fun. And the competition is far from over. Here are some winners and losers from the video-game industry’s biggest convention.
PlayStation vs Xbox
Consumers have bought a few million more PS4s than Xbox Ones, but that doesn’t mean Sony can rest on its laurels. Forthcoming PS4 games include the steampunk thriller The Order: 1886, new instalments of the popular Uncharted and LittleBigPlanet franchises, and a promising batch of games from smaller studios, such as the psychedelic journey Entwined and the sci-fi exploration game No Man’s Sky. The Xbox One countered with the goofy Sunset Overdrive, the haunting Ori and the Blind Forest and new chapters of the Halo, Forza Horizon and Crackdown series. Winner: Xbox, by a very slim margin
Nintendo vs the sceptics
The Wii U has had a rough time in the market, but Nintendo rewarded its die-hard fans this year. There’s a new Legend of Zelda game (finally!) on the way. Splatoon brings Nintendo-style whimsy to the online shooter. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a delightful puzzle game. And the Amiibo line, which connects real-world toys of Mario, Donkey Kong and the rest of Nintendo’s heroes to their digital counterparts, has collectors psyched.
Oculus vs Morpheus
The most heavily hyped technology at E3 involved strapping on a headset and immersing your senses in 3-D virtual reality. Sony showed a few simple demos for its Project Morpheus device, letting you swing swords at a dummy or luge down a busy motorway. The Oculus Rift inserts you right into Sega’s terrifying Alien: Isolation, a Mario-style platform game called Lucky’s Tale and the time-bending shooter SuperHot. I’m still sceptical about VR’s viability – neither headset is particularly comfortable – but Oculus is clearly farther along.
Multiplayer vs solo
The buzziest demos at E3 were 2K Games’ four-versus-one monster hunt Evolve, Ubisoft’s five-on-five SWAT team drama Rainbow Six: Siege and Nintendo’s four-on-four paintball competition Splatoon. There were a few solo acts such as Sony’s The Order on the floor, but if you want to play the hottest games this year and next, you had better find some friends.
Moving vs sitting
Motion-detecting game devices that force you to get off the sofa were all the rage a few years ago, thanks to Nintendo’s Wii and Microsoft’s Kinect. But now that you can buy an Xbox One without Kinect, you can sit down. I saw just one new Kinect game – Harmonix’s Dance Central Spotlight – and nothing in the Wii U line-up will burn any calories.
* Lou Kesten, Associated Press