By James Page
Every summer the video game industry suffers from a drop in major title releases. However, this slowdown is offset by the anticipation generated in Los Angeles during the month of June. The best and brightest of the industry gather at the E3 Expo to display their wares and generate media buzz for the major releases set to debut during the Christmas season and the beginning of the following year. Every company, such as Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony, EA, and Activision, tries to impress attendees with presentations and hands-on demos, but after a few months have passed, it can be hard for someone to remember everything that happened.
Microsoft has been widely hailed for their system exclusive lineup at the 2014 expo. The lineup, which primarily focused on first–person shooter and racing games, included many new titles in long-established series. The company teased devotees with promises of a new “Halo” title but delivered a collection of Halo 1 through 4 and further promises of a Halo 5 beta to be available by December.
Fans of the “Forza” racing series will be excited to know that a new installment featuring dynamic weather and time cycles will be released around the end of September. Finally, the “Fable” franchise will return this holiday season with a multiplayer experience that pits a team of four heroes against one villain who will be able to shape dungeons to try and stop the heroes in their tracks.
Sony followed Microsoft’s lead by revealing new installments of several popular series as well as more teasing about a long-awaited shooter title. Fans of the “LittleBigPlanet” series will be happy to know that the latest installment will feature better graphics as well as three new characters.
If sneaking around inside cardboard boxes seems more appealing, then “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain” offers the all the box-related hijinks that one could hope for while traversing the landscape of Afghanistan. Finally, Sony displayed “The Order: 1886” which places one in a steam–punkish version of nineteenth century London where enemies can be devastated with thermite and flares.
One constant of every expo is that the Nintendo will always have a packed booth and 2014 was no exception. Nintendo focused heavily on the new installment of “Super Smash Bros.” that will be playable on both the Wii U and the 3DS and will introduce new characters as well as retooling existing favorites. The 3DS version also featured an addicting new mode known as “Smash Run” that had each player going through a maze, battling enemies in order to gain power–ups which would be applied towards a free–for–all match between the players.
Nintendo teased fans with a couple of screenshots for a new “Legend of Zelda” title for the Wii U which featured a large expansive world, which it hopes to release in the late half of 2015. However, on September 26, Zelda fans can enjoy “Hyrule Warriors” which takes the series into the hack-and-slash realm of “Dynasty Warriors.”
Finally, one of the more surprisingly enjoyable titles was a multiplayer shooter title known as “Splatoon,” which tasks a team of four to cover a map and opponents in ink and allows a player to turn into a squid and traverse any land covered in their team’s color. One of the more refreshing things to see at Nintendo’s booth were the employees who were seeking feedback on all of the games to improve the quality of Nintendo’s products.
CD Projekt Red showed the most recent developments with the long-awaited “The Witcher III: Wild Hunt.” The player will once again assume the role Geralt of Rivia, as he embarks on a quest for a mysterious woman, all while hunting monsters and dealing with the turmoil of a world ravaged by war. The world features amazing dynamic weather and time flow which will have a direct impact on how one will chose to traverse the environment and battle the inhabitants. Featuring a world which is 35 times the size of the previous installment and containing over 100 hours of core and side–quest gameplay The Witcher III: Wild Hunt is sure to amaze when it is released in February of 2015.
With summer slowly giving way to fall the video game industry is starting to ramp up for the holiday season. The titles that teased the public at the E3 Expo are finally starting to make their ways to the hands of eager consumers. The Zelda/Dynasty Warriors hybrid game is set to release at the end of September, and as October and November begin, a flood of major titles will be appearing in stores. One thing is certain; this fall will see an amazing lineup of game to compensate for a slow summer.
The video game industry strives to provide something for everyone, and remember: with all games, if you play them just to have fun, there will never be a bad game.