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The 20 most exciting Games at E3 2014, and everything that might be wrong with them

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There were no new consoles at E3 this year, no expensive new peripherals. Nothing, at long last, to distract from the videogames. And what games! The 2014 videogame megaconvention found the three major companies adjusting to a new kind of normal: a kinder-gentler Microsoft, a swaggery Sony, a Nintendo that suddenly realized it was time to throw a Hail Mary on the Wii U. Across the board, there was a sense of experimentation. Major developers iterated old franchises in new directions. Smaller developers made bold splashes with highly independent visions.

E3 lives in a vortex of hype. Most people only get to play a few minutes of games that will ultimately last dozens-if-not-hundreds of hours. So, for my list of the twenty best games I played at E3, I’ve attempted to offer a sobering assessment of everything that might be horribly wrong with them when they finally arrive on store shelves. Consider this a skeptically hopeful list of games that could usher in a new creative era in the interactive medium. Pray for No Man’s Sky. READ FULL STORY

The 13 things you need to know about 'No Man's Sky,' the most ambitious (and crazy?) game at E3 2014

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Every year, the major videogame companies convene in Los Angeles for E3. They show off big games with familiar names, games that represent untold thousands of man-hours and untold petabytes of graphical power. And every year, there is one videogame that represents the complete opposite of that: A game made by a small team, with a distinctive vision, that isn’t a sequel or a spinoff or a spinoff-sequel to a reboot-prequel.

This year’s High Nerd fixation is No Man’s Sky, a space adventure game produced by English studio Hello Games that will debut on the Playstation 4. But unlike past breakouts like Braid or Limbo or Journey, No Man’s Sky isn’t really something you could easily describe as “retro,” and it certainly isn’t “smaller” than the AAA titles. Far from it: Through a process of procedural generation, the developers of No Man’s Sky promise a basically infinite universe of exploration. READ FULL STORY

So now Pac-Man is in 'Super Smash Brothers,' too

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Reconfirming its status as the Expendables of videogames, Super Smash Brothers has added another iconic, golden-age video game character to its ranks: Pac-Man, enemy of ghosts and big yellow symbol of all-encompassing consumption. Pac-Man isn’t a Nintendo character, of course, and his history actually predates the first appearance of Super Mario by a year. But Nintendo trumpeted the character’s involvement during its announcement at E3, promising a Pac-Man-specific stage.

The character will appear in both the upcoming 3DS and Wii U versions of the title. Here’s the announcement trailer: READ FULL STORY

Donald Glover and Danny Pudi talk 'Community,' video games, and a 'Community' video game

On Tuesday, Donald Glover and Danny Pudi were hanging out inside of the Ubisoft Booth at video game mega-convention E3. EW asked them questions about video games – and also inquired about the current status of a certain canceled NBC sitcom.

This is what happened. READ FULL STORY

Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto believes in the Wii U

Nintendo showed up to play this year. One day after the Microsoft and Sony press conferences – whose vibes chastened and triumphant, respectively — Nintendo kicked off the first official day of E3 by announcing a slew of titles starring their most iconic characters: A new Kirby, a new Yoshi, a freaking Toad game, an open-world Legend of Zelda, and the impending return of the Star Fox franchise to the Wii U. The latter is a project under the personal supervision of Shigeru Miyamoto, the designer who helped to turn Nintendo into Nintendo.

Miyamoto was also onsight showing off a pair of early-stage game-things, currently codenamed Project Giant Robot and Project Guard. Both Projects put significant focus on the unique properties of the Wii U Gamepad. The former lets you build your own giant automaton and fight other skyscraper-sized mechs in a kaiju-style brawl: You control your robot partially with motion control, and can “look” out of the robot’s visor via the screen on the Gamepad. Meanwhile, Project Guard forces you to shift between twelve different camera turrets in order to defend your base from attacking robots. READ FULL STORY

Xbox E3 2014: Microsoft is very happy you told them to stop doing everything they were doing

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The corporate realities of the videogame industry operate on massive, mega, epochal levels. Release dates are planned out years in advance. New brands are built carefully over the course of years, with the implicit promise that they could run for decades. You could think of the major videogame companies as giants, skyscraper-size creatures who move at their own pace. Or you could think of them as creatures out of an HP Lovecraft story, unthinkable many-headed monstrosities who live in cross-dimensional space dreaming up new nightmares. Either way, it’s hard to imagine that the events of a single day can change everything.

But one year ago today, Microsoft woke up on top of the world, and then everything got ruined. Or maybe they ruined everything. Hard to say: Their media presentation was shaky enough, what with the rape-joke controversy and the backpedaling insistence that the Xbox One’s Orwellian Always-On requirement wasn’t a requirement, just a suggestion for cool people who aren’t lame. But then a few hours later, Sony basically made the subject of their presentation: “Here’s why we aren’t Microsoft.” The PlayStation 4 let you play any games you wanted to play. The Playstation 4 was a videogame console built for videogames, not for weird tie-ins to ESPN. Above all else, the PlayStation 4 was a hundred dollars cheaper. READ FULL STORY

The most exciting games at E3 2013...and everything that might be wrong with them

This year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) marked an exciting moment for the videogame industry. New consoles. New blockbuster titles. Long-awaited sequels. What follows is a list of the 15 most exciting games I saw this year. I got hands-on time with most of them, but it’s important to remember that playing videogames at E3 is not the same as actually playing the videogames. At E3, you’re staring at the most expensive TV screens corporate money can buy, while various company reps urge you on and assure you that you’re much better at the game than all of the other journalists they’ve seen that day. (One developer assured me I was doing great after I died for the fifth time in two minutes.) With that in mind, each of these games comes with an addendum: What could go wrong between now and when the game is actually released?

15. Killzone: Shadow Fall
The franchise about futuristic space dudes with futuristic space guns gets a next-gen makeover. I’ve never been a Killzone fan. In fact, I couldn’t pick out the first three games from a lineup of futuristic-space-gun shooters. But the level I played through offered a fascinating array of possible tactical decisions. Also, this was The Year of the Ziplines at E3, and Shadow Fall lets you fire a zipline anywhere you want. (Playstation 4, End of 2013)
What Could Go Wrong: The title Killzone: Shadow Fall sounds like a straightfaced parody of a contemporary futuristic-space-gun videogame, and what little I could glean of the plot sounded like boilerplate from the post-Gears of War era.

14. Mariokart 8
After many months of hype and rumors, Nintendo’s biggest franchises were mostly no-shows at this year’s E3 — unless you consider an HD remake of an old Zelda game a new development (it isn’t) or you think Super Mario 3D Land is even close to Super Mario Galaxy (it ain’t.) But the new Mariokart offers some intriguing twists on the two-decade-old formula, with the ability to drive on walls. Also, the levels are so pretty in HD. (Wii U, Spring 2014).
What Could Go Wrong: It’s the same old Mariokart, except this time it’s on a console you still don’t feel like buying.
READ FULL STORY

E3: Which new console are you most excited about? -- POLL

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While in years past, it’s been new games and high-drama cinematic effects we were most excited about in the videogame world, as this year’s E3 comes to a close, it’s the prospect of new consoles and new technology that we’re most looking forward to. How will the way we play games change in the coming months and years? What does the future look like for Nintendo’s Wii and Wii U, Sony’s Playstation, and Microsoft’s XBox – not to mention indie platforms and newcomers like the Ouya?

While the Wii U’s had a hard time catching on (in part, as EW’s Darren Franich reports, due to the lackluster games it was launched with), Nintendo returned to E3 this year with a new outlook on its offerings. Sony and Microsoft, however, stole the show with big upcoming releases. Sony’s PlayStation 4 will sell for $399 and offers advancements for hardcore games, including a streaming service that allows gamers to stream, rather than download, older games. Microsoft’s XBox One ($499), which was announced before E3, made its splash by showcasing new games. Both new consoles will be released around Holiday 2013. And then a little independent, $99 Kickstarter-funded box called the Ouya (on sale later this month), which streams independent games to its own console, staged a non-E3 event that got them in some trouble with the LAPD — but earned them plenty of buzz in the gaming world. Where will you put your money once the upcoming new iterations are released?

Take the poll below and discuss the new advances in videogame tech in the comments!

READ FULL STORY

The E3 of open worlds: How big-huge-gigantic videogames could change gameplay forever

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You hear one phrase every five minutes at E3 this year: “open world.” The sandbox-style of gameplay sets the player down in a large digital environment and lets them explore; essentially, the whole game is one gigantic level, usually with a linear narrative strewn with dozens/hundreds of mini-games and unique interactions. The genre has a long history: Popularized by Grand Theft Auto, perfected by The Elder Scrolls, deconstructed by Shadow of the Colossus, vulgarized by Saint’s Row. But at E3 2013, it’s almost surprising to find a game that doesn’t trumpet a gigantic in-game universe. No less a seer than Jonathan Blow — creator of indie-game masterpiece Braid and semi-controversial industry wiseman — called this “The E3 of Open Worlds.” (He told me that in the middle of a demo for his new game. Which has an open world.) READ FULL STORY

The State of Nintendo: 22 important points about the Wii U E3 presentation

1.  Nintendo is in a great position at E3 for one simple reason: Everyone loves Nintendo. Or rather: Everyone wants to love Nintendo. Anyone who cares about videogames almost certainly spent a considerable part of their childhood living in universes created by Nintendo. Super Mario Brothers, The Legend of Zelda, Kirby’s Dreamland, Donkey Kong, Starfox: These were experiences inscribed in a couple generations of young people. Growing up playing videogames isn’t like growing up watching movies or reading books, for one simple reason: You are playing along. You are there. It’s like having an amusement park in your living room. Anyone who ever loved Nintendo will always love Nintendo a little bit, like a lapsed Catholic who still feels guilty about skipping church on Sunday. READ FULL STORY

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