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E3 2016 Recap: The good, the bad, the lacklustre

Was there some cool stuff? Sure. Were there a few surprises? Most definitely
The E3 video game conference this month in Los Angeles showed us a whole slew of new games, but it was Nintendo’s new Zelda title, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, that had everyone drooling.

E3, the enormous video game trade show that happens every year in LA, has finally closed its doors after a very eventful week (June 12-16). 

We got plenty of game reveals, announcements, and gameplay demonstrations, and that was just within the first three days. The big companies: EA, Bethesda, Microsoft, Ubisoft, Sony and Nintendo, all held press conferences at the start of the show. 

They used this platform to reveal new games, show off previously announced titles in action, and finally grace gamers with release dates for long-awaited titles. This article will look at each conference and the biggest announcements and surprises that came from the extravagant events. 


The previously voted worst company in America held the first event, starting E3 in a very lackluster way. The two biggest games there were Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2. The newest entry in the Battlefield franchise travels back in time to an alternate reality First World War. Very few games have tackled the atrocities of the Great War, and while the brief gameplay trailer shown looked beautiful, it’s still an historical event that needs to be approached with a degree of reverence.

Titanfall 2 had a much more impressive showing. The first Titanfall was a multiplayer only title for Xbox One. Players were given a surprising amount of mobility, allowing them to run along walls and clamber up buildings. But the real kicker was the Titans: giant mechanized robots that could be called in from space and piloted. 

Jumping into the cockpit of one of these walking tanks was an empowering experience, and the sequel looks to expand upon this rock solid foundation in some stellar ways. The new single-player campaign looks promising, boasting a special Titan piloted by an incredibly intelligent AI program. The multiplayer, meanwhile, adds a grappling hook to the already hectic action, giving soldiers even more ways to quickly zip around the arenas.

The remaining time in EA’s conference was used to show off their multitude of sports games and give eager fans a quick look at the newest Mass Effect game. While everything on display was impressive, it just wasn’t as exciting as the two shooters on display.


The makers of the Elder Scrolls and Fallout games returned to E3 for the second year in a row. Their flagship title was Dishonored 2. The follow-up to the superb stealth game looked absolutely breathtaking. 

The fully realized world was populated with unique characters all going about their own business throughout the thoughtfully designed areas. The supernaturally enhanced stealth combat looked better than ever, letting players shift through two distinct time periods in order to carry out their kills. 

While teasers for a new Quake game (a classic FPS franchise) and a reimagined Prey impressed, the official announcement of an official remaster for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was met by deafening applause. The redone graphics looked gorgeous, and the release date of this October means we don’t have long to wait until we can dive back into Skyrim. Bethesda didn’t have the most games to show, but they had some quality titles to flaunt. 


Microsoft took the stage Monday morning to announce that the Xbox One was officially getting a redesign. The new model — on sale in August — is 40-per-cent smaller than the original design and boasts 4K display capabilities. As if this wasn’t big enough news, they proceeded to show a lineup of games that had me watering at the mouth. 

Gears of War 4 looked very promising; Forza Horizon 3 brings the open-world racing franchise to Australia; Sea of Thieves takes co-op multiplayer mayhem to the high seas; and titles like Scalebound, Halo Wars 2, ReCore, and Dead Rising 4 all look like they will fit nicely among the Xbox One’s diverse array of games. 

The games were impressive and I look forward to playing all of them later this year and early next, but nothing turned more heads than the confirmation of Project Scorpio. There were rumors floating around before the show that Microsoft was working on a more powerful version of the Xbox One. And those rumors were true.

All we saw was a small trailer showing chipsets and a variety of game developers gushing about the machine’s power, but we know that it will be roughly four times as powerful as the base Xbox One and will release holiday 2017. This completely upends the previously accepted console lifecycle, and will have a ripple effect across the entire industry.


The French-based publisher showed a slew of titles it had previously announced. The show opened with a lengthy, action-packed demo of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands.

It showed a group of elite soldiers infiltrating a cartel-controlled region and wreaking havoc. The co-ordinated team play resulted in a precise attack with plenty of shooting and driving to keep you busy. The massive open world shooter is slated for a March 2017 release. 

The next title displayed was For Honor. I don’t blame you if you haven’t heard of this title before, but it deserves to be on your radar. It’s a third-person action game where you take control of either a Viking, a Samurai or a Knight. 

You can then choose to either engage in multiplayer skirmishes, or delve into the roots of each warrior clan with action packed story missions. Combat is slow-paced and methodical, forcing you to parry and counter attack at the right moments. It’s a remarkably unique title with a ton of heart-intense action. The big news for this title was its February 2017 release date. 

Next up was Watch Dogs 2. The first Watch Dogs released in mid-2014 and gave players an open world Chicago to explore and manipulate as they saw fit. The core mechanic of the game was hacking; you could press a button to interact with the environment or seize control of security cameras to get a better view of the battlefield. It has some promise but didn’t deliver on it. 

Watch Dogs 2 looks to right that wrong. First of all, the hacking is much more substantial. You can hack into and control cars, drones, cameras, phones, and pretty much any tech in the game world. The addition of a parkour system also opens the world up, letting the new protagonist clamber around San Francisco, hacking everything he comes across. Every aspect of the title seems more fun than its predecessor, and will hit store shelves later this year. 

The final title was Steep, a new winter sports title that will release this holiday. The massive open world features several fully realized mountains that you can ski, snowboard, wing suit or parachute down. There are plenty of extreme sports to master, and tearing down the snowy peaks with your friends looks incredibly fun. 


PlayStation rounded out the day with what was possibly the best show of E3. The various CEO’s and presidents of the company barely came onstage; instead letting the games speak for themselves. 

An entirely reimagined God of War kicked off the show. Kratos – the god-slaying Spartan warrior – is back, but this time he’s not alone. Kratos and his new son will venture through Norse mythology, fighting off grotesque monsters at every turn. 

We then got extended looks at The Last Guardian and Horizon Zero Dawn. Both games looked superb, but we had seen extensive gameplay demos from both of these titles in the past, so now all that’s left is to wait until the release. We got plenty of new trailers from previously announced games, but the real show were the three new games that were shown for the first time at E3, and all of them surprised and delighted. 

First off was Hideo Kojima’s newest game, Death Stranding. The trailer was a convoluted mix of emotions and environments, hinting at some larger mystery. While it was beautiful to behold, it was also bizarre beyond belief. Hopefully, we’ll get some more details soon to shed light on this mysterious new game. 

The second game was a PS4 exclusive Spider-Man title. While we were only treated to a two-minute trailer, we got to see Spidey’s redesigned suit, his web-slinging in action, and how the wall crawler will deliver the beat down to lowly thugs. Recent Spider-Man games have disappointed, so hopefully the resources that Sony provides will let this hero rise to new heights in the realm of video games. 

The final announcement was an entirely new title called Days Gone. In a world that has fallen victim to a zombie apocalypse, a motorcycle gang still runs odd jobs and missions for those who are willing to play. The brief mission shown had one thing in spades: Zombies. 

Veritable waves of the undead rushed out of buildings, off of rooftops and over fences. They clambered over one another, all trying to reach the fresh meat first. Avoiding the undead menaces looked tense and dangerous. We don’t know exactly what the game will end up being, but what little was shown has a lot of promise. 


Nintendo rounded out the press conferences on Tuesday with a two-day live stream. 

While they did show off the new Pokémon games and plenty of 3DS titles slated for release this fall, nothing could hold a candle to the new Zelda title. 

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was the highlight of E3. It bucks the trends the series is known for left and right, while remaining a Zelda game. The perfect melding of old and new mixed with the gorgeous new art style and gathering and crafting mechanics all work perfectly for the series, surprisingly enough. 

The company almost won the show simply by showing off the new title. Over the course of the stream, over three hours of gameplay was shown, giving us a great idea of what to expect from the full game, but making March 2017 seem impossibly far away. 

Wrap Up
E3 2016 gave us plenty of new games to ogle at and early anticipate, while also finally giving us release dates for games we’ve all been waiting years for. If the past week is any indication, the next several years will be very kind to gamers.

Matthew Herst is a Carleton University communications student, video game journalist and’s resident geek writer. Yeah, this guy love’s video games. Besides, you can also find his work on Follow him on Twitter @supergurst.


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