It has been 8 years and 2 consoles since the last proper installment of the Kingdom Hearts series, premiering in 2005 on the PlayStation 2. Well, the wait is nearly over as Square Enix announced at Sony's press conference that Kingdom Hearts 3 is currently in the works.
Little is known about the game through the presentation, but there is information known outside. The title is in a VERY early stage of development because resources have been dedicated to work on Final Fantasy XV and Square almost turned down development when Disney asked. Thankfully the company decided to continue the series and the third full installment in the story is set to be the completion of Sora's mission to recover his world from the Heartless.
Outside of the story, we do know that this will be the first installment to jump the PlayStation ship and will be featured on Xbox One. So, while it is very surprising that the PlayStation 3 has been totally skipped in the series, it is even more surprising that Square is opening this franchise up the Xbox players as well.
Hit the break to check out the trailer to see what we know so far.
Ubisoft showed off a casual-ish title during its press conference, The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot. The concept is simple: get and keep stuff. Sounds like a simple premise, but in reality the process is not exactly that.
First, pillage castles. Make it successfully to the center of a castle full of traps and enemies and plunder the loot room. If you don't succeed, however, the castle owner wins and gets loot instead. Now, how you succeed in a castle is up to you. There are 3 character classes that allow you to fight up close and personal (The Knight), from across the room (The Archer) or a combination of the both (The Mage).
Second, defend your loot. Build castles with devilish traps and tons of enemies to protect your own loot stash in the center. Once complete, the castle will be available to others to enter and try and make it out with YOUR stuff just like you have done to their stuff. From the site, "Remember, a house is not a home until it can kill intruders in at least 7 different ways simultaneously!" Sounds like a challenge to me.
The game is, of course, a free-to-play setup with premium items available for real money. Since the game is currently in closed beta, the easiest way to get in is to make an initial purchase that will get you in immediately. If you don't want to pay any money to get into a beta program, you may also sign-up and wait to be chosen. Neither choice will hurt their feelings.
I am currently awaiting my beta key anxiously. This type of game is right up my alley.
Since Activision fired the Infinity Ward founders, who went off and formed Respawn Entertainment, the newly formed company has been pretty quiet. The only real news out of the company was the unsurprising news that they had partnered with Electronic Arts to publish their upcoming title.
Well, it is time to take a look at the title, named Titanfall, here at EA's press conference. The game is, as expected, a first person shooter, as that is what Jason West and Vince Zampella do best. The game is not what any of us would consider to be "modern" warfare, as the opening sequence took place on a hover ship and our commander, as it seems, is in a mech suit. We also seem to have long-fall boots, or an equivalent, paired with jetpacks. Another expected departure from their norm.
The ability to jump into one of these mech suits, known as a Titan, is an interesting gameplay mechanic. Obviously the Titan has a lot more power than a standard person would, but it is huge and cannot fit everywhere you might need to go. You also don't have the overall mobility you would have without it, giving you reasons to both wear and not wear these suits.
What is no departure for Jason and Vince is the sprawling and beautiful map. The world is immersive and realistic and incredibly detailed, which is something the Call of Duty franchise was known for before their termination. Whether or not you are into the FPS genre, there is no doubt that this title is a perfect way for Respawn to enter the market.
The game comes exclusively to Xbox One in Spring 2014.
Since announcing the closure of PlayFish social games, there was a lot of question about Electronic Arts' commitment to their social, casual and mobile studios. While PlayFish will be responsible for mobile games going forward, it was assumed that EA's other social studio, PopCap, would be taking over. EA emphasized that point during their E3 press event by announcing Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare.
It is certainly an unusual move for a publisher to emphasize more casual gaming titles at their E3 event, but as gaming continues to move toward causal and social, I suspect we will see more of this in the future, E3 or not. It was good to see PopCap and Plants vs Zombies on-stage, as it is one of the few casual franchises I have personally enjoyed.
So, what is new in this tower-defense series? A shooter. Yes, Garden Warfare is a shooter in the vein of Team Fortress 2. The title has a lot of the aspects of TF2, such as different classes each with its own special abilities, all designed to work together and even be needed together. It also maintains the personality of the PvZ franchise, being a little cartoony and really silly. It is exactly what has always made the series so fun and it is good to see they maintained the feel.
Keeping with traditional PopCap trends, you have the ability to take your plant or zombie and customize it. Choose from lots of new characters with new powers and create a unique character with hundreds of available items and customizations. Once you have your character, enter into a 24-player battle or join friends for a 4-player online co-op.
Here is the thing that is most surprising: it is a console title and it will be on Xbox One and Xbox 360 first.
Every year Microsoft seems to have one thing up its sleeve that no one really saw coming. In 2009 it was Project Natal (now Kinect), then we saw a redesigned Xbox 360, last year we had SmartGlass. This year, Microsoft showed another project, Project Spark.
Using Spark, Kinect and SmartGlass you can easily create entire videogame worlds with little to no experience. In fact, during the presentation, we were witness to an entire world being born, rules created and players interacting with enemies, all within minutes of taking the stage.
The most interesting aspect of the platform is the multiple targets. You are able to develop for almost any modern Xbox platform: Windows 8, Xbox 360 and Xbox One, though no mention was made of Windows Phone 8's Xbox platform. This system is definitely a great way to introduce interested children to the gaming development world, as well as a quick and easy way to prototype an idea for any sized development team.
As of now, there is no known release date associated with Project Spark, but that is not unexpected. Any time Microsoft shows off a "Project" it is usually a VERY early preview, with many changes coming over the coming months or years. With Project Natal, for example, THE thing that everyone wanted was never released, much to everyone's disappointment: the painting system. All we know for sure about Spark is that it will evolve between now and release.
Hit the break for a gallery of some of the incredible things created with Project Spark.
One of the big things to come out of the Microsoft press conference was Xbox One's focus on social. At the initial reveal event we learned that Microsoft would be integrating Skype into their next generation of Xbox, making up for the loss of Windows Live Messenger. Many people have found conversing through Xbox Live to be a convenient way to keep up with family, so bringing that feature back is important.
In switching to games, which was the focus of their event, Microsoft looked at the way people use their consoles and attempted to make those things as easy as possible. One thing that has gotten more popular is sharing video of gameplay. Currently you have to get a capture card and hook your Xbox or PlayStation through the box and into a computer to record your gameplay.
Microsoft is making this process easier by incorporating the ability right into the console. Now, using your Xbox One and Xbox SmartGlass, you can record, edit and publish your videos without even hooking up a single extra cable. Do you want to add commentary as well? No problem - use your headset or Kinect microphone and record everything happening around you right into the video.
Now, what if you want to share your gameplay live? Well, Microsoft has you covered there as well. Through a partnership with Twitch TV, you can use your Xbox One to connect to Twitch LIVE to broadcast whatever is happening on your console. From the docked dashboard you can see your viewership, invite friends and even see the chatroom. If you have your headset or Kinect, everything you say can be broadcast as well, giving commentary or game chat. Again, this really simplifies a process that more and more gamers are doing: broadcasting their games.
The last major social enhancement made for Xbox One is something I predicted several weeks ago. People were unhappy that the Xbox One was not going to have any backwards compatibility, but I decrypted the code. Xbox Live has been completely rebuilt, preventing older games from being available on the new console. Why block old games? Well, the old Xbox Live platform had a limit of 100 friends which was engrained into the fabric of the network. By replacing the infrastructure of Xbox Live, we can now have as many friends as we want. Take that, Facebook!