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E3 2014: It’s time for the true next-gen to shine

Wednesday, 7th May 2014 10:20 GMT By Matt Martin

As format holders and publishers ready their E3 announcements, Matt Martin says its time to buy into the next generation dream.

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“When the dust has settled I think it will be clear that Microsoft is moving on from the Xbox 360, despite a few respectful quotes from execs.”

Last year might have been the official big reveals of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but in 2014 E3 will be the year we buy into the next-generation console dream.

This week has seen a flurry of activity and pre-announcements, 40 days before Microsoft’s media briefing where it once again bathes the Galen Center in sickly green and rolls out the big guns, to be followed by Ubisoft, Electronic Arts and Sony capping the day off. Expectations are already high, with all these publishers and more drip-feeding fans, the press and investors a few healthy spoons of information on new releases, brand new IP and the return of old favourites.

EA said last night in a call to investors it will show a new game built on DICE’s Frostbite engine, created for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It’s a big deal to leave current gen out of it, but EA will continue to support those formats with its yearly annual sports iterations for some time to come – there’s still a healthy audience on both Xbox 360 and PS3 after all.

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But when it comes to a new product (whether based on existing IP or brand spanking new) next gen is clearly where EA is putting its console efforts. And if it’s on PS4 and Xbox One it’s going to be a hardcore game. I’d put money on it being the rumoured Battlefield spin-off from Visceral (possibly with whatever’s left of the Criterion team), codenamed Havana. Whether it has the Battlefield name attached by the time it’s revealed we don’t know, but the police theme could offer a take on the first-person shooter similar to the awesome Payday games.

There’s another unannounced game coming from EA at E3 with the smart money on a Mirror’s Edge reboot. For me that’s still a completely unproven game, despite the fan love and cult status it holds. Personally I wouldn’t be upset if it never materialised and I don’t see a genuine financial reason to do it either – much like Ubisoft’s Beyond Good & Evil 2. Still, I just write about the games, I don’t make ‘em.

“I would be surprised if we saw an outright sequel shown or even teased at E3. If there’s one game that’s already delivering on the next-gen dream, it’s Titanfall.”

As well as a proper blow out for the new Star Wars: Battlefront game, EA confirmed last night that it is working on new Titanfall “experiences” although I would be surprised if we saw an outright sequel shown or even teased at E3. It feels a little early and EA can still get plenty of life out of the current game if it shows off new DLC, expansions or content for the existing game. Titanfall was only released in March, remember. If there’s one game that’s already delivering on the next-gen gaming dream, it’s Titanfall.

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One game we won’t see at E3 this year is the next title in the Need For Speed franchise. Ghost Games has been given breathing space to skip a yearly update and go big in 2015 with its next racer – so again, I would expect that to be Xbox One and PS4 only, and possibly the first of EA’s annual franchises to drop current formats. As I said earlier, FIFA, Madden, The Sims and NBA Live are all likely to hang out with Xbox 360 and PS3 until their very last breath.

Over at Activision, the publisher confirmed that it’s going hard on its three pillars at E3 – Call of Duty, Skylanders and Destiny. There’s no surprise there, but expect solid details of the Destiny beta a month ahead of its release – it may not be garnering a lot of love from games journalists at this point, but beta releases bypass the professional critics and go straight to the fans, so Activision won’t be sweating over lukewarm press previews. Again, it hits PS4 first, so we can expect it to take centre stage at Sony’s media briefing as well as EA’s.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare is already emphasising its next-generation credentials. Like EA’s annual releases, the next two, maybe three, Call of Duty games will be released on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, but they are only ever going to be second best for the series from here on in. It’s all about the PS4 and Xbox One now – and quite rightly too – Sledgehammer has been beavering away at Advanced Warfare for three years and I believe it’s a labour of love for the team. Studio heads Michael Condry and Glen Schofield are two of the most genuine, enthusiastic developers I’ve personally met in a long time and it will show in their final game.

“Need for Speed could be the first of EA’s annual franchises to drop current formats.”

Skylanders is going to be the harder game for Activision to transition to the new consoles, even though Swap Force already put in an appearance on next-gen last year and Trap Team will follow it. When you’ve sold 175 million toys across multiple formats you need to be patient with your audience and their investment. It’s not just about shifting a game to a different format, but moving a beloved collection of toys too, so you have to be careful not to ostracise a group of collectors regardless of their previous format choices.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if Hearthstone made its way to consoles as a digital release, despite what Blizzard may have said in the past. It would be a big coup for one format holder if it can strike an exclusivity deal, or a just a great deal for fans if it ended up on both Xbox One and PS4.

“Deep Silver really wants to be seen now as one of the big core games publishers, and a new Saint’s Row and/or Dead Island for the home consoles makes financial and fan sense.”

It’s not just EA and Activision that are making the big shift to new hardware. Deep Silver revealed last night that it too was prepping two new games for E3 2014. While this is speculation on our part, based on the big bets (and by “bets” I mean “spending”) the publisher has made recently with the Saint’s Row purchase and marketing spend on Dead Island, I would expect it to go big on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Deep Silver really wants to be seen now as one of the big core games publishers, and a new Saint’s Row and/or Dead Island for the home consoles makes financial and fan sense.

That’s only three publishers so far, and the two format holders themselves are obviously going to go nuclear on their respective systems.

Microsoft has subtitled its media conference “Xbox: Game On” which may be as unsubtle as they come, but tells me it’s not going to repeat the mistake of last year and focus on TV game shows and multimedia functionality. What we should expect is a relentless barrage of games – new IP and old favourites. It’s a no-brainer to expect Halo 5 and more, but when the dust has settled I think it will be clear that Microsoft is moving on from the Xbox 360, despite a few respectful quotes from execs and smaller game reveals. Yes, the system has shifted 80 million-plus units, but Microsoft really needs to boot the Xbox One to the forefront and gain on the lead the PlayStation 4 already has.

It’s early days in the console war and there’s plenty of time to catch up with Sony. Microsoft can do this by selling the Xbox One gaming dream to the hardcore, not the all-in-one entertainment features to your dad (in many ways it’s got that message out of the way early, despite the criticism for doing so). Now next-gen games have had longer to percolate in development, it can do a lot more than blind the fans with slick trailers, teasers and the comfort of well-known logos. Now it can show the real next-gen games and it may even drop the price of the Xbox One to put it on a level playing field with its rival.

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“Sony has more reason to keep the PlayStation 3 alive. The PS3 and the Vita are great companion systems with cross-buy. It’s not only a good deal for fans, but for developers too, who get to hit two systems in their prime.”

Sony on the other hand has more reason to keep the PlayStation 3 alive. The PS3 and the Vita are great companion systems with the digital cross-buy initiative. It’s not only a good deal for fans, but for developers too, who get to hit two systems in their prime.

That’s not to say Sony won’t take big swings of the PS4 bat at E3 this year – it’s got plenty to shout about. But it can afford to be a little more subtle with its approach and paint the PlayStation ecosystem (urgh!) as a three console family, each with their own virtues. I wouldn’t expect a price cut from Sony on the PS4 (maybe the PS3 and Vita), but I would expect a stack of good value hardware and game bundles. I also think Project Morpheus will be good to wow the audience with demos and highlight a future vision, but it’s still too early to see it as anything other than impressive technology.

Despite launching last year, the next-generation of home video games hasn’t arrived in full force. It’s a healthy trickle at the moment, and this Christmas will see the release of more games to support the potential of Xbox One and PlayStation 4. What the fans (and the industry) needs is for E3 2014 to be a bigger show that last year – the consoles and technology are established, we already understand the services – now it’s time to really see the potential of the games. Because games will sell the dream.

The VG247 team will be bringing you more insight, preview and opinion on E3 2014 over the coming weeks, as well as extensive coverage during and after the event.

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31 Comments

  1. Joe Musashi

    A good read, thank you.

    I strongy agree with your position on Mirror’s Edge and Beyond Good and Evil. These were good titles that captured people’s interest and, for one reason or another, have cult followings. Neither need a sequel (though, the atrocious ending of BG&E demands some sort of explanation) and doing so could easily sully the appreciation these titles currently enjoy. The insipid BG&E carrot-dangling antics of Ubisoft over the past years are also getting pretty tiresome.

    A criticism:

    “If there’s one game that’s already delivering on the next-gen gaming dream, it’s Titanfall.”

    Seems like an odd-fish of a statement to me. Given the game is available on three platforms, including a last-gen platform. Add to that, the remarkable parity the 360 version has to the X1, Titanfall may be many things, but I don’t think it really heralds next-gen promises being delivered.

    I’m of the opinion that Microsoft’s ’13 conference was rock-solid. Very games focused. Sony could be spread rather thin. Three platforms to cover and, no doubt, they’ll want to talk figures and stats for a chunk of the time too.

    Here’s hoping one or the other rolls out the “just hitting its stride” line. For the lulz.

    JM

    #1 6 months ago
  2. budgiesmuggler

    Here we go again….

    Rinse
    Repeat
    Rinse
    Repeat

    I’m sick of hearing about a “new” cod, Battlefield, Halo, need for speed……groan…

    It’s always the same titles re-hashed over and over.again. :-(

    #2 6 months ago
  3. Erthazus

    “If there’s one game that’s already delivering on the next-gen dream”

    LoL? At what place this is a Next Generation title? Please explain yourself with that bold statement?

    #3 6 months ago
  4. Legendaryboss

    @1 & 3
    Have you two forgot? The 360 & PC versions of Titanfall don’t exist, the marketing wizards at EA & MS have done their best to warp the perception of terms such as “exclusive” & “Next Gen”

    Topic: Ubisoft will re-reveal lost projects and maybe show off Far Cry 4. EA have a lot to show off including FIFA 15. Nintendo are just off somewhere, and will show off Zelda U. MS & Sony will define their new platforms with new IPs and sequels/prequels, Vita will forgotten and PS3 might get something along with PS4.

    #4 6 months ago
  5. Panthro

    Prepare to see new CoD, new Battlefront footage (basically battlefield), New Fifa/ other shitty sports games, Halo (Ughhh) etc etc etc,

    “BUT NEXT GEN IS COMING! IT’S COMING!!!!! YOU WAIT AND SEE!!!!.”

    At this point I actually look forward to seeing the disappointments/ backlashes/ cancellations.

    Because that is what is really coming.

    Might see a new Fight Night actually, I would play that.

    #5 6 months ago
  6. The_Red

    Gimme Proj Beast, Evolve and Arkham Knight and I’ll be happy (Also a new, PS4/XB1/PC only new Mortal Kombat if possible).

    #6 6 months ago
  7. heyvc

    “I would be surprised if we saw an outright sequel shown or even teased at E3. If there’s one game that’s already delivering on the next-gen dream, it’s Titanfall.”

    Infamous is better. It has great gameplay, great graphics, and great resolution/fps – not a great story and choices but for me is the beggining of Next gen… not a Multiplayer for CoD fans.

    #7 6 months ago
  8. Panthro

    @heyvc

    great fps? you’re delusional.

    #8 6 months ago
  9. Gheritt White

    No mention of Take 2 or ZeniMax/Bethesda? Very surprised.

    No mention of Square Enix, Capcom, Konami, Sega or Namco? Less surprised,

    That said, not making mention of what might be on Take 2′s slate does seem like a bit of an oversight.

    #9 6 months ago
  10. ManuOtaku

    When you say shine, do you mean when they achieve 1080p, with 60fps, not just 1080p, right.

    #10 6 months ago
  11. Dave Cook

    DEMON’S SOULS 2 PLEASE!

    (Yes, I’m being that caps lock guy because I’m EXCITED!)

    #11 6 months ago
  12. heyvc

    @Panthro hahahahaha I don’t really care for fps on console games.. I care for that on PC games Especially MMOs. Aside that.. All is good, If I can have a awesome gameplay, story with great graphics I’m game. My Had a great time with infamous.. No problem at all with the FPS. But again I don’t care for that on Consoles.

    #12 6 months ago
  13. CyberMarco

    NEXT GEN STARTS WHEN KINGDOM HEARTS III RELEASES!!!

    This case is closed.

    #13 6 months ago
  14. jomac3db

    @CyberMarco and final fantasy 15

    #14 6 months ago
  15. jomac3db

    Next gen starts when graphics and gameplay changes

    #15 6 months ago
  16. Gheritt White

    IMHO, next-gen starts with Destiny.

    #16 6 months ago
  17. mitcHELLspawn

    Can’t believe all the whiney little babies in the comment section today. anyway… great article ! I’m getting super excited for e3 this year for sure. I think Sony and xbox are going to bring it! As well as the other publishers.. oh and yes cod and battlefield and all those other annual releases are coming people GET OVER IT millions of people buy them every year so obviously someone likes them. The sense of entitlement blows me away with gamers.

    #17 6 months ago
  18. OlderGamer

    The next gen is a tuff sale, despite the solid system numbers.

    To me next gen isn’t just a platform or an updated slightly shiner version of an established franchise. Next gen, I think, needs to bring something that sets it apart from past gens. So far, imo, that hasn’t happened.

    Sure, I have a PS4 and an XBO. I play mostly indies, Madden and Battlefield 4. And something is missing. It just doesn’t feel like I imagined next gen to feel. I can recall launch games from pretty much any system that drew me in and made me excited to have new hardware…except this gen. That hasn’t happened yet.

    I am very much looking forward to E3 this year. I invested, and am not so patiently waiting for the next gen to begin.

    And yeah I have to agree with others Titanfall is hardly a benchmark for anything “Next Gen” .

    #18 6 months ago
  19. Gheritt White

    @OlderGamer You’re even *slightly* excited by The Order: 1886? Or Destiny?

    #19 6 months ago
  20. Gheritt White

    @OlderGamer *not even

    #20 6 months ago
  21. mxmassef

    @OlderGamer
    Yep there hasnt been any real next gen games to play on new platforms but I`m pretty sure that e3 will show us some great games and I`m also excited about destiny , batman , witcher 3 mgsv and many others. Fingers crossed for the e3 :) .

    #21 6 months ago
  22. lacerz

    “…but when the dust has settled I think it will be clear that Microsoft is moving on from the Xbox 360, despite a few respectful quotes from execs and smaller game reveals.”

    They did that four years and a mere 6 exclusives ago.

    #22 6 months ago
  23. lacerz

    Here’s what I expect from Sony:
    Playstation Now and Project Morpheus will be discussed. Improved functionality of Vita and PS4 will be demonstrated, with a possible Vita/PS4 bundle revealed. A price drop COULD be in the cards if Microsoft does the same earlier in the day.

    If Sony spends any time on the PS3, it will be very limited. Too many PS4 games to talk about.

    So, as to the games, I would expect to have mentions on DriveClub, The Last of Us, The Order: 1886, and Uncharted 4. I also expect to hear something about Guerilla Games’ new IP, as well as news from Santa Monica Studio and Media Molecule.

    Other possibilities are Quantic Dream unveiling a new IP, Until Dawn being reintroduced, Project Beast being revealed, Deep Down coming up from below, and Activision spending time on Diablo and Destiny. There’s also rumors of a COD partnership between Activision and Sony, but with Microsoft purchasing timed exclusivity for the COD DLC, that may no longer be the case.

    I do expect some indie love, but I don’t expect nearly as much as last year. There’s not enough time. That’s why Sony’s been dropping so much info on upcoming indies leading up to E3.

    Some far out speculation is that we’ll hear more on The Last Guardian and That Game Company will have an announcement. It may not be for a PS4 exclusive, but given their past relationship with Sony, they may have a multiplat that is announced at Sony’s event.

    #23 6 months ago
  24. LisciousOne

    “If there’s one game that’s already delivering on the next-gen gaming dream, it’s Titanfall.”

    Sorry, I stopped reading right here. How on earth is a game that has the exact same mechanics and highly comparable graphics on a last-gen system offering gamers “a next-gen gaming dream”. Titanfall is a great game no doubt but there’s nothing next-gen about it.

    #24 6 months ago
  25. LisciousOne

    Just to add, although I cant clearly define what “next-gen” is in terms of gameplay or experience, I think a loose definition would be something thats impossible to do on last-gen hardware, either in terms of gameply, detail, size/scope of game etc. Titanfall is definitely not in that category.

    #25 6 months ago
  26. OlderGamer

    Yes on both accounts GW. I dont think The Order will be all that great. Both, and a couple others games have me looking forward to E3.

    #26 6 months ago
  27. LisciousOne

    @Gheritt White To each his own. For me it’s The Division

    #27 6 months ago
  28. Gheritt White

    @OlderGamer How about Quantum Break or Sunset Overdrive?

    How you’re not excited by Destiny *baffles* me and The Order: 1886 is exciting simply because of the GFX alone, IMHO.

    #28 6 months ago
  29. lacerz

    If the recent leak on Sony’s E3 presentation is to be believed, it’s going to be epic!
    Uncahrted 4
    The Order: 1886
    Driveclub
    Media Molecule’s 3D world builder using Morpheus
    Guerilla Games’ RPG
    Spiritual successor to Demon’s Souls
    The Last Guardian
    Another Japan Studio’s game shrouded in secrecy
    WipEout
    Gran Turismo for the PS4
    God of War IV
    A Heavenly Sword sequel
    A Syphon Filter reboot
    Sony London’s AAA game
    Quantic Dream’s new title

    annnnd….

    The Last of Us 2

    If even half of that is true, it’s going to be an amazing show!

    #29 6 months ago
  30. OlderGamer

    @Gheritt White I have destiny preordered. But I will wait and see on The Order. It takes more then graphics. Not interested at this point in Sunset either. I am not saying that this new gen will flop long term, just that so far it has beeen underwhelming.

    #30 6 months ago
  31. fearmonkey

    @lacerz – Hmm thats good list of titles, I would love to see Sony have tat amount of stuff to talk about, I think MS is going to have some showstoppers, and hope Sony has a few things up it’s sleeve as well. IF they actually show The Last Guardian and it’s improved and looks amazing, they will have people going crazy just for that.

    I hope for more RPG’s and I know it’s a long shot, but I’d love some Fallout 4 news from Bethesda.

    #31 6 months ago

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