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#Trending @E3 2014

Followers of the tradition of mayhem that is the annual showcase of upcoming video games at E3 are probably all too familiar with the concept of trends at E3. Much like movies, the industry is prone to overlapping themes, plots, or items. So, for those that haven’t been able to spend time digging through the hundred or so hours of E3 coverage to find out where the venn diagram of gaming in 2014 on to 2015 overlaps, I figured I’d put together a little compendium to let you all know what’s coming in gaming for the next two years.

2014’s “Weapon” of Choice:
Far-Cry-4Last year the ‘it’ thing was to put a bow and an arrow in everyone’s hand. Maybe it was because of the fact that Hunger Games was one of the most popular movies out there, or that Disney had just made such an awesome female lead character out of Merida in Brave. My personal hope is that people were paying attention to DC’s most recent foray into the television marketplace with Arrow. Whatever the reason, the combination weapon was a highlight of so many games, such as Far Cry 3 and Tomb Raider.

This year, it’s… well, less of a weapon and more of a utility. Perhaps spurred on by the popularity of Batman and the return of the Dark Knight’s epic franchise featuring the genius minds at Rocksteady, but it seems as though the unifying item we can look forward to being in our inventory, in most every game in 2014 on to 2015 is the grappling hook.

It was a highlight, read: brought up and pushed to the forefront, for Far Cry 4 (trend-setter perhaps?), Rainbow Six Siege, and even BattleCry. Plenty of other games are featuring the tool as well, but perhaps not as publicly.

If 2013 was the year of the bow, then look forward to the 2014 season featuring plenty of vertical rope-action via some form of compressed launcher!

 

It’s Dangerous to Go Alone:
Assassins Creed Unity WallpaperBeyond item customization overlap in video games, another emerging trend for this year’s E3 was the concept of working collaboratively.
At the forefront of the movement were Far Cry 4, pushing its co-op mentality throughout the game, with the ability to jump between vehicles and permanent access to a wing-suit, you can cruise the Himalayas with your buddies always at your side. See why I referenced Far Cry as a trend setting franchise?

Assassin’s Creed: Unity was also a big talk of the show, featuring four-player co-op in the game’s main story line. A fact which means you no longer have to worry about coming at a problem from just one direction, or going it alone in your historical quest for blood.

Virtually every offering from Nintendo is multiplayer, and even Mario Party, a game which is traditionally all about competition against one another (minus the horror that was the attempt at co-op previously in Mario Party 8) has the players of the game all working together to take on a common enemy: Bowser.

Of course these are just a couple of the staple franchises that are making a power-play to be the game that you share with your friends over the next year… there are plenty of other options coming down the pipeline, so if you’ve been in the mentality (as I have) that there just aren’t enough options out there for you and your buddies to get together and work towards a common goal (in-game), then the remainder of 2014 and early 2015 are sure to be a pleasant surprise for you.

 

THERE CAN ONLY BE ONE!:
1_9029673237E3 has traditionally been something of spectacle. In the early days, it was a big flashy booth, and women in skimpy outfits that drew the attention (or at least attempted to) of the media and attendees to the show. It was the spectacle of the Electronic Entertainment Show that first drew me, I’m okay with admitting, and a big reason that I always wanted to attend. It looks like one big party.

However, with times changing, the show being broadcast online from every conceivable angle, and things becoming a whole lot more public, developers and publishers alike have been looking for a new way to widen interest in their game, bring back the spectacle, and open it to a whole new crowd that’s been emerging in the last couple of years: eSports Fanatics.

Pretty much every competitive game featured at the show this year offered a tournament, including a live-stream so spectators all over the world could not only get their first look at how the games played, but how they would be used in a competitive scene.

Staples like Capcom with their Street Fighter franchise were throwing on exhibitions and tournaments for the recent release of Ultra Street Fighter IV all week long. However, it wasn’t just them this time around either. Nintendo, pushing inclusion of the marketplace, put on their own tournament, an invitation – or rather several – featuring some of the top pro-players in Smash, as well as some named celebrities, all focusing on a unreleased build of the newest iteration of the Smash Brothers franchise for the Wii U.

Most surprising, for me, lay in the fact that games that might not traditionally be considered for eSports held their own tournament showcases as well, at the top of the list: EVOLVE. The team behind the Left 4 Dead successor went all-out in showing how competitive the game can be by hosting a two-day tournament consisting of attendees and the media to show off facets of the game previously unrevealed.

Moving forward, you can look for E3 to spread its roots further and deeper into the community, as we saw with the release of Hardline’s Beta and the announcement of Destiny’s Alpha this weekend. E3 is no longer region-locked to the venue. It will be coming to us direct and online more than ever thanks to this year’s showings.

 

Coming Soon ™:
Mirrors-Edge-2One additional thing that was trending this year, which can certainly be perceived as a negative by the general public, is the time-line that it represents.
E3 has always been about a look into the future of games, make no mistake, but the companies seem to be looking a little further forward at this year’s show then we’re generally familiar with.

Several of the games showcased during the press conferences, which were either televised or streamed online, hinted at 2015 and beyond release dates. Instead of merely looking down the road to the end of the year, or on to the early months of next year, publishers and developers began giving us a back-stage peek at the games that we’ll be playing all the way through 2015, and very likely into early 2016.

Multitudes of games were shown at a concept phase, in the instance of Criterion’s next ‘extreme racing title’ there wasn’t even a name attached to the project.
EA showed off Mirror’s Edge concept art, and ‘making of’ shorts to give us a glimpse of a game that doesn’t have a whole lot else to show yet… and keep in mind this was a game that was already teased at last year’s show.

Many titles that were supposed to be releasing this year have been pushed back into 2015, and to the best of my memory (which is admittedly poor) this was the first time the presentations were using phrases “Let’s look what’s coming up in the next couple of years from _____.”

Years? Plural?

That’s something we’re not really used to. E3 kind of operates on its own annual cycle, showcasing games that will be coming out, generally speaking, before E3 comes back around again… but this year it seemed that the development teams were looking further down the road than we’d general expect.

Of course, I understand why people are upset about this, we’re all so very impatient (myself very much included). But it is kind of unique and interesting to have these people pull back the curtain on what truly is ‘next’ for us as gamers… even if it is a long way off still.

And fret not, those who crave constant media, as I do. There is still a bevy of unique games that will be available this year, and early 2015 as well.
We will not go wanting as far as having games is concerned. The last two months alone are prime examples. So many new things to try out… and if you’re still not sure about this move to looking down the road, further than ever before, figuring the companies have forgot about you this year… well, look no further than the jam-packed October release schedule.

 

So there you have it, a ‘quick’ run down of the trends that will be making up our gaming experience for the next year or so. Plenty to look forward to… especially if you happen to enjoy grappling hooks, co-op experiences, and the idea that the show is bringing itself to you, the consumer, directly via the internet and large events that include people that otherwise wouldn’t have been able to attend.

It’s an exciting time for us gamers, and I’m very curious to see where we go from here… but in the meantime, I’m going to start mentality preparing for all that Batman-climbing I’m going to be doing with my friends in the near year and a half.

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