The 10 biggest video game stories from E3 2018 | Tech News

E3 is the biggest video games news event of the year, where Playstation, EA, Xbox, Ubisoft and more compete to show off their latest games (and announce new ones) at flashy press conferences and ostentatious booths in the Los Angeles Convention Centre. Now that the onslaught of announcements, trailers and general showing-off from the week-long show is over, here are ten big stories that emerged from the chaos.

Finally, the biggest games around are representing women

Ellie kisses Dina in a screenshot from The Last of Us: Part 2 Photograph: Sony/Naughty Dog

War-game Battlefield V includes female soldiers for the first time. The Last of Us Part 2, one of the biggest forthcoming games for PlayStation 4, stars a lesbian teenager, shown kissing her girlfriend at a party. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey features a choice of male or female main character to adventure through Ancient Greece. Gears of War 5 stars a female character called Kait Diaz. All of these are firsts. In many of the blockbuster games at E3 this year, female characters weren’t concessions or co-stars, but centre-stage. The games industry has a long way to go if it wants to address the gender imbalance in its workforce, but embracing female players and protagonists is a significant step along the way.

Microsoft has five new game studios

Phil Spencer, Head of Gaming at Microsoft, onstage at the Xbox E3 2018 Briefing

Phil Spencer, Head of Gaming at Microsoft, onstage at the Xbox E3 2018 Briefing Photograph: Casey Rodgers/Invision/AP

Signalling an eyebrow-raising level of investment in video games, Microsoft announced that it had bought (or established) five new game studios at the E3 2018 Xbox press conference: Playground Games (developers of racing series Forza Horizon) and Ninja Theory (long-established action game specialists) in the UK; Undead Labs (State of Decay 2); The Initiative (a new studio in Santa Monica); and Compulsion Games in Canada, currently making We Happy Few. Given the timescales involved in game development it will be a few years before we see what comes out of these acquisitions, but it’s a sign that Microsoft is taking video games seriously both creatively and as a business. Xbox players can also look forward to Gears of War 5 and Halo Infinite, both announced at the press conference.

Sony doubles down on four very different games

People wander in front of the Playstation posters at E3 in Los Angeles, California.

People wander in front of the Playstation posters at E3 in Los Angeles, California. Photograph: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

The Playstation press conference was a little different this year: instead of a barrage of trailers for new and upcoming games, Sony chose to show extended footage of four big games for PlayStation 4. People at the conference were ushered through film sets themed around each game, whilst those watching the live-streamed broadcast at home were able to enjoy the footage in a somewhat more comfortable setting. The four games were The Last of Us Part 2, which juxtaposed an intimate party in a church with a distressingly violent survival sequence; Death Stranding, a mysterious and very expensive-looking arthouse game from Metal Gear Solid mastermind Hideo Kojima; Ghost of Tsushima, a stunning samurai action game; and a new Spider-Man game coming this September.

Nintendo’s fan service

Fans play Super Smash Bros on Nintendo Switch

Fans play Super Smash Bros on Nintendo Switch Photograph: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Nintendo didn’t have a great deal to announce at E3; the Japanese company tends to set its own agenda, and had already announced new Pokemon games (Let’s Go Pikachu and Let’s Go Eevee) a couple of weeks ago. But it did show off Smash Bros Ultimate, a fighting game that will include every single character that has ever featured in the series’ 20-year history, and the Inklings from Splatoon and Ridley from Metroid were announced as new additions. This makes Smash Bros Ultimate perhaps the ultimate Nintendo fan-service: it has characters, stages, items and cameos from practically every Nintendo game ever made, from the NES to the Game Boy to the Wii and the Switch. Nintendo also held an invitational Smash tournament for pro players.

Revival of the fittest

Attendees pose for a souvenir photo at Capcom’s Resident Evil 2 booth

Attendees pose for a souvenir photo at Capcom’s Resident Evil 2 booth Photograph: Mike Nelson/EPA

There were an awful lot of sequels amongst the game announcements at E3 2018, most of which were expected – but along with them came some surprise revivals. Resident Evil 2 is being remade, Xbox announced a new version of the 27-year-old Battletoads, and there will be a new Devil May Cry from Capcom after 10 years. Gamers of a certain vintage will also be pleased to hear that the original Donkey Kong is also coming to Nintendo Switch, marking the first time that the arcade game has been officially playable on a console.

The Elder Scrolls VI was announced, but not shown

After Bethesda launched The Elder Scrolls Online, a massively-multiplayer online interpretation of its fantasy role-playing game series, there was speculation over the future of the single-player games that made its name. Morrowind, Oblivion, and Skyrim were each groundbreaking open-world fantasy games in their time. The announcement of a sixth Elder Scrolls game at Bethesda’s press conference was extremely well received, despite the fact we saw nothing but a logo and a landscape. The developer also confirmed it is working on a long-rumoured science-fiction game, named Starfield.

The death of loot boxes

Furore over loot boxes – which encourage you to spend real money on randomised in-game items and rewards – reached a peak towards the end of last year, when players rebelled against Star Wars Battlefront II’s egregious demands that they spend tens of hours or fork out more cash to unlock the best heroes. This year at E3, all anyone had to say was the words “no loot boxes” to elicit cheers from the crowd. Plenty of popular games still employ loot-box style mechanics – FIFA Ultimate Team and Overwatch, just to name two – but they are clearly becoming so unpopular that their time may be coming to an end.

Fortnite continues to take over the world

Epic Games’ Fortnite booth at E3

Epic Games’ Fortnite booth at E3 Photograph: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The emphasis at E3 is usually on new games, some of which we won’t see for years – but one presence was inescapable at the show. Fortnite is one of the most popular games in the world right now, and developer Epic Games had a huge booth at the show, announced a version of the game for Nintendo Switch, and ran a 100-player tournament featuring celebrities and pro players, with a $3m charity prize pot (the grand prize was won by celebrity player Ninja and DJ Marshmello). It was also confirmed that the game now has 125 million players around the world.

Early 2019 is going to be huge for games

It might be worth setting a calendar reminder to take time off at the beginning of next year: the release of Red Dead Redemption 2 this October has scared a lot of big game publishers into 2019. Here is just a selection of what was announced for next January/February/March at E3: Bioware’s space-RPG Anthem, zombie game Days Gone, Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, Disney-themed Japanese RPG Kingdom Hearts 3, long-delayed Crackdown 3, and gritty shooter Metro Exodus.

There’s are two new FromSoftware games – and they’re not Dark Souls or Bloodborne

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice promotional artwork

Photograph: Activision/FromSoftware

Dark Souls, one of the most brilliant games of the past 10 years, was re-released for PS4 and Xbox One last month, but after two sequels its developer is finally ready and able to move on to something new. A teaser trailer from December last year had led fans to speculate that the developer might be working on a sequel to the equally brilliant horror game Bloodborne, but it’s actually something totally new. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is an action game set in Sengoku-period Japan, a samurai take on the FromSoftware try-and-die formula with intense sword combat. It’s being directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki, the auteur behind Dark Souls, who is dividing his attention between Sekiro and another new game, Déraciné, a VR adventure game about fairies for PS4.

…and some of the weirder stories from the week

Metal Wolf Chaos is back

Topping the list of unlikely remakes at this year’s E3 is Metal Wolf Chaos, a 2004 game for the original Xbox in which the President of the United States takes back the country from a treacherous Vice President with the help of a rocket-launching mech suit. It’s never been released outside of Japan before, but the remaster will be available everywhere later this year. Developer FromSoftware really has been busy of late.

Most unexpected game of the show: Maneater

Here’s one for the galeophobes among us: an open-world RPG played from the perspective of a man-eating shark. And this isn’t some throwaway novelty action game – it looks surprisingly… deep.

Star Fox in Starlink

Nintendo fans were hoping for a new Star Fox game at E3 – rumours have been swirling for a while that there’s a Star Fox racing game in development, which would be quite the departure from the usual space-dogfighting. There didn’t happen, but instead Ubisoft is putting lead character Fox McCloud and his Arwing starship into its own space-fighting game Starlink, complete with little plastic models. It’s not quite what anyone was expecting, but it’s as close to a new Star Fox game as we’re likely to get for a while.

Everything about Death Stranding

There are no words for what is going on in this Death Stranding footage. This arthouse game from Metal Gear Solid’s director Hideo Kojima, starring Léa Seydoux, Mads Mikkelsen and Norman Reedus, is enduringly mysterious and increasingly menacing, featuring a lot of forlorn wandering through devastated-looking landscapes, a foetus in a tank, and invisible monsters that leave oily footprints in the sand.

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