E3 is a reason to get excited every summer. It's not like GDC where we get to hear the insiders story on game development, or the day to day coverage of the industry. E3 is all about seeing. That's why E3 is the event where developers and publishers show off the most spectacular trailers and offer extensive demo footage of the next big titles you're going to be playing. E3 2011 was packed with video footage of some of the most exciting upcoming titles, from those just around the corner like Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, to those still a long way off, such as Tomb Raider. Read on to find a round-up of the most impressive videos from this year's event.
EA came out in force this year with Battlefield 3. DICE's incredibly loud shooter took to the stage with a first look at the game's multiplayer component – arguably what most people will be buying Battlefield for. The result was impressive; DICE may not have created a multiplayer revolution with BF3, but it's certainly and evolutionary step forward, both in sheer technological horsepower and immersion . The short trailer showing off the Operation Metro map; a 3-stage Rush game set in Paris, demonstrated some of the incredible smoke and destruction effects, alongside the Mirror's Edge-style vaulting and incredibly punchy shooting mechanics. DICE clearly realise where their key strengths lie, and have preserved everything we loved about BF2 and Bad Company 2, whilst tweaking elements to created a completely refined experience. Tim got to play it , and everything we see in the trailer appears to come true when you take up keyboard and mouse. We already know we'll be playing Battlefield 3 every night for a year. Will you be joining us?
Over the months since we last saw Bioshock Infinite, interest has wandered slightly. E3 pulled our focus back to Irrational's steam-punk shooter, and we can't wait to get hands on time with it . Colourful, intense and on the right side of mental, this rollercoaster ride through a world of American exceptionalism (literally a rollercoaster at times due to the sky-rails) looks like it will capture us with as iron-like a grip as the original. Whilst much of the trailer appears scripted, we've been assured by Irrational that it isn't; rather it's just tightly rehearsed. Interestingly this time the silent protagonist has been abandoned in favour of the much more chatty central character Booker DeWitt. This works well for Infinite's central narrative; where BioShock was very much the loneliness of exploring Rapture solo, Infinite at its core is the relationship between Booker and Elizabeth, and the dialogue brings this relationship alive with vibrant and amusing quips.
Brothers in Arms: Furious 4
Gearbox abandon their Band of Brothers influence in favour of something more bombastic for their latest entry in their WW2 shooter franchise. The trailer – clearly influenced by that scene with Michael Fassbender in Inglourious Basterds – is a jarring change from Matt Baker's harsh journey through Normandy, but is no less welcome. Furious 4 looks incredibly good fun; Bulletstorm with Tommy guns. The forums have filled with people upset about this new direction, so we should assure you that the days of Baker and the 101st are NOT over, but for now we implore you to give Furious 4 a chance. We liked what we saw , and think you will too.
PayDay: The Heist
PayDay was a massive surprise for us. We had no idea what it was, nor who developers Overkill Software were before E3, but now they're firmly on our 'to watch' list. PayDay is Left4Dead for criminals; a co-op survival game where players must first break into a variety of targets (among them banks and skyscrapers), steal a fuck-load of moolah and then get the hell out. Problem is, the moment you blow that vault open every cop in a twenty-mile radius will close in on you. Using a combination of firearms and harsh, harsh language, you take down those out to put you in cuffs and make yourself very rich. Tim thought it was the best discovery of E3 . Fans of films like Heat and Point Break are going to love this.
Of all the games I've seen at E3 this year, two are battling for supremacy. Naturally Battlefield 3 is one of them, but Tomb Raider is putting up a fight. Everything about it looks gorgeous ; from Lara herself to the grimy environments to the outstanding flame effects. The demo was the sole impressive element of an otherwise poor show from a Kinect-obsessed Microsoft. Despite the demo not showing what I wanted to see (namely the expansive open areas of the island), it did give a good sense of the claustrophobia some of the environments will offer. Uncomfortable tension was broken by outbursts of violence, although the frantic scrambles away from the few enemies emphasise that combat may well be more of an event than a regular occurrence, which would bring a better sense of gritty realism to the normally gun-totting Miss Croft. There were some sequences of QTE, but I'm hoping that these will be nothing to worry about.
Mass Effect 3
Video from Mass Effect was numerous at this year's E3, with a pre-scripted trailer , a live-action trailer and the mission demo from EA's conference. Whilst it's almost impossible for BioWare's sci-fi epic to not impress, the demo showed a very weak segment from the third game. An on-rails shoot-out against a live Reaper may well look beyond awesome, but it doesn't promote what we love about Mass Effect. There's probably nothing to worry about, but it seems odd that BioWare would show off a segment that uses a universally hated mechanic. Still, there's also footage of the new melee system, which converts Shepard's omni-tool into a wrist-mounted blade for some satisfying stabby moves in close quarters. So despite a somewhat off-step demo, it's hard not to get excited about Mass Effect 3.
Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine
The last time someone attempted to make an action game set in the grim darkness of the 41st millennium, the result was as frightening as a trip to the Eye of Terror itself. Thankfully the current guardians of the 40k licence – Relic – are masters of design. Third-person action may be a departure from their RTS comfort zone, but it looks just as polished as the Dawn of War games, maintaining their perfect understanding of Games Workshop's universe. Point in case: the blood. If this was a film, the total blood gallon count would be equal to that of Coca-Cola's annual output. We also finally get a real look at the Chaos troopers. Whilst grinding Orks with chainswords is clearly going to be a most satisfying affair, something less fleshy and encased in power armour will be more of an enjoyable challenge for our blessed Heavy Bolter (she has a cyclic fire rate of 635 rounds per minute. We call her Vera).
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Skyrim was one of Graham's top 3 games he saw this year, and it's pretty easy to see why. The above video from G4TV is a great 14 minute interview with game director Todd Howard as he explains many unseen elements of Skyrim. Among them are the finer details of inventory and spell-casting, alongside Dragon Shouts and interacting with NPCs. Whilst the combat still seems to have a little of that clunkiness that Oblivion had, Skyrim certainly looks amazing, with some beautiful snowy vistas. They're nothing compared to the dragons though; breathtaking monstrosities that truly steal the show. If you're anything like us, you already know that your first fight with one of these winged beasts will be a highlight of your gaming year.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
Before E3 we really weren't sure of The Old Republic. Our hands on sessions left us a little confused, and none of the info we were gathering was helping to form a cohesive picture of what SWTOR really was. E3 changed all that. We finally saw raids, space combat and the details that helped gel everything we knew into the big picture. And we love it. The video above shows off the Eternity Vault raid, and it's everything we'd want from a Star Wars MMO. Lasers, giant robots, leaping Sith and a feeling of grandeur. Plus, there's a kick-ass cinematic at the start of the game. A long time ago can't come quick enough.
We had cinematic CGI trailers, screen shots and info aplenty on Dead Island, but E3 was where we truly got to see this zombie paradise in action. And even without that haunting melody and falling child, Dead Island's gameplay still manages to be shocking without going too far; bloody yet still retaining the carefully designed impact of a holiday gone horrifically wrong. It's a combination of Far Cry and Left 4 Dead, and looks to be an absolute triumph.