New games and next-generation hardware were on display at the annual E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) in Los Angeles. Seemed everyone knew how big this convention was. Even Thor (Chris Hemsworth) showed up! Sony and Microsoft spared no expense hyping the upcoming holiday season. Both promise more functionality than ever before. Will we use our new PS4s for more than just Netflix? Can the Xbox One really be an all-in-one device? More importantly, does HD make Mario look fat?
Big titles like The Elder Scrolls Online, Call of Duty: Ghosts and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag got nerds all hot and bothered while smaller titles like Outlast made us wanna play all night, alone in the dark. Here's our best of the show list.
1. The War for the Living Room Begins: Going into E3—though the Xbox 360 has been this generation's PS2—fans had been skeptical about Microsoft's new machine's online requirements and the hassle of selling used games. The good: DVR-like abilities, instant access andsuper cool graphics. Both consoles will be able to play 4K movies. On Monday, the Xbox One price was revealed at $499. Hours later, Sony debuted a sleek PS4 that looks like a piece of gallery art for $399. Plus, you'll be able to sell used PS4 games and there's no online commitment.
Sony mentioned that the PS4 will have a service that works like Netflix for their entire library of games, films and TV. You'll be able to stream all of it. Imagine buying Uncharted 4 and then streaming the older titles if you were new to the series. Awesome, right? You can bet Microsoft will have something similar so will used games be an issue?
Under the hood both are nearly identical: powerful processor, 8 gigs of RAM, 500 gig hard drive and Blu-ray player (a first for Xbox). That $100 difference? Perhaps because the new Xbox comes with Kinect built in? The DualShock 4 controller for the PS4 has a nice feel, a little heftier with tight shoulder buttons. Just like the Xbox controller.
The next generation begins with Xbox One set for a November launch, while the PS4 is slated a holiday release.
2. Indie Games: Telltale Games showed off a demo for 400 Days, an extension of the award-winning first season of Walking Dead: The Game that takes place in the same timeline with five new stories centered around a roadside diner. Zombie burgers? Yum. Outlast is the first "found footage" horror game we've ever seen. Did we need this? Don't ask such things! Rain was as moody as we were hoping. And Octodad: Dadliest Catch? Well, the game looked so-so, but come on, that name rules.
3. Forza 5: Motorsport Party Was Fast & Furious: As the convention floor shut down for the night, swanky events commenced. At nightclub Vibiana in downtown L.A. there were Lamborghinis, Mclarens and other high end precision cars on display that previously we'd only seen in our virtual garages in games like Forza. Chris Hemsworth was there, too, promote his upcoming racing film, Rush. Sadly, sports vehicles were not given as swag.
4. It's Mario in HD, Meow!: In lieu of a press event, Nintendo gave the media hands-on with their new titles on the showroom floor a few hours before E3 doors were officially opened. Many of the game's designers were present, including Nintendo god Shigeru Miyamoto. Super Mario 3-D World was bright, colorful and (thankfully) not the kind of 3-D that requires glasses. Windwaker HD, a remake of the original GameCube-era Legend of Zelda title was stunningly beautiful. Mario Kart 8 has neat hovercrafts now.The game's best feature? The new catsuit power-up in Super Mario. Claw to the top with Princess Peach!
5. Big Launch Titles Look Real: Getting your fellow Romans to use their shields is cool. Killzone (for PS4) looks great, but Dead Rising 3 was our favorite launch title—an Xbox One exclusive that boasts rich detail even with hundreds of undead onscreen. Grab a vehicle to plow right through them. For driving sans zombies, Forza 5 is tops.
6. Twitch and Watch Me Play: Twitch allows gamers to livestream their own content. The Xbox One will have this app built in. At last, we can see how many different FemSheps hairdos exist in the Mass Effect universe.
7. Great Games Sooner Rather Than Later: The big advantage developers have when making a title late in the lifecycle of a console is being able to push the hardware to the limit. Many of the best titles of this generation will be out by the end of the year. Sony's The Last of Us comes out this week, and might be the crown jewel of the PS3 era. Ubisoft's Watch Dogs will be unleashed this holiday season. From the makers of the Assassin's Creed series comes a neon city tale: think GTA open-world chaos, but your most powerful weapon is a smart phone. Ellen Page's Beyond: Two Souls (her voice, her motion capture) comes out this October.
8. Really Awesome Stuff Still Fay Far Away: Why is Master Chief wearing clothes in the new Halo? Will Destiny be yours? A new Star Wars: Battlefront?! Who knew one of the biggest crowd reactions would be the announcement of Kingdom Hearts 3? Go Sora go!
Will you be pre-ordering PS4? Xbox One? Do you think the current systems still have enough zombies to eat your brains? Was your mind-blown from that Mirror's Edge 2 teaser? Sound off in the comments!