E3 2018: Eight of the Biggest Surprises That Could be on Show

E3 2018 is set for its annual ‘take the video game industry by storm’ event when the biggest names in gaming descend on Los Angeles between 11th and 15th June.

The juggernauts of the industry – Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo – will all be on hand to show off the latest titles and updates to their consoles, while other notable names such as Bethesda, Square Enix, EA and Ubisoft will be showcasing some keenly anticipated games too.

As ever, E3 won’t be without its surprise announcements or demos to set tongues wagging  – but which upcoming or rumoured titles can we expect to hear about this time around?

Here’s eight who could be huge waves at the L.A Convention Center:


Halo 6 (Microsoft)

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Microsoft needs a big win from its biggest video game franchise, particularly with the lacklustre reception to the fifth installment – Guardians – over three years ago now.

What better way to bring the house down at their press briefing, then, than to announce the next chapter in Master Chief’s story?

A job posting on Microsoft’s site on 19th March for a Lead Graphics Designer hinted that something could be in the works, while Brian Jarrard – Community Director at 343 Industries – tweeted that work had begun on Halo’s “next console game” as recently as 17th May.

Further news about a new Halo game – apparently labelled Halo: Infinity – is reportedly set to be announced by Microsoft during their briefing according to Twitter user Brad Sams, but whether it’s the next installment in Master Chief’s story or a standalone – possibly an MMO type game? – title remains to be seen.

Could a small teaser for Halo 6 be done in time to show off at E3? It would give Microsoft something to up the hype levels at their conference.


Fable 4 (Microsoft)

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Could a former Xbox stalwart be about to be revived in the shape of Fable?

A January report from Eurogamer suggested that a new Fable game was in the works, and Playground Games – the guys behind Xbox’s Forza Horizon series – are believed to be silently developing it.

Xbox head honcho Phil Spencer tweeted recently that he had “nothing” to announce regards a new Fable game – but is that merely smoke and mirrors ahead of a possible tease?


Bloodborne 2 (Sony)

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This one is a huge left field rumour, but it’s been three years since the original was released and fans of FromSoftware want their next fill of the Dark Souls-esque series.

A teaser trailer at last December’s Game Awards hinted at what FromSoftware were working on, but there have been mixed reports over whether their next game is a follow up to Bloodborne 1 or a new IP.

With nothing else in the works – Dark Souls Remastered launched on 24th May – it could be that Bloodborne 2 is FromSoftware’s next video game venture and may be teased at E3.


Metroid Prime 4 (Nintendo)

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Not one word has been uttered by Nintendo about Samus Aran’s next adventure since they shockingly teased Metroid Prime 4 last summer, and we could be about to see some early gameplay footage if quotes from Nintendo’s Norway affiliate is anything to go by.

They alleged, back in January 2018, that Nintendo were “looking forward to 2018, including games like… Metroid Prime 4“.

Coupled with Eurogamer’s February report that Bandai Namco were helming MP4, we could be treated to actual gameplay this month.


Splinter Cell (Ubisoft)

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It’s been five years since Sam Fisher donned his famous goggles for the last addition to the SC franchise – Blacklist – but leaks aplenty have seemingly let the cat out of the bag over a new installment to the series.

Amazon’s Canada section accidentally listed ‘Splinter Cell 2018‘ on its website back in March, while a massive leak earlier in May from Walmart listed a placeholder for the game too.

It’s high time Sam Fisher made his debut on Xbox One and Playstation 4, and it’s only a matter of time until we get to see a trailer or gameplay based on the above.


Elder Scrolls VI (Bethesda)

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With sequels to Doom, Fallout and Rage supposedly set to play a major part in Bethesda’s E3 conference, the chances of anything ES6 related are extremely slim.

Back in September 2017 Peter Hines stated that it would “eventually be made”, and not before time given that Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was released almost seven years ago.

What gives us hope of some form of announcement or teaser then? The fact that Bethesda have said that “big announcements” will be made and that Todd Howard was quoted as saying “Even my son doesn’t know what’s coming” during an interview in March.

Let’s cross our fingers for something come E3.


Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 3 (EA)

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With previous entries in this humorous franchise launching in February 2014 and 2016, it was surprising to see the third iteration not even announced by February this year.

However, an IGN report in March suggested that a leak over a comic book – that would bridge the gap between the second and unannounced third game – was around the corner.

That’s a good indication that work is being conducted on the next PvZ game, and it wouldn’t be remiss of EA to reveal it at their briefing.


Marvel Avengers Project (Square Enix)

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Despite the announcement of a Marvel-Square Enix collaboration over the Avengers franchise coming in January 2017, not much has been spoken about it since.

All we know is that Crystal Dynamics – the boffins behind the Tomb Raider reboot – are developing it and, with Avengers: Infinity War hitting cinema screens earlier this year and Avengers 4 to come next spring, it would be a good idea to capitalise on this hype in the next 12 months with the release of the game.

IGN reported last September that job postings for Lead Level and Combat Designers were listed on Crystal Dynamics’ website, and that the game would be an online third-person action adventure game set in a universe separate to that of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

With Square Enix set to hold their first E3 briefing for three years – likely with plenty of Final Fantasy VII remake footage to show too – now would be a good time to update gamers on their Avengers title too.


What major announcements or surprise reveals would you want to see at E3 2018?

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How Tacoma Proves That Not All Adventure Games Need to be Action-Packed Affairs

It takes something special for a video game to explore the relationships between humans in such a succinct way, particularly if that game is itself fairly brief in nature.

For The Fullbright Company it’s become a norm though, with their Bioshock 2 DLC ‘Minerva’s Den’ and first major title Gone Home receiving critical acclaim in 2010 and 2014 respectively despite the ability to complete both in a single sitting.

Suffice to say, then, that their follow up – Tacoma – was keenly anticipated upon both its unveiling and subsequent release last summer.

Tacoma2Though it may not have hit the heady heights of its predecessor, Tacoma does a valiant job at once again at exploring the connections that make humans, well, human.

It should take just five hours for a player to complete the entire game – achievements and trophies included – but, considering its short-lived affair, it’s easy to be drawn into the survival of the six-person crew on board the Tacoma Lunar Transfer Station.

A key aspect of the gameplay is the ability to rewind time via the use of the game’s ARDware – an augmented reality device that allows Amy, the protagonist, to review past conversations and actions between the crew to determine what went wrong onboard the space station.

It’s from this that Amy is able to delve into both the story itself and the interactions between the crew, and helps each personality to be expressed so eloquently despite the shortness of the game’s run time.

In an adventure game with nothing in the way of first-person action to deal with, atmosphere, story and humanitarian elements are required to fill the gap and Fullbright have certainly capitalised on the last of that trio.

There are clear bonds between the Tacoma’s crew, and it’s hard not to will them on in their quest to a) get to the bottom of what happens to them, and b) to fight back against the fallout from the incident that puts them in grave danger.

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It’s a determination to survive, to find a solution to the problem and inquisitive mindset that helps you feel empathy towards the crew – foundations which are all laid as we learn more about them individually and collectively.

Rooting for those onboard becomes second nature all thanks to Fullbright’s ability to write and design characters that we eventually care for greatly, and proves again that not all adventure games need to be action-packed, blockbuster affairs.

Seven Things We Learned From Microsoft’s E3 2017 Press Conference

Microsoft came, saw and pretty much conquered E3 on Sunday with the 2017 iteration of their annual press conference in Los Angeles.

The multinational corporation laid down a marker for fierce rivals Sony with a superb showing that offered plenty of news on their newest console, a whole slew of interesting and beautiful games and a couple of nice little surprises.

What did we, the gamers, learn from Microsoft’s press briefing though? Here’s a rundown of the most important parts of what the showcase:


The Xbox One X is Going to be Magnificient

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Source: The Verge

Project Scorpio is no more. Microsoft officially – and finally – unveiled their latest console offering to the public, and revealed that it will now be known as the ‘Xbox One X’.

Sleeker than its predecessor the Xbox One S – though not smaller, if this specifications sheet shown on Kotaku is 100% true – the Xbox One X is packing some serious muscle under its hood.

With memory consisting of 12 GB GDDRS @ 326 GB/s, a true 4K UHD Blu-Ray drive and a liquid cooling system, among other immense specs, the Xbox One X is certainly the most powerful console made to date.

With an official release date of 7th November 2017 announced too, we don’t have to wait long to get our mitts all over this gorgeous looking piece of kit. Well, that is…


…If You Can Afford it

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Source: Windows Central

At £449 ($499 for our American cousins), the Xbox One X will not be cheap.

Microsoft has to get bang for its buck from somewhere, considering the amount of research, technology manufacturing and shipping that will have cost them a Scrooge McDuck-esque swimming pool of cash, but the Washington-based company could have priced themselves out of some fans purchasing their new device straight away.

It took a while for some Xbox 360 gamers to part with their money and buy a One when it was released back in late 2013 and, with a hefty price slapped onto the X, it might be a good six months, bundle pack or price drop to persuade gamers to let go of their One console and upgrade to this monster.


You Won’t Have to Stump Up Cash for Peripherals Though

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Source: Amazon

As some form of sweetener to those looking to buy an Xbox One X the moment it’s released, however, Microsoft did reveal that all current Xbox One peripherals – controllers, headsets and the like – would work with the X.

That goes some way to buttering up the Xbox fanbase, but is it enough to really make gamers hand over their hard-earned cash? Only time will tell.


If That Doesn’t, the Raft of Games Will

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Source: Business Insider

Microsoft proudly boasted that it showed off 42 new games during its almost two-hour long briefing on Sunday – 22 of which it claimed were Xbox exclusives – and some of the do look exceptionally impressive.

We already knew that the likes of Crackdown 3, Forza Motorsport 7, Middle Earth: Shadow of War, Sea of Thieves and State of Decay 2 would be coming to the Xbox One X, but a host of other titles – both AAA and indie – will have piqued the interest of Xbox supporters.

Odd Tales’ The Last Night looks a truly stunning Blade Runner-esque pixel art winner, a sequel to Moon Studios’ Ori & the Blind Forest – called Ori and the Will of Wisps – is drop-dead gorgeous, Bluehole’s critically-acclaimed PlayerUnknown Battlegrounds will worm its way onto the Xbox One X and Bioware’s latest venture Anthem is set to be yet another triumph for the Canadian video game developer.

As Xbox head honcho Phil Spencer, there was truly a game on show for everyone, with family friendly titles all the way to mature content for 18+  gamers on offer. And speaking of Spencer…


Microsoft’s Xbox Chief is Showing His Worth

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Source: BBC

Since his appointment as chief executive of Xbox’s division in late 2014, Phil Spencer has turned Xbox’s reputation on its head and made the corporation’s video game department a force to be reckoned with once more.

As a staunch video game fan himself, Spencer knows just how important it has been to make gaming the centre of everything good about the Xbox brand – it’s quite amazing to type that out about a games console – and the 28-year Microsoft veteran has turned this potentially sinking ship around.

Each E3 conference that Spencer has headlined has not been short of games, has dispensed with the other entertainment aspects of the Xbox One and all-but-sealed the fate of Microsoft’s ponderous motion control Kinect device.

That Spencer’s name was chanted by those in attendance at Sunday’s briefing shows you all you need to know about how he has given Xbox its pride back.


And Now for Some More Nostalgia

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Source: Cnet

Microsoft dropped the mic on Sony during their 2015 E3 press conference as they announced their Xbox 360 backwards compatiblity programme.

Since then the number of titles available to gamers, that fans can play on their Xbox One, has slowly been increased and, despite the feature not being used much according to Ars Technica, it still has some form of following.

Now, Microsoft has revealed that it plans to bring the originaly Xbox’s back catalogue to its One lineup too, and the unveiling went down a storm among attendees.

Whether the company will see a huge spike before a massive drop off again remains to be seen but, for gamers who still cling on to their original Xbox games from all the way back to 2001, being able to play them on an upgrade console 16 years later will be huge.


Sony Need Something Humungous to ‘Win’ E3 2017

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Source: Digital Trends

With the unveiling of Xbox One X, a tonne of ridiculously good-looking upcoming games and more backwards compatibility to come, Microsoft have laid down the gauntlet to Sony ahead of the Playstation briefing.

The Japanese corporation bounced back with their 2015 ‘E3 of Dreams’ lineup following Microsoft’s return to form that year, and something similar will be needed to prevent the American giant from securing bragging rights this time around.

This was a big press conference for Microsoft and they pretty much pulled it off. It’s up to Sony now to stop casual gamers from switching allegiances.

Microsoft’s 2017 E3 Briefing: Everything You Need to Know

The 2017 Edition of world-famous video game expo E3 is just a week away, and anticipation is building towards what consumers can expect from the three-day event in Los Angeles.

As ever, the industry’s big hitters such as Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, EA and Bethesda will all be conducting press briefings to varying degrees, while a whole host of companies, experts and fans will be present to present, critique and get hands-on experience with all the demos and games they can get their hands on.

Microsoft arguably stole the show at E3 2016 with the announcement of the Xbox One S, a slew of cool looking titles, HoloLens and their upcoming Project Scorpio console, and much will be expected of the multinational corporation by everyone at the event and across the globe.

What can we expect to see, hear and touch when Microsoft rock up to E3 then? Here’s the lowdown on all you need to know:


What Time, When & Where?

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Microsoft are doing things a tad differently this year. The Washington-based technology giant normally holds its press briefing at 5pm BST (9am PT) on the first day of the event – usually the Monday – a few brief hours before Sony take to the stage.

However, MS are holding their 2017 conference a day earlier at a later time. This year’s Microsoft briefing will take place on Sunday 11th June at 10pm BST (2pm PT) at the LA Convention Centre.

It’s certainly a bold move from MS who will be giving their presentation first – EA aside – ahead of their two major rivals Sony and Nintendo (although the latter will be sticking to their tried-and-tested Treehouse presentation, rather than a live press event), but it gives them the chance to show off all of their newest gubs 24 hours before the Playstation and Switch producers.


What Can We Expect to See?

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There’s only one thing on the minds of Xbox fans heading into E3 2017: Project Scorpio.

Microsoft announced that they were hard at work on their most powerful console to date during last year’s event, and this year MS should come out all guns blazing and reveal just exactly what Project Scorpio.

Xbox chief Phil Spencer has already given hints at to just how monstrous the next Xbox will be, but gamers will be keen to know just what they’ll be getting for the money when the console reportedly launches at the end of this year.

What do we know about Project Scorpio so far? Well, it’ll contain 6 teraflops-worth of “graphical processing power”, an in-built vapour chamber – liquid cooling that will keep the console from overheating – 1TB of storage and the ability to stream games at a 4K UHD resolution.

There’s much more information where that came from too in this handy all-encompassing guide from the boffins over at TechRadar, but we’ll learn much, much more – including potential A-list titles, price range and other crucial factors – when the Scorpio is officially revealed on 11th June.

Will Microsoft open or close with the Scorpio? It’s hard to say. Leaving it until the end of the briefing will give Xbox fans an almighty boost and be a big way to drop the mic on Sony, but could backfire if the pricing of the console is too steep.

Opening with Scorpio would certainly be a way for Microsoft to come out all guns blazing, but giving up their biggest prize from the off could lead to the rest of the conference paling in comparison.

Either way, next month can’t come soon enough.


What About the Games?

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With Microsoft pushing the Scorpio as the major selling point of their 2017 briefing, games and software will most likely take a slight stepback from proceedings.

That’s not to say that fans and gamers won’t be given a vast array of titles to run the rule over, as video game trailers, teases, demos and information are the lifeblood of E3.

Expect to hear updates on the likes of Undead Labs’ sequel State of Decay 2 and Reagent Games’ Crackdown 3, further trailers and demos for upcoming titles such as Rare’s Sea of Thieves, and other first-party developers along the lines of Forza Motorsport 7 from Microsoft Studios.

Third-party games like EA’s critically-acllaimed FIFA series and Activision’s Call of Duty: World War 2 will also no doubt appear, and more ID@Xbox titles (fingers crossed for a Cuphead release date!) will be given their own alloted time frame.

Rumours had circulated that a Halo 3 anniversary remaster or even a vague hint towards Halo 6 may be shown off but, thanks to 343 Industries’ development director Frank O’Connor’s comments late last year -reiterated by community manager Brian Jarrard on Reddit – don’t expect to see either at show.


What Else?

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A potential announcement about more upcoming backwards compatibility titles wouldn’t go amiss. E3 2015 saw MS turn the tables on Sony, after the latter had won E3 the year before, by stating their intent to bring as many Xbox 360 games to the Xbox One in the coming years, and Phil Spencer even went as far to say he’d like to see “all” 360 titles eventually playable on the One.

In hardware terms, can we expect to see a new controller? MS has always pushed the boundaries where this is concerned, with the 360 controller deemed one of the all-time greats of gaming.

E3 2016 saw Microsoft unveil its new Elite controller for pro-gamers, as well as a vast array of colour schemes on their website to make your own personalised One controller, so it’s plausible that something of that ilk could also be revealed come 11th June.


Who Will Be Taking to the Stage?

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MS head honcho Phil Spencer for one. The American business executive will open and close Microsoft’s press briefing as he always does, and will welcome a number of first and third-party dev team leaders onto the stage to conduct demos, talk games and show off footage from their own enterprises.

That long list of names may include Sea of Thieves creative director Gregg Mayles, 343 chief Bonnie Ross – no Halo tease but apparently “a little something” from the company – and ID@Xbox director Chris Charla among others.

There may be a slight surprise or two as well given E3’s propensity to shock audiences with an unannounced game, but we’ll have to wait and see on that front.


How Will the Briefing Go Down?

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Considering it hasn’t happened yet, it’s difficult to determine. Finally unleashing Project Scorpio on the world would be a massive plus for Microsoft, and showing off some of its most anticipated games for the coming season would provide a massive fillip ahead of Sony’s own conference 48 hours later.

It will be intriguing to see if MS decide to lead or end their briefing with Scorpio as doing either have their own positives and negatives, and it could well be that the reception their 2017 briefing receives will be entirely dependent on how Scorpio is received.

This could be Microsoft’s best chance to close the gap on Sony’s dominance of the console market since 2014. Win gamers over, and they may just ease the pressure on themselves. Fail to deliver, however and they could be playing catch up for even longer.

Who is the real hero of Quantum Break?

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Heroes and villains. Protagonists and antagonists. Good guys and bad guys.

Whatever terminology is used to describe them, it is usually easy to recognise who to root for, and who to root against, in any form of entertainment.

In Remedy Entertainment’s recently released Xbox One exclusive title Quantum Break, it seems easy to assume, on the surface at least, who are the heroes and who are the villains.

The player takes control of Jack Joyce, who returns to the fictional city of Riverport after six years away to aid longtime friend Paul Serene with a time travel experiment at Riverport University.

The pair become imbued with time-altering powers after the test goes awry, Paul Serene travels into the future, and returns 17 years older and hellbent on allowing something called ‘the End of Time’ to occur.

Naturally, Joyce opposes his best friend-turned nemesis’ viewpoint and sets out on preventing the onset of a ‘permanent time stutter’ – an event which would see time break down, and hold the world in a perpetual fixed state of immobility.

Serene, who leads the shady Monarch Solutions corporation, is only interested in allowing a select few members of the human race to ‘survive’ the apparent End of Time by initiating the Lifeboat Protocol – a plan which would allow the chosen few to retain the ability to move as they look to find a solution to time’s end.

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So far, so simple with regards to who the hero and villain are – but look a little deeper, and those roles aren’t so easily defined.

If Jack Joyce is not the hero of Quantum Break‘s story, then who is?

There are four potential contenders for the ‘Hero of Quantum Break‘ crown in my mind, and each has their own pros and cons.

Note: Spoilers for Quantum Break are likely from this point on, so turn back if you are playing the game and haven’t finished it, or if you are going to play it at some point.

Jack Joyce

On the surface, it seems pretty clear that Jack Joyce (portrayed by Shawn Ashmore) is Quantum Break‘s undeniable champion.

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Along with attempting to stop Serene’s plan to allow time to end, Joyce also has revenge on his mind after Serene seemingly murders his brother and world renowned physicist William Joyce – another action that lends credence to Jack being the good guy as he seeks retribution for this incident.

With the aid of Beth Wilder and either Amy Ferrero or Nick Marsters (depending on what decisions you make at certain junctions in the game) Joyce ends up stealing back the countermeasure (or chronon field regulator) – an object made by his brother that can prevent the End of Time from happening.

Again, it seems logical that Jack is indeed the hero this story needs.

But, during Quantum Break‘s fifth and final act, it is revealed that a) William is actually still alive (he’s saved by Jack himself via time-travel logistics) and b) the countermeasure does not prevent the End of Time; instead it merely seems to halt its inevitable arrival.

So can Jack be viewed as being the hero, when his path for vengeance stands for nothing in the end, and after stopping the initiation of the Lifeboat Protocol, which we can safely presume is the only way that a solution to the End of Time can be prevented?

Paul Serene

Paul Serene (Aiden Gillen) appears to be the primary antagonist of Quantum Break.

He appears to murder Jack’s brother William, kills Beth Wilder when she comes into contact with the countermeasure, and is only concerned with allowing the best of humanity to continue on at time’s end thanks to the Lifeboat Protocol.

But are Serene’s villainous motives as clear cut as they seem?

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Afterall, Monarch’s head honcho is the only person with a plan in place for such an occurence.

Of course it’s helpful that, due to the time machine experiment going wrong, he sees the End of Time itself and vows to find a way to rectify it when it transpires.

Furthermore, he’s not leaving the other seven billion people on the planet to die – those outside of the Lifeboat Protocol and without the necessary equipment to move inside of the permanent stutter are merely held in place, unable to move due to time’s end.

Providing a solution is found, time would restart and those seven billion individuals would be unaware of anything happening.

Would Serene’s actions not be viewed as heroic, then? Is sacrificing a few people worth it to save the lives of billions?

Beth Wilder

Beth Wilder (Courtney Hope) is an operative employed by Monarch solutions, but whose allegiances lie with the Joyce brothers due to circumstances that are explained during Act 4 of Quantum Break.

Throughout the story, she helps Jack escape Serene’s clutches, aids him in securing the services of Paul Serene’s chief scientist Sofia Amaral to help fix William’s old time machine, and attempts to steal back the all-important countermeasure.

In the end, Wilder suffers a heroic death at the hands of Serene six years in the past due to a cleverly put together plot that sends her both forwards and backwards in time in a bid to locate the countermeasure.

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But, in being an aide to Jack Joyce to stop the End of Time, she only assists in pushing him down a path which, for the mean time, appears to have been fruitless, what with the End of Time still likely to arise.

Due to other time travel mechanics later on in the story, she also causes her own enclosed time loop – going back in time to tell her younger self that her only priority in life is to stop time from ending and, in doing so, prevents herself from ever being able to live a happy life.

It is often said that the mark of a true hero is to put your own needs aside for the greater good, but what kind of hero would end up being the one who causes their own life objective and untimely death as a result?

William Joyce

World renowned physicist and Jack’s older brother, William Joyce (Dominic Monaghan) is the creator of both time machines that exist in Quantum Break, as well as the countermeasure that can apparently stop time from ending.

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Building the chronon field regulator, after being informed of its necessity by a time-travelling Beth Wilder, Joyce ends up producing the only object capable of preventing the End of Time.

But, in being the scientist that first discovers the existence of Meyers-Joyce field, subsequent unearthing of time-related chronon particles and, a as result, building two time machines that are able to send things into the past and future using those particles, Joyce appears to set in motion all of the events for Quantum Break – even if it is indirectly.

Naturally, he does all he can to prevent time’s inevitable end, but is it difficult to look past him being the instigator of the events which unfold throughout the game?

The Verdict

So who is the real hero of Quantum Break?

All four individuals are trying to prevent the same thing, the End of Time, from occuring but each character ironically appears to launch its unavoidable onset through their various actions throughout the game.

In spite of this, however, their major decisions and actions can be deemed as heroic – even Serene who, in the end, is only trying to save the human race.

Perhaps the characters will be defined more clearly as ‘hero’ or ‘villain’ in the hinted-at sequels but for now, it is arguable that all four are heroic in some form throughout Quantum Break‘s story.

Gamers are the winners from E3 2015

e3Throughout the years, with the conclusion of each E3 event, there has been a growing notion that there has to be an outright winner amongst the video game industry’s leading competitors.

In 2013 Sony drew the plaudits with their ‘For the gamers’ centric presentation, whilst last year’s showcase seemed to tip the balance of favour into either Microsoft’s or Sony’s corner, depending on which ‘fanbase’ gamers belonged to.

2015 was no exception to this growing and slightly peculiar trend. This time around, however, it wasn’t a developer, publisher, or giant within the industry who could stand proud knowing that they had won the acclaim of those lucky enough to attend gaming’s most glamarous convention.

This year’s winner was, in fact, the gamers.

And with good reason. The glut of video games that are set to appear on any and all platforms in the next six, twelve, eighteen months and beyond lends credence to the claims that E3 2015 has had the best lineup of titles in the expo’s entire history.

Fallout 4, Halo 5: Guardians, No Man’s Sky, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Star Fox Zero, Tom Clancy’s: The Division, Star Wars Battlefront, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Just Cause 3, Rainbow Six: Siege, Yoshi’s Woolly World and the Final Fantasy VII remake are just some of the multitude of visually stunning, high quality developed titles that will leave gamers sweating over the diminishing funds in their back accounts.

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And that’s just the triple A publications on offer. The indie gaming scene has never looked stronger as well, with the likes of Below, Cuphead, Dreams, Beyond Eyes, Unravel and Anno: 2205 being praised for their gameplay and ingenuity.

Couple these with developments in both virtual and augmented reality (how mindblowing was Microsoft’s Hololens demo?), alongside the revelation that Microsoft has achieved backwards compatibility to enable the Xbox One to play Xbox 360 games (Sony could potentially follow suit in the future), and console gaming looks destined to enjoy a substantial fruitful period.

PC gaming also looks to be in fine health too, in spite of the inaugural E3 PC Gaming show seemingly lacking much charisma or much in the way of genuine gaming reveals, compared to the other seven main stage shows. With many titles destined for consoles also coming out on PC, the ever growing popularity of the Steam community and the ability to pretty much mod any game (Bethesda did hint at bringing mod support to Fallout 4 on console versions during E3 too), computer enthusiasts have no reason to fear missing out on any of the best up and coming titles nevertheless.

Of course, many punters will point to the glaring issue that trailers and demonstrations during E3 are made to look more aesthetically pleasing, and include features that tend to not appear in the final version of the game, in a bid to elevate the hype and excitement enough to pressure gamers into pre-ordering games months in advance of their release.

It is a point worth making. Gamers have been burnt in the past by promises of seeing their most anticipated games running at reduced frames-per-second than was first revealed, or with graphics dumbed down to help games run smoother, or seeing elements of gameplay completely stripped from the final product once games have hit both physical and digital stores. Such revelations can and have led to skepticism amongst the gaming fanbase, with many reluctant to part with their hard earned cash until final versions have been released and reviewed.

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The fact remains, though, that this year’s plethora of announcements, demos and press conferences have showcased what appears to be the most diverse and rich offering of video game titles for a long, long time. If a high proportion of developers and publishers can stick to their E3 promises, the next few years have the potential to be the gaming industry’s biggest and brightest era since the dawn of video games themselves.

E3 may have come and gone once more, but there is plenty to be optimistic about. It’s a good time to be a video gamer, that much is certain.

E3 2015: What can we expect?

e3It’s that time of year again. June has finally rolled around and, as has become the customary arrival of the midway point of the calendar year, the video game industry’s best and brightest have begun filing in to Los Angeles ahead of 2015’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3 for short.

The 3 day long convention has seen a momumentally exponential growth in the past ten years as gaming has burst its way into modern day mainstream culture, and 2015 looks to be bigger and bolder than ever, with no less than seven companies looking to win over gaming fanatics with their wide array of games, tech and bold press conferences (eight if you include Oculus’ pre-E3 conference from June 11th).

And, before the task of receiving more news than is possible to memorise and write up about kicks off, it would be wise to take a look at the seven main contenders who are looking to ‘win’ this year’s event, along with what particular titles are likely to be on show during the event.

Microsoft

The technology giant recovered from a below par-2013 E3 showing last year to reclaim some semblance of respect amongst gamers in particular and, fronted once again by Xbox chief Phil Spencer, will be looking to have an even stronger press conference than 2014’s.

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Spencer has already revealed that time constraints have ensured that three Xbox One exclusives in Scalebound, Quantum Break and Crackdown will not be presented at E3 – the trio will be given coverage at Gamescom in August – which, considering how anticipated these titles are, is a strange move on Microsoft’s part. One can only assume that Spencer et al belive their E3 lineup is strong enough without such exclusives. Only time will tell.

What we can expect to see: Halo 5: Guardians, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Forza 6 and the Gears of War remastered collection. It is also possible that MS will briefly touch upon their collaboration with Oculus Rift, following yesterday’s announcement that the virtual reality headset will ship with an Xbox One controller, as well as companies such as Insomnic Games creating content for the device.

Press Conference date and time: 15th June – 9:30am PT / 12:30pm ET / 5:30pm BST

Sony

After stealing the show from Microsoft back in 2013 and winning over fans the world over with their “It’s just a games console, and nothing else” pitch, Sony’s 2014 showing was a little more hit and miss with the company preferring to showcase technology, such as Playstation TV, over games – a complete role reversal to their conference the year before.

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Still, the Japanese conglomerate will likely push a wide variety of its first party content during this year’s presentation as they look to continue their strong hold on the gaming market.

What we can expect to see: Unchartered 4, definitely. Unchartered: The Nathan Drake Collection is also very likely to be officially unveiled, alongside other first party titles such as Until Dawn, No Man’s Sky, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, and a number of JRPGs. Project Morpheus – Sony’s own in house VR device – will potentially figure heavily throughout their presentation.

Press Conference date and time: 15th June – 6pm PT / 9pm ET / 16th June – 2am BST

Bethesda

The American games studio behind the much loved Elder Scrolls and Fallout series is holding its inaugural E3 press conference at this year’s event.

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Not much is known as to what the publisher will show but, after teasing the likes of Fallout 4 and a Doom reboot in recent weeks, do they need to showcase anything other than two of the most hotly anticipated games in recent memory?

What we can expect to see: Fallout 4. Lots and lots of Fallout 4. Also on the agenda will be the Doom remake/reboot, as well as a further look at last year’s tease for a new IP in Battlecry.

Press Conference date and time: 14th June – 7pm PT / 10pm ET / 15th June – 3am BST

Electronic Arts

Often barracked in some quarters for its over reliance on the production of sports based video games during these types of presentatinons, EA have branched out and away from that position in the gaming industry a lot more in recent years.

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Naturally, a company that distributes the likes of FIFA, Madden and NBA will see a good portion of its showing taken up by sports based titles, but the California-based organisation has some potentially outstanding non-sports brands to show off this year. Expect these to draw the punters in.

What we can expect to see: Sports games. Lots of sports games. If that’s not something to whet your appetite, perhaps the Star Wars: Battlefront reboot, a new Mirror’s Edge game, Need for Speed or Mass Effect 4 will do nicely.

Press Conference date and time: 15th June – 1pm PT / 4pm ET / 9pm BST

Nintendo

The Japanese based corporation is set to hold another digital event, in much the same vein as last year’s weird-but-slightly-funny presentation, but it remains to be seen what the giant will actually showcase during its event.

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It has already been confirmed that the Legend of Zela Wii U title – so brilliantly teased at the 2014 event – will not be making an appearance. Nor will Nintendo show off its supposed new hardware, currently codenamed the Nintendo NX, so it could be safe to assume that the Mario makers could exhibit the likes of the new Star Fox game and demonstrate more of what we might see with regards to their venture into the mobile gaming world.

What we can expect to see: Star Fox, Mario Maker and Yoshi’s Woolly World look set to hold the stage, but Nintendo is reknowned for its surprises so expect to see a few unannounced tidbits from them.

Press Conference date and time: 16th June – 9am PT/ 12pm ET / 5pm BST

Square Enix

The Japanese video game developer, publisher and distributor will have the likes of Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts 3 and Rise of the Tomb Raider featured in Sony’s and Microsoft’s own press conferences, but the Tokyo based company will no doubt hold back some exclusive detailings in these titles for their own conference.

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Those games aside, expect to see multiple JRPGs on show, as well as future releases including Star Ocean, Nosgoth and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, alongside a raft of mobile only games.

What we can expect to see: Final Fantasy XV, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Kingdom Hearts 3 and Rise of the Tomb Raider will be the big hitters for Square Enix, but expect a whole host of other anime-inspired titles to be showcased.

Press Conference date and time: 16th June – 10am PT/ 1pm ET / 6pm BST

Ubisoft

The French-Canadian based company has almost become synonymous with its Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed series that it’s easy to forget just how many other projects they’re working on, and it looks like this year could be another keenly anticipated showing from the Montreal based corporation.

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Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate and Tom Clancy’s The Division will hopefully be present at the convention, in addition to other hotly tipped titles such as Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: Siege, Brothers in Arms: Furious 4 and a number of indie developed games that Ubisoft have spawned in recent years to critical acclaim.

What we can expect to see: Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, The Division and Rainbow Six: Siege are the main draws for Ubisoft this year, and any indie titles that catch the eye (much like Child of Light or Valiant Hearts) will once again end up front and centre by the year’s end.

Press Conference date and time: 15th June – 3pm PT / 6pm ET / 11pm BST

Who do you expect to come out on top at this year’s E3? Sound out in the comments with your opinions!

Games galore as Microsoft delivers at E3 2014

mse32014Twelve months is a long time in the video game industry. Game release dates can be pushed back to allow for improvements and tweaking, companies can be created or go bust, colleagues can fall out over the most inconsequential incidents and pretty much any ‘unknown’ game can become a worldwide sensation.

For Microsoft, this time a year ago they were given something different entirely: a reality check.

Despite finally unveiling the Xbox One, their next generation gaming hardware, amidst a host of other announcements, the ego of this globally renowned company suffered a severe bruising thanks to Sony’s hailed “For the people” E3 2013 press briefing, as well as attracting criticism for unwanted features such as the much maligned 24 hour online check in requirement.

With this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo press briefing over and done with, and with the expo in full swing as we speak, has Microsoft been able to haul back its reputation as a potential leading light within the gaming industry once again?

The answer is a categorical ‘yes’.

From the moment that Phil Spencer, Head of Microsoft’s Xbox Division, proclaimed that their showing was to be entirely devoted to games, right through to the gaming montage that signalled the end of the conference, gamers across the globe were treated to ninety minutes of trailers and game play footage for upcoming new and existing IPs and in doing so, Microsoft laid down the gauntlet to Sony, whose own E3 press briefing was still to come.

At the time of publishing this article, Sony have already taken to the stage and impressed with a number of their own first and third party titles but, regardless of arguably stealing the show from Microsoft once again due to their line up of games, the globally renowned American corporation can have plenty to be optimistic about following this year’s showing.

And it was one of Xbox’s instantaneously recognisable franchises that drew the loudest applause and cheers from Microsoft’s seminar.

Despite being leaked online a few weeks ago, Halo: The Master Chief Collection for the Xbox One was Xbox’s biggest crowd pleaser, and with good reason. Released in time for the tenth anniversary of Halo 2’s original launch, The Master Chief Collection comprises all four Halo games, with Master Chief as its, well, chief protagonist, compiled onto a solitary disc. With the opportunity to play any campaign level, at any given time, across any of four games’ campaign arcs, any of 100 online multiplayer maps from each game on dedicated servers running at 1080p, access to the online multiplayer beta for the upcoming Halo 5: Guardians and a brand new live action digital series (named Halo: Nightfall, which acts to serve as a bridge between Halo 4 and Halo 5) executively produced by Ridley Scott, all for the price of £40 ($60), Halo: The Master Chief Collection looks an absolute certainty to be a best seller for both 343 Industries and Microsoft Studios when it hits shelves on 11th November of this year.

Halo: The Master Chief collection was the stand out announcement during Microsoft's 2014 E3 press briefing

Halo: The Master Chief collection was the stand out announcement during Microsoft’s 2014 E3 press briefing

Gamers were also given a brief glimpse into what they can expect from Halo 5: Guardians as well, with a brief trailer for the multiplayer beta, and a teaser for the plot of the single player campaign (was that the Arbiter’s reflection in the visor of that other Spartan?) leaving fans with enough to tide them over until the Master Chief collection arrives in the fall.

Sunset Overdrive, the new IP from Insomniac Games, also garnered positive media attention following its brief presentation. After a brief trailer had given a general overview of the game’s plot (it helped that Insomniac poked a bit of fun at the bloated modern day FPS shooter market too), Ted Price, co-founder and CEO of Insomniac, took to the stage to play a 2-3 minute demo of the actual game, showcasing how players can navigate the open world environment, flaunting a few of the multitude of combination weapons, that the player can create, to take down the mutants, as well as taking on one of the ‘special’ infected mutants known as the Herker; a hulking tank-like monster with what appeared to be a digger’s bucket for a left hand/forearm. Aesthetically, Sunset Overdrive looked absolutely gorgeous, with vivid and bright colours giving the game a more vibrant, comical feel. Add a dash of over the top carnage and some humour, and Sunset Overdrive is looking like another hit for the Xbox One when it lands on 28th October.

There were other exclusive titles for Xbox users to look forward to also, including Forza Horizon 2 (Turn 10 Games) Scalebound (the new IP from Platinum Games) Ori and the Blind Forest (Moon Studios) and Phantom Dust (Microsoft Studios), whilst a first trailer for a new Crackdown title, also by Platinum Games, was shown as the show was closed out, and Microsoft will be hoping that these first party developed games will help the company attract new and existing fans to Xbox One in the coming months and years.

Sunset Overdrive received plaudits from media and fans alike during its brief stage demonstration

As always, there was the usual slew of third party developed titles that were showcased at the event as well, with the likes of Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Fable Legends, Dragon Age: Inquisition and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt all drawing polite applause from the assembled crowd. Microsoft was also keen to stress that some new third party titles would be delivering content to Xbox One owners ahead of their rivals over at Sony, such as Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Evolve and Tom Clancy’s The Division, which will ship downloadable content to Xbox One owners first ahead of Playstation 4 users, and Inside, the new IP from the creators behind the critically acclaimed arcade title ‘Limbo’, which will debut first on Xbox One in early 2015.

There was even time for a world premiere trailer for Rise of the Tomb Raider, the sequel to the rebooted Tomb Raider franchise from Crystal Dynamics and Square Enix, whilst new downloadable content for Dead Rising 3 and Forza 5 was announced as being available to download as the press briefing was ongoing.

Phil Spencer thanked fans for their ongoing support towards Xbox One

So, was it a stunning showing from Microsoft that left people eager to rush out and purchase an Xbox One, if they did not already own one? Not entirely. There was a definitive lack of a new or existing IP that left gamers with their jaws on the floor, and there was the small matter of not pushing home the lower price point for the Xbox One as of 9th June, but consider this: Microsoft really took a beating following their press briefing at last year’s E3, so much so that they have gone back on almost every commitment that they made for their new system, and even for a corporation of the size of Microsoft, that takes some doing. This time, there was no messing around. The ‘thank yous’ were kept to a minimum, presentations were concise and to the point, and the trailers and game play gave gamers a tasty snippet of what’s to come.

All things considered, Microsoft’s E3 2014 press conference can be considered as a triumph. Admittedly, what was said and shown would be deemed a triumph compared to last year’s damaging showing, but a triumph is a triumph no matter how you look at it.

Microsoft certainly has a lot to be positive about and thanks to a briefing full of enticing looking games, maybe, just maybe, their reputation will begin to rise once more.