Excitement is at a fever pitch here in the Short Pause offices, as E3 2014 is bearing down upon us! Monday, the big press conferences from Microsoft, Sony, EA, and Ubisoft kick off the show in earnest, and we've got some things we'd love to see from this year's E3. Ben, Brent, and Eric, Short Pause's resident gaming nuts, take you through their wish lists for 2014's iteration of E3. Read on to see what they're looking forward to, and let us know in the comments what you're asking your E3 genie for this year!
Brent's Totally-Not-Predictions E3 Wish List
1) Crash Bandicoot
I wish Sony would announce a brand new Crash Bandicoot. When I first got an original PlayStation back in 1996, Crash Bandicoot was one of the first games that warranted a purchase, and holy hell, that game was fun! The wacky level designs, excellent gameplay, and the overall charm are what I will always remember. It sounds like there are a number of legal hurdles that need to be cleared in order to make this happen, so that’s why it's on my wish list. I wish Sony and Activision could make something happen, because I know many gamers out there that would love to see the return of this iconic character.
2) Nintendo Achievements
This next one ties in with our E3 predictions podcast, mainly because I know it’s more of a pipe dream than it is something that could actually happen; I wish Nintendo would implement some sort of achievement system similar to those found on both Xbox and PlayStation consoles. It cannot be understated how addicting these rewards can be - not only for bragging rights - but because they act as a guide at getting the most out of your games, striving to complete 100% of everything there is to do in the game. I don’t know if it would have a drastic effect on sales, but I know I’d play my Wii U and 3DS a helluva lot more if those extra incentives existed.
3) XB1 UI
Like many of you out there, I’ve really enjoyed my time with my Xbox One, despite being a “Pony” for the last two decades. I’ve spent many hours playing great games such as Titanfall, Ryse, and Peggle 2. Even though it appears to be slowly on its way to a much earlier-than-expected retirement, I’ve appreciated the added luxury of using the Kinect, if only for a few functions. However, there is one glaring issue I have with the Xbox One, and that’s the absolutely dreadful UI design and functionality. Maneuvering through that heap is a nightmare using the Xbox controller. Now I know what you’re going to say, “But, But, But…you just said you liked Kinect, though!! Why not just use that?!” I do like the Kinect, but maybe it’s just me when I say I can’t stand talking to my electronics for simple things such as starting a game, or perusing the store. As Ben alluded to in the podcast, because the current UI is so dependent on the Kinect, it only makes sense that a redesigned dashboard is readied to accommodate life after Kinect.
4) No Filler
If there’s one thing that kills the excitement of a games conference, it’s when the focus shifts to topics other than gaming. These press conferences may be an hour long, but when you have many games to show, it still seems rather cramped. So why fill it with anything other than games? I understand that these companies want to reach a wider audience by adding movies, television, music, and social applications; their inclusions are much appreciated, too. That being said, I didn’t buy these consoles for Netflix, nor did I buy it to see what my grandma's latest status update is on Facebook. I bought them for the games. Like most gamers, I search the store every week when it’s updated, and if there’s a cool application that’s non-gaming related, I’m sure I will see it there or when it’s announced on that company’s respective blog or Twitter account. Just please, stick to the games, and leave the app announcements and sales numbers for the official press releases.
5) More Indie Goodness
Lastly, I wish to see more Indie games across ALL platforms. And before all you dudebro gamers call on your Twitter lynch mobs, let me explain... You know what? I don’t have to explain anything because I’m a gamer, and I don’t let a game's budget or developer size influence my perception of its potential. I enjoy the AAA games that make billions of dollars annually just as much the rest of you, but other than a few exciting new IP’s (Destiny, Evolve, and Sunset Overdrive standout), these annual titles are more often than not just a simple re-skinning of the previous year's model, with rehashed multiplayer components that are made relevant over the course of the next year with DLC that includes “re-imaginings” of maps that came out two years ago in a previous installment. Forget that noise! I want indie games because they’re original and they strive to win us over with new gameplay concepts and engaging stories. It’s infuriating when you see these imbeciles complaining that Indie games aren’t really games, but it’s those same “gamers” that are throwing money at the annualized franchises that do very little when it comes to innovation. I really wish that we see more Indies at all of the “Big Three” press conferences, so these smaller studios get an opportunity down the road to bring us bigger versions of their refreshing ideas.
Eric's E3 Fun Times Wish List
1) Peggle 2 on PlayStation
Microsoft may have made some missteps leading up to the launch of the Xbox One, but there was one thing made me nearly drop $500 for the system when it was released. This one thing is a sequel that was barely announced at last year’s E3 (it was merely the exclamation point at the end of a segment at Electronic Arts’ press conference). For years, I’ve been waiting for a new version of Popcap Games’ Peggle. I love Peggle. The Xbox One has Peggle 2. I want Peggle 2 on PlayStation platforms. Give me a Cross-Buy, Cross-Save version of Peggle 2 for PS4 and Vita. Though I probably won’t play it, I’m happy Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare is coming to PlayStation - that gives me hope.
My biggest wish in the whole world is that I don’t die at the age of 34 in some elaborate car crash as prophesied in a recurring dream I had in high school. But my SECOND biggest wish in the whole world is to play Peggle 2 on a PlayStation platform by the end of the year.
2) PlayStation Now
On the E3 predictions podcast, I speculated that we’d hear the hard details on PlayStation’s game streaming service, PlayStation Now. One of the things I mentioned in the prediction was really more hopeful wishing: I hope that Sony allows gamers who purchased a PSN title on their PS3 to stream the game - if it’s available to “rent” - to their PS4 or Vita for free. This would be a great way to offer a form of backwards compatibility and give consumers confidence that their purchase of a title didn’t just evaporate the moment they traded in their old system.
3) GameCube Virtual Console
Speaking of backwards compatibility: The original Wii allowed Nintendo gamers to play GameCube titles, thanks to the system’s built-in backwards compatibility. Nintendo recently announced the pending release of a little box that will allow Smash Bros. players the ability to use GameCube controllers on the Wii U. While the Wii U probably won’t be able to be fed GameCube discs a la the Wii, this would be a great opportunity for Nintendo to announce a selection of GameCube Virtual Console titles. This was also discussed on the E3 predictions podcast, and while it was my prediction that Nintendo will make an announcement in this vein, I’d also really like to wish this into existence. I’d love for a whole new audience of 8 million people to be able to finally play Mario Sunshine. Of course, it’s entirely possible the 8 million Wii U owners out there were also GameCube owners, thus giving Nintendo a chance to do what they do best - sell its fans the same game over and over again.
4) Square Enix Innovation
It’s rare that I’d talk about Square Enix with hopes, dreams, or wishes (I’m not a role-playing gamer), but I hope against hope that someone at the company will look back at the 32-bit era of gaming to see what made Square so popular back then. And that this person would see not only the company’s rich heritage of JRPGs, but Einhänder. I wish Square Enix would devolve from its current, lazy existence and go back from whence it came - to its days of weird, experimental game design and bring us a Zweihänder, so to speak, or a crazy, awesomely beautiful PS4/Xbox One remake of Bushido Blade.
5) 2 Beyond & 2 Evil
My last wish is simply this: That we will finally have confirmation that work and progress is being made on the sequel to one of the best games I’ve never finished, 2003’s Beyond Good & Evil. I’m not requiring of specifics or a launch date, just for Yves Guillemot to confirm at Ubisoft’s press event that, yes, Michel Ancel is absolutely working on the title.
Ben's E3 Wish List Extravaganza
My first wish is about as likely as Don Mattrick finally revealing he is a self-sustaining automaton — fueled only by used banana peels, Mountain Dew Kickstarts, and 1970's Rod Stewart records — and incapable of human emotion. I’m hoping we see Rockstar finally let Agent see the light of the world again. Originally unveiled as a PS3 exclusive way back during the E3 of 2009 (when it was cool just to show a logo and move on), we’ve literally heard nothing since it was first announced. Supposedly overseen by Dan Houser and the Grand Theft Auto team at Rockstar North, this Cold War-era game was said to focus on political espionage and action. And it sounded awesome! While it’s a longshot we’ll ever see Agent again, there is the rainbow-after-the-thunderstorm in Take-Two’s recent extension of its Agent trademark. They’ve extended it before, as well. Why keep extending it if you don’t have plans to use it? Rockstar has stated they have a next-generation game slated for release this fiscal year, which at this point is unannounced. Could Agent be ready to make its grand return at this year’s E3, now multi-platform and next-gen, and be officially unveiled at Sony’s E3 Press Conference? Grand Theft Auto V PS4/XB1 says no.
2) The Last Guardian
Another “don’t-hold-your-breath-because-if-you-did-you’d-be-dead" pick, I’d really love to see The Last Guardian reappear at Sony’s press conference as a newly minted PS4 title. The game’s nine-year development cycle and troubled production history are well-documented, but Sony and Worldwide Studios president, Shuhei Yoshida, refuse to write the game off and acknowledge it as vaporware. In fact, they continue to trumpet its ongoing development! If nothing more, I want The Last Guardian to be a reality so I can live out my dreams of vanquishing evil with a digital Falcor-like companion by my side.
3) Don't Show Me Anything Awesome, Microsoft
This may sound a bit odd and counter-productive, but I’m hoping Microsoft does NOT show anything at E3 that makes me want to buy an Xbox One. Even at $399 for the Kinect-free model, not to mention the games at $60 a pop, this is a significant investment in a second console! It’s probably a lost cause at this point, as I have a feeling Microsoft is going to kill it with a dynamite showing at E3 2014. Xbox head, Phil Spencer, has been tooting the “games-first” horn, directly aping his biggest competitor’s message, and that has me believing we are in for an avalanche of quality software unveiled on their stage. In the end, we all know if they just show another trailer for Quantum Break, I’ll be at the store buying one a few hours later.
4) Some O' That Good Ol' Vita Lovin'
I’m hoping we see some Vita-love during Sony’s E3 Press Conference. I want a good block of time dedicated to the handheld and all of the cool stuff that is coming in the near future. And I want to see another AAA franchise coming to the Vita! Sony heavily promoted the #BuildingTheList initiative over Twitter some months ago, encouraging gamers to tweet the titles and franchises they want to see come to the Vita, and now that we’ve got Borderlands 2 on our little handheld that could, it’s time to see the next crop of titles borne from this initiative. Maybe something Grand Theft Auto related perhaps? If I planned out Sony’s Press Conference, it would begin with the standard montage, segue into a short - SHORT - intro where they throw out the obligatory PS4 numbers, followed by the “PS3-is-not-dead-yet” five minute speech and game preview, before they spend 15-20 minutes outlining the Vita’s software future which includes a Grand Theft Auto “Stories” game (or a release of the recent HD iOS original Grand Theft Auto trilogy with Trophies, I’d buy that instantaneously), until they finally spend 60-90 minutes hammering us over the head with a barrage of awesome PS4 goodness. This would be good times.
5) Worldwide Studios Represent
Finally, I really hope we see a strong showing/presence from Sony’s First-Party Studios at both the PlayStation E3 Press Conference and on the show floor. I’m really anxious to see more of #DRIVECLUB, and I feel like The Order: 1886 may be in for a breakout showing (this game looks so spectacular!). Of course Sucker Punch and Guerilla Games continue to work on post-release content for inFAMOUS: Second Son and Killzone: Shadow Fall, respectively, while Sony San Diego keeps cranking out the best baseball sim we’ve ever seen. We are assured to see Uncharted PS4 in some form (fingers crossed for gameplay!), and I have a feeling it may be a “game of the show” kind of showing for Naughty Dog’s latest. But by and large, we have no idea what the majority of Sony’s First-Party armada is working on. Dreams were crushed earlier in the week when it was announced that Media Molecule and Guerilla would not be showing off their new titles (I’m salivating to see what Guerilla is working on, and the rumors of this open-world, sci-fi RPG they are cooking up sound totally awesome), but there are still plenty of studios toiling away in secrecy. What is Sony Bend up to? Are they working on another Vita opus, or are we finally going to see them tackle another home console game? What quirky stuff is Studio Japan working on? Does this include The Last Guardian for PS4? What is Guerilla Cambridge up to in the wake of Killzone: Mercenary being shipped to high praise? What about Santa Monica, arguably Sony’s most well-known and well-regarded studio? Are they working on the next-generation of God of War, or something else entirely? How about de facto first-party (though technically still second-party) studio Quantic Dream? Will we see what they’ve been working on for the PS4? So many questions! Yet, so many reasons to be excited about what is to come in the future! I can’t wait for E3!!
*Bonus Wish: Batman: Arkham Knight. Everything Batman: Arkham Knight.
**Bonus Bonus Wish: Shovel Knight on PlayStation platforms, especially Vita.
Three guys. Five wishes each. Ben's Bonus Wishes. Will any of these companies turn these wildest dreams into incredible realities? And what are you wishing for? We'll all get our answers in a few short days.