As Steve Jobs famously put “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” In essence this is half of what E3 is all about (the other half being a plea for investors to start or continue funding). We’re going to focus on the side that most gamers and games media are concerned with.
I look forward to E3 every year. Not because of the games I know about, or the rumors that may be true. No dear reader, I look forward to the things I have no clue are coming my way. The “who saw that coming?” moments. The surprises out of left field. The moments that justify that money gobbling behemoth that we lovingly call the Electronic Entertainment Expo. Taken a look back these four things stood out as the products I never knew I desperately wanted.
4 Things From E3 2014 I Didn't Know I Wanted
4. A Playstation TV
It certainly speak volumes to Sony’s dedication to their handheld. And by dedication I mean not dedicated. Not only did Sony barely show any games specifically made for what’s objectively the most powerful handheld ever made, they barely even talked about the handheld itself! In fact it seems whenever Sony can be bothered to talk about this device, it’s always either a port of a game that came out last year, or remote play for the PS4. The Vita has some decent games and an excellent back catalogue of PlayStation 1 games to play on the go. But who wants to fork over $200 for a system that gets maybe a handful of decent games a year?
Well none of that last paragraph matters! (I’m sorry if I just wasted your time) In between the 5th or 6th game with exclusive content and a television show about Powers (what was it called again?) Sony’s announced the PlayStation TV would be heading to the US, Canada, and Europe. So what does a PSTV do? Well for $100 you get a device that plays Vita games on your big screen in glorious HD the way God intended. With Sony’s Playstation Now service, you can also stream PS3 games. Then there is music and movies and, you know, TV on PSTV too. What were looking at ladies and gentleman is the conceptualization of a question we’ve been asking for years: “What if Apple got into the console business?” Except instead of Angry Birds in our living room we’re looking at Ratchet and Clank.
To be clear, this isn’t our lord and savior Sony blessing us with a trinket of the gods. There are some drawbacks. Namely, not every Vita game works with PSTV. Only games that aren’t built from the ground up for the Vita’s touch screen can work with it (touchpad functionality can reportedly be mimicked with the PS4’s touchpad). Not to mention, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen someone attempt a games streaming service *ahem Onlive ahem*. Maybe the biggest concern is Sony’s snake up charge for their proprietary memory cards which, as far as we know, will also be required to save games.
But still, $100 isn’t too shabby for what's basically an Apple TV that can play select PS1 classics, several PS3 games, Vita games, and if you own a PS4, stream your games up to your bedroom so you effectively can play your PS4 games in other spots of your house. Hopefully Sony can address the shortcomings and make this even better. As it stands now though, I’m still all for it.
If you look at my author tag at the bottom of this post, you’ll notice I have a thing for shooter games. When you say shooter games, pretty much one game comes to mind, the Doritio-tastic extravaganza known as Call of Duty. While CoD will always have a place in my virtual soldiers heart we need to be clear. You don’t need to be set in a war torn, vaguely middle eastern country to be a shooter game. I thought i was perfectly content with the Call of Duty’s and Battlefields and, dare I say it, Medal of Honors that have used this setting for so many years.
I say thought, because as soon as I saw Splatoon, I realized that I’ve been craving for a game like this for years! I just didn’t know it. The colors! The energy! The…..FUN! Sure modern military shooters are engaging and enjoyable and yada yada yada. But this, THIS is pure, unapologetic fun! It’s something the competitive shooter genre hasn’t seen a mainstream release of for quite some time.
To be clear (again), I haven’t even played Splatoon! This proclamation of the game being fun is not from a gameplay sense, same goes for Call of Honorfield when I wasn't calling it fun. I’m using the term fun to describe the atmosphere, the personality of the game. Gameplay itself will remain to be seen (although testers at E3 have been keeping the hype train chugging along). I didn’t know Splatoon was a game I wanted, but now that I’ve seen it, it’s high on the list of shooting games I’m anxious to try.
When I was a wee lad, I happened to find while walking through my local grocery store a PEZ dispenser with Darth Vaders head. I used what little money I had collected from couch cushions and the like to buy it, only to realize there were Chewbacca PEZ dispensers, and Boba Fett, and General Grievous, and the Death Star, and suddenly it consumed me. “I HAVE TO HAVE THESE. ALL OF THEM.” I said. So I mowed lawns and I did favors and I begged (oh god did I beg) until I had every single one of them. Nintendo’s Amiibo is essential this for grown up me. Except grown up me has a job, and therefore a source of income to fuel his collectable addiction.
The Amiibo line up does have a purpose other than sitting proudly on your desk. The microchips within the base of the figurines can connect to the Wii U gamepad and interact with compatible games. In addition, the figurine will collect and update data as you play, growing in level. In Smash Bros. you can bring your leveled up figurine into the game to fight with or against. Nintendo also mentioned Smash Bros. is only the first of many games compatible, and Mario Kart 8 would be updated later in the year (perhaps we’ll be racing against Link and Samus?)
How costly these figurines are and just how much do they really add to the game remains to be seen. Skylander character packs average around 10-15 dollars. However, like my PEZ dispensers, these are figurines of well established characters, meaning the price may be higher, but so will (at least my) perceived value of them. I’ve got a spot ready for one, I just have to decide which it’ll be. Donkey Kong or Pikachu.
1. An Xbox One
Ok, I realize this might come across as a bit below the belt. Many millions of people spent hundred of dollars on this console, and here is some guy on the internet saying “Who knew I would even want this thing?”. Please hear me out.
When the console was first unveiled, obviously the internet was none too happy about the NSA levels of creeping, the shifty talk about used games, the TV happy unveiling, etc. And while I was right their with the outcry on those first two things, the third one didn’t bother after I thought about it. True, I didn’t want a box that seemed to (at least the way it was presented) focus more on being an Apple TV othat also played games (at least not until the PSTV anyway) but I could see many people would. A jack of all trades rather than a dedicated games console could be a major draw for a lot of people. It just wasn't a console for me.
But then E3 2014 happened. Sunset Overdrive. The Halo Master Chief Collection (aka Halo’s Victory Lap). Fable Legends. Project Spark. Scalebound. The most self aware DLC ever made. Crackdown 3. [email protected] Not a single mention of Kinect. Not a single mention of TV. And thats just E3 news. You could buy an Xbox One without a Kinect (even though they swore up and down the system couldn't work without it), and the price is now equal with the PS4! With the most recent E3 showing me Microsoft took their lumps from last year and learned from it, I’m starting to wonder which is the console of choice.
Microsoft conviced me to have faith in their console. I went into this E3 with an open bias, I had the lowest of expectations for their conference. I was looking forward to it for all the wrong reasons. But the Phil Spencer got on that stage, gave a hello and a classy shout out to Nintendo and Sony, and proceeded to barrage the stream with amazing games. Regardless of what device from whichever company I would declare my console of choice , it' clear to me that I WANT THE XBOX ONE. And that dear readers, was something I was not expecting from this years E3.