Seven Best Things We Saw (and Played) at E3 2015

We came, we played, we conquered! This year's E3 conference was filled with fun and excitement and though we're tired, we thought we'd share our seven favorite things from this year's big event. 

The Booths
Industry events are known for impressive displays for upcoming games, and this year’s E3 was no exception. From green screen photo ops with Disney Infinity characters to giant monuments depicting menacing or triumphant characters. One of our favorite booths, for Farming Simulator 15, left no doubt as to the point of the game. The booth was built as a barn, complete with tractor and cow for photo ops.

The Indiecade
The Indiecade is home to some of the most unique indie playing experiences on the show floor. In Tune deals with issues of consent and communication using Playstation Move controllers. Other notable entries include A Night in the Woods and the hilariously fuzzy Butt Sniffin’ Pugs, which has you play as the titular pug and has you earn powers and ways to interact with your environment (including peeing on things) through the titular butt sniffin’.

May games this year are trafficking on nostalgia, whether as sequels to longstanding franchises or remakes of popular entries in said longstanding franchises for the new console generation. Cuphead (available 2016), a side-scrolling game from Studio MDHR, takes us to a whole new level of throwback. Cuphead’s art style is reminiscent of 1930s and '40s cartoons, with a jazzy soundtrack to match. Don’t let the cartoon style fool you—this game was the perfect amount of difficult, Daddy-o.  

Cosplay (Professional and Not)
One popular way to attract folks to your booth is to have the characters come to life in the form of cosplayers, people that dress up and act out fictional characters. The Playstation booth won the numbers game, featuring characters from Little Big Planet and Ratchet & Clank, among others. A limited number of fans were able to access the event, and some took the opportunity to show off just how much they love their fighting game characters, like this Chun-Li, Ryu, and Scorpion.

Nintendo, Killing it as Usual
Between a prerecorded press conference that featured the popular executives in Jim Henson puppet form and games that kill us with cute, Nintendo came correct this year. Two notable games are Yoshi’s Woolly World (release date: October 16) and Super Mario Maker (release date: September 11). In Yoshi’s Woolly World, everything is made of yarn, from the enemies, to the world itself. It’s ridiculously cute. If you’re in the mood for something a little more diabolical, you can create your own levels for people to fight through in Super Mario Maker.

Fallout Shelter
On Sunday night, Bethesda Softworks announced the highly anticipated Fallout 4. However, the game on everyone’s lips was the free-to-play mobile game Fallout Shelter, which let’s player construct and manage an underground shelter full of survivors. The game was made available on the App Store Sunday night after the press conference, and it was the talk of industry after-hours. (I was in a room where members of the press as well as developers all had their tablets and phones out in silence, managing their vaults.)

Playing as a Lady!
This year, we saw an influx of playable women in both existing franchises and new IP. In Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate, you have the option of playing as either Jacob or Evie Frye for a majority of the game. Lara Croft: Rise of the Tomb Raider shows us a Lara that is built for archaeology and exploration rather than top-heavy ogling. Fallout 4 gives you the option of playing as a female survivor. Horizon: Zero Dawn and ReCore are two new properties that put women in the narrative driver seat. While it is a relative drop in the bucket in an industry that still needs more diverse developer teams and wider societal conversations on intersections of race/gender/sexuality/class/etc., it’s encouraging to see the possibilities of more diverse character sets and what it means for the narratives and designs therein.

We’ll see what the future of the industry holds at next year’s E3 in Los Angeles from June 14 through 16, 2016.
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Elisa Melendes