E3 2014: The Biggest Trends and Best Releases
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The Fiscal Times
June 15, 2014

The Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, is a tricky mistress. Arguably the biggest event in video gaming, this annual show is known for its half-promises, weasel words, and more than a few misleading trailers for games that under-deliver.

Now that another E3 has come and gone, and as convoys of nerds leave Los Angeles — hopefully slightly less pale than when they entered — it’s time to approach the aftermath like an archaeologist approaches a dig site, brushing off the dust and cobwebs in order to find the nuggets of treasure, or Egyptian trinkets. Or whatever. I dunno, I’m not a historian.

Hardware to Handle
The big news from the PlayStation camp was the unveiling of the PlayStation TV. Essentially a stripped down PlayStation Vita sans screen, the PlayStation TV intends to spar toe-to-toe with streaming devices like the Roku, AppleTV, and Amazon TV. However, unlike its competitors, the PlayStation TV allows users to stream games via the Gaikai streaming service (according to Sony, the TV will have a game library replete with titles from the original PlayStation to the present day).

Related: Sony Looks to Strike Indie Gaming Gold at E3 2014

In addition, it will also be compatible with Sony’s new video-streaming service — described by some to be a potential cable-killer — due to roll out later this year. Not bad for the $139 bundle, which also comes along with a controller, a memory card, and a game based off the Lego Movie (woohoo).

Also from Sony comes Project Morpheus, a virtual reality alternative to the crowdfunded Oculus Rift. With skepticism toward the Rift’s after its recent acquisition by Facebook, the Morpheus received lots of extra attention this E3. Journalists were given opportunities to sample the Morpheus in private booths, according to Rolling Stone, which also published a very thorough matchup of the two virtual reality headsets. According to Rolling Stone’s review of the two, the Morpheus came out on top in most categories except for availability, concluding the Morpheus to be the ultimate winner but conceding “The Oculus [Rift] could certainly overtake it, should they invest in cooler games and a more inventive design.”

Don’t count the Rift as completely out yet, though. While the Facebook deal has prompted lots of speculation that the groundbreaking VR headset would become a social marketing tool, the Oculus staff remains adamant that the Rift is a gaming device first and utmost. At E3, Oculus showcased three games, the most interesting of which is called “Super Hot,” a first-person shooter in which time only moves when you move. The prototype version released for the PC has already drawn a great deal of buzz, so it’s going to be really interesting to see how the Rift enhances the experience.

The Big Names
Anticipation has been high for Bungie Studios, the creators of the acclaimed “Halo” series, and their new title, “Destiny.” A sprawling, post-apocalyptic, role-playing game, the project certainly seems ambitious, but if any studio can pull it off, it’s Bungie. This is the studio that created “Marathon” for the Mac — a game years ahead of its time — and pioneered the “Halo” series, piloting it to new heights with every iteration (except with “Halo 3: ODST,” but we don’t talk about that).

Sony also showcased more gameplay of their latest iteration of “The Order: 1886,” their weird shooty-steampunk-werewolf-alternate-history-Victorian-era creation (whew, that’s a lot of adjectives). The premise is ludicrous even by video game standards: the game features an old order of knights who have been tasked with protecting London from half-breed monsters. Though the graphics in the teasers have been impressive, it’s hard to see this game catching on, especially given that the whole steampunk fad seems to have died down a notch.

Related: 21 Titles That Rocked the Video Game Industry

There’s also a new “Halo” game coming out … eventually. Microsoft’s new development team 343 Industries, created after Bungie gave up producing the series, showed the first teaser trailer of the latest sequel in the franchise, titled “Halo 5: Guardians. Not much more information is available aside from what was presented in the teaser, but you can be sure you’re going to hear a lot more about it leading up to its release.

While Nintendo didn’t actively participate in the traditional stage presentations, that didn’t stop it from teasing a few titles, most of them rehashed milkings of their beloved nostalgic franchises. Luckily, though, the Wii U is able to render titles like the new “Zelda” game (slated for a 2015 release) in beautiful detail. Also due for a release is another iteration of “Super Smash Bros.,” the madcap brawler that draws in characters from Nintendo’s universe and makes them fight each other. This version throws Pac-Man into the ring, so if you want to devour a power pellet and punch Mario in the face, this’ll be the game for you.

Born and raised in South Africa, Andrew Lumby is The Fiscal Times' Technical Producer. He also writes about gaming, entertainment and technology.