Hayden Donnell: Monsters, cars and creeps at E3

Hayden Donnell takes in day two at E3 in Los Angeles.
Just Dance 2015 is demoed at the Ubisoft booth at E3. Photo/AP
Just Dance 2015 is demoed at the Ubisoft booth at E3. Photo/AP

They weren't kidding about E3 being the biggest gaming festival in the world. Walking around every booth at Auckland's Armageddon probably takes five minutes. It takes 30 minutes or more just to go through the two major halls at E3.

The floors are filled with eye-wateringly expensive exhibitions. Arkham Knight's stall has a Batmobile. A huge monster stands above the area where gamers play through the demo of the promising cooperative shooter Evolve.

Forza's section is built around one of the actual cars from the game. What I can only hope is an exceptionally realistic wax dummy and not the world's most creepy-looking man stands outside the stall for The Order: 1886. It serves to make for an almost-overwhelming spectacle.

RIGHT OF REPLY

Microsoft have said over and over that this E3 is all about games for XBox. It's tempting to see that as a tacit admission that the company got ahead of itself when it launched the XBox One as a total entertainment system with built-in Kinect. The voice-activated, motion capture technology was said to be integral to the console.

But it meant the XBox One was $100 more expensive than the Playstation 4 and as a result, Microsoft reportedly lost market share to Sony. It stopped some of the bleeding by unbundling Kinect from the One console and the system wasn't mentioned once at the company's press conference on Monday. Is it being fazed out?


Basketball player Jabari Parker, right, interacts with Forza Horizon 2 at the Xbox booth. Photo / AP

I put that to XBox Corporate Vice President Mike Nichols. He said XBox was still "really" committed to Kinect. "The best experience you can have on an XBox is with a Kinect." Deciding to unbundle the console from Kinect was about listening to customers, he said.

"There are some customers, particularly XBox 360 owners, that have said they're just not ready to buy and they want the option of a lower price point. That's what we're trying to do."

I asked whether XBox's decision to focus in its gaming arsenal was a tactical manoeuvre aimed at reeling in Playstation's reported two million lead in sales of its new console.

"Sony's off to a great start ... They've gotten a good response. Our hat's off to them. But our focus is less on any one competitor and more on games. All of us are gamers. We have passion for doing awesome stuff for gamers. That's what gets us up in the morning."


The newly announced games and experiences at the Xbox booth at E3. Photo / AP

GREAT GAMES

Ori And The Blind Forest: Ori And The Blind Forest game designer Thomas Mahler is emphatic when asked why he went to the trouble of making a 10-hour game without any load screens: "I God damned hate load screens." It's a great candid moment among the usually very scripted game demonstrations. Mahler was also worried about the beautiful cinematic trailer for his game. "I thought people would just think it's a pretty game, making you cry. We spent thousands of hours making the gameplay right." I was able to play Ori last night and I can say the work paid off. It plays beautifully. But it also looks beautiful - almost enough to make you cry.

Fable: Legends: I love co-operative gameplay. Fable: Legends is built around it. In the demo for the latest installment of the popular Microsoft series, a cast of four heroes with complimentary abilities combine to take on hordes of enemies sent by Mother Nature, who is angry at humanity's increasing encroachment on her land. Nothing says "Get off my lawn" like an angry ogre with noxious farts. Players can also take on the villain role, setting up traps and sending waves of enemies at the heroes. Take that controller if you want to win. It took me four tries to finally get through the demo as a good guy.

Read more: Highs and lows of a gamer's paradise at E3

* Hayden Donnell will be covering E3 throughout the week.

- nzherald.co.nz

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