If you missed out on yesterday's E3 news... well, you must have tried very hard, because it was one of the most spectacular days the show has ever managed. Proceedings opened and closed with platform holders making big, fan-pleasing announcements of the sort that you would have put very safe money on never happening, this year or any other, and the gap in between contained little that didn't excite.
After a rocky few years Microsoft finally managed to emphatically win over the crowd, with the news that Xbox One will become backwards compatible with Xbox 360 games, host Early Access releases including Elite, DayZ and Dean Hall's new release Ion. Fallout 4 was rolled out again but with the news that it supports mods on console (not exclusive to Xbox, we later discovered) Hololens proved to be the best Minecraft accessory you could hope for, a new Xbox pad was about the most expensive, and there were expected strong debuts for Tomb Raider, Halo, Gears of War 4 and Forza.
Watching that man from the future play Minecraft using his mind is my favourite E3 2015 moment.- Chris Bratt (@bratterz) June 15, 2015
A convincing third-party lineup was headed by new Inafune-produced exclusive Recore, and the long-awaited confirmation of a Miyazaki-helmed Dark Souls 3. Again we saw platform holders promoting indie titles into the gaps where big publishers once stood, with time and platform exclusivity given to Gone Home followup Tacoma and returning hit Cuphead. In the final analysis, it was rather closely focused on the Xbox 360 owners, but it was Redmond's best show in years.
EA then somehow managed to take the shine off things despite revealing a new Mass Effect and some stellar Battlefield footage by offering a long, rambling presentation filled with excruciating asides. It only ran over by about ten minutes but it felt like five hours, care of such gems as two barely-comprehensible anecdotes from Pele; an NBA presentation from the "Hoop Gawd"; a Plants Vs Zombies: Modern Warfare 2 trailer that lasted longer than the last Transformers movie, and the entirely inaccurate proclamation that "it's time to talk about mobile," a statement instantly and vigorously disputed by all media present.
Still, Mirror's Edge Catalyst got a release date and a convincing sense that it will fix all that irritated about its predecessor, the expected Old Republic expansion looks fine, and there was a new indie upstart in the form of the impossibly cute Unravel.
Ubisoft, once again with Aisha Tyler leading proceedings, set a much brisker pace and had a much stronger lineup. The creators of South Park ate their words and admitted to a new RPG, Rainbow Six got human-vs-AI Terrorhunt mode, The Division got another demo to convince us that the new release date is for real this time (Tom took a closer look), Assassin's Creed showed off some partially-convincing Cockney accents and Trackmania came to console.
It was all very competent stuff, but we come to Ubisoft conferences for new games and baffling weirdness: the latter was catered for with some Unicorn-starring Trials DLC, awkward banter with Jason DeRulo at the Just Dance debut and an ill-advised conversation with a cosplayer, all of which delivered the all-important WTF we've come to expect.
On the new-games front, we got two: first came 4v4 sword-flailing title For Honor, while the end-of-show surprise was Ghost Recon stripped of its military trappings and turned into an Ubi-brand open world.
Then, finally, it was Sony's turn. Before the show, the concern was that it would struggle with such a slim games lineup this year; afterwards this was still the case but everybody was too excited to care. It too opened strong with a proper showing of the previously apocraphyal Last Guardian and Guerrilla's beautiful RPG Horizon: Zero Dawn: a post-apocalyptic vision that managed to show genuine creativity. Hitman, ditching numbers and monikers for next-gen, looked less creative but welcome, as did Street Fighter 5, and Hello Games delivered a now-characteristically magical showcase of No Man's Sky. Just down the road, Media Molecule has created a similarly ambitious title in Dreams.
Like Microsoft, Sony has secured some smart exclusivity deals: Destiny expansions and Devolver Digital we already knew about, but getting first dibs on CoD DLC after years of Microsoft dominance was a small surprise (Microsoft, unsurprisingly, says it "changes nothing") and indie darling Firewatch is a nice counter to Microsoft's earlier signing of Tacoma.
But the real hits were the classics: first, news that Final Fantasy 7 is being not only re-released but remade, followed by the reveal of Shenmue 3 - the great impossible sequel, finally present at E3 care of the established dream factory that is Kickstarter. It wasn't a proper reveal, but nobody cared: the campaign broke Kickstarter funding records almost immediately and has already sailed past its $2 million target. It's probably just as well that the Uncharted 4 gameplay, spectacular as it was, opened with the demo failing; it's possible to have too much of a good thing.
Sony rounds up press conference by announcing Santa is real, ice cream is good for you, & they hear Taylor Swift thinks you're really cute.- Aoife Wilson (@AoifeLockhart) June 16, 2015
Surprisingly, the VR news was mostly happening outside the conferences. Highlights included a new VR Walking Dead experience that's about as uncomfortable as you'd expect, a VR walking simulator from Crytek, and the goggle-powered return of Battlezone.
It will be very, very hard for Nintendo to top that today, but we'll be here to see if it manages it, followed much later by the PC Gaming Show. Stay with us for the news as it happens.