The 5 Biggest Video Game Surprises of E3 2015

E3 is the biggest event in the video game industry, and it’s usually when when companies unveil the biggest games they’re working on. This year’s E3 was spectacular in this regard, with major game announcements and huge surprises coming every day. We’ve gathered the five biggest announcements of the show right here.

5. Fallout Shelter

Developer Bethesda revealed Fallout 4 the week before E3, probably for two reasons: to get in front of any leaks, and because the game’s existence was pretty much a foregone conclusion. This was the first time Bethesda hosted a major press conference at E3, and the only game that could be big enough to justify such an expense was Fallout 4.

What no one expected from Bethesda was Fallout Shelter, a free-to-play mobile game that puts players in charge of their own underground vault during the nuclear apocalypse. It was an out-of-nowhere announcement that was made all the better when Bethesda said it was available immediately.

And you know what? People are so pumped for more Fallout that they downloaded the game in droves. It’s currently the top free game on the App Store, and it’s bringing in a fortune for Bethesda. With so many “hardcore” gamers griping about free-to-play mobile games these days, it seems like even fans of the series didn’t realize how badly they wanted to go back into the Wasteland.

4. Xbox One gets backward compatibility

When the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 were first announced, it was a bummer when both Microsoft and Sony said they wouldn’t be backward compatible — that they wouldn’t be able to play games made for Xbox 360 or PS3.

Sony’s solution has been to focus on its game streaming service PlayStation Now, which offers a selection of PlayStation 3 games you can play on your PS4, provided you shell out the cash for a subscription.

Microsoft seemed to have no solution at all until its press conference at E3, during which it revealed that the Xbox One would become compatible with some Xbox 360 games starting in the fall.

Normally it takes extra hardware added to a game console to make it compatible with games made for another console. Here, however, Xbox engineers were able to create a virtual Xbox 360 using nothing but software — a significant feat that’s great for any Xbox One owners with a big library of Xbox 360 games. Best of all, no subscription will be required.

3. The Last Guardian

Incredibly, Sony kicked off its conference with The Last Guardian, a game that hasn’t seen the light of day in six years. The last time we got a glimpse of this game about a boy and his giant pet dog-bird, it was at E3 2009 when the game was announced. Each year since, fans of developer Team Ico’s games have waited with baited breath for news about the title. Each year, we’ve been disappointed. Until 2015.

Since the PlayStation 4 didn’t yet exist in 2009, the game was originally being developed for PS3, and those roots still show. The graphics look virtually unchanged, despite the passage of time and the shift to PS4. Still, if you’ve played the stunningly atmospheric games Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, you know it’s not graphical fidelity that makes Team Ico’s games special. I just hope the long development time doesn’t indicate deep-rooted problems the game makers have yet to solve.

Sony promises this game will come out sometime next year. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

2. Shenmue 3

Shenmue was ahead of its time. Launching on Dreamcast in 2000, it was one of the first big open-world games ever made. It was dedicated to the task of recreating the real world, with its day and night cycle, weather effects, and non-playable characters who went about their daily lives. Seriously, you could follow anyone around and watch how they spent their days.

It also cost a ton of money to make, and was released only on the Dreamcast, a console that sold so poorly it made SEGA decide to get out of the gaming hardware business altogether.

Shenmue 2 launched on the original Xbox to rave reviews, but it failed to sell in high enough numbers to justify a sequel. However, the people who played the series love it and have been begging for a new installment for years. Sony announced at its E3 press conference that a third game was indeed in the works, but it would need to be partially funded through Kickstarter. The Shenmue 3 Kickstarter page went live immediately, and it quickly reached its $2 million goal.

1. Final Fantasy VII Remake

All of those announcements were big, but the biggest, most earth-shattering one of the show came right smack in the middle of Sony’s conference. It was a cinematic trailer for a remake of Final Fantasy VII, a game fans have been craving for years.

Final Fantasy VII is important in a lot of ways, but it’s primarily known for bringing Japanese role-playing games into the mainstream. When it launched in 1997 on the original PlayStation, it looked better than almost any other game on the market. It had incredible cinematic cut scenes, an epic story that spanned three discs, and a game world that dwarfed nearly any other that came before it. It tells a story of a small rebellion against an evil empire, and it’s fraught with twists, betrayals, and heartbreak.

Sure, you can play the game with its original graphics right now on the PS3 or PS Vita. But the graphics, like virtually all games from the early polygon era, look very dated by today’s standards. Fans want to experience the game again as they remember it, not as it really was. That’s the promise of a remade version of Final Fantasy VII.

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