7.1.2015

E3 2015: Future of AAA, VR Innovation & Indie Surprises

By Dana Cowley

Another Electronic Entertainment Expo has come and gone, and we couldn’t be more impressed with all of the developers who stepped up and made this E3 the best one yet.

With nearly 70 Unreal Engine games appearing, we were excited to make the rounds at the show. Here are a few observations we took away from the industry’s annual pilgrimage to Los Angeles.

TRIPLE-A IS HERE TO STAY

High-fidelity, large-scale games are on their way to stretching technology, storytelling and social experiences in ways we haven’t yet seen.

The “next-gen” of a couple years ago is now a real force to be reckoned with, and it’s beginning to push the current generation of hardware in terms of visuals.

These are just 10 of the E3 blockbusters we’re honored to help ship through our tools and tech:

Another notable trend: Kickstarter is now an option for promising games regardless of scope and size. As seen in the PlayStation E3 Briefing with Yu Suzuki’s Shenmue III, which hit $2 million in nine hours, anyone can jumpstart development through the community.

Indies and established developers alike are using Kickstarter as a tool to communicate the world, “players want these games.” Shenmue III’s success follows on the heels of the record-breaking Bloodstained and Mighty No. 9 campaigns, also powered by Unreal.

VIRTUAL REALITY LEAPS FORWARD

It’s challenging to quantify the overall effect VR had on E3, as the new medium was sprinkled across the expo floor and behind closed doors. E3 attendees, one at a time, got up close and personal with evolving hardware and new experiences across emergent platforms, often for the first time.

More than 30 VR projects were present at E3 2015, according to our friends at the popular VR Focus blog. This more than doubles the number of VR projects tracked at E3 2014.

Eve: ValkyrieImage: Eve: Valkyrie by CCP.

One key thing to keep in mind when it comes to creating enjoyable high-end VR experiences is that you have to hit a consistent 90 fps, period. Oculus set that bar with Crescent Bay, which along with the latest kit requires state-of-the-art visuals that perform beautifully on the hardware, with minimal latency. We demonstrated how to do it with our Showdown demo, and many other developers are going above and beyond that with UE4 now.

Just days before the show, Oculus revealed their fantastic “Half Moon” Oculus Touch controllers. We saw long lines at both their expo booth and also in their private meeting space, with the breakthrough UE4-powered ToyBox demo drumming up plenty of buzz.

I personally echo the enthusiasm. It was exhilarating to compete in games of ping pong and laser tag, and shoot objects out of the sky, and control an RC vehicle -- all through the Oculus Rift headset and Oculus Touch controls, which required less than a minute to master. I laughed aloud and felt the wonder of a child, shrugging off the fact that my colleagues could hear me taunting the demo lead on the other side of the room. Having attended E3 since 2001, this was one of the most memorable highlights for me yet.

Godling by solfarImage: Godling by sólfar.

In other VR news, Sony dedicated loads of expo real estate to showing off Project Morpheus, including Unreal-powered projects: CCP’s EVE: Valkyrie; Bandai Namco’s Summer Lesson; and White Lotus Interactive’s XING: The Land Beyond.

Throughout the show publishers such as 505 Games and Maximum Games ran countless demos for Three One Zero’s ADR1FT and Untold Games’ Loading Human, respectively. Also of note in terms of Unreal VR at E3 were nDream’s The Assembly; Sólfar Studios’ Godling; and Reload Studios’ World War Toons.

UNREAL INDIES CAME TO PLAY

Now more than ever it is apparent that the playing field for teams of all sizes is becoming more inclusive. Independent teams are using Unreal to create extremely polished, high-production value experiences at a rapid clip.

The new King’s Quest is stunning, with its painterly feel and deep narrative. The Odd Gentlemen have done the original creators proud, expanding the cherished franchise in such a way that anyone regardless of age or taste can appreciate.

Ashen from Aurora44 Games was an incredibly refreshing surprise in the Xbox E3 Briefing. No one saw this beauty coming!

We can’t seem to fall out of love with The Flame in the Flood, now on its way to Xbox One, in addition to PC:

Spotted at the Indie Mix event was another Kickstarter darling, Into the Stars from Fugitive Games. Catch them on our Twitch broadcast this Thursday, July 2!

And, of course, our “Everything Is Awesome” Unreal E3 Award winner, ABZU from Giant Squid:

THE UNREAL ROUND-UP

Finally, here’s the exhaustive list of Unreal Engine-powered games spotted at E3. We tip our hats to you all. If the talent mentioned in this massive run-on paragraph is any indication of the future of games, we’re going to have really sore eyes and hands!

ABZU, ADR1FT, Alone in the Dark: Illumination, ARK: Survival Evolved, Ashen, Atom Universe, Bacon Man, Batman: Arkham Knight, Battery Jam, Battleborn, Battlefleet Gothic: Armada, Bierzerkers, Blade & Soul, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Cairo’s Tale, Chronos, Dungeon Defenders II, EVE: Valkyrie, Fable Legends, Fated, Fortnite, Gears of War 4, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Gigantic, Goat Simulator: Mmore Goatz Edition, Godling, Hellblade, Henry, Into the Stars, Joe Montana Football 16, King's Quest, Kingdom Hearts III, Life Is Strange, Loading Human, Mercenary Week, Mighty No. 9, Mortal Kombat X, Recruits, Red Goddess: Inner World, Redout, Relics of Gods, Rising Storm 2: Vietnam, Rocket League, Rumble TV, Sea of Thieves, Shape of the World, Shenmue III, Shiny, Space Hulk: Deathwing, Street Fighter V, Summer Lesson, Swing Racers, Synthesis Universe, The Assembly, The Mean Greens: Plastic Warfare, The Flame in the Flood, The Solus Project, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Time Machine, Tony Hawk Pro Skater 5, ToyBox, Vampyr, WARP: Warriors of the Red Planet, What Remains of Edith Finch, World War Toons, XCOM 2, XING: The Land Beyond.

What, no games that start with “Z”? Let’s make this happen!

But in all seriousness, we are utterly inspired, humbled and motivated by the awesome work all of you are doing. Also, if you were at E3 and we missed you, please let us know in the comments.

Thank you for letting us be a part of it. Thank you for trusting us, and for building your dreams with Unreal.

Cheers to everyone’s continued success.

Get Unreal Engine for free now.

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