E3 2014's been a hectic week but it's also had some of the most spectacular showings for many year. Triple A behemoths and impressive indies all got a look in at this year's event, while Ubisoft, EA, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo all delivered some top-notch conferences crammed to the rafters with new games.
In this second part of our E3 2014 GD Awards we take a look at some of the best moments and the show-stopping games that caught everyone by surprise. Rarely has there been a year where the emphasis on the press conferences was so firmly on games, as potential hit after hit was thrown out for us lucky lot to gawp at....
Publisher of the Show - Ubisoft
It’s hard to imagine a scenario whereby Ubisoft couldn’t take this award home. This giant of the gaming industry may have not produced the biggest show-stopper (in our view) when it came to the actual conference, but when it came to games we were excited about, an overwhelming number of them were from Ubisoft. Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Rainbow Six: Siege, The Division, and even smaller titles like Valiant Hearts: The Great War really shone. It’s been a great show for Ubisoft, and we only hope the game’s they’ve shown this year are as stand-out in gameplay as they are in looks.
Best Conference - Sony
This was a close call between Sony and Ubisoft, but in the end we felt Ubisoft let themselves down by putting too much of their best footage in other people’s conferences. That great Assassin’s Creed Co-op footage? Shown by Microsoft. The brilliant Far Cry 4 gameplay? Donated to Sony. Sony, on the other hand, delivered a host of stuning looking titles, from that great Uncharted 4: A Thief's End cinematic to The Order: 1886 and Bloodborne.
Other highlights included Batman: Arkham Knight footage, that hilarious Dead Island 2 announcement trailer, the astonishing-looking No Man’s Sky and, of course, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, not to mention a wealth of indies and exclusive content making Sony's conference the place to be last Monday.
Best Trailer - Rainbow Six: Siege
This one was a toughy after seeing so many top-notch trailers coming out of E3 2014. Rainbow Six: Siege’s tense gameplay segment just about pipped Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain to the post though, offering up a deep and incisive look into what we can expect from Ubisoft’s upcoming multiplayer shooter. What began as a simple demonstration quickly developed into a wood-splintering rip-roaring taster of things to come from Ubisoft’s oft-forgotten series.
Tactical gameplay is often forgotten in the rush to become the latest run 'n' gunner, but this looks like it could be an intoxicating cocktail of strategic planning and ruthless execution. Make mine a double.
Most Innovative - No Man’s Sky
This one was undoubtedly a no-brainer. Amidst a sea of sequels No Man’s Sky sticks out from the crowd like nothing else, offering some of the most mind-bogglingly advanced gaming we’ve ever seen.
The procedurally generated worlds, lofty multiplayer ambitions and seamless transition from the surface to space combine to create one of the most intriguing new games around. There’s clearly a lot still to work on with No Man’s Sky but the innovation on show here already from Hello Games is nothing short of superb.
Best Graphics - The Division
Discerning the “best graphics” in a game gets harder and harder every year as lighting techniques become increasingly advanced and it becomes ever more difficult to tell the difference between gameplay and cinematics. Tonnes of stuff blew us away, from The Witcher III’s cinematics to the seamless transition between cutscene and gameplay in that Assassin’s Creed: Unity footage.
It wasn’t merely the realism of The Division’s graphics that blew us away, however. Sure, the lighting effects were spectacular and the environments incredible in their detail, but what really stuck with us is how the graphics really created an atmosphere, driving home the desolation and apocalyptic vision of Ubisoft Massive's game.
Surprise of the Show - Rainbow Six: Siege
E3 always delivers some curveballs, some better than others. While there were plenty of bad surprises - such as the no-show of The Last Guardian, and the long wait for a lot of Nintendo’s best exclusives - there were plenty of good ones in there too. EA surprised us with The Sims 4 by announcing a release date in September, far sooner than we had anticipated, while few would have expected a Battlefield: Hardline beta to be available this very week.
Rainbow Six: Siege, for us though, had to be the winner. With rumours abound that the title - formerly known as Rainbow Six: Patriots - had been cancelled, not only was its inclusion a nice surprise, but the fact you could blow the entire house shown in the trailer up definitely excited the pyromaniac inside us all.