E3 2013: Monday’s Headlines

E3’s show floor officially opened Tuesday, but the traditional flood of headlines from the various press conferences was in full swing Monday. The buzz:

New Console Pricing: PS4 $399, XB1 $499

Sony won opening day in a number of ways, but the biggest headline by far was the PS4’s lower price point of $399, compared to the Xbox One’s $499 that Microsoft announced earlier in the day. There had been some rumblings that there might be several PS4 bundles with different levels of functionality, but if that’s in the works, Sony wisely left that out of their press conference and picked up a bunch of fans in the process. (Oh, and both consoles are officially 2013, with the Xbox One announced for November.)

Sony Says Yes to Used Games and Offline Support

Before Sony revealed the PS4 price, one of the more memorable E3 moments in years came in the form of several clear swings at Microsoft, announcing the PS4 model would support used games and trade-ins without restriction (which won’t be the case for Xbox One games), and that online authentication wouldn’t be needed for offline gaming (as opposed to the Xbox One’s once-every-24-hours requirement). How important are these features to gamers? Judging by the audience at Sony’s presser, who went nuts for a solid five minutes during these reveals, extremely.

Playstation 4 actually shown!

Oh, right! Sony finally revealed the new PS4 hardware, which they left out of their February event. And guess what? It looks decent, hardly the grilled cheese maker that was the original PS3. If anything, it’s sort of a flattened Xbox One, and while it might be a little on the large size, it’s not something that would look all that goofy sitting under your TV.

Shooterpalooza: Titanfall, Destiny and Battlefield 4

Several high-profile shooters got prime placement during the various pressers, starting with the debut of Titanfall, the first game from Respawn (aka the ex-Infinity Ward/Call of Duty team). It’s what you might have suspected these guys were itching to do after years of WWII and modern warfare games: a futuristic shooter blending infantry combat with giant mechs called “titans,” and the gameplay shown during various pressers was impressive indeed. We even got a launch window: spring 2014 for Xbox One, 360 and PC.

Not to be outdone, EA staged an impressive 64-player live BF4 demo Monday afternoon, highlighting the game’s land, sea and air combat. The demo was presented from the view of a fireteam shooting their way across city streets to the top of a skyscraper, battling a chopper hovering outside before the building finally came crashing to the ground in an impressive spectacle.

Finally, towards the end of Sony’s presentation was a live demo of Bungie’s Destiny, maybe the most interesting of the lot. It’s not an MMO, but a persistent online shooter with plenty of RPG trappings like player classes, leveling and bosses with unique loot. Add in some cutting-edge visuals and the ability to kill enemies in raid-size groups online, and I find myself hoping this one will eventually make its way to the PC in addition to Playstation and Xbox releases.

Other Quick Headlines:

Metal Gear Solid V is coming, with an open-world format, and Kiefer Sutherland as the new voice of Solid Snake.

– Rare’s beloved ’90s fighting game Killer Instinct is getting rebooted as an Xbox One exclusive.

– Ubisoft unveiled Tom Clancy’s The Division, a next-gen franchise focusing on a pandemic that devastates the US in a matter of days.

– Square Enix showed off an impressive trailer for the long-absent and newly renamed Final Fantasy XV (formerly FF Versus XIII), as well as a teaser unveiling Kingdom Hearts III.

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag had one of the most ubiquitous trailers of the day, with a new hero, a pirate setting and lots of sea-based action.

All in all, one of the meatier days from recent E3s, both in terms of raw console news and game trailers. Tuesday will be Nintendo’s turn at bat, as they do their best to convince us not to write off the Wii U so fast.