E3 is big, it's getting bigger and this year was no exception. Whilst I wasn't able to go to the convention, it doesn't stop me from looking back at the games that have popped up on the show floor and picking out some of those games which caught my eye, especially those which feature open worlds or large cities to explore offering countless hours of gameplay beyond tightly controlled corridor shooters.

The Division

We keep on seeing the Division rolled out at E3, the game's been delayed a few times but if it keeps its date of March 8th 2016 we should be in for quite a treat. Whilst I'm not the kind of player that would relish the Dark Zone play that was shown for the game, I'm all down for the RPG co-op and play that comes from that side of the Division. I have my eye on this one and it looks like Ubisoft are hitting the right notes with the latest in the Tom Clancy line of games.

Apart from that, not much else was shown on the game that warrants a mention.

Ghost Recon: Wildlands

This one appeared, rather like Horizon: Zero Dawn, right out of the blue and blew me away when I was watching the Ubisoft conference stream. I've long been a fan of the tactical Ghost Recon games and open worlds, so crossing GR with Far Cry and throwing in some GTA-style vehicle goodness looks like a recipe for a win in my book. Another Tom Clancy based title, this time you're able to play solo or with 3 other friends in an expansive, reactive open world that has dynamic missions and lots to see and do. After reading some of the writeups on the press' reaction to the full demo (not the trailer), I'm even more excited to see how this one develops.

Key points to take from this one are: huge swath of well developed landscape (Boliva), massive locations to explore and use tactically, vehicles like choppers that have to be 'borrowed' from local bases by the sound of it, this in turn alters the mission in general and changes things up.

Numerous ways to complete your objectives, stealth is a viable option and lots of replay value looks to be on the horizon. The way missions can play out are reminiscent of the new heists in GTA V, can't be a bad thing.

Fallout 4

From the moment the Bethesda stream kicked off I knew that we were in for something special, Fallout 4 features a new-gen version of the Bethesda Creation Engine and from character gen it appears to use something that allows sculpting of a character, good bye sliders and fiddly options. It all looks pretty neat and expansive, whilst remaining innovative and simple. Having 1000 of the most popular names means that you'll have a deeper connection to your protagonist (male or female) and the game will call you by the surname that you pick.

It's a massive open world, one of the biggest Bethesda have ever created. It's got refined combat mechanics, a better VATS and some of the best crafting mechanics in a video game yet. Finally, we can establish more than one base of operations and use in-game crafting to make that base a reality, with customised terminals to change the behaviour of certain connected in-game objects like lights, computers, sentry guns and the like. We'll be able to create living and breathing communities, protect them from raider attacks and send out trade caravans between them. I can't wait to see more of this and play with it when the game comes out.

Crafting doesn't just extend to the base creation either, it's got crafting for weapons, items, power armour (you name it) and the system seems simple and robust.

Fallout 4 is one of my most-anticipated titles of this year.


Extra Footage:

Horizon: Zero Dawn

If someone told me they would essentially take a powerful civilisation, on an alien planet, add to that dinosaur-like machines (read Zoids) and throw in some tribal hunting stuff atop of it as they wrecked the previous high tech world, to make way for a new hunter gatherer society. I'd have gone: WHAT? Then thrown money at them until they made it a reality. This was the other big shocker of E3 and what a game it looks. Not only do we have a good solid protagonist, we've got a really interesting premise, some great looking gameplay already and it's coming from the Killzone developers.

There's not much else to say yet, only that the game looks to be brilliantly conceived and designed already - one that I'll keep my eye on.

Assassin's Creed: Syndicate

Yes, Unity was a bog-up in many ways and the interviews I've seen with the studio behind Syndicate all state that they knew it was a bog-up. I also like the fact that everyone who has spoken about the game so far from Ubisoft pretty much echoes my own sentiment, taking Assassin's Creed back to where it was around the time of AC: Brotherhood, the best in the series in my opinion. Gone is co-op, gone is multiplayer and we're back to a pure single player romp around London in the Victorian era.

Jacob and Evie Frye are twins, they're assassins born and bred, but the brotherhood is GONE. Templars control the city, and as newbies to London the twins decide they want to take it back and give it to the people. In essence this could well be the Steampunk Game that I've wanted without it actually being Steampunk. You know, oppressed working class rising up to kick the hell out of the Templars. Jacob and Evie aren't interested in noble assassin goals, they just want to create a kick-arse criminal gang and use that to take the city back.

With GTA style carriage hijacking, a new grapple hook that allows the assassins a lot more freedom in terms of movement. The redesigned parkour from Unity, as well as better stealth overall, this game looks to be hitting a lot of the right notes already. I'm cautiously optimistic about Syndicate, and since it's out this year, we won't really have long to wait to see if this is the one that brings the series back to form.

Evie is a playable character too, so I'm looking forward to seeing her side of the tale.

Mad Max

With the blessing of George Miller, the creative genius, passion and outright balls to the wall crazy that is the CORE Avalanche studio, Mad Max is shaping up to be a badass ride through the wasteland in search of well, everything. And revenge... stripped of his car, his clothes, his boots and everything that makes him Max... Max must create a new ride to equal if not surpass the Interceptor. The Magnum Opus is his new car and the game's all about exploring the wasteland, fighting Scrotus' minions in hectic awesome looking car battles...as well as on foot with Batman Arkham inspired combat.

It's Mad Max! It doesn't have anything to do with Fury Road in terms of the story, but the world is the same and visually Miller has worked with the studio to ensure that it matches the film's look at least in terms of design and aesthetic.

The game is looking brutal, violent, diesel charged and all sorts of superb already. It's out on Sept 4th, so there's not all that long to wait to roam the epic wasteland that provides the backdrop for Max's tale of revenge.

Just Cause 3

OK, this is the ONE. December the 1st, a serious romp through a beautiful island paradise that only Avalanche can deliver. Whilst it's not the core Avalanche studios team behind it, they GET Just Cause and 3 is no exception. Rico is back with a bang and all the barriers to fun have been lowered. Infinite C4 and grenades, want that? You got it!

Want more than one tether? Sure, how about 5 or 6 (they're still balancing that) that can be controlled by Rico with a press of a button. Yeah, tension lines can be made instantly taut and send vehicles/anything into catapult heaven. Explosions are properly physics based now too, so everything is bigger and better. The new grapple can attach to anywhere, the vehicle physics have been tuned, fixed and modified by the team to allow for crazy awesome stunt action. There's no longer a QTE to get into vehicles.

There's a Turbo Boost (jump) right out of Knight Rider so you can do even more impressive stunts with vehicles (and make things explode).

The parachute is a stable shooting platform, it's more impressive than ever and then there's the wingsuit - the video that I've chosen to link shows the wingsuit off in a most impressive way and it is basically Spider-Man meets Superman the explosive game.

Seriously, you can't miss out on Just Cause 3.

Metal Gear Solid V: the Phantom Pain

No matter how you feel about Konami, their treatment of Kojima and so on it's obvious from this new look (40m of video) at Metal Gear V that Kojima's legacy is well preserved and that his trademarks are all over this game. A true open world Metal Gear game that lets you play at your own pace, with your own customised loadout, buddy, helicopter, Mother Base, emblem and even more is at the heart of this new experience and from this video it's easy to see how good this game is.

AI is reactive, it changes based on your tactics - so don't keep on rinsing/repeating the same old-same old that got you into the base last time. They'll start deploying riot shields, using better armour and ramping up their defences based on how you play. The game space is massive, with side ops and a free roam element that lets you just pick up missions how you want.

The 40m video that I'm going to link just totally blows the mind, it's a huge sample of the kind of gameplay opportunities that were hinted at in Ground Zeroes and Kojima wasn't lying when he said that game barely even scratched the surface of what he wanted to do with Phantom Pain.

Come September I'll be buddying up with D-Dog and kicking ass with Quiet.

So there you have it, these are just some of the kick-ass looking games that caught my eye from E3 which feature expansive open worlds, some are not out until 2016 and some are out this year...and... wait...

Batman: Arkham Knight

Out on the 23rd of June, Batman: Arkham Knight is the third and final Batman game from the excellent series created by Rocksteady. It's Halloween and Scarecrow has threatened to expose Gotham to a massive fear toxin threat, Gotham's been evacuated and Batman has one long night to deal with the master of fear, as well as a massive rogue's gallery of united villains all ready to take him down. With the aid of Robin, Nightwing, Catwoman and Oracle (to name just the ones we know about) Batman must do the impossible and stop Scarecrow as well as the new villain, created just for the series, the Arkham Knight himself.

The game looks fantastic, it's open city and completely seamless. Featuring a huge expanse of things to do, more iconic villains from the DC universe and tying up the trilogy of Rocksteady Arkham games with a BANG. The game has dual play where you can switch between Batman and his allies in a fight, as well as the inclusion for the first time, of the Batmobile - the iconic final gadget in Batman's arsenal.

Everything we've seen from the game to the run up of E3 and at E3 itself has been phenomenal, already review scores are rolling in and it's getting some high marks, recommendations and responses from press and fans alike. Retooled combat with more options, environmental takedowns, loud predator scenarios are more await in this third and final outing for Rocksteady's Dark Knight.

The whole thing is seamless, not a loading screen in sight.

A small sample

This is just a small cross-section of the games that were on show at E3, games that I personally found quite interesting and hope to see more of in the future - as well as play.