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E3 2013 Third-Party Highlights

Companies Embrace the Next Generation

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Batman Arkham Origins

Batman Arkham Origins

Image © WBIE

We know what Sony has in store for us thanks to E3 2013 and the launch of the PlayStation 4 but what about the third-party companies? What did they show off at this year's cavalcade of gaming glee? A few of the highlights, company by company. (All release dates in parentheses when available and VERY subject to change...some games are brought to E3 and never seen again).

Bethesda:

One of the most impressive booths at E3 2013 had to belong to Bethesda, who highlighted a new IP and brought back two beloved ones. The new player in the dugout of one of the most interesting current publishers is "The Evil Within" from the developers at Tango Gameworks. Being developed for 2014 for PS3 and PS4, "Evil" comes from Shinji Mikami, one of the brains behind "Resident Evil." You play Sebastian Castellanos, a detective pulled into a nightmarish world that promises to bring survival horror back from the action-fueled experiences that have dominated the genre. This could be one of the most atmospheric and intense games in the early days of the PS4. And it could offer a break from the potentially time-sucking drain of "The Elder Scrolls Online." Imagine "Skyrim" populated by actual people and not just NPCs. Play with a few friends or hundreds of strangers. The world of MMO, so long dominated by the PC, could be an essential part of your PS4 experience. Oh, and then there's "Wolfenstein: The New Order," which is pretty self-explanatory, and might be out before the end of the year for the PS3.

Electronic Arts:

EA has been kind of quiet lately, releasing the disappointing "Fuse" and waiting for their one-two punch of Summer sports games in "NCAA Football" and "Madden." But they were aggressive at E3, premiering footage from PS3 and PS4 games and promising to offer something for everyone this year and beyond. Major upcoming titles still remaining this year from EA include "Need For Speed Rivals" (11/19/13), the rebooted "NBA Live 14" for the PS4, "FIFA 14," "NHL 14" (10/9/13), and, of course, "Battlefield 4" (10/31/13).

The biggest EA story at E3 might have been the reboot/relaunch of "Mirror's Edge," a 2008 game that earned critical praise but not too much gamer attention. Working with DICE, the folks behind "Battlefield," EA is giving "Faith" the debut she deserves with a completely new quasi-sequel that doesn't really pick up the series as much as start it again with the Frostbite engine and the PS4's capabilities. Stay tuned for more news on this title as it's revealed but know that it's in its early stages of development. This could be 2015.

Square Enix:

The revitilization of Square Enix was clear last year when they brought "Sleeping Dogs," "Hitman: Absolution," and "Tomb Raider" to E3 2012 (all of which are games that should have performed better than they did...go play them all) and they made serious waves at E3 2013 with arguably the most buzz-worthy booth. Why? Square Enix wants to own your PS4 in 2014 and they're going to do so with titles you already know, love, and considered dead. "Final Fantasy Versus XIII" debuted seven years ago and went dormant. Most thought it was dead and gone. Square Enix announced last week that not only is it back but it's now called "Final Fantasy XV" and will be released for the PS4, following the release of "Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn" for the PS4 and "Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII" for the PS3. The "FF" franchise doesn't mean what it used to for modern gamers but these three titles could easily change that fact and bring it back to prominence.

If you're not into "Final Fantasy," there's still reason to admire Square Enix. They revealed that they're developing "Kingdom Hearts III" for the PS4 (it was first rumored to be an exclusive but will be available for Xbox One as well)and they showed off pretty pictures from the very-impressive "Thief," a game we're going to be talking about a lot here at About.com. Stay tuned.

Ubisoft:

Ubisoft has risen to near the top of the heap in terms of mdoern game publishers, largely by riding series like "Assassin's Creed" and "Just Dance" to the kind of profits that allow them creative leeway. They brought both of those franchises to E3, showing off "Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag" (11/1/13) and "Just Dance 2014" (October). They also revealed that the former-WiiU-exclusive "Rayman Legends" was coming to PS3 in August while showing off tons of major games, including "South Park: The Stick of Truth" (picked up from THQ when they went down), "Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell Blacklist" (8/23/13), "Tom Clancy's The Division" for the PS4, and the highly-buzzed "Watch Dogs," one of the PS4's most interesting launch games later this year.

Warner Bros.:

Superheroes and LEGOs. Sometimes at the same time. Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment becomes a more powerful publisher every year and they brought some sure hits to E3 in 2013, including "Batman: Arkham Origins" (10/25/13) and "LEGO Marvel Super Heroes" (Autumn 2013). Most interesting and surprising was "Mad Max," a 2014 PS4 game that will attempt to reboot the legendary Mel Gibson character in unison with George Miller's "Mad Max: Fury Road," starring Tom Hardy in the role. Promising vehicular combat in an open-world landscape from the folks at Avalanche Studios, the mad geniuses behind "Just Cause," "Mad Max" promises to be more than a mere movie tie-in.

Other Companies:

Activision seems fully behind "Destiny" for the PS4 while also showing off what will surely be one of the biggest games of 2013, "Call of Duty: Ghosts." Capcom will release "Lost Planet 3" (8/27/13) and try to make up for the relative disappointment of the last game. Blizzard brings "Diablo III" home to consoles amidst doubts that it will work without a PC. Disney wants to own your child's allowance with "Disney Infinity" (8/18/13) while Konami will suck you back into the world of "Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2" (Winter 2013).

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