By DERRIK J. LANG
AP Entertainment Writer
LOS ANGELES — E3, for many, is at its best when it manages to shock and awe.
Despite an unrelenting glut of leaks, there were still surprises in store at this week’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, the annual gathering of the video game industry in Los Angeles. Whether it was the revelation that “Final Fantasy VII” is receiving a high-definition remaster or that Ubisoft was crafting an all-new game starring knights, samurais and Vikings, there were plenty announcements gamers didn’t see coming.
A sampling of some of the biggest bombshells at E3 this week:
Bethesda Softworks kicked off E3 with a one-two punch. Ahead of the annual gaming extravaganza earlier this month, the “Elder Scrolls” and “Doom” publisher dropped a trailer for the long-rumored-but-never-confirmed “Fallout 4.” Then, Bethesda spent the majority of its first-ever E3 briefing Sunday showing off the latest entry in the post-apocalyptic series before confirming “Fallout 4” would hit Nov. 10, an unprecedentedly short amount of time to hype such a long-awaited sequel.
After originally stating the Xbox One wouldn’t play Xbox 360 games, Microsoft unlocked a surprising achievement Monday with the admission that the newer console will now be able to harness hundreds of games — digitally or on disc — from the prior console generation for free beginning later this year. Nintendo’s Wii U console has always offered backward compatibility, while Sony’s PlayStation 4 makes older games available through reissues and its PlayStation Now streaming service.
“Assassin’s Creed” and “Just Dance” publisher Ubisoft capped off its Monday conference by announcing the tactical shooter series “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon” is being resurrected as an open-world, drug-busting romp. “Ghost Recon: Wildlands” is set in a virtual rendition of Bolivia where an elite military unit is tasked with taking down an oppressive cartel whichever way they systematically see fit, whether that’s parachuting into enemy territory or slipping in on foot under the cover of night.
While news of a possible return had been exposed ahead of E3, that didn’t deter attendees’ jaws from dropping when Sony launched its Monday briefing by debuting the first footage of gameplay from “The Last Guardian” and declaring the highly anticipated title would be out next year. The poetic platformer about a boy and his giant feathered sidekick from “Shadow of the Colossus” director Fumito Ueda was originally teased at E3 in 2009, then not seen again until Monday night’s unveiling.
Nintendo, the Japanese gaming giant long known for being protective of its colorful cadre of characters, took gamers’ off guard at E3 by setting a play date during its Tuesday briefing with Activision. Nintendo revealed the “amiibo” and “Skylanders” toys-to-life franchises are teaming up for the first time with figures of barrel-tossing Donkey Kong, fire-breathing Bowser and their accompanying rides. The toys will work with both the Wii U edition of “Skylanders: SuperChangers” and “amiibo” games.