7 things we took away from Monday's E3 media briefings

Third-party games are extra-strong, but look for exclusive DLC to nudge decisions

This one seems pretty obvious, yet it resonated so strongly between all of the events. While it was surprising to see how many third-party games didn’t show up to the media events today (we’re looking at you, Borderlands 2 and DmC, since not all of us have Spike TV), the likes of EA and Ubisoft handily covered bases. You’ll have no shortage of games in which you can shoot things in creative methods, from drones realistic enough that we assume the president called them in, to tigers mauling people, to another installment of gorgeous Crytek visuals.

Madden seems to be getting the overhaul that we witnessed a year ago with FIFA 12. Criterion is back in a big way with Need for Speed: Most Wanted. Dead Space 3 looks eerie and impressive.

But Ubisoft has grabbed our collective attention with the likes of Watch Dogs, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and Assassin’s Creed III. Not everything will come in 2012 (and frankly, we’d recommend making a New Years resolution to start saving in $60 chunks to prepare for the March onslaught), but there is no shortage of great-looking third-party games to play. We think that the platform-exclusive DLC incentives will probably steer you more than anything else, if you’ve got more than one system at home. Whether it's Crystal Dynamics and Treyarch's announcements at Microsoft's event, or Ubisoft's at the Sony briefing, there's a nudge depending on how much you want to maximize those exclusive extras, or get first crack at them.

The PlayStation Vita has its work cut out for it

Yes, there’s a Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed game coming to Vita, and AC III on Vita looks downright dashing. But cross-platform saves for PlayStation All-Stars and LittleBigPlanet controller integration aside, the Vita lineup looks anemic for the remainder of the year. We expected bigger announcements and more ambitious plans for games. We know that titles like Street Fighter X Tekken are coming, but the lack of fanfare on Sony's part -- especially at a showcase as important as E3 -- worries us.

In an age in which many of the handheld's new streaming media partners are readily available on most smartphones (which conference attendees were using to tweet and Instagram-up their presence at the event), that's not so much applause-worthy fanfare as much as an acknowledgment that the Vita is catching up, app-wise. That's still not enough.

At this point, if we wanted to play more PSOne classics, we can still load up a PSP. That’s disheartening. We can only hope that some GamesCom announcements may prove us wrong.

After being jackhammered with sequels, two new IPs captivated audiences the most.

If you poll most gamers who watched the media briefings or members of the gaming press who attended Monday’s events, two new IPs emerged as strong front-runners for E3 awards. Watch Dogs completely blew away everyone inside the Los Angeles Theatre. The Last of Us, for its shocking moments of blunt and raw violence, also did the same.

Both games tap into a certain collective mentality among all of us – paranoia about information collection and fear of devastating, apocalyptic events, respectively – and turn them into experiences that will undoubtedly grab our attention and several hours from us in the future. It’s truly refreshing to see that after years of sequels, it’s new properties that have excited us most.

There is, of course, also Quantic Dream’s “Beyond: Two Souls,” which some of us on staff are very excited about, but we sense that those who were less charmed by Heavy Rain are a tad more guarded about this one.

Stay tuned for more big announcements as Day One of E3 2012 kicks off later today!

Sterling McGarvey