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The 15 biggest surprises of E3 2015

Dishonored 2 stars a leading lady

There's been speculation about who would star in Dishonored 2 since the day Bethesda dubbed Dishonored a series-starter (which was itself within a week of that game's launch, so it's been a while). There were whispers of "Wouldn't it be cool if Emily..." in the in-between space, but the thought of the little girl under Corvo's care in the original game becoming an assassin in her own right seemed unlikely. But if Dishonored is good at anything, it's making the unlikely work, and Dishonored 2's announcement was headlined by the assassin Empress herself ripping through a target's mechanical forces with brand-new black magic.

While the industry has made progress in recent years (and particularly at this E3) when it comes to showcasing interesting and admirable female characters, many developers are still reluctant to put a lady as the lead in a triple-A series. Not only did we get that out of Dishonored 2's announcement, which focused on Emily tearing her way through her mark's many defenses in cool and collected fashion, but the fact that Corvo will also be playable wasn't mentioned until after the conference was over. In an industry where a male protagonist will get first billing when both are an option, putting Emily forward as the face of the game is a shock - and a good one.

Ghost Recon Wildlands exists

It has been too long since the last Ghost Recon game. When Ubi announced it was going to close out its conference with a reinvention of a classic franchise, and we first saw a camera pan of that skull (a long time Ghost Recon image)... we just knew. And to be clear, the world is a better place with an open-world, utterly beautiful, wonderfully violent Ghost Recon game in it.

Ubi was a massive tease about it too, only revealing the name of the game right at the end of the footage (when, admittedly, most had guessed it anyway). Perhaps the biggest surprise, though, is how well the Ghost Recon brand seems to mesh with the free-form gameplay offered by large, open spaces. It may be just another shooter to some, but this has the potential to be rather special.

Ex-Metroid Prime devs are working on an Xbox One game called Recore

Im not really sure whats going on in Recores larger game, but heres what I do know: you can resurrect your mechanical doggie friend as a larger doggie friend. Or maybe hes more gorilla-like in his new body. Whatever. Doesnt matter. Mechanical animal pals with what I assume to be a core of the title at their center, which can be moved from metal frame to metal frame, allowing your companion to essentially shapeshift. It seems likely that this ability will be core (Im sorry, I really am) to the gameplay.

One thing I also know is that Recore stars a young woman, whos picking fights in a desert landscape with large technobeasts as she searches for...what? Not treasure, at least not of the gold and shiny kind, but something precious, almost certainly. There was very much a Lara Croft vibe going on with the small bit of action we saw, though in a most inhospitable landscape. Recore is quite a welcome surprise addition to the roster of Xbox One exclusives.

Ubisoft is making a viking vs samurais vs knights game

In a show like Ubisoft's press conference at E3 2015, which was full of slick-looking sequels, the wholly original For Honor stood out like a sword in a stone. It plays to the fantasy fun of Deadliest Warrior, where combatants from different time periods somehow find themselves in a Dark Ages Dynasty Warriors feud. And while any brand new game is always exciting, For Honor is most surprising for one simple fact: it looks stellar.

Sure, the idea of multiplayer-focused matches between sword-wielding savages isn't new, per se - PC games like Mount & Blade and War of the Vikings have been doing that for years. But the concept comes to life when mixed with Ubisoft's production values: the graphics look stellar, the animations are forceful, and the warriors themselves all look like powerful, armored bruisers. We weren't planning for one of our most anticipated multiplayer games from E3 to involve steel swords instead of lightsabers, but now we've seen For Honor, and here we are.

Pele refused to tell the world a football story

During its press conference, EA managed to get World Cup winning football legend Pele onto its stage. Pele is arguably the most well-known footballer of all time, so his presence should be a Big DealTM. No-one expected this years FIFA to carry so much clout, especially as its a (largely) European sport at a (largely) American show. We have to admit, we were quietly impressed when he appeared on stage. And then

...things took a turn for the worst. When asked to tell a story about how he coined the phrase the beautiful game, Pele simply said No (which rather stunned EAs host) and started to go on a long-winded monologue about Brazil and Swedish women instead. While what he was saying was vaguely interesting, it totally killed the momentum of EAs show. So much so, that we decided to make a meme out of the scenario, which blew up on Twitter. And that was quite surprising too

Earthbound Beginnings makes a surprise appearance on the eShop

The Nintendo World Championships were pretty great, filled with thrilling competition and plenty of heart-pounding moments, but the biggest surprise came during the pre-show, when EarthBound creator Shigesato Ioti appeared on screen and delivered a personal, heartfelt speech about what the series means to him, and announced the arrival of EarthBound Beginnings on the Wii U eShop.

Why is this a big deal? Well, for one, it marks the arrival of a game that had already been fully translated and prepped for release on the NES back in 1990, but was cancelled because it was deemed to be a waste of money - a niche game in a niche market. With EarthBound Beginnings' release in the Wii U eShop, Nintendo is continuing to admit that this series does in fact exist outside of Japan. It also makes the future of of the series on North America and Europe much more exciting. Could we see an official release of Mother 3 on our shores? EarthBound Beginnings' existence makes it more likely than ever.