1995-2016: Top 5 Conferences in the History of E3

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E3 2016 is finally coming to an end. With each day of the conference new and exciting games were unveiled -- and the hype is real, especially after Nintendo's gameplay footage reveal of the highly-anticipated Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I know that I have been thoroughly impressed with the footage I've seen of the game, and I think it's safe to say that many longtime Zelda fans and gamers are very interested in playing the game. 

Since E3's beginning in 1995, there have been conferences in which certain games have received similar levels of hype. And in this article, we are going to look at 5 of the best E3 conferences based on the games or consoles that were revealed during that year, and often times the historical developments of gaming these specific games contributed towards. 

This list was difficult to make, particularly because at each conference there is typically at least a few major games announced, and what I may consider a substantial reveal may not be what someone else considers significant. But in the history of E3, these are my top 5 conferences. This list is not ordered in terms of one conference holding more significance than another, but instead goes from earliest to latest conference year. 

[image via Gaming World United]

[Nintendo 64 U.S. Unveiling @ E3 '96 in Los Angeles, California]

E3 1996: 3D Interactive Environments 

At the second ever E3 conference, there were several revolutionary developments showcased. Starting with what is arguably the most prominent of the conference, Nintendo's 64-bit and first 3D console, the N64, made its premier appearance at the '96 E3. The game shown alongside it was the widely-known Super Mario 64. The game's innovative interactive 3D environment, the N64's analog control stick, and the ability to change camera angles in-game, surely blew the minds of many gamers of the day.

For myself and gamers of my generation, the N64 was the first console we owned (I still own mine), and became the console of our childhoods. The N64 went on to see games like Super Smash Bros, Star Fox 64, Kirby 64: the Crystal Shards, Pokemon Snap, and countless other titles that defined a new generation of gaming -- and that's not even mentioning all of the classic Rare games on the console as well. 

Besides Nintendo, this 1996 conference saw the reveal of Square's (Now Square Enix) Final Fantasy VII, which won countless gaming awards in 1997, and has gone on to be considered one of the greatest games ever made. 

[via Wikipedia]

Other games featured at the second conference included Naughty Dog's Crash Bandicoot, Blizzard's StarCraft, Tomb Raider, and Capcom's Resident Evil. Pretty big year.

E3 2001: Developments in Competitive Gaming 

At the E3 conference of 2001, Nintendo's GameCube first made its appearance, Microsoft's initial Xbox game line-up was unveiled, and Sega's Dreamcast made its last appearance. 

Nintendo's games included titles like: Super Smash Bros Melee, Super Mario Sunshine, Pikmin, Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, and Luigi's Mansion. 

Melee alone sparked the formation of competitive Smash Bros communities across the United States and Japan. The fighting game scene centered on Melee saw a history of technique developments like Wave Dashing, Dash Dancing, and the overall development of character play-styles. Player names like Mew2King, Mango, Leffen and Armada were (and are) widely known names in the Smash Bros community for their high level of play. To this day, Melee remains a highly competitive game that is featured in MLG events such as Anaheim. 

Another major event of the 2001 conference was the Microsoft conference that featured the first installment of the critically acclaimed Halo franchise.

[via Halo Nation]

The FPS Halo: Combat Evolved, which gave rise to the machinima style series Red vs Blue, was innovative in the development for split-screen and multiplayer experiences, and went on to release incredibly popular sequels like Halo 2 and 3Halo 2 would be the primary feature of MLG's Pro Series in 2006, which was the first televised video game console league. 

[E306 - Halo 3 trailer from The Microsoft Briefing]

E3 2006: A New Generation 

The 2006 conference is on this list for several different reasons. Primarily, it was the conference in which the first line-up of memorable last generation console games were shown and discussed. 

Microsoft had a particularly notable conference due to Halo 3, which was highly anticipated at the time and saw gameplay innovations like Forge mode, and the ability to save gameplay footage in Theater mode. During the game's first 24 hours of being released, more than one million players were on the game with Xbox Live. Halo 3's multiplayer was finely tuned, and the game holds a special place in my memories because of the individuals I met playing the game and the community experience that revolved around it.  

Microsoft also showed a trailer for Lionhead's Fable 2, another anticipated sequel -- the first Fable being a notable RPG for its utilization of player choice in the story. 

Nintendo's conference set a release date for the innovative Wii, with fantastic games like The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, and Super Mario Galaxy. At the 2004 conference, many remember the first unveil of Twilight Princess, with Shigeru Miyamoto coming on-stage wielding Master Sword and Hylian Shield to the rallying cries of fans. This Zelda game featured innovative motion controls, arguably some of the best boss fights in Zelda history, and a darker story in nature the series hadn't seen since Majora's Mask. 

Apart from Zelda, Super Mario Galaxy featured a new take on 3D platformers, allowing Mario to traverse planet-like platforms through space in full rotation. The game also featured a fully-orchestrated soundtrack that's almost reminiscent of Studio Ghibili style sounds. 

E3 2013: Long Awaited Sequels 

E3 2013 was a conference in which many gamers saw sequels that had been, and in some cases are still, long-awaited. Perhaps one of the biggest sequels announced was Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts 3. The series had not seen a true sequel since Kingdom Hearts 2 back in 2005, 8 years prior to the 2013 conference. Countless fans rejoiced at the announcement. 

Despite the Kingdom Hearts series containing numerous handheld games that enriched the game's story and characters, and HD remakes, many gamers had been anxious for a Kingdom Hearts 3 for the entirety of a console generation. 

[image via My Nintendo News]

Nintendo gave the announcement date ofPikmin 3, another sequel that was long-awaited for a whole console generation. 

DICE's reboot of Star Wars: Battlefront was first shown, another highly anticipated sequel, after the popular two games from two generations ago were left in limbo. 

Other notable sequels of this E3 conference included: Final Fantasy XV, The Witcher 3, and Dark Souls II. 

E3 2016: Present Day Hype 

E3 2016 has come a long way since the '96 conference of the N64.

This year's conference is on this list for several different reasons. Admittedly, I may be letting all of the hype influence this listing -- but thus far, this year's conference has been full of exciting developments and showcases. 

One of the dominant features that has many gamers talking is Nintendo's latest Zelda game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the WildThe gameplay footage that we have seen so far illustrates that the game is taking a turn away from the conventional aspects of the series and placing more emphasis on exploration and player choice akin to the original NES game. Link is able to jump on command, mountains can be scaled, and environments manipulated. 

Furthermore, the vastness of the new Hyrule has been said to be far more expansive than any previous iteration of the series, and as a long-time Zelda fan, I am hyped to play this game. The first 20 minutes of gameplay shown left me impressed and much more excited than I honestly expected to be.

But Zelda alone is not the only hype-worthy game from this year's conference. Bethesda's Dishonored 2, which involves Emily Kaldwin as a playable character, promises to further develop the story of the Empire of the Islands. Bethesda also showcased their reboots of Prey and Quake -- and announced an HD remake of their popular Elder Scrolls game, Skyrim, which is also allowing console users access to mods for the first time. 

Double Fine's Psychonauts VR gameplay was shown utilizing PlayStation's VR,  BioWare's Mass Effect Andromeda made an appearance, Gears of War 4, We Happy Fewand Microsoft's new project Scorpio are just touching the surface of the kinds of announcements we've seen so far, making this year's conference one of the most noteworthy in recent history. 

Which conferences do you remember the most? What announcements left you in awe? What are some of your favorite E3 moments of all time? 

Published Jun. 15th 2016

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