Companion apps, open worlds: 5 trends from this year's E3 show floor

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – From companion apps with the power to affect gameplay to racing games where players persistently speed across virtual roads, there’s several innovations on display at the Electronic Entertainment Expo this week that show off what designers are interested in when it comes to the next-generation of gaming with Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One:

DYNAMIC DUOS: One screen hasn’t been enough for a while now, but game developers are taking second-screen experiences to the next level with companion game apps for mobile devices that affect what’s happening on a TV. “Battlefield 4″ turns tablets into command stations,” while “Tom Clancy’s The Division” employs them as drone controls. “Project Spark” invites gamers to craft virtual worlds with the swipe of a finger, and then play through them on the Xbox One.

TRACK RECORD: With next-gen consoles, sharing gaming clips will be as easy as hitting a button, especially in the case of the PS4. The controller for Sony’s next-gen console features a “share” button, while Microsoft has partnered with the popular streaming service Twitch to allow users to quickly upload clips from the Xbox One. Nintendo is getting into the sharing act, too. “Mario Kart 8” players can upload racing clips to the online service for the Wii U.

SHARE THE ROAD: If you like seamlessly racing against friends online, you’ll have three similar new games to shift between in the next generation: Ubisoft’s “The Crew,” Electronic Arts’ “Need for Speed: Rivals” and Sony’s “DriveClub.” There are also sleek new installments in Microsoft’s “Forza MotorSport” and Sony’s “Grand Turismo” car enthusiast franchises. “Forza MotorSport 5” is adding a new feature that will mimics players’ driving styles and allow them to zoom offline.

WHOLE NEW WORLDS: Move over, Liberty City. Step aside, Azeroth. There’s several new virtual worlds coming to town that will harness next-generation computing power, like a zombie-ridden Los Angeles clone in “Dead Rising 3” and a cartoony metropolis in the over-the-top shooter “Sunset Overdrive.” A few familiar franchises are also adopting an open-world policy for the first time, including “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain” and “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.”

PEOPLE POWER: The division between single- and multiplayer games is blurring with Bungie’s sci-fi shooter “Destiny,” Respawn’s mech-heavy “Titanfall” and Massive’s post-apocalyptic third-person action game “The Division.” The online titles are part of a new breed of games that don’t differentiate between playing alone or with a group. “The Division,” for example, features several methods for players to collaborate online, but its designers say it can be played completely solo.


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