Nintendo's amiibo figurines. Nintendo.
Are small pieces of plastic enough to save Nintendo's struggling Wii U? That's what the esteemed Japanese game company is certainly hoping, with Nintendo kicking off the official first day of the 2014 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) with the unveiling of its toys-to-life initiative, which the company has coined amiibo.
What is an amiibo? Simply put, amiibos are toy versions of Nintendo characters, and interact with several upcoming Wii U games in different ways (depending on the game). Think Skylanders or Disney Infinity but with Mario and Yoshi figures instead. The amiibo figures interact with the Wii U gamepad's built-in NFC reader, so users won't need to have an extra piece of gear in their living room. And unlike Skylanders, amiibos can be used in more than one game. So far, support has been confirmed for the upcoming Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart 8, Yoshi's Woolly World, and Mario Party 10. No release date has been confirmed for amiibo figurines.
While Nintendo was looking to its future on day one of E3, game developer Bethesda looked to the past, releasing a teaser trailer for the upcoming Doom 4 game, which is now simply titled Doom. The trailer didn't reveal too much, although it did showcase dark corridors and a massive hell beast, plus that sweet, iconic reload sound from earlier Doom games. It's definitely a nostalgia play, but if Bethesda can work the same magic on this as it did with the recent Wolfenstein release, then Doom is a title that we should definitely look forward to.
One of the most eagerly anticipated titles heading into this year's E3 was Activision's Destiny. The sci-fi first-person shooter carries with it huge expectations -- after all, this is developer Bungie's first game since it gave up the reigns of the Halo series. E3 was the first chance the gaming press has had to talk about their recent hands-on impressions with the game, and the consensus has been mainly... hopeful. Destiny is certainly an ambitious, sprawling project, but it'll have to do a little more to impress if it's to secure its place as one of 2014's biggest hits.
Far Cry 4. Ubisoft
But perhaps the game that has garnered the most positive early attention at this year's E3 is Ubisoft's Far Cry 4. The game, set in the fictional mountainous country of Kyrat, looks set to build on the impressive foundations set by Far Cry 3. Everything in Far Cry 4 seems ramped up from the previous game -- the visuals look stunning, your abilities are amazing (including the ability to use a wingsuit to swoop and dive around mountainous terrain), and you can use elephants to attack your enemies. Even for the most jaded of gamers, weaponised elephants are still an awesome thing.
For more on E3, check out CNET sister site GameSpot.com's full coverage.