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E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo) is the event for all electronic gaming launches on the horizon. Unlike gaming conventions like Penny Arcade Expo (PAX), E3 is locked down and restricted to industry only. It hasn’t even been a decade since a gamer outside the industry could slip in by knowing someone who knows someone at a game company. E3 started cracking down on fandom attendance to get it back to its insider industry roots.

E3 2014
Image: Origin Insider

It’s tough as nails to get in without knowing the right people. That said, gamers must be content sitting on the Internet sidelines, waiting for E3 news to trickle out of their browsers. Googling “E3 news” can return an overwhelming number of updates. Who has time for that? Fear not: I have compiled my picks for puzzle and adventure announcements plus disappointing shortfalls.

Girls Rule Hyrule: You can finally play as Zelda or Midna

Finally. FINALLY. Nintendo confirmed that HYRULE WARRIORS will allow you get to hold the sword (or bow and arrow, as it were) as Zelda or Midna as you fight with your allies Link and Impa through the Hyrulian battlefields. HYRULE WARRIORS is a collaboration between Tecmo Koei Games and the Legend of Zelda team that promises the tactical, over-the-top army battles as seen in Dynasty Warriors. It might not be a walk through the Kokiri Forest, but our Princess needs no saving this time around.

Gameplay will allow for two players simultaneously, utilizing a combination of the WiiU controller and traditional television play. This is another opportunity for Nintendo to flex their WiiU chops and see what a third-party developer can do with the new multifunctional controller. Hopefully this partnership will invite more developers to create games for the WiiU platform–which means the rest of us will get in on more gaming goodness.

Lara Croft takes on Egyptian Gods in puzzle co-op

Developer Crystal Dynamics took a bet on–and won–developing 2010′s Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, a smart puzzle-action-adventure game. Fans were pleasantly rewarded with the announcement of the next in the third-person cooperative series with Lara Croft and the Tomb of Osiris (release date to be announced).

This new contender will have its work cut out for the series, as Guardian of Light returned with a high Metacritic score of 85 out of 100. Initial play trials at E3 2014 sound promising – being able to play four-person co-op as Lara, her rival Carter Bell, God Horus, or Goddess of the Sun Isis, clever puzzles and action sequences have reported a positive experience.

Keep your eyes peeled for the title on PC, Xbox One, and PS4.

The Queen of Adventure takes her throne

A trailer opens to a therapist talking to a hooded figure. He narrates how a young woman’s life should unfold–hobbies, activities, learning–as the video cuts to her struggling in another world. Hanging off of cliff edges. Running from a giant bear. Gazing off into a dramatic landscape.

Lara Croft is ready to return to action after her first harrowing trial in the gritty Rise of the Tomb Raider. The successor to 2013′s simply titled Tomb Raider will continue Lara’s story as we see her take the reigns and become the explorer we were introduced to over 20 years ago.

The Rise of the Tomb Raider release date is “Holiday 2015″.

Can I get a Witness?

Being the atmospheric puzzle-adventure fan that I am, I was surprised that news for Thekla, Inc’s The Witness was–well–news to so many. Yeah, of course this is going to be beautiful. Of course this is going to break gaming conventions. Of course this will sweep the player away to another world where you will return feeling transformed (or at least a little inspired).

The Witness

Recounts of play-throughs returned overwhelmingly positive. The game is promising to be just as smart as it is beautiful. Unlike some puzzle games, players can take the path of their choosing; if a player gets stumped they can explore another area of the mysterious island. Seemingly innocuous details begin to build and take on a life of their own as the player uncovers the story.

Jonathon Blow and his team set out to create great puzzles and ultimate freedom in this indie title set to launch on Playstation4 later this year.

E3 Shortfalls

It’s not all sunshine and moonbeams in the mecca of gaming. Here are a few glaring omissions from this year’s extravaganza.

It’s quiet in Square Enix’s Kingdom

The fan-favorite Kingdom Hearts franchise released their last hit eight years ago–no surprise that the E3 2013 announcement of Kingdom Hearts 3 stole the show. Gamers’ appetites were thoroughly whetted after a teaser trailer that promised the game was in production.

Kingdom Hearts 3

However, the famous Disney x Square Enix mashup was mysteriously missing from this year’s E3. Not even a brief trailer. Nada. Nothing. Perhaps Square is holding out to share more details on their home turf, the Tokyo Game Show. Us stateside will be waiting patiently at our computers and excited to see what the latest gaming advancements will do for the Kingdom. Whenever you’re ready, Square.

The Last Guardian continues to stay in hiding

It’s been a long five years for Sony adventure game fans. Ico and Shadow of the Colossus successor The Last Guardian was announced in 2009 to great fanfare and excitement.

It’s turning out to be a slow-drip development process for Sony President of Worldwide Studios Shuhei Yoshida, who obviously wants to give this baby the care and attention it deserves before landing on PlayStation 4. But at this rate, who knows if it will see the light of day before PlayStation 5 – the latest news came in October 2013 that Yoshida was “reengineering” the game following a departure of its original creator, Fumito Ueda.

The Last Guardian boy and dog

If The Last Guardian will be as amazing as the available screenshots look and give me as many goosebumps as Shadow of the Colossus delivered, then it will be worth one–perhaps two–more E3′s. And we will welcome it with tired arms that have been held open for over five years.

Women missing from public leadership – on both stage and screen

Women make up nearly half of the gaming population and an estimated 12% of the gaming industry, yet there were accounts of only five women announcing products on stage and women conspicuously missing from leading protagonist roles in the games.

Assassin's Creed at E3 2014
Image: Polygon

Assassin’s Creed: Unity came under fire for not including a woman in their action co-op’s cast of four playable protagonists. The developer explained that the production budget could not accommodate designing a different build.

Do not be discouraged: as we see more discussion about female representation from the gaming community, we will see more women making inroads into the industry. We’re on the cusp of change, fellow gamer ladies.

Which E3 announcements are you excited about? Shout them out in the comments below!

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