5 things you need to know from Day 1 of E3

Microsoft's Don Mattrick onstage at E3 2013.

Were you stuck in your cubicle all day with no streaming capabilities? Did you get so caught up in WWDC that you couldn’t take another six hours of looking at a TV? Did you just completely forget about E3?

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One of the themes of this year’s E3 is that gaming companies are trying to bridge from their old consoles, which have been on the market for several years, and to their new models. Both Sony and Microsoft are moving ahead with next-generation consoles, but also reaching back to provide games to their longstanding Xbox 360 and PS3 fans. This means gamers won’t have to suddenly drop cash to stay current, though the gaming companies are hoping that the release of some exclusive titles might entice them anyway.

Here are the five biggest developments from the deluge of announcements at E3 on Monday, which continues through Wednesday.

1. Xbox One Gets Release Date and Pricing

After causing a stir before E3 (and quite a dust-up on the internet) with its teaser announcement of next-gen console Xbox One, Microsoft gave an even clearer picture of its offerings during the first major keynote of the expo.

The Xbox One will hit stores in November with a price tag of $499, which will (as promised) include the Kinect. Users will be allowed to share Xbox Live Gold Memberships and purchase games via Xbox Live in real currency from Day 1, and it’s already on sale via pre-order in a special Day One edition.

2. Sony Finally Unveils the PlayStation 4

Bookending day one was the other major keynote of the event, Sony’s presentation for the PlayStation 4. Little had been known about the new console, despite the company’s teaser show earlier this year, but the company did deliver on stage at E3.

PlayStation4

The PS4 is a sleek, slanted rectangle with a suped-up DualShock controller and a nice 500 GB HDD to store games and movies. The company also took a shot at Microsoft, showing off its support for used games and offline play. The console will be priced at $399 and release sometime during the holiday season, with seamless PlayStation Plus transfer at Day One and Gaikai-enabled Cloud gaming support coming in 2014. It’s also available for pre-order, although there’s no special edition on offer.

3. There’s Love for Old Consoles

While the Xbox One and the PS4 were certainly the debutantes of the day, both Microsoft and Sony gave some love to their older consoles, the Xbox 360 and the PS3.

Microsoft released a new, sleeker model for the Xbox 360 that’s already available for purchase at the console’s current MSRP of $199 for a 4GB base console, promised loads of new games in support, and even threw in two free downloadable titles per month for Xbox Live Gold members (starting in July with Assassins Creed 2 and Halo 3). Sony didn’t announce a redesign of the PS3, but said that upcoming titles will be avaialble for the older console.

4. New and Interesting Game Titles, Exclusives and Even TV

E3 is supposedly “all about the games,” and every presentation had some new title to show off and demo. Microsoft gave a peek into its exclusives bin with the long-awaited short-range adventure title Ryse: Son of Rome and Xbox mother-franchise Halo. Sony promised exclusive content as well, with extras in stealth adventure Assassin’s Creed IV and dystopian vigilante thriller WatchDogs.

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Electronic Arts and Ubisoft, the two other major shows of the day, also touted their latest franchises — with some interesting capabilities. EA gave a range of content, from a much-hyped entry into the Star Wars universe, to its collection of sports titles (including EA MMA),  to a hybrid game/television show for kids called Rabbids Invasion. Ubisoft showed off Massively Multiplayer Online Racing game The Crew, a new Tom Clancy entry, and a much-hyped video game version of South Park.

5. Old Franchises Are Reborn

New titles and perennial favorites were in full effect Monday, but perhaps the biggest hoots and hollers came when conferences showed love to classic titles that would get a new life on next-gen consoles.

During the Xbox One announcement, Microsoft’s Rare studio pulled out a retro trump card: a new Killer Instinct game, free to play from day one. EA announced that parkour action game and cult favorite Mirror’s Edge will get a sequel for both Xbox One and PS4. Finally, Sony showed off its own classic game revamp with a remastered version of alien puzzle adventure Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee, which will debut on the PS4.

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