Arts & Entertainment

E3 in LA: Virtual reality, 'Star Wars' and the triumph of women

Microsoft HoloLens is demonstrated during the Microsoft Xbox E3 press conference at the Galen Center on June 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The Microsoft press conference is held in conjunction with the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) which focuses on gaming systems and interactive entertainment, featuring introductions to new products and technologies.
Microsoft HoloLens is demonstrated during the Microsoft Xbox E3 press conference at the Galen Center on June 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The Microsoft press conference is held in conjunction with the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) which focuses on gaming systems and interactive entertainment, featuring introductions to new products and technologies.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Microsoft HoloLens is demonstrated during the Microsoft Xbox E3 press conference at the Galen Center on June 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The Microsoft press conference is held in conjunction with the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) which focuses on gaming systems and interactive entertainment, featuring introductions to new products and technologies.
Microsoft corporate vice president, Kudo Tsunoda introduces the Microsoft HoloLens during the Microsoft Xbox E3 press conference at the Galen Center on June 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The Microsoft press conference is held in conjunction with the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) which focuses on gaming systems and interactive entertainment, featuring introductions to new products and technologies.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Microsoft HoloLens is demonstrated during the Microsoft Xbox E3 press conference at the Galen Center on June 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The Microsoft press conference is held in conjunction with the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) which focuses on gaming systems and interactive entertainment, featuring introductions to new products and technologies.
FIFA Producer David Rutter introduces female athletes to the "FIFA 16" during the Electronic Arts E3 press conference at the LA Sports Arena on June 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The EA press conference is held in conjunction with the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) which focuses on gaming systems and interactive entertainment, featuring introductions to new products and technologies.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Microsoft HoloLens is demonstrated during the Microsoft Xbox E3 press conference at the Galen Center on June 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The Microsoft press conference is held in conjunction with the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) which focuses on gaming systems and interactive entertainment, featuring introductions to new products and technologies.
(L-R) Co creative director Arkane Studios, Harvery Smith and founder and Co creative director at Arkane Studios, Raf Colantonio speak about 'Dishonored 2' during the Bethesda E3 2015 press conference at the Dolby Theatre on June 14, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The Bethesda press conference is held in conjunction with the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) which focuses on gaming systems and interactive entertainment, featuring introductions to new products and technologies.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Microsoft HoloLens is demonstrated during the Microsoft Xbox E3 press conference at the Galen Center on June 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The Microsoft press conference is held in conjunction with the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) which focuses on gaming systems and interactive entertainment, featuring introductions to new products and technologies.
EA DICE introduces "Star Wars Battlefront" during the Sony E3 press conference at the L.A. Memorial Sports Arena on June 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The Sony press conference is held in conjunction with the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) which focuses on gaming systems and interactive entertainment, featuring introductions to new products and technologies.
Christian Petersen/Getty Images


Virtual reality has stolen the spotlight at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo — better known as E3. Tens of thousands of people have crowded the Los Angeles Convention Center to see what trends will take over tech and gaming for the upcoming year.

In addition to the virtual reality buzz, the highlights so far have included an expansion of starring roles for female characters, a much-hyped "Star Wars" title and a slew of other new games.

Virtual reality

One of the biggest projects getting buzz is Microsoft's Holo-Lens.

As the Associated Press reports, Holo-Lens is an augmented reality headset that allows the viewer to see holograms amid the real world.

Microsoft Studios executive Saxs Persson played "Minecraft" with the headset on while staring at a wall. He also played using gestures and voice commands, interacting with the world on an empty coffee table.

A special camera allowed the audience to see what he was seeing — a perfect 3-D representation of a pixelated "Minecraft" world.

GameSpot writer Chris Waters described the demonstration to KPCC's Take Two.

"The player stood up, walked over to a table that looked just like my dining room table and then we watched through the camera as the outline of the table was traced with little blocks. And then the table dropped away and this huge castle, this mountain, this town sprung up out of the table," Waters said.

Beside Perrson, Lydia Winters, brand director for "Minecraft" maker Mojang AB, played her own character in the same world using Microsoft's Surface tablet, according to AP.

"Microsoft HoloLens gives the community a different way to play in the worlds they already love," she said.

Microsoft didn't announce pricing or availability.

— AP with KPCC staff

Women triumph

For the longest time, Lara Croft of "Tomb Raider" was the biggest female star in video games — mainly because she didn't have much competition.

Things are changing, though, with game companies finally waking up to the realization that women make up nearly half of their audience. So at this year's E3, we're seeing more heroines like Emily Kaldwin, the assassin in Bethesda Softworks' "Dishonored 2." Microsoft's "Beyond Eyes" tells the tale of Rae, a blind girl whose other senses are enhanced. Sony's "Horizon: Zero Dawn" features a female hunter on a planet where mechanical dinosaurs run rampant.

Meanwhile, EA Sports' "FIFA 16" brings women's teams to the soccer pitch. Rooftop-running athlete Faith makes her long-awaited return in Electronic Arts' "Mirror's Edge Catalyst." And, of course, Lara herself is back in Square Enix's "Rise of the Tomb Raider."

There are also games like Bethesda's "Fallout 4," EA's "Mass Effect: Andromeda" and Ubisoft's "Assassin's Creed: Syndicate" that let you play as either a man or a woman. And even ultra-macho military franchises like "Halo" and "Gears of War" include female warriors in their squads.

Also encouraging: More women have appeared this year on the E3 stages where companies are showcasing their new games. "Mirror's Edge," EA's "Star Wars: Battlefront" and Ubisoft's "Rainbow Six: Siege" were just a few of the high-profile titles presented by female developers. As "Beyond Eyes" director Sherida Halatoe put it, "If we open ourselves up to new experiences, it can be a beautiful world."

— Lou Kesten/AP

EA hypes 'Star Wars'

The Force is with Electronic Arts.

The video game publisher heavily focused on its forthcoming "Star Wars" games during a briefing Monday at the Electronic Entertainment Expo.

EA showed off an extended look at the upcoming multiplayer game "Star Wars: Battlefront." The PlayStation 4 footage showcased a land-air skirmish between Empire and Rebel forces on the icy planet Hoth, culminating with Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader locking light sabers.

"Today, by far the best place to truly lose yourself and interact with 'Star Wars' is video games," senior producer Sigurlina Ingvarsdottir told the crowd inside the Shrine Auditorium.

EA also announced an expansion for the online role-playing game "Star Wars: The Old Republic" dubbed "Knights of the Fallen Empire" and a new mobile collectable card game called "Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes."

Other titles teased included the cartoony shooter sequel "Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2," the free-running romp "Mirror's Edge: Catalyst," a photorealistic rendition of racer "Need for Speed" and a new platformer about a creature made of yarn called "Unravel."

Besides "Star Wars," EA spent a considerable chunk of its 90-minute presentation on sports installments "NHL 16," ''Madden NFL 16," ''NBA Live 16" and "FIFA 16." Soccer great Pele appeared on stage, and EA premiered a "FIFA 16" trailer narrated by him.

— Derrik J. Lang/AP

Other buzz-worthy games

— Lou Kesten/AP

...and more stuff

Here are a few other interesting stories and interviews coming out of E3:

Also, YouTube has a page dedicated to E3 coverage here.

E3 runs through Thursday.

This story has been updated.