Everything an iPhone Gamer Should Know from E3 2016

The biggest games for your littlest screen

When it comes to video game announcements, there's nothing quite like E3. A week long celebration of video games aimed at educating the industry about plans for the coming year, E3 has long been the touchstone for video game enthusiasts who wants to stay in the know.

But while E3 typically caters to the big budget home console crowd, there are always a few tidbits that sneak out in press conferences and media releases that will tantalize iPhone and iPad gamers. What follows are a collection of those tidbits from E3 2016.

Telltale's Batman game looks incredible

Batman: The Telltale Series
Telltale Games

While it was first announced in late 2015, Telltale's upcoming Batman adventure has remained as mysterious as the Caped Crusader himself. At E3 2016, things became a fair bit clearer. Not only did Telltale reveal ​the first screenshots of the game, but they've confirmed some of the characters who will appear, as well as the performers voicing them.

Telltale Games' CEO Kevin Bruner says that their series "puts players in the suit of billionaire Bruce Wayne, just as much as it will put them behind the mask," which should make for a compelling experience for long-time Batman fans who truly understand the importance of his daytime persona.

In addition to Batman / Bruce Wayne, players can expect to encounter Harvey Dent (Two-Face), Jim Gordon, Carmine Falcone, and Selina Kyle (Catwoman). Headlining the voice cast? Troy Baker, the voice talent best know for the lead in The Last of Us, as well as the voice behind the villain in another Batman video game: Arkham Knight.

Batman - The Telltale series is scheduled to debut on the App Store (and a variety of other platforms) sometime this Summer.

Severed is coming to iOS this Summer

Drinkbox Studios

When it was first revealed in early 2014, Severed seemed like a shoe-in for a mobile release. Drinkbox Games' (Guacamelee) latest release was built around the idea of touchscreens, offering players an experience powered entirely through swipes. But when the game finally launched in 2016, it had a single solitary destination: the PlayStation Vita.

At E3 today, that changed with the announcement of several new platforms, including the iPhone and iPad. Severed is the story of a one-armed warrior who is "wielding a living sword on her journey through a nightmare world in search of her family," according to the game's official description. Players will battle monsters, solve puzzles, and discover secrets -- all through the simple motion of swiping.

No firm release date has been established yet, but Drinkbox Studios are aiming to have Severed on the App Store in Summer 2016. Pricing has not been established either, however considering the game will be making its debut on Nintendo platforms as well, and has a price tag of $14.99 on the PlayStation Network, it seems safe to expect a premium price tag here too.

Minecraft Realms joins Minecraft PE, goes cross-platform

minecraft realms

For as long as most mobile gamers can remember, Minecraft Pocket Edition has sat at the top of the paid games chart on the App Store. As the mobile version of one of the most popular games of all time, Minecraft PE has cemented its reputation as a great pocket sandbox experience. The only real complaint, of course, was that you couldn't play with your friends on other platforms.

That changed this week during Microsoft's E3 press conference. Mojang (now a Microsoft subsidiary) announced that their player-server service Minecraft Realms would be expanding to mobile platforms and -- for the first time ever -- offering cross-platform functionality. Now iPhone and iPad gamers can play with their friends on Xbox Live, Windows 10, Samsung Gear VR and Android. (Other platforms were not confirmed at this time).

Minecraft Realms is now available in Minecraft Pocket Edition thanks to the recently released 0.15 update, aka "The Friendly Update". In addition to Realms, this update adds new texture packs, mobs, and Pistons -- which Mojang describes as "the final piece of Redstone functionality".

While today's update is free for existing owners and includes a 30-day free trial of Minecraft Realms, an ongoing subscription will be required to use Realms beyond this trial period.

Fallout Shelter gets a big update in July

Fallout Shelter July Update

The biggest mobile surprise of E3 2015 was, without question, Fallout Shelter. Announced and released in the same moment from the Bethesda press conference, Fallout Shelter went on to become the biggest mobile game of Summer 2015, with more than 50 million players managing their own post-apocalyptic Vaults. One year later, the experience is far from over.

While they didn't announce and release another mobile game from the show, Bethesda revealed a major update that's on its way to Fallout Shelter in July. Available for free, this update will introduce a quest system for your followers, new locations (like the Super Duper Mart), a new combat system, and new enemies.

Oh -- and a new platform. If your iPhone is running low on battery and you want to keep on top of the health of you Vault, you'll be happy to know that Fallout Shelter will be coming to PC in July, too.

New content promised for Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes

Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes how to level up faster auto play
Electronic Arts

For a company with such a heavy imprint on the App Store, EA's 2016 E3 press conference was eerily devoid of mobile games. Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes was the only mobile title they seemed to mention, and even that was only mentioned briefly in passing.

Taking the stage during EA's press conference, Motive Studios' Jade Raymond spoke about EA's three existing Star Wars properties -- Galaxy of Heroes, The Old Republic, and Battlefront -- promising "fresh new content all year long" for each of the games.

It's not a terribly specific statement, nor is it surprising considering how high Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes ranks on the grossing games charts, but there's still comfort to be found in the promise of more content for one of our favorite mobile experiences. 

The Elder Scrolls Legends confirmed for iPhone

The Elder Scrolls Legends

File this one under "no brainer" if you like, but Bethesda confirmed something during their E3 press conference that most of us have long suspected: The Elder Scrolls Legends will be coming to the iPhone in addition to iPad and PC. (Bethesda also confirmed at E3 2016 that Legends will be coming to Android smartphones and tablets).

A free-to-play card game that should appeal to the Hearthstone crowd, The Elder Scrolls Legends was announced at E3 2015 but revealed very little about its gameplay. Some of this was remedied this year, including the mention of a single player campaign, the showcasing of the opening cinematic, and a video that showed in-game elements like lane-based card play.

Legends has been in closed beta on PC for the last few months and is slated for a wide release later this year.

The Xbox app is now a lot more useful

Xbox app

Back in the days when "second screen" was a buzzword -- AKA the meshing of two different devices for a unified purpose, like putting your console game's mini-map on your iPhone -- Microsoft released Xbox Smartglass as a way to interact with things like movies and system functions.

It's been a few years since Smartglass debuted, but this week it was quietly given a major overhaul to make the app much more appealing to gamers in 2016.

Now just called Xbox, the revised app has introduced a wealth of new features including, but not limited to: an improved activity feed, trending content to show you what's currently popular on Xbox, Facebook and Contact list friend finders (to add people to Xbox Live), redesigned user profiles, and access to Game Hubs.

While there was no mention of the app during Microsoft's E3 press event, the spirit of these changes is clearly keeping in step with the company's stated direction. Much of their E3 2016 was focused on a sense of community, and how their new cross-platform direction encourages that.

"No matter where you play games — whether it's your Xbox One, Windows 10 PC, or Phone," reads the iTunes description, "the Xbox app is the best way to stay connected to your gaming community." 

Link gets an iPhone?

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Nintendo has made no secret of their plans to bring five titles to mobile by 2017, but it seems that smartphone technology has influenced their outlook in more ways than one. Scheduled for a release on the Wii U and Nintendo NX, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild features a new item that looks suspiciously like a smartphone: the Sheikah Slate.

“In past series we’ve used swords and magic, but this time around we’ve used technology,” Zelda producer Eiji Aonuma said at Nintendo's Treehouse event at E3 2016. At this time, few of Link's uses for the Slate have been revealed, but we know it will act as his map for the duration of the game. 

The reaction on social media seemed to be unanimous. "Link took out that Sheikah Slate and held it like he was taking a picture on an iPhone," said Twitter user @SunGamingYT. "Link has an iPhone?" asked @kwurky.

Does this mean Link will get to enjoy Nintendo mobile games like Miitomo during his off hours? Probably not, but it sure is interesting to see the first taste of technology come to the land of Hyrule.

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