E3 2013: Hop On The Second Screen Bandwagon!

There was a noticeable new trend going around with the games of E3. Battlefield 4 has it, Watch Dogs has it. The Second Screen.

We all know Nintendo was the pioneer of gameplay using a secondary screen, and I’m not even talking about the Wii U Gamepad yet. Back in 2004, the company released their quirky dual-screened Nintendo DS that allowed gamers to throw a golf swing, interact with keypads and pet furry animals. This functionality was carried over when the Nintendo 3DS was released, before Nintendo released the Wii U with that massive chunky GamePad one can use to throw ninja stars off of.

This functionality made Wii U games more interactive, be it used by the first-person to get doors open before they get mauled by zombies or the third-person sitting in the sidelines helping Mario and gang jump higher platforms. I suppose, then, that some game developer put two-and-two together when he realised that if people use their tablets, why not use those for second screen gaming without dedicating specific hardware to it on their non-Nintendo consoles?

On the point again that this idea isn’t new, but the trend of developers picking it up for a new dimension of gameplay appears to be increasing, visible during this E3 alone, providing added features to games such as:

  • eae313_bf4commanderBattlefield 4
    The Commander can deliver intel on troop locations, possible exit points with a live map of all the action on a tablet.
  • Tom Clancy’s The Division
    Players can aid or hinder players acting as a surveillance unit or drone and drop-in or out of the game at any point.
  • Watch Dogs
    A third-person (or even the first-person, with extra hands) can call upon the help of a connected tablet to disable police helicopters and raise security pillars.
  • Need for Speed Rivals
    A third-person dispatches police units and helicopters for a second player to disrupt the first player’s illegal race with a full map with live details of the current race on the tablet.
  • Dead Rising 3
    Air strikes to clear out the zombie hordes that are in our new protagonist’s way can be called using Xbox SmartGlass in the Xbox One exclusive.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Director’s Cut
    Having dropped its Wii U exclusivity, Square Enix plans to expand on functions once specific to the Wii U Gamepad onto Xbox SmartGlass and the PS Vita including hacking and augmentation screens

Xbox SmartGlass allows the remote control using a phone, tablet or Windows-compatible device for media playback on an Xbox 360 and Xbox One, including content from HBO GO. SmartGlass currently also interacts with Dance Central 3 and Forza Horizon. On the PlayStation 3, this feature is still limited to the PS Vita, although a PlayStation app exists for iOS and Android users to keep tabs on their friends and trophies, although another PlayStation app was announced by Sony during their PlayStation 4 DualShock 4 reveal.

All of this brings us a taste of what we can expect in the future of social gaming because sometimes, it’s not fun going at it alone.