E3 is like Christmas for nerds. For a few days, major publishers get on stage and show off new footage, whether it be gameplay or CGI trailers, of their up and coming games. The companies involved include EA, Sony, and Bethesda. Like many others, I watched many of these live myself, or at the very least had it on in the background while I was working on something else. Now that E3 happenings are wrapping up, it’s time to do what every geek like me does…grade the conferences!
A few things to mention before I give my thoughts on the different conferences. First, I’m basing my feelings on the conferences based on two things: games and presentation. I place the emphasis on the games at the end of the day, but presentation can factor into how I feel about a conference. Also, I’ll be omitting Devolver Digital, Square Enix, and the PC Gamer Show from this particular discussion since Devolver’s is mostly a joke conference and Square Enix didn’t really show anything in their conference that hadn’t already been seen in others, specifically Microsoft’s. As for PC Gamer Show, I remember watching the first one they did and being bored for three hours, and I’d rather not do that again. With that out of the way, let’s get to grading, starting with…
Oh boy, EA…let’s just get them out of the way. I’ll say this about EA, you can always count on them to be the most boring of all them. No style, no real interesting games beyond a couple EA Originals…just a stale presentation. It doesn’t help that they once again spent a good chunk of time talking about sports games because they haven’t realized yet that nobody tunes in to E3 to learn about Madden. The ultimate takeaway here is that EA does not seem to understand how gamers work. They don’t seem to know what they want or what they’re here for. That’s why we get dreadfully long segments talking about the next FIFA game or the awful looking Command and Conquer mobile game.
There’s only two games that EA showed that were at all interesting. Unravel Two, a platforming game where you play as creatures made of yarn, looks pretty fun. I’m actually tempted to see if my wife is willing to give it a go with me, since it seems like it’s built to be played with another person. As it turns out, this game is out now, so it’s not like we have to wait to try if that’s what we decide to do. The other game is Sea of Solitude. I can’t say I fully understand what the game is, mechanically speaking. Hard to tell if it’s supposed to be a 3D platformer, an exploration focused game, or a puzzle game. But it looks visually interesting and could potentially be an enjoyable game. At least as enjoyable as a game about loneliness can be. But other than those two games, EA’s offerings were very slim.
I also thought it weird how much time was spent trying to convince us that they “made a mistake” when really they knew exactly what they were doing with Star Wars: Battlefront II and just wanted to nickle and dime us for all we were worth, only for their lootbox focused strategy to blow up in their face. They’re promising all sorts of things with Bioware’s Anthem game, and I just can’t see it ending well. I don’t see how anyone can be excited about Anthem when EA has essentially shown us what they really want to do with their games. But we’ll see…Anthem still looks boring. Yeah, I said it. Putting aside the fear of EA tampering with Anthem to make as much money out of it as possible, the game itself doesn’t look very interesting to me. Always online games tend to bore me. They promise to have a campaign or something for single players, but I get the feeling that will go the way of Destiny 2 where the campaign was pretty forgettable. Regardless, single player is obviously not the focus for Anthem, and thus it does not have my interest.
Conference Rating: F
If you had told me that Microsoft would have been one of my favorite conferences of all the E3 shows, I would’ve laughed. But I think it’s a combination of the rapid fire presentation of a variety of games along with the fact that many of them will come to PC (my platform of choice) actually had me really happy with Microsoft’s presentation. They kicked things off with a trailer for Halo: Infinite. No gameplay was shown, but I’m happy to see some Halo finally making its way to PC. I’m wishing so hard for a proper Halo to come to the PC platform that I’m even willing to play this even if it’s some always online game, just so Microsoft can know that they’d have people willing to buy Halo on PC. Because let’s be honest, if you’re a PC gamer then you have no reason to get an XBox just for one game since most every XBox game is coming to PC anyway. And even if you’re not a PC gamer, I would still question the need to get an XBox.
But this isn’t about consoles right now. This is about games, and Microsoft came out swinging. Kingdom Hearts III got its first of many showings here. A cute fox game called Tunic was shown off that looks like it could be a lot of fun. Fallout 76 took up a little time, but obviously Bethesda was saving most of that game for their own conference. From Software’s newest title, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice reminds me that I still need to try Dark Souls sometime. Gears Tactics could also be right up my alley, as I do enjoy a good strategy game. There were, of course, a couple duds. Forza Horizon 4 is not going to sell an extra copy by being at E3 (but at least they didn’t bring out the car this time), and Gears Pop looks weird and out of character for the Gears of War franchise.
Of course, we can’t mention the Microsoft conference without talking about the reveal at the end. Cyberpunk 2077 has been in the works for a long time now, and it’s nice to finally see that come out of hiding. There was a ton shown here, and it would take forever to talk about them all. Needless to say, however, Microsoft’s show has given me a few things to keep an eye on. In terms of conference presentation, everything was so rapid fire that there was barely a presentation to speak of. It was just one game after another, with a few occasional moments of talking. The focus was on the games here, and for that I’m pleased.
Conference Rating: A
For the third year Bethesda has brought their own conference. I think of all their conferences, this might be their second best. Their first conference still reigns supreme, but I feel this did a fine job. Though I could’ve done without the concert at the beginning before Rage 2 was announced. In fact, I think the entire conference could have been shortened by a good twenty to thirty minutes and we wouldn’t have lost much, if anything. But once again, let’s get to the games. Rage 2 and Fallout 76 were the two main titles of Bethesda’s E3 conference, with more emphasis on the latter. We started with Rage 2, and I still think that game could actually be pretty fun. It looks to borrow a lot of ideas from the DOOM reboot, and I believe DOOM 2016 sets the bar for how first person shooters should be from this point forward. We’ll just seen when it gets here.
Speaking of DOOM, a sequel to the 2016 reboot has been announced, but it was ultimately an announcement announcing an announcement. We got a teaser trailer for DOOM: Eternal, and then were told that gameplay would be shown at Quakecon in August. I wish they had just not said anything and shown off everything at Quakecon instead, but at the same time I can’t be mad about a new entry in what I think is the best shooter to have ever graced us. We also got a look at a new Wolfenstein game, but once again there was no gameplay.
Fallout 76 was definitely the main attraction here, and I gotta be honest I’m not sure what to think of it anymore. I think I’ve made it clear that online only games aren’t very interesting to me, but Fallout 76 has the potential to be an exception to that rule. It’s hard to know without playing it though, and considering it’s coming out around the same time as Smash Ultimate, I doubt I’ll get to playing the game for some time, if ever. One game that surprised me in how fun it looks is The Elder Scrolls: Blades, a mobile game of all things. Yet it seems to be a mobile game that actually, you know, has gameplay. Once again, it won’t be till Fall of this year when we get our hands on it, but consider me intrigued. Bethesda ended it all with two teasers, one for a new IP called Starfield and another for Elder Scrolls VI. There’s not much to say about either one, since we did just get logos after all, but I’m always down with new IPs and I’ve been waiting a while for Elder Scrolls VI to be formally announced, so it was nice to see them.
Conference Rating: B-
Starting off with a dancing panda was not a great way to start Ubisoft. Stop doing stuff like this. Anyway, I’m so terribly indifferent to the Ubisoft conference that I considered not bothering with reviewing it when I started thinking about this blog post. Ubisoft is a bit like EA in that nothing they do is particularly exciting or interesting. But the difference is whereas EA just has boring conferences, Ubisoft has boring, predictable games. We’ve seen Assassin’s Creed over and over again. Just Dance is nothing new. The Division looks like an online only bore. The only possibly interesting thing they had was Beyond Good and Evil 2, and I still have no idea what to think of this game. I’ve not played the original Beyond Good and Evil and even I know the tone of this game is very, very different from its predecessor. And being open world doesn’t help my interest levels.
Starlink could be cool if they cut out the toy stuff. Transference could be interesting, but it’s VR only and who knows when I’ll ever get a VR headset. I still question the future of that technology. I could talk about the Donkey Kong Country expansion for Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle but that’s for a game released last year. There’s so little to discuss here that I think I’ll just move on. If you like Assassin’s Creed or The Crew, then I’m sure there was something here for you. But for me, there was nothing of interest. Just a very “meh” showing. The dancing panda did not help.
Conference Rating: C-
I hope you’re not squeamish because Sony made it a point to bring out all the blood and gore in the games they showed. I also hope you’re not the type of person who has trouble sitting still for several minutes because Sony made sure you would do that for far too long. Things kicked off in a confusing fashion. The auditorium was dressed up like it was supposed to be some kind of church setting, with a man playing the banjo for several minutes. Then a trailer begins, and it’s for The Last of Us Part II. I know a lot of people are looking forward to this game including myself.
After a lengthy Last of Us trailer, we’re then stuck with talking heads…for thirty minutes. I’m not making this up. A bunch of randoms sat behind a test and talked…and talked…and talked…and talked…and talked some more.
It. Was. Awful.
I was moderating a facebook with some friends commenting on everything live, and when this segment played out everyone, me included, was losing our minds. We could not believe what we were seeing. No gameplay, no trailers for anything, just talking heads for thirty minutes. And when things finally begin to pick back up, we had to listen to some musical number before finally getting a look at the next game, one of the only ones shown at the Sony conference that I found interesting. Ghost of Tsushima is not only a pretty game, but it looks like it could be quite a lot of fun. Although I can’t say much more than that since the gameplay wasn’t necessarily something we’ve never seen before, but it looks like its well put together.
The Sony conference continued at a much better pace after that. A remake of Resident Evil 2 was shown, as well as yet another Kingdom Hearts III trailer. Death Stranding made its third appearance, and we still have no idea what it is. I really wonder about Death Stranding and how it will be received once it finally comes out. I fear it’s getting more hype than is really healthy, and on release it could suffer for it. But only time will tell, I guess. A new game called Control looked pretty interesting, but not a whole lot was shown. Nioh is getting a sequel. But the last game shown, and the other Sony game that has my attention, is the new Spider-Man game. We got a good look at what gameplay is like as well as some characters who will be making their appearance. A lot of people have compared this to the Batman: Arkham games, and I think that’s a good comparison to be made. If Spider-Man plays at all like the Arkham games, then I think we’ll be in for a real treat.
After so many successful E3 shows, it was pretty hard to watch Sony fail so hard this year. A lot of was down to how it presented its conference. A thirty minute long talking head segment soured the mood fast, and brief musical numbers throughout the show all felt extremely out of place. I found out later that those music moments peppered between trailers was for that Dreams game, which has been in development for a long time now, but I wouldn’t have known that just from looking. All in all, presentation was bad and there weren’t many games shown that interested me at all.
Conference Rating: D-
They showed Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Instant A+.
Okay, but really. Nintendo got right to business by showing Daemon X Machina, a mech based action game. I like mechs a lot in video games, so it quickly got my attention. I also really enjoyed the visual style of the game. We then got a look at a Xenoblade Chronicles 2 expansion, then swiftly moved on to the two new Pokemon Let’s Go games. I was surprised by how little time was spent on Pokemon Let’s Go, but at the same time I think I see why. Most people know how Pokemon works at this point.
Another neat looking title was Fire Emblem: Three Houses. If they can move away from the waifu simulator stuff the last Fire Emblem game (or rather, games) did, then that’ll be enough for me to be a happy camper. It’s also nice to see Fire Emblem coming back to the big screen after being relegated to the 3DS for a long time. They then showed off a handful of 3rd party games coming to the Switch, but a lot of them we already knew about like Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, Wolfenstein II, and Dark Souls: Remastered.
Then we get to the main event: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. A lot of people wish more was shown, but being someone who considers Smash his favorite game series, of course I was all over this. The main takeaway is that everyone who’s ever been in a Smash Bros. game is coming back. This includes Solid Snake, Young Link, Pichu…yeah, they mean everyone.
It may come as no surprise then that I loved this conference. I will eat up anything with Smash Bros. in it. So this rating might come off as a bit biased, but there’s a good reason for that…it is. But as I mentioned, I judge these based primarily on games. And I love Super Smash Bros., and a half hour of that is perfect for me. Yes, I’m still giving this one an A+.
Conference Rating: A+
Regardless of my or anyone else’s opinions, I think it’s safe to say at the end of the day there was something for everyone here. I think Microsoft should especially be proud of the show they put on. I didn’t expect to be saying that at the end of E3, but here we are. Nintendo would of course captured me with ease when they started showing Smash, but I didn’t expect to get so much of it. It’s a shame Sony’s conference dropped the ball so hard when it came to presentation, but they were bound to do so at some point. Even if most of the games don’t interest me, I’m sure there are plenty of people excited to play Nioh 2 or The Last of Us Part II, so to you all I say happy gaming. Now we just need to hope that none of these projects get cancelled (RIP Scalebound). My ultimate (heh) conclusion is that there’s still not a great deal of games coming in 2018 that I desperately want to play, but since 2019 is when a lot of the games shown are planned to release it looks like it could be a crazy, fun filled year.
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