Last week was E3 week. And it was awesome. For those of you who don’t know what E3 is, it’s short for Electronic Entertainment Expo and it’s one of the largest video game conferences around. It takes place during June of every year. The highlight of the expo are the preshow press conferences, or media briefings as they like to call it now, where the largest publishers talk about games for an hour or two.
E3 this year had fewer press conferences this year, with Square Enix and Nintendo being the absentees. EA was also not at E3 itself, but held a conference during the week at their EA Play event. EA, Activision, Disney, Wargaming and a few other studios were also absent on the show floor, so perhaps we are looking at an E3 decline. But that’s future stuff, because this year’s E3 has passed and it was a good week.
So let’s talk about the press conferences first and then some other non-press conference games. I’ll be doing it in the order I ranked them. I want to preface this by saying this is not about who won E3, this is about which conferences hit me in all the right spots.
Okay, I might be a little bit bias, but Sony’s press conference was amazing. It started off with an orchestral performances which lead to first trailers. And for the rest of the conference, the orchestra was playing to the trailers. It was such an enjoyable experience, though it did lead to trailers later posted online without music.
The best part of Sony’s conference was definitely the games. Five exclusive games (God of War, Days Gone, the Last Guardian, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Detroit: Become Human) were shown one after the other at the start. A huge cheer for Kratos’s reveal and the Last Guardian’s release date. Also, the daddification of gaming continues with daddy Kratos. Also, his wife is going to be Skadi. You read it here first! Love what we saw of Horizon, definitely one of my most highly anticipated game for 2017. And Detroit is a Quantic Dream game and I love Quantic Dream games. Yes, even Beyond: Two Souls. So they’ve got my money too.
Next we saw Resident Evil VII (wild crowd moment), followed by a string of VR Games, including Far Point, Battlefront X Wing VR Mission, Batman Arkham VR and Final Fantasy XV VR Experience. Price and release date of PSVR is officially confirmed. Not too sure if I’m going to get it. I’m intrigued by VR, and PSVR is the most affordable one, but I’m not a 100% certain that I’m into VR. Even the Call of Duty section of the conference was focused on the games. None of the collector’s edition, map packs, DLCs coming first thingamabobs there.
Following that was the toy/games section with Skylanders and Lego Star Wars. But wait, there’s something before Skylanders was shown. Shawn Layden talked about the Crash Bandicoot trilogy remake for a minute or two. The crowd really went wild there. Awesome energy.
Andrew House then came out, talked about relationship with developers and introduced one of the most creative developers – Hideo Kojima. Kojima came out walking on a slow forming bridge of light, said “I’m back” and the crowd went wild again. He introduced a super confusing but interesting trailer of Death Stranding featuring Norman Reedus and some awesome music. I’ve seen some speculation saying that the five figures in the sky represented the five Metal Gear Solid games, and the fetus represented PT. That’s incredibly imagery and won’t put it past Kojima to do that.
Spider-Man came next. And it’s being developed by Insomniac and will be a PS4 exclusive. Must be part of the deal Sony cut with Marvel for the MCU Spiderman. And to close the show, we were shown the gameplay of Days Gone. Which I thought was weird. I think the PS4 Neo was supposed to be featured here but they decided not to go ahead because of Xbox Project Scorpio’s suped-up specs. Hopefully they’ll add more power to the Neo.
Only two executive and one developer took to the stage to talk during the entire conference. Which was excellent. I don’t want to hear a guy talking about how awesome their game is. I want to see how awesome their game is.
I can’t quite decide which the best moment of the show was, there’s never a dull moment. I know fans of the series would be super pumped for Resident Evil 7 and Crash Bandicoot. Spiderman was great too. God of War looks to be a great game, but the shift of tone and gameplay style from the previous games in the series will take some time for me to swallow. I mean take out Kratos and Spartan Rage and you won’t know it was God of War. I think Horizon was the best game of the conference. Really had Witcher 3 vibes going on. Looking forward to playing it come February 2017.
It was a close one, but I think Sony’s orchestra, focus on games and a little of my bias had Sony triumphing over Microsoft this year. Again. Microsoft’s conference was superb, Sony’s was just slightly better.
Microsoft came out guns blazing with Xbox One S, which is seriously channeling Apple here. Next came four exclusives, Gears of War 4, Killer Instinct, Forza Horizon 3, Recore. Really interested in Recore. Forza Horizon 3’s scenic views of Australia also feels like something I would want to try out.
Next came an odd gameplay section of Final Fantasy XV, which is making me seriously doubt the combat system of the game. Division’s DLC was shown. Followed by the same Battlefield 1 trailer we saw in EA’s conference. Seriously DICE? Couldn’t have cut another trailer? Then came talks about Xbox Live improvements, which included background music while gaming, groups and arena. I don’t really play multiplayer games, so I really just zoned out here. Minecraft was shown next, with some updates that would allow you to play with friends on different platforms.
Xbox Design Labs was talked about, which is custom made controllers you can order. Next came the indie games. Inside was followed by a quick montage which included Stardew Valley, Cuphead. Disappointed that Cuphead wasn’t given a spotlight. I wonder if it will become Microsoft’s No Man’s Sky. We Happy Few seemed very BioShock like. Definitely keeping an eye on that one.
Game of the show Gwent was shown next. It’s a free to play, standalone version of the card game found in Witcher 3. Tekken 7 will have Akuma. Dead Rising 4 had a Christmas themed trailer. And then a lady came out to talk a little about Microsoft Studios. Co-op gameplay of Scalebound was shown. I’m losing interest in that game as time passes. An odd let’s play kind of thing was done with Sea of Thieves. I think it might have the same troubles as Evolve. You’ll really need to play constantly in the same team to master the game.
State of Decay 2 is unexpected and super awesome. Enjoyed the first game but thought it needed to fix a few things to be great. Hope they’ll do it. Halo Wars 2 was shown and then finally the megaton of the show, the Project Scorpio is announced for Holiday 2017.
As I’m listing down the announcements and trailers shown in Microsoft, I’m thinking that man, on paper Microsoft really looks so awesome compared to Sony’s. But it’s the cadence, the onslaught of Sony’s conference + the epic orchestra that really edge them out. High points of the show for me were State of Decay 2 and Gwent.
One thing I have to say about Microsoft’s conference is that all their exclusives are also available for Windows 10. I don’t know how it’s going to affect them, but I’m thinking there will be some sort of impact. I know most gamers don’t play on PC, but it’s still a less attractive offer for people like me who do. But they’ll be able to earn my money on their games, so I guess there’s that.
The rest of the conferences were a far cry from the top two. Bethesda was pretty disappointing for me this year. Maybe it’s just that my expectations were set so high following last year’s conference. They kick off the show epicly with Quake Champions. Then came the Elder Scrolls: Legends, which I think might be a tough sell with Hearthstone and now Gwent on the scene. Between Gwent and it, I think there might be some serious competition, since Elder Scrolls and Witcher fans overlap a lot too. We’ll see.
Todd Howard then appeared in a video to talk about Fallout 4 DLCs. Nuka Cola World looks amazing. Fallout Shelter was next. It’s coming to PC and there will be updates to add a lot of new content. Skyrim Remastered was announced. Meh. I was hoping for Morrowind. Skyrim still holds up pretty well and on PC, mods really make everything up to par with modern games.
Prey was a surprise. It’s going to be from Arkane Studios. Doom DLCs was talked about, both free and premium. Elder Scrolls Online was talked about. Zoned out here, but I think there was going to be something like removing level limits for areas so you can play with your friends on any level. Some lady in the crowd was super pumped for it. Doom and Fallout 4 will be coming to VR. HTC Vive to be exact.
Dishonored 2 ended the show and took incredibly long. Like one third of the show was Dishonored 2. I guess Fallout 4 had a similar chunk in last year’s conference. But Dishonored 2 doesn’t have the brand power that Fallout 4 has. I like the game, but it’s a little too much for a conference.
I’m excited for Dishonored 2 and the Fallout 4 DLCs. And nothing else. I’ll maybe check out Elder Scrolls: Legends, since it’ll be available on smart devices. But Bethesda really had nothing else for me here.
Ubisoft’s conference was weird. And long. It was about twice the length of the other conferences. It started with a hyper crazy dance number that was about Just Dance 2017 and then Aisha Taylor took stage, and took a moment for the Orlando victims. Jarring as hell. She’s awesome though. Talked about Ubisoft being French and the hatred for her on the Internet for hosting Ubisoft’s conference so many times. Though I’ll say it’s really casual. Which gives a good vibe, but I think things went a little out of control, in terms of time.
Next was a lengthy session of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands. It looks really interest. Plus you can play through the game alone. Big plus for me. The villain looked menacing too. Then Trey Parker and Matt Stone took stage to talk about South Park: The Fractured but Whole. (Say that quicker.) Love the Stick of Truth, so definitely looking forward to the Fractured but Whole. These two alone took about half an hour of the conference. I mean it’s good to talk about your games, but you could always do it in live streams where people who really want it can go watch it and people who don’t aren’t forced to sit through the half hour.
Tom Clancy’s the Division: Survival expansion was shown. Next, Palmer Luckey (Oculus Rift CEO) and a few others came out to play the VR game Eagle Flight and then a trailer of Levar Burton and other Star Trek stars playing Star Trek Bridge Crew, and Burton came out to talk about the game. Some star power, though I wonder if it was absolutely necessary. We’re now about one hour in. The other conferences clocked in at about an hour.
For Honor was up next, introducing a campaign mode. I thought it was going to multiplayer only. Looks like a Musou game on steroids with a dash of Ryse. Definitely have it on my radar now. To be released Valentine’s Day. Grow Up is the sequel to Grow Home. Trials of the Blood Dragon is a crazy smash up between Trials Fusion and Far Cry: Blood Dragon.
Assassin’s Creed film was next. Guess they just couldn’t do an E3 conference without Assassin’s Creed present. I don’t really like these kind of sessions. E3 is for games. Speaking of which where is Spielberg’s Halo TV series?
Another lengthy session was up next – Watchdogs 2. Which had a live stream a few days before the event. Honestly a trailer would have sufficed. They also announced a film and timed exclusive DLCs for PS4. Steep, a new open world extreme sports game set in the Alps, closed out the conference.
The conference needed some serious fat trimming. A lot of the games talked about are awesome. Some are just talked about for a little too long. I think they could have cut down a lot of the game by showing only gameplay or cinematic trailers instead of both. South Park had three trailers for crying out loud.
5. Electronic Arts
EA was the worst of the bunch. Most of the non-annual-sports-game they showed have no concrete information. No gameplay, no release date and some of those games have been talked about for years. A huge chunk of it was just developer diary. I love developer diaries, but E3 is not the time for that.
Things kicked off with Titanfall 2. A multiplayer trailer was shown followed by a single player one. I’m all for single player and am glad that they added it since the first one didn’t have any, but it’s not looking too interesting right now. Next came a long section of Madden 17 and something about a tournament to see who the best Madden player is. Mass Effect Andromeda dev diaries were next. A few scenes from the actual game, but nothing much. Nothing concrete. No release date. Very disappointed. And to make matters weird, it was sandwiched between Madden and FIFA 17. Loved Mourinho’s entrance. Reminded me of something like WWE. One guy talking bad about another guy, then the other guy suddenly appears in the arena. Loved Peter Moore’s subtle talk about Liverpool vs Manchester United rivalry, but I think it flew over the heads of most people. The Journey mode is interesting. Hope it’s better than NBA 2K16’s career mode.
EA Originals was next, highlighting EA’s support for indie devs. Kudos to them. Fe was the only one shown. Looks like it could be something, but not something I’m really interested in. Star Wars was next. Nothing but some vague talks of future games. Oh, and a few seconds of gameplay on, I think, Motive’s game.
Battlefield 1 ended the show with a bang, followed by an hour of gameplay live stream. Not only were there so few games, Titanfall 2 and Battlefield 1 we knew of a while back and is releasing within one week of each other despite being the same kind of game. I think EA is hoping for Titanfall 2 to pick up players who aren’t interested in Battlefield 1’s setting. FIFA and Madden (and Battlefield, really) were annual games. So nothing surprising there. Half shows from Andromeda and Star Wars. Fe was really the only new thing. And nothing concrete about that either. Poor, poor, poor.
Not so much conferences as live streams, other studios also announced or talked about a few games. Biggest of this is Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Which was like, OMG, finally! It looks very good, if a bit aimless at the moment. They’ll probably talk more about the story later. Persona 5 was of course at E3. Lots of new information here. Cooperation is the new Social Link. New characters and more gameplay footage. Really excited for it. Telltale’s Batman and Walking Dead Season 3 is also looking good. They seem to have updated their engine quite a bit. Though Telltale games can be a hit or miss sometimes. Mafia 3 is another one I’m keeping my eye on. Agents of Mayhem is a new game set in the Saint’s Row universe. Really wacky. Thought it was another class based shooter at first, but it’s an open world action game. Vampyr is a vampire RPG by Dontnod. It stars a doctor who has recently turned into a vampire. He struggles between the desire to kill and to help save lives. Gravity Rush 2, Injustice 2, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8, Nier: Automata, Legend of Heroes: Trials of Cold Steel 2, Civilization 6 and Friday the 13th are also some interesting games I’ll be keeping tabs on.
How’s your E3 like? Which was your favorite conference and what games are you excited for?