Another E3 has come and gone. We’ve got another year’s worth of exciting games and hardware to look forward to, and we even got a few surprises. Last year, I mentioned how a good portion of the show was about remakes and nostalgia; however this year, it there were lots of repeats, but it wasn’t nostalgia. Instead, I kept feeling like most of the games that were being shown were things I had either seen last year, or were things that I had heard about before the show. One thing that I did not see coming was just how much I really liked the Microsoft press conference. But I’ll get to that later.
Since this year’s E3 came right off the heels of the national tragedy in Orlando, it was nice to see the entire industry come together in solidarity and show support for the victims. I know there was only so much they could do since the conferences had been planned months in advance, and it would have been nice for one of them to do a little more to acknowledge the incident, but the effort to show support was appreciated nonetheless. Having the president/spokesperson for a major company get up on stage during the biggest event in gaming to take a moment during their allotted block and acknowledge what happened.
Now, with all that being said, onto the conferences!
Electronic Arts (EA) kicked off this year’s E3. I’m not sure why, but EA split their press conference across two continents and had lots of awkward transitions between the two locations. I think it was a great effort to get lots of European outlets involved, but I can’t help but feel like it could’ve been handled better. The core of EA’s show was focused on the word “Play.” I’m going to hand it to Andrew Wilson, he certainly knew how to work the word “Play” into nearly every sentence he said. It was a great exercise in branding, but it’s not really what I was looking for in an E3 presser. EA spent so much time focusing on their brand and services that it felt like the games got lost in the shuffle.
I think it’s AMAZING that EA is getting involved with and donating to diversity-focused charities and organizations in games. That is a really great thing they’re doing. I think some of the news that came out of EA after E3 has been fantastic, like all Titanfall 2 DLC maps are going to be free, it really shows that EA is listening to their audience and making all the right moves. But their E3 show left me scratching my head on several occasions.
FIFA has gritty vibe now, which I’m actually kind of interested in learning more about. I don’t do sports games, but FIFA’s “The Journey” really has me interested. Titanfall 2 looks cool and is the shining example of how EA is listening to their community with the inclusion of a single-player campaign and more dynamic combat options. I’m interested in learning more about its story mode in the future. EA continues to show that they are interested in getting involved with indie developers, this year’s showcase was a game called Fe, which looks pretty neat. I’m not sure how that’s going to play out. According to the on-stage announcement, EA is not interested in collecting any of the profits, so I’m interested to see what they are getting out of these deals. If they’re doing it for nothing more than a PR move, then it’s certainly working. Battlefield 1 is shaping up to be a great game — and all the follow-up news seems to be indicating as much. This was obviously the star of EA’s show, and for good reason. It looks gorgeous and the gameplay looks interesting.
I was sad to see hardly any news about Mass Effect: Andromeda. Mass Effect is one of my favorite franchises ever, and since they’ve announced it, hardly any details have been revealed. I was really hoping for more at E3 2016, but I was disappointed. But maybe this means there will be more awesome news later when EA isn’t focusing all of its attention on Battlefield. If that’s the case, then I’m OK with that.
Now, it wouldn’t be an EA show if there wasn’t at least one cringe worthy awkward moment. This year it’s a toss up between two: The first being the entire conversation between Peter Moore and Jose Mourinho. It felt unscripted and nearly antagonistic from both sides. I’m not sure what was going on there, but it was uncomfortable to watch. The second would have to be Jaime Foxx and Zac Efron’s enthusiastic response to the Battlefield 1 tournament.
Overall score: C
There was a noticeable difference from last year’s. At E3 2015, I thought Bethesda killed it. With all of the awesome stuff they announced at their first major E3 conference, I was super excited to see what they had planned for E3 2016. Instead, what we got was more Fallout 4 content, Fallout Shelter updates, and Dishonored 2 updates, a random Blink 182 promo, some information about the Bethesda card game and Elder Scrolls Online, and some “news” about a new Quake game. I use the word “news” lightly because it was essentially telling everyone that there would be more news at QuakeCon.
After Bethesda’s presser was over, I couldn’t help but asking myself why they even put forth the effort. Yes, news on Dishonored 2 was great. The game looks good, but it was nothing that warranted an E3 press conference. Fallout 4 updates, ok, sure, Fallout 4 was one of the top selling games of 2015. It’s a fantastic game. But do we need an entire press conference devoted to telling players they can build things in their settlements that don’t even impact the core gameplay or story? I doubt it. I love what Bethesda’s doing with Fallout Shelter, I think it’s poised to be a great mobile game. It’s not bad now, but the new additions will take it to the next level. But again, was that really worthy of an E3 presser? Overall, I found myself getting bored watching the Bethesda press conference because there wasn’t much exciting or new stuff happening.
The biggest and best piece that came out of Bethesda’s presser was the Prey announcement. I’m not sure if it’s technically a sequel, or just a full reboot, but either way, I’m very interested to learn more about that game. THAT was definitely worth a press conference, I just wish there was more of it to really make it worthwhile.
Bethesda’s presser was unfortunate enough to be plagued by a “mega fan” of sorts who was also near one of the mics. Every announcement was met with so many screams and shouts that even the presenters were getting noticeably annoyed. It made me wonder, “What happened to E3 being a press/industry event? How was this person able to get in?”
Overall score: C+
Alright, I know this is going to be an unpopular opinion, but I really liked Microsoft’s press conference. I liked it so much that, for me, they won E3. It wasn’t because of the games, because let’s face it, Microsoft always has an issue in competing with exclusives when compared to Sony, but it was because of the way Microsoft is doing business.
I’m a PC gamer at my core. So to hear that Microsoft is bringing nearly its entire catalogue of games to both Xbox One and Windows 10 with their Play Anywhere service was like music to my ears. I can finally play the new Gears of War game and Halo Wars 2 without having to go buy a new console. There was even a follow-up announcement that games using the Play Anywhere service can be even be bought on Steam. I have a few concerns with the Play Anywhere service, like: are we going to see a bunch of PC ports and are visuals going to be limited to the console’s hardware? But so far, I’m optimistic.
Microsoft is aware that their audience is always wanting better visuals, framerates, and the potential use of VR. However, they’re also aware that a good chunk of their audience just bought Xbox One’s. In comes Project Scorpio. Taking some lessons from the launch of the Xbox One, Microsoft is not forcing anyone to upgrade to the Scorpio when it launches, and has even promised to ensure that games developed for the Xbox One are available on Scorpio and vice versa.
This is all great news . . . as a consumer. On the business side, I’m sure these moves are going to raise some business questions. With everything becoming available on PC, why would PC gamers buy and Xbox One or Scorpio? Who is going to buy an Xbox One S with the advent of Scorpio? I’d like to think that Microsoft knew what they were doing before moving forward with this plan, so I hope none of this comes back to bite them in the foot later, but as a consumer, I’m genuinely excited to see what Microsoft’s move does for gaming. I’m also curious if Sony is going to follow suit with Project Neo.
Overall, the games at Microsoft’s E3 presser were ok. One that really caught my eye was We Happy Few. I’m going to be following that one closely, and now that it’s also going to be available on PC, I’m probably going to buy it when it launches. I feel like Scalebound has been in development for forever. I’m curious to see it when it finally launches.
There was a big presence of Fighters at Microsoft’s show. I’m not a big fighter fan, so none of this really excited me, but it is always nice to see a major company promote ESports.
Overall score: A
I always love Ubisoft’s press conferences. They’re always filled with so much promise and hope. Even if it doesn’t always transfer over, they are normally one of the most enthusiastic constantly press conferences at E3. This is probably because they’ve had Aisha Tyler as their host for the last few years. All of her awkward jokes and attempts at humor aside, I can’t help but feel like she loves presenting at the Ubi E3 press event. She brings a certain amount of flair to the press conference.
This marked Ubisoft’s 30th Birthday, and Yves Guillemot was making a big push about Ubisoft’s Freedom. I know they’ve been facing a potential Vivendi buyout lately, so I’m wondering if Guillemot was feeling some pressure to declare Ubisoft’s independence. Towards the end, he really seemed shaken up, so I’m curious what’s going on with Ubi. But maybe this is all speculation . . .
Ubisoft showed some really interesting stuff like Trials of the Blood Dragon and Steep, but they also spent a good chunk of their time on games that were shown at last year’s E3, like South Park: The Fractured But Whole and Ghost Recon: Wildlands. The South Park segment did make me laugh, so they get points for that. During the “Live Demo” of Wildlands, I couldn’t help but wonder if Ubisoft realizes no one uses military jargon when they play online multiplayer games. Saying things like “Tango down” feels staged and fake.
With that said, Ubisoft wins the award for best use of a celebrity. Having LeVar Burton on stage during the Star Trek VR game was pure genius. Not just because he was one of the most recognizable Star Trek cast members, but because you could feel the excitement radiating off of him. He knew the universe better than anyone and you wanted to get up and join in on his excitement.
Of course Ubi had to show off Watch Dogs 2, curious to see how well they listened to the community after the first game and see how they improve the sequel. I love what I’m seeing from For Honor, I’m happy to see it come back after a year-long silence. Their spokesperson for that game fits the role — he looks and sounds like a modern-day viking. Really fitting for that game.
I’m pretty shocked to see Ubisoft completely switching gears from gritty futuristic-like games to an extreme sport game like Steep. Steep definitely looks interesting, but I’m not sure if it’s going to have the same appeal as a game like The Division or Watch Dogs. I do think Steep would be amazing to play in VR, but I’m not sure if there are any devices that can handle a game of Steep’s visual caliber in VR right now. Maybe in a few years we’ll see a VR-ready Steep.
Overall score: B-
Sony knows how to do E3. That’s no secret. E3 2016 is no exception. The ONLY reason I was not as excited about Sony’s show as I was about Microsoft’s was because of the amount games I was not interested in, or couldn’t play. Sony is great at securing exclusive games; but since I’m mostly a PC gamer, the chances of me playing Sony exclusives is very slim. That being said, I do plan on buy a PS4 at some point, but my Steam backlog is so massive right now, that I’m not sure if I would have the time to play everything. At least Microsoft is making their stuff available to people like me, who have a PC but aren’t sure they want to throw down additional money for a console they’re not sure they’ll ever get to play.
Sony definitely hit the ground running with God of War, and from there, it was just game after game after game, which is really how I envision every E3 should be. Despite my love of my PC, I do think Sony is going to be the company that makes VR mainstream with PS VR. Their dedication to VR shined during their press conference where they showcased some really interesting stuff like Resident Evil 7 in VR. I hope that as more games get released on PS VR, we will see a greater commitment to VR on the PC side.
I was happy to see Sony was remastering the Crash games, but I feel like we’re really starting to run the nostalgia train into the ground. I am curious if we’re going to see a Spyro 1 and 2 remaster next year. Also, Last Guardian FINALLY has a release date. It’s only been what, 20 years now?
Now, you can’t talk about Sony’s conference without talking about Kojima and Norman Reedus. A lot of people are excited to see what Kojima is going to do now that he’s on his own. I know any piece of news he trickles out about Death Stranding is going to make headlines everywhere, but I still wish he showed more of the game at E3. No one really knows what the game even is, but I guess we’ll see what happens in the future.
There was one interesting new IP that caught my attention, and that was Detroit. I’m always fascinated with games that deal with sentient AI and branching choices, and Detroit seems to hit both of those points. Even if I never play it, I’m interested to learn more about it. Who knows, that might be the game that convinces me to buy a PS4 . . . or at the very least commandeer one from a friend for a few weeks.
Sadly, Sony’s conference ended on a very “meh” note. Which was sad considering how strong it started on. Days Gone is another zombie survival game, so it was very curious to see Sony ending with that one. Even if it is the most unique zombie game ever created, just the fact that it’s another zombie game is guaranteed to have people rolling their eyes. It doesn’t look bad, but it’s just the fact that it’s another zombie game in a market that’s flooded with zombie games that makes it seem very “meh.”
Overall score: A-
I don’t really have much to write about Nintendo this year. Why? Because they dedicated their entire E3 showing to two games: Pokemon Sun & Moon and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Both games look really good and show lots of promise.
I was sad when I learned that Nintendo was not going to be showing their next generation of console hardware at this year’s E3, but I guess it gave them more time to focus on the game rather than console hardware. Either that, or the console is still in an early stage of development and they just don’t have much to report on it yet.
Breath of the Wild looks stunning. If it wasn’t for all the talk of the NX, I would probably go out and buy a Wii U the moment that game gets released. I know I’ve said it before, but Nintendo does things that you just cannot get on a PC, and Breath of the Wild is just another example of that.
While I thought it was an interesting choice to only show that one game during E3, I don’t think it was the wrong one. After seeing hearing about the massive 4+hr wait times just to play the game, and seeing that it was the most talked about game of the entire show, I think Nintendo might have made the right choice. Would I have liked to see more games? Sure. But do I think it would’ve helped them more than what they brought? I honestly don’t know.
Everyone seems really excited for Breath of the Wild in a way I haven’t seen in a really long time and I think that was only possible because of the way Nintendo executed their E3 event.