E3 ended last weekend, but I was out of the country so I wasn’t really able to write my usual end-of-the-week article summarizing my thoughts on the matter. Normally that might not be so bad, but a lot, and I mean a LOT, has happened since then. So I find myself at an impasse: do I talk about E3, which has already gone past, or do I stay as topical as I can and address the other major elephant in the room, Take-Two’s recent flurry of behavior? The answer, as you could probably deduce, is talking about E3, largely because I have a sneaking suspicion Take-Two still has a few more tricks up its sleeve and a few more announcements to drop before long, so next week it should still be relevant enough.
But that’s for future Joseph to worry about. For now, even if it is late, I’d like to take a look at some of the winners and losers of this year’s very different, very big E3.
I’m pretty sure this won’t surprise anyone. Nintendo got a D in my pre-E3 report card, largely because of the many, many terrible things they’ve done to their community in the past year. But that D was contingent on the fact that they are still masters of making games, and in E3, which is all about the games, Nintendo was destined to make a strong showing. It’s just a matter of if they had anything actually worth the hype that would inevitably arrive.
In that respect, I suppose I disagree with many of my contemporaries, and I’d say Nintendo had a stellar show this time around. The main show-stopper was, of course, Super Mario Odyssey, a game that looks to step out of the shadow cast by Super Mario Galaxy and create a true follow-up to the explorative, free-roaming style of gameplay that Super Mario 64 pioneered and perfected. The lack of power-ups is more than offset by the wild gameplay possibilities created by his possession power, and the areas we saw in both trailers and demos looked like they were brimming with character, places to explore, and wonder. It’s looking to at least tie with Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in terms of quality, and if it can achieve that, the Switch will officially become a must-buy.
Beyond that, Arms and Splatoon 2 had interesting showings, with a tournament that showed the eSports potential of both titles. Nothing that would make them top-tier, but certainly small local tournaments would be readily embraced. The new Metroid games (even the one we didn’t see) looked amazing, and after Federation Force, it’s clear that fans are more than ready to get back behind Samus’s visor for real.
Nintendo really knocked it out of the park and had fans new and old drooling for more.
When a highlight of your presentation is an Undertale port, you have a problem.
Sony wasn’t helped in the slightest by the growing rumors that Bloodborne 2 would be announced at this year’s E3, but even without that colossal disappointment, their showing this year was uncharacteristically weak… although, again, given how strong the past year has been, it’s admirable they kept the momentum as long as they did. Their best game was, without a doubt, the new God of War, which is looking to take one of the most recognizable heroes from their stable and actually make him likable again. Plus, the God of War protagonist will fit perfectly in the Norse Mythos, so it won’t be quite so cringy to see him tearing through enemies: that’s kind of what the mythology was all about. It had a bit of an “us too” vibe, with how many games are becoming extended escort missions between gruff, violent individuals and their innocent children/charges, but hey, why broke what’s not fixed.
Beyond that, we had remakes, expansions, and add-ons. The new Horizon DLC will be a welcome treat for people who just want more of that, Days Gone, which gave us a look at Sony’s attempt to bring some fresh blood to a dying genre. Monster Hunter showed up, and Shadow of the Colossus, despite its pedigree, is ironically not that big of a deal.
Oh, and Detroit. Sorry, I’m just too jaded to look forward to anything David Cage does anymore.
Christ, every year I go into E3 hating Ubisoft, and every year I come back out thinking “they deserve one more chance." I swear, I’m the worst type of person.
Anyway. The big show stopper was, of course, Beyond Good and Evil 2, a game whose appearance has even inspired the most jaded Half-Life fans that there’s hope yet for their kind. And while I have a laundry list of reasons why I think this could go terribly wrong (top of which being that it’s a Ubisoft game), even I can’t deny that the hype is there, it’s real, and it’s not going away until Ubisoft gives us reasons in the future why it’ll all go south. So in a few months, we might have reason to look back and despair, but looking at it strictly through the lenses of E3, this was a, if not the, major highlight.
Stepping away from that showstopper, Ubisoft had a few other surprises up their sleeves. Mario + Rabbids looks like it will be really good as a kid-friendly version of Xcom, marred only slightly by the presence of those freakin’ Rabbids. On the bright side, the game clearly has at least a slightly evolved sense of humor, if you had the chance to read Luigi’s ability descriptions. Transference looked vague but promising. Skull & Bones was a game that Ubisoft should have been announced two years ago, but better late than never. And Far Cry 5 has a dog in it, so, that’s some automatic bonus points right there.
A strong showing from a company who is just too good at hyping games, and not good enough on the follow-through. But hey, this might be the year.
This one is all me. I’ll admit that right away. But looking at Bethesda’s lineup this year, I was left feeling lukewarm, at best. Their headlines were VR versions of Fallout 4 and Doom, which while that sounds like it would be a heck of a lot of fun to play… shouldn’t be headlining a E3 announcement session. Creation Club brings back the paid mods we saw on Steam, but with a lot more quality control and oversight – a move that has unsurprisingly been met with resentment by the fans. And yes, we saw new Dishonored content, Skyrim for the Switch, The Evil Within 2 is a thing… and of course, Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, which is the only really good thing to come out of the showing.
I predicted Bethesda would struggle to fill their slot with worthwhile news, and I was right, unfortunately. It was also one of the only showings where fans walked away angrier, rather than excited. So, what else is there to do but call it as it is?
The Xbox One X looks amazing. A mountain of new content was unveiled. Microsoft came out swinging and walked away with bloodied fists and the attention of the gaming community. How far we’ve come, eh?
Assassin’s Creed returns, and Ubisoft has decided the game should be set in Egypt, and hey, why not make it Dark Souls? The new gameplay adjustments seem to fit the series nicely, and I’m looking forward to seeing a more melee focused game in the franchise: there’s a lot of history in Egypt and I can’t want to see it explored. Metro Exodus, the next in an excellent series, looks to be doing its progenitors proud. Deep Rock Galactic looks like a blast, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is becoming a console exclusive, The Last Night was shiny and cool, Code Vein was shown off… there’s just too much to go over in one go!
And that’s not even including the backwards compatibility and the upgraded Xbox One X. Sheesh. If the first half of 2017 belonged to Sony, it’s clear who’s set to take the second.
EA didn’t do anything wrong, they just didn’t do anything especially right, either. Most of their show was dedicated to Battlefront 2, and while it was a good look at the next game in the series, it’s obvious it only got so much attention because EA is predicting it’ll be their next cash cow. A Battlefield Game done right, fixing the problems of the first thanks to it being detached to any movie launch dates, is certainly poised to take the world by storm… and EA knows it. Unfortunately, they rested a bit too heavily on those laurels, and by the end of the presentation, I was just sick of it.
Anthem was teased, but they saved the real reveal for Microsoft. A Way Out looked good, but a bit too much like a survival-based Army of Two for my tastes. Need for Speed showed up, Battlefield 1 adds new snow-themed maps and female soldiers, and a whole bunch of sports games arrived.
A weak showing that only got attention when it was awkward. EA has a long ways to go if it’s going to wow me.
Promises have been made, trailers shown… now, we wait to see who the real winners and losers are…