It's E3 time again! Last year I wrote an article for each conference but this time I thought I would try something different. Instead of writing about what each conference showed, let's grade and rank them from best to worst.
The main criteria I am going to use will be three fold:
- Do I like what they show?
- Does it make me want to buy their stuff?
- Are there any surprises?
EA has the same problems at E3 year over year. Everyone knows the majority of what they will announce and they don't have enough unique IP to be interesting on their own. You know they are going to talk about Battlefield, Star Wars, FIFA, Madden, NBA, Anthem and they even talked about the majority of these games before the press conference. So what did they have left?
EA actually came out pretty strong by unveiling Unravel Two and Sea of Solitude. Two incredibly indie games that were given plenty of screen time. Perhaps EA has learned. Oh what is this? A 6+ minute "shoutcast" of a match from a mobile game? Never change EA.
There is probably nowhere to go but up from here right? Wait, why is Andrew Wilson (the jackass who popularized loot boxes) now talking about how EA is a shining beacon in the industry by moving away from them? You got too greedy and literally brought the whole thing crumbling down and you're acting like the good guys? Ugh, fine whatever, it is finally time for the Anthem portion of the presentation. Wait? Why are they bringing out chairs? Cut to a 20 minute live Q&A session that gives concept art more screen time than gameplay. Seriously does EA not learn anything from these?
This presentation didn't need to exist. Sure it was good for Unravel Two and Sea of Solitude (which probably couldn't have made it onto the stage of another press conference) but the only interesting thing here was Anthem and even that EA managed to fuck up.
Last year Microsoft completely inundated us with games and this year was no different. Supposedly 50 different games were shown on-stage and we jackknifed from one trailer to another. There were a couple of uncomfortable presentations where platitudes were spouted about how only Microsoft could bring together such talented individuals but for the most part they let the games do the talking which is the correct way to play this.
There is no way I could list every game shown so I'm just going to focus on the ones that interested me:
- Halo Infinite
- Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
- Fallout 76
- Crackdown 3
- Battlefield V
- Forza Horizon 4
- Tom Clancy's The Division 2
- Devil May Cry 5
- Just Cause 4
- Gears 5
- Cyberpunk 2077
Microsoft also talked about how they have created five new studios (they acquired four of them) so they can ensure we "will always experience the best of gaming on Xbox". Only time will tell how these investments pay off but right now they look like nice little diversions rather than investments which will define gaming on Xbox.
Microsoft did an amazing job at showcasing games. There are easily a dozen or so that I want to buy but the problem is that I don't want to play any of them on Xbox. The majority I will buy on Steam and others I will probably get on PS4. Halo, Crackdown and Battletoads are probably the only games I would buy for my Xbox but even they aren't surefire purchases. Depending one what other games they release near I could easily see them falling to the wayside.
Bethesda has a similar problem to EA where everyone pretty much knows what they are going to talk about ahead of time, but unlike EA everyone is still obsessed with Bethesda's IP. I was honestly expecting a pretty quick show but Bethesda had a lot more up their sleeve.
We started out strong with RAGE 2, dipped a bit with The Elder Scrolls: Legends and The Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset but then kicked the hype back up with a teaser for a sequel to 2016's DOOM. Bethesda then had to continue their pathetic attempt at eSports with Quake Champions before pivoting to Prey, another disappointment, and announcing DLC for it. They managed to dig themselves out of that crater by announcing Wolfenstein: Youngblood DLC.
It was at this point we entered the Todd Howard show and he did not disappoint. He started off by poking fun at the memes that Skyrim must run on everything and then dove headfirst into Fallout 76. After nearly 20 minutes of this you'd assume we were at the end of the show but no. Todd proceeded to pull a "Two more things..." segment where he announced Bethesda's first new IP in 25 years, Starfield, and then casually mentioned that The Elder Scrolls VI was in development before dropping the mic and walking off. Fuckin' Legend.
This was basically a perfect presentation. Detail all of the kick-ass games you know people want and then drop their jaws with a couple of completely unexpected announcements. I will definitely be buying a lot of Bethesda products in the coming year.
Square Enix seemed to take a page out of a Nintendo's playbook and aired a 30 minute, pre-recorded presentation. A lot of people seem to be disappointed because a lot of the games we already knew about (and even saw at Microsoft's conference) but I was really happy with this. There was absolutely no fat. It was simply one game trailer after another making sure you knew about everything that Square Enix was releasing.
The Final Fantasy XIV and Monster Hunter: World crossover is right up my alley. I'm already super excited for Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age and the new trailer just made me want it more. Top that off with a Babylon's Fall (a new IP by Platinum Games), Octopath Traveler and Just Cause 4 and you've covered a good number of games that I want to play.
I said I was going to grade these conferences on if I liked what was shown and wanted to purchase it and in this case Square Enix hit the nail on the head. The only thing that could bump this grade higher would be if they pulled out something unexpected but they just managed to raise my expectations of what I already knew was coming.
I don't know if Ubisoft intends to be cringy or if it is just their French sensibilities but they wasted no time this year by starting off with a "interesting" dance number for Just Dance 2019.
They recovered nicely and showcased a lot of new content for games that we knew were coming like Beyond Good & Evil 2, The Division 2, Skull & Bones, Assassin's Creed Odyssey as well as DLC for Rainbow Six: Siege and For Honor. There were a couple of nice surprises in sequels for Trials Rising and The Crew 2 in addition to an entirely new IP in Starlink: Battle for Atlas.
The problem with all of this is that it really doesn't tickle my fancy and outside of Assassin's Creed Odyssey none of the games feel like mainstream hits. Ubisoft seems to have built their success around lots of niche games and while that works for them I just always seem to be outside of their target demographic.
Oh how the mighty have fallen. Sony was the King of E3 press conferences for the last few years but they had to shoot themselves in the foot eventually. They started out with a demonstration of The Last of Us Part II and then had a 15 minute intermission! 30 minutes into this press conference and we've only seen footage from a single game!
The next 30 minutes were back-to-back game trailers including some standouts like Ghost of Tsushima, Control (Remedy Entertainment's next game), and Resident Evil 2. They also had the obligatory King Hearts 3 and Death Stranding trailers. I still don't understand what people's fascination is with Hideo Kojima. He is one of the worst storytellers in the business and yet people seem to overlook it because it's "edgy" or something. Sony then proceeded to end the show exactly like they did last year with another demonstration of Spider-Man.
This will be a controversial one but I have to give it a low grade because Sony just didn't make me want to buy much. I'll definitely play Spider-Man but that is about it. Games like Ghost of Tsushima and Control will need to have a really positive buzz when they launch for me to consider them and I have absolutely no interest in The Last of Us Part II and Death Stranding.
E3 2018's Nintendo Direct clocked in at just over 42 minutes and it had all the mundane announcements you'd expect and none of the exciting announcements you wanted.
The first 17 minutes of the Direct had Nintendo quickly name dropping Daemon X Machina, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 DLC, Fire Emblem Three Houses, Pokemon: Let's Go, Super Mario Party, Fortnite, Overcooked 2, Killer Queen Black, Octopath Traveler and a few more. I'm not saying these games are bad but they aren't going to cause a large number of people to rush out and buy a Nintendo Switch.
The next 25 minute were the Masahiro Sakurai show as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate took center stage. I was unprepared for the amount of detail they went into. It literally started to sound like someone was reading patch notes. It is good to know that Marth's Dancing Blade is now faster and easier to combo.
The gist of this presentation was if you don't like Super Smash Bros. GTFO!
I'm really torn with this grade because Nintendo did show a lot of games that I want to buy but it was still quite light on announcements and surprises. They didn't even talk about the Kirby and Yoshi games they announced last year not to mention Metroid Prime 4!
So what are the final scores?
- Bethesda: A+
- Microsoft: B+
- Square Enix: B-
- Nintendo: C+
- Sony: C
- Ubisoft: C-
- EA: F
Next year I should really do a prediction article because entering into this E3 I did not think Bethesda, Microsoft and Square Enix were going to have as strong showings as they did. I was prepared for Sony and Nintendo to wow me with some amazing announcements but instead those honours fell to Bethesda and Microsoft.#E3