Another year, and another E3 in the books, and while the event itself I’m sure is a completely different animal when you are there, those of us watching from the comfort of our office chairs, or couches were treated to the usual bright lights, and stuttering live streams, and bucket loads of hype, and I mean loads of hype.
The thing is with hype, it wears off quickly, and come Friday as the post E3 glow gave way to the post E3 magnifying glass it became painfully obvious that with the exception of a few games, what was shown was uninspired and unimpressive. So much in fact that a podcast meant to talk about this year’s E3 turned into a show about previous reveals no matter how hard the conversation was steered back to this year’s expo.
Now I’m not saying this year’s E3 was a total bust, there were some bright spots that stood out against the back drop of the rinse, wash, repeat feeling of Sony’s and Microsoft’s pressers. Even Bethesda it seemed, didn’t really have much to show with the exception of Dishonored 2 and it’s own foray into the booming video card game market with Elder Scrolls Legends. I will admit, the fanboy in me did have a bit of a freakout about Skyrim remastered, but that was a knee jerk reaction, the more I thought about it, I’ve had the ability to play Skyrim with amazing graphics and the ability to use mods this whole time, I’ve just not because I already have a 120 or more hour game going on my 360, although there are claims that if you have purchased Skryim and all the DLC you can get the remastered edition for free when it launches in October, take that how you will, so Bethesda summed up gave us a card game, a pc version of Fallout Shelter a Rube Goldberg inspired DLC pack for Fallout 4, Dishonored 2 and the Void engine, which really was the highlight of Bethesda’s conference in my mind, and had me asking Frostbite what? Because the Void engine looks absolutely wonderful, with the graphic rendering the engine is capable of, Dishonored 2 came to life, almost as if it was a moving water color motion comic. Seriously check out the gameplay video.
Bethesda also unveiled Prey in the same conference, but while the reveal trailer looks beautiful, not a whole lot of other information was revealed regarding the game, and the trailer itself left us with more questions. I’m sure as the release date approaches we’ll hear more about Prey and the story Arkane studios is trying to tell, but for now, I guess the first hit is always free.
Both Microsoft and Sony suffered from the same general blah feeling that seemed to permeate Bethesda’s presser, but just as Bethesda had a few bright spots, Microsoft and Sony found a couple of pieces of flotsam to cling to so that they could keep their heads above water. For Microsoft, the ID@Xbox segment was their moment, showing off a whole slew of titles coming from the indie development platform Microsoft runs, including Cuphead a game that I just can’t wait to get my hands on, demented “Steamboat Willie” looking graphics and all, but it was We Happy Few that jumped out at me, and the gameplay trailer left me with a feeling of disturbed curiosity, it’s Clockwork Orange vibe, mixed with character’s realization that everything is definitely not joyful pulled me in, and definitely put that game on my radar, I mean, the piñata was a rat, and they were eating rat guts, or was that a hallucination? What Microsoft did wrong however, was open their press conference announcing the console they should of released 3 years ago, but that could just be me and my “Day One” bitterness. Thanks for the achievement, and controller badging..woooohooo! I certainly hope the first generation Xbox One has some trade in value towards the Xbox One S, because who doesn’t want a 40% smaller console, with 4k capabilities, no Kinect, and a 2TB hard drive? It would definitely free up some space in my entertainment center if I got rid of the VCR looking thing they released in the first place, and then as if the opening kick to the crotch wasn’t good enough, the closed their presser with another swift kick to the nethers, by announcing Project Scorpio, a massive upgrade to the current Xbox One’s architecture promising to be 4 times faster than the PS4, for now, that is until Sony announces the PS4 Neo, now that they know what Microsoft is planning to put under the hood of their next-next gen console.
Sony’s presser did start off with a bang with a live gameplay demo of God of War which really just left me with more questions, like, when did Kratos get a son? What’s with the beard? Where’d he get the Mjolnir-axe hybrid, where’s Dr. Jackson and Colonel O’Neill? (That’s right Stargate fans, there’s a reason why Kratos’s voice sounded so familiar. That’s Christopher Judge aka Teal’c) ng with God Of War Sony showed off Horizon, which again looked beautiful, but felt a bit like a reimagining of Re-Core. As for hardware, Sony didn’t pull any punches when they revealed PS-VR, which will be available this October and retail for 399.99, they also promised 50 titles will be available for the launch of PS-VR. Promising a full immersive VR experience Sony showed off teasers for Final Fantasy XV VR, Batman Arkham VR, and Resident Evil 7 promising that the title would be playable from start to finish completely in VR, which may actually end up being a bad thing, as a number of reviews I read of RE 7 in VR ended with the reviewer becoming sick to their stomach, and as someone prone to motion sickness, I feel their pain, as my first experience with the Occulus almost led to a new paintjob in the hue of vomit for the cubicle meeting space I was in. Along with the VR titles, Sony announced the return of a childhood hero for some, in the form of Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot 2 and Crash Badicoot Warped for remastered releases on the PS4, as well as introducing the character into Skylanders. Missing from Sony’s presser was any mention of the PS4.5, Neo, or whatever it’s being called right now, most likely due to the fact that they knew Microsoft would play their hand first, in a move to overcome the deficit they created themselves by focusing on the Xbox One as a cable box instead of a gaming console.
The issue it seems each year with E3, is that the major information fans are looking forward to is either leaked, or barely even touched upon, for example Mass Effect Andromeda has been in development for a long while, even though at one point Bioware general manager Aaryn Flynn tweeted about playing through the game, and yet all fans have gotten are voice over trailers, and the briefest of glimpses of the game, hell, we’ve seen more of the artists’ sketch pads than we have of the game, same with the Star Wars franchise, brief glimpses, and promises of wonderful things to come, but nothing that could even been considered a snack to satiate curious fans, but hey, here’s a bunch of Madden and Fifa and more about our EA tournaments. Ubisoft suffered the same thing, the huge reveal of Watchdogs 2 broke days before the convention even started, leaving Ubi with Just Dance, The Division, an AI co-ordinate mission play through of Ghost Recon Wildlands, all which delivered the same canned applause response. It seemed that really the only game anyone was excited for was Southpark: The Fractured But Whole (and I really think it was just because of the title).
At the end of it all, I was not wow’d or really blown away by anything that was shown at this years’ E3, sure there were some highlights, and there are games I am going to grab, but nothing that screamed “I need this first day”. While the focus on VR was cool, and I can definitely see where that technology could possibly take us, hearing that people are still getting sick when using VR headsets tells me that designers and developers still have a lot of tinkering to do so that VR can be enjoyed by everyone, it just seems that unfortunately in the race to be the VR game king these guys are forgetting what got them to where they are in the first place, great stories, excellent games, and a passion for fans. Admittedly keeping a passion for your fans is kind of hard when they issue death threats for a game delay, and creating new IP’s is costly, and a risk that doesn’t always pay off, but there has to be a happy balance between new stories and ideas, and your safe bet games, and that needs to be found soon, if not, I’ll most likely be back here, writing another rinse, wash, repeat overview of E3.
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