By Asmo917 0 Comments
“Hey, Matt, what did you think of E3 this year?” is a thing that I get asked quite a lot by the voices in my head, so I thought I’d take the time to briefly collect my impressions and figure out what, in fact, I thought of E3 this year.
Sunday and Monday were the big days for people like me who weren’t at the show. EA and Bethesda streamed their events for the public on Sunday, with Microsoft, Ubisoft, and Sony following on Monday. Tuesday was less of a time commitment, with just Nintendo on the schedule, but with a highly anticipated reveal of gameplay footage from the new Zelda title. IF you had asked me on Monday or Tuesday, I would have said I came away most impressed with Microsoft, most disjointedness with Sony, and everyone else falling somewhere in the middle. With some more time to reflect, I think every show actually grades out about the same: each company showed some things I’m super excited to play, some things I”d like to see more of either because I’m intrigued by or unsure of what I saw, and some things that just don’t hold much interest for me personally.
I Want to start with the items that just didn’t do it for me, because I don’t want to dwell on the negative. Many of these things came from Sony’s press conference: The Last Guardian, LEGO Star Wars, a remaster of the Crash Bandicoot series, and Death Stranding - the new game from Hideo Kojima - all just landed very flatly with me. LEGO Star Wars and Death Stranding did so from the opposite end of the spectrum, too: I know what the LEGO games are and don’t enjoy them, while the trailer for Kojima’s new game was simply pre-rendered footage of “weird shit” (apologies for the highly technical term) on a beach. I need to know a lot more about what the new thing from Kojima is before I can muster up an ounce of interest after turning so hard on Metal Gear Solid V after roughly 20 hours. EA showed a willingness to take some risks with their sports franchises by putting a story-driven single=player mode into FIFA 17, but I’ll be far more interested if and when this makes it to the Madden and NHL franchises, as I just don’t enjoy the FIFA games like everyone else on the planet. As for Microsoft, I thought Scalebound looked really unengaging in terms of moment to moment action, and Final Fantasy XV demoed very, very poorly. I still want to play the later given what else I’ve seen, but the former has a lot of work left to sell me before release in 2017. The Dead Rising series has also never been my cup of tea, but I’m glad it’s back for the people who loved it. Ubisoft lagged with For Honor, which seems innovative but just not like something I’d spend a lot of time with; I also didn’t enjoy South Park: The Stick of Truth and am not especially excited for the sequel: South Park: Superhero Game Based on The Joke “Isn’t This Racist Slur Funny When Said by Kids?” That’s not the actual subtitle, but...it should be.
I came away from E3 cautiously optimistic or intrigued about an almost equal number of games. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands looks pretty, but I need to know if it’s just The Division: Central America Skin. I will say that seeing it and Ubisoft’s commitment to The Division got me to play more of the Division for the first time since March, so that’s another win for them. Sony and Microsoft both trotted out franchises abbreviated as GoW; Microsoft’s Gears of War 4 was a known quantity and looked very pretty, but I don’t know how much I want to play another Gears game. The same thing goes for Sony’s God of War, which showed an intriguing willingness to move away from series conventions with a new camera angle and style of third person play, but I’m put off by the apparent similarities to the Dark Souls series, which I truly despise. Sony also debuted a new title named Days Gone, which looks like a zombie game and didn’t look great to me, but I want to see more about what they have to say about the game’s story and actual moment to moment game play before writing it off entirely. EA didn’t show much of Mass Effect or their new Star Wars titles, but what they did show looked very, very nice. Microsoft also showed off a new Witcher 3 tie-in of a stand-alone Gwent game featuring a new single-player campaign and sure, I need another collectible card game to play in addition to my daily Hearthstone addiction, the coming Elder Scrolls Legends game, and the occasional draw back into digital Magic: The Gathering.
There were a handful of games that I walked away from E3 truly and legitimately excited to play. I’ve not mentioned anything from Nintendo yet, and that’s partially because their show was focused mostly on one title - The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wind. This game looks phenomenal, and I already know I’ll buy it for the Wii U, which was shown at the show this year, and for the NX when that new console is available. This new title appears to have gear and loot and crafting and cooking, which are all new for a Zelda title, plus the standard dungeon experiences you expect from the series. Close competitors for my personal game for the show would be Titanfall 2 and Horizon: Zero Dawn. Titanfall was fairly criticized for a lack of a single player campaign and a shallow progression system in multiplayer, and Respawn have promised to correct both. What I loved about the original in spite of those shortcomings were the sense of movement and freedom you had in a first person shooter, and they look like they’ve doubled down on that with more options for getting around and putting yourself in a good situation for individual firefights. Horizon: Zero Dawn in a post-post-apocalyptic RPG and the lengthy demo Sony showed of the female player character riding a robotic elk-thing and taking down a rampaging spider-ish robot looked like combat was fluid and dynamic. Further reports from people at the show confirmed there’s a robust quest system which has me thinking this could be my 2017 version of The Witcher 3 - a game I love but get so overwhelmed while playing I don’t know what to do next and simply walk away and feel great shame. A few other sequels seemed very exciting, as Watch_Dogs 2 and Forza Horizon 3 made strong impressions. I believe those are both 2017 titles, which is fine since Bethesda is releasing Dishonored 2 and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition in 2016. I will play both of those games, and I will play a LOT of both of those games.
Due in part to pre-show leaks and publishers showing games like Watch_Dogs 2 off on special announcement streams in the week before E3, it didn’t feel like there were any truly shocking or surprising reveals. We got trailers and release dates for some known quantities, some new IP announcements that seem to be two years or more off, and and information about incremental improvements to known franchises and coming games. For what this E3 seemed to lack in surprise and quantity, it made it up for me in quality.