As of yesterday the press conference portion of E3 2017 has come to an end. For the past four or five years I’ve watched every single E3 press conference both to keep up on where the gaming industry is headed and for some simple entertainment. If you don’t know what E3 is it’s basically the gaming industry’s equivalent to CES (Consumer Electronics Show). In fact E3 was born because many game publishers grew tired of being treated poorly when they attended CES in the 1990’s. They would have to set up in tents which were located behind the pornography booths, a great way to reel in the average American. So in 1995 the first E3 was held and it’s been a yearly expo ever since. It once was the premier expo for companies to show off their new titles and hardware however with the rise of publishers holding their own, smaller events for individual games I would argue E3’s importance has waned slightly. Nonetheless no single weekend gets gamers around the world more excited than E3. The past three years Sony, in my opinion, has dominated the press conferences almost with ease. So how did they stack up this year? Let’s take a quick look at each companies showing and you can decide for yourself.
First up on Saturday was Electronic Arts. The publishers of Battlefront, Mass Effect, Battlefield, and pretty much every sports franchise known to man. It’s been a few days since I’ve watched the conference so I’ll do my best to recall everything they showed. First off was NFL Long Shot. A new take on the NFL franchise with an in depth story mode called, you guessed it, Long Shot. Basically what the NBA2K and FIFA series have been doing. It’s great to see some spice being added to an otherwise extremely stale series that could basically be considered roster updates. Next was Battlefield 1 DLC. Cool. FIFA 18 The Journey: Hunter Returns was announced, continuing the story/be a pro mode they started last year. Then the most awkward moment out of any of the conferences happened. Jesse from the BFvGF YouTube channel was supposed to introduce Need For Speed. What he actually did was struggle to get a single word out. A minor hiccup in the grand scheme of things but still unfortunate. So Need For Speed Payback is a thing. The trailer was almost beat for beat the beginning of Fast and Furious 4. Makes you wonder why they don’t simply re-brand the game Fast and Furious at this point. Then came A Way Out. Easily the game of the show for me. It’s a CO-OP prison escape game that tells a story from both characters’ perspective. Unless I’m mistaken which is quite possible, this is the first ever mandatory two player story game. It looks amazing. EA followed that up with NBA Live which still looks like shit. I have no idea how they can make FIFA, NFL, and NHL so high quality but never, ever create a good looking NBA game. Looks like 2K will continue to have a strangle hold over the basketball franchise’s. Battlefront 2 closed out the conference with 30 minutes of gameplay. Sounds great in theory, slightly boring in reality. Looks like a great game, I loved the old ones but never played the previous as I didn’t want to pay $79.99 for a half baked product again. I’m looking at you Destiny. Overall, not the conference for me, without the announcement of A Way Out I would denounce it a complete failure.
Personally I felt Microsoft had their backs against a wall coming into E3 this year. There had been so many rumors of a new Xbox being revealed and expectations were running away. Starting off the show, Phil Spencer explained they had 42 games to show, easily the most out of all the companies at E3. I was happily surprised; at the beginning. Unfortunately it was quantity over quality this year. Within the gaming Industry there has been the thought that the “middle” ground of games has fallen out. AA and A quality games have almost completely fallen out in favor of indie and AAA quality games. However watching Microsoft’s conference you wouldn’t think that to be true. Other than Anthem, which looks many, many years out (despite the apparent 2018 release window) and Forza Horizon 7 I don’t think there was another AAA game among everything shown. Now that isn’t an issue for me, there are many quality games made without having a AAA budget behind them. However, when you’re showing a new Xbox within the same conference you have to show me multiple reasons why I need to rush out and buy the Xbox One X for $499. That’s right $499 for an upgraded Xbox One. Sure it does 4K, so fucking what. This may be the Sony fanboy in me but what games on Xbox are a must buy? Halo? Not there. Gears of War? Also not there. Currently Microsoft has three different versions of Xbox One. The original, the S version, and now the X version. I unfortunately see the exact same thing that happened to Nintendo with WiiU happening. No regular consumer will even know what the differences between the S and X are. They will see the cheaper price tag on the original and pick that up. I foresee this console bombing. The only thing that this upgrade brings is better graphics and load times and if you care that much about graphics you should be in the PC space. I don’t understand these mid-generation upgrades, who is the audience for these products? Anyway, rant over. I mentioned Anthem, a game that looks like an online multiplayer game with a vibe of Destiny and Mass Effect mixed together. Looked fantastic but there’s no way it was running on a console. More than likely they were running it on a super powerful computer, so what will it actually look like? Now some quick fire Xbox exclusive games: Crackdown 3, Sea of Thieves, Cuphead, Life is Strange: Before the Storm, Tacoma, and State of Decay 2. All cool games, none are really a killer app though. Then they had some third party presence including Assassin’s Creed Origin and Metro: Exodus. Both look like great games, however when neither are exclusives why would I buy an Xbox? PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was announced for a console released on Xbox. Great news for Xbox owners. The footnote on the conference was Xbox One backwards compatibility being extended to the Xbox Original catalog. My take away from all this is great news for Xbox owners, they have some great games coming to them in the next two years. But again, for having a brand new piece of hardware which you’re looking to get into some new consumers hands I think they failed to give anyone a single reason they absolutely need to purchase the One X. If anything I’ll pick up a used Xbox One to play Anthem when it comes out and sell it immediately afterwards. If you’re an Xbox fan I’d love to hear what you thought of the games shown, and if you’re planning on picking up an Xbox One X.
I’m going to steal a line from ProJared on YouTube for this one. “Wow Bethesda if I wanted to watch someone jerk themselves off for that long I would just go on Omegle.” Basically Bethesda wasted everybody’s time with this one. The couple things they showed that were mildly impressive was Fallout 4, Doom, and Skyrim in VR. Could be cool, could be just as janky and awkward as it seemed in the presentation. Next up was some Elder Scrolls Online updates which is great, new content for their MMO fans. However it’s what followed this that disturbed me the most. The Bethesda Creation Club. Glorified, dumbed down mods for Skyrim and Fallout 4 in which you have to pay ACTUAL money for each individual mod. What the fuck. I am a huge Skyrim fan, easily my favorite game ever, and I’ve grown to respect and love Bethesda’s products. Which is why it pains me to really go in on them here but I have to call out bullshit when I see it. Paid mods? Seriously Bethesda? First off, FREE mods are on every single platform for their big titles. Secondly, there are literally YouTube videos of modders trying to make Skyrim look completely unrecognizable. You think you’re going to release a mod so impressive no one has ever seen something like it before? I guarantee you won’t. Lastly, Skyrim is almost six years old. Stop. Just stop with the Skyrim shit. I get it, it was huge but it’s time to move on. Please don’t give them your money for this. Please please please do not. But guess what!? They followed this up with you guessed it, MORE SKYRIM. This time Nintendo Switch Skyrim, showing Link Amiibo compatibility and motion controls. Oh boy. Following that nonsense they revealed Death of the Outsider, a DLC story pack for Dishonored 2 as well as Quake Champions and their plans for a massive tournament. Alright finally some things I can get behind. I personally don’t play either of these titles but Dishonored is a great franchise from what I can tell and Quake was one of if not the very first esports games so great to see them trying to get an arena shooter back into the mix. Then we got a lengthy cg trailer for The Evil Within 2. Awesome trailer, extremely twisted and visually stimulating but lacking a certain amount of oh I don’t know game play? Wolfenstein II The New Colossus closed out the conference and honestly looked amazing! A great end cap to an overall lack luster showing. Easily the worst conference of E3 in my opinion. Too much focus on old games, paid mods, and poor showcasing of their two or three new games. I was honestly shocked Todd Howard the Director of Bethesda Games Studio wasn’t anywhere to be seen but after watching the conference in it’s entirety I wouldn’t want to be there either.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle was first out of the gate for Ubisoft. A game that had received a ton of hate before it had been shown this year. However the showcase did well to show why this isn’t just a game for children. It has XCOM style tactical combat which seems fantastic. Releasing August 29th this could possibly be another mover of units for the Switch but we’ll have to wait and see. Another short showcase of Assassin’s Creed which was shown at Microsoft’s conference followed. Looks great, it’s more Assassin’s Creed. Hard to tell what they improved during their year off. The Crew 2 was announced next showing that it’s broadening the usable vehicles to boats, planes, bikes, cars, trucks, rally cars, basically everything. The VR game made with Elijah Wood named Transference was up next. Can’t really tell what it’s about other than that you’ll be going into other peoples consciousness. Wish they would have elaborated a little more on that one but alas. Next was Skull & Bones, a naval pirate game basically elaborating on the warfare from Assassin’s Creed Black Flag but without any of the good parts. It’s a multiplayer online game, and I don’t think you can actually get out of your boat. Or maybe you can and they just didn’t show any of that. Could be cool if there is more to the story but if it’s just an online naval warfare game I foresee it flopping worse than For Honor. The next Just Dance was revealed. And moving on Starlink Battle For Atlas, a toy to life space ship fighting game will be coming out next year. You can physically build a toy ship and place it on your controller which changes your ship in game as well. Steep Olympic DLC was next, nothing really to comment on there. Then the big guns came out. Far Cry 5. The move to America has me extremely interested in this iteration as well as the inclusion of AI companions. Sounds cool, they worked perfectly in the showcase of course but we’ll see how they work in game. My only experience with companions is Skyrim and oh boy that was terrible. Entertaining, but terrible. Then they closed out the conference with Beyond Good and Evil 2. The pre-rendered trailer looks amazing but they’ve teased this game before so who knows how far out it actually is. A fairly decent conference overall but nothing that blew me away. Far Cry 5 looks great, I’m excited to see how Assassin’s Creed pans out after taking a year off, and the idea of Beyond Good and Evil returning after so many years leaves me impressed. But it’s Ubisoft, they’ll find a way to screw it up, or laden it with micro-transactions.
Naughty Dog kicked things off with Uncharted The Lost Legacy. A standalone $40 game that brings back Chloe (my favorite character other than Sully) and teams her up with Nadine in a new adventure. The witty banter you expect from an Uncharted game is alive and well in the story trailer they showed and I’m looking forward to this one, especially seen as it is priced appropriately. Then came a DLC story pack for Horizon a game which I still badly need to get my hands on (curse you bills and responsibilities). Looks great, but also didn’t really show much of what you’ll actually be doing. Then they showed a game play portion of Days Gone, an open world zombie game. They showed this last year and I really wasn’t impressed however this year made the game seem much less scripted and more dynamic. Monster Hunter World followed up Days Gone. I’ve never really been a fan of the series but it looks fantastic graphically. I know my friend Jacob is extremely stoked for this one. The remake of Shadow of Colossus was shown and it really didn’t do much for me. Fans of the series were hyped on the internet but after how badly Japan Studio botched The Last Guardian I won’t be touching this one. Call of Duty World War II looks interesting, don’t know if I’ll be picking this one up either. Kind of burnt out on Call of Duty to be honest but maybe this will be the year I jump back in. Then guess what!? Fucking Skyrim VR was shown. I have nothing more to say. This was the introduction to the VR section for Sony. Star Child, The Impatient, Final Fantasy XV Fishing, Bravo Team, and Moss were all VR titles shown in short sequences. Other than the bullshit Final Fantasy Fishing game they all look like full fledged games which is fantastic for the future of VR. God of War had a story and game play section and even though we saw this last year I’m incredibly excited for this game. I’ve never been interested in God of War previously as it has never had a compelling story or character but this time around Kratos is a father and it seems like the whole game is about him teaching his son how to be a warrior. Could make for a much more intriguing game this time around. Detroit Become Human had a lengthy showing this time around revealing a new character and showcasing how different each scene can play out depending on your decisions. If you haven’t played Heavy Rain first off shame on you, this comes from the same company and their games are the only franchise I know of where your actions and decisions truly change the outcome of the game. Characters can die, mistakes can be made, triumphs can be had, overall Heavy Rain was one of my favorite games. However, they also did create Beyond Two Souls which was a terrible, terrible game so we’ll have to wait and hope this one turns out to be more Heavy Rain than Beyond Two Souls. Destiny 2 trailer was shown, but everyone knows about that already. Finally was Spider-Man. Looks…like Arkham. More high flying obviously as Spider-Man is much more about finesse than pure strength. If you’re a fan of the combat in the Arkham games or even Shadow of Mordor you’ll know what you’re getting here. Great for superhero fans, doesn’t do anything for me. If I’m being honest, Sony’s conference was about exactly what I expected. Last year was such a great conference with so many new games shown that they had no hope of upping the ante. All the games shown looked fantastic but we’ve seen them all before. I’m a fan of Sony obviously but I can’t give them a glowing review for showing so many games we already know about especially seen as most are either 2018 releases or later.
Nintendo began with Xenoblade Chronicles 2. A game I know literally nothing about. Seems fun though. Kirby was up next, another game I have never played but Kirby fans were stoked about this one on the internet. Looks fairly similar to all the other iterations but what do I know. A core Pokemon game is in development for the Switch but they didn’t show anything, not even a title. Good to hear but hard to care when you can’t even show a title. Their next announcement was Metro Prime 4. Again nothing shown but at least we got a title eh? eh? Fans have been pining for this series to come back but again, literally no info about it. Don’t think you’ll be getting that any time soon. Yoshi was up next, showing a cool new mechanic where every level has two sides which you can switch between. Fire Emblem Warriors had some cut scenes shown but again I know nothing about this game and what they showed didn’t help me any either. Then guess what!? Skyrim. Eugh. Zelda had some DLC showcased, a harder version called Master Mode I believe and then a story expansion as well. More Mario + Rabbids was shown. Following that cross platform Rocket League was announced, meaning no matter what platform you’re on you can play together (Except Playstation because apparently Sony’s stock holder don’t want it…). Ending the direct, conference, what ever you want to call it was Super Mario Odyssey. It looks fantastic, they showed Mario’s ability to take over whatever he throws his cap at. I’m intrigued with this new ability and the game in general. Nothing crazy here but good to see Nintendo is supporting the Switch with a diversity of their properties, unlike the WiiU.
The Wrap Up
Unfortunately this years E3 was not for me. That’s okay though I understand there is a diverse group of gamers in the world and I’m sure some thought this was the best E3 ever. I really thought Microsoft would come out swinging and prove to the world why the Xbox One X is a must buy. In reality they proved it’s just another piece of hardware that will fall to the wayside, similar to the PS4 Pro. If I had to pick a “winner” of E3 2017 it would have to be the micro-transaction loving Ubisoft. They had the most surprises with something to actually show from each title. I do firmly believe they will pull a classic Ubisoft and find a way to ruin them but if they somehow leave the micro-transactions behind and focus on making each of their new titles great it could pan out. Even though Microsoft didn’t wow me I would definitely place them firmly in second place simply because of the sheer amount of new IP they showcased this year. EA, Sony, and Nintendo all were fairly close in my opinion with Bethesda pulling up the rear. A far, far away rear. So that’s the end of my E3 2017 coverage. Hopefully you found a game or two you’re excited about! Let me know in the comments which games you’re most anticipating and if you’re planning on picking up an Xbox One X, I’m intrigued to hear what the buzz is around Microsoft’s new hardware.