I’ll admit, it’s exciting to see a bunch of console makers and publishers do the annual song and dance of E3 every year, and the advent of streaming services means I can actually watch what’s going on as opposed to just reading about the highlights. At this point we’ve seen all of the big conferences (save Nintendo’s Direct) and I have some thoughts on each of them. We’ll be going in chronological order just for the sake of my sanity.
After being supremely disappointed in the latest Mass Effect, EA didn’t have much I was actually clamoring for. I played a bit of the first Battlefront, and the sequel seems promising, but the presentation of their extended gameplay left A LOT to be desired. It really felt like a bad way to present that game, and I LOVE Star Wars, so I’ll most likely take a look at a beta, but can’t imagine myself purchasing this game on Day 1.
The highlight of the EA conference for me was the reveal of the newest game from Hazelight, the developers of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (if you haven’t played it, do so now, it’s great) called A Way Out. From the extended “teaser” they were showing, it shows an amazing sense of style and some unique co-op gameplay elements. It also appears to be set in the 60’s or 70’s and does some really cool looking things with the presentation. Having heard nothing about this game, I was instantly excited about what it’s promising.
Look, I’m a Microsoft convert through and through, but damn it feels like I was hoping for a miracle when it came to the pricing of the newly christened Xbox One X (Formerly Project Scorpio). They had such a head of steam going throughout the conference, with game after game being shown off and a great mix of big publishers and independents. All of that momentum came to a halt when Phil Spencer casually dropped the $499 price point. Now to be fair, the promise of a console doing native 4K gaming is exciting to me, but I’ve made the investment in the TV to fully take advantage of that. From the common gamer to the non-console owner to the PS4 owner looking for a 2nd console, a $499 price point is hard to justify, especially if they don’t own a 4K TV. Microsoft has been calling this a “premium” console for a year now, so it’s not that surprising, but I was honestly hoping for them to take the gloves off and bring the fight to Sony.
As for the games shown, I’m excited that a good majority of them are being released this year, with titles like Crackdown 3, Assassin’s Creed Origins (I’ll play any of these games, regardless of quality) and Shadow of War being high on my list. And then some games to look forward to in the next year like Sea of Thieves, State of Decay 2 and an unexpected announcement of a sequel to Ori and the Blind Forest were all welcome roadmaps for the future of the console. Lastly, their indie lineup seems quite strong, with oddities like The Artful Escape and Cuphead coming down the line. The biggest indie surprise though was the console exclusive launch of Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) later this year. As someone who has played MANY hours of this game on the PC, I’m excited to see how it plays on a console with a controller. Heck, I might even win a few more chicken dinners.
In what basically equated to an infomercial for their existing products, there wasn’t much coming out of Bethesda that wasn’t a known quantity. The Doom VR looks weird, the Fallout 4 VR looks really promising. And Skyrim on the Switch seems cool, Link and all, but I didn’t play the PC game much and I don’t know if I ever will. Their Wolfenstein trailer was the most memorable thing, but I didn’t play the first game but it definitely had some style that piqued my interest.
PC Gaming Show
This show always seems a bit odd, but this year there were actually a few announcements I was genuinely excited about. First, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Age of Empires, the game is getting the remaster treatment with all new assets and gameplay improvements from later RTS games in the genre. As someone who spent an obscene amount of hours in this game, I’m hoping it still holds up. But the announcement I was most excited about was the PUBG reveal of some upcoming features; specifically a climbing system which will completely alter the way I play the game, with vaulting, mantling and even the ability to dive through windows to escape tense indoor conflicts.
Aside from the Rabbids + Mario game that got fully revealed as an XCOM style game (what?), little was of interest to me other than AC: Origins, and the “bombshell” annoucement that Beyond Good & Evil 2 is apparently still being developed as a prequel to the first game. I will concede that trailer looked pretty cool, but nothing shown about the actual gameplay, so I’ll reserve judgement on that one. Far Cry 5 looks interesting from a narrative standpoint, but I’ve never been huge on that series other than 4, which I only finished since it was a free game I got because AC: Unity was such a flaming turd of a game.
I’m honestly not even sure why they felt the need to have a conference here, since they basically ran long trailers for nearly an hour before someone came back on to chat for 30 seconds and then run several more trailers. What they showed was exciting for sure, but aside from the announcement of a Shadow of the Colossus remake there wasn’t anything I didn’t already know about. It just felt like another update on their 2016 conferences with updates on Days Gone and Uncharted Lost Legacy which I’m not interested in.
What I was interested in was updates on God of War, Detroit: Become Human and Insomniac’s Spider-Man, but with no solid release date on any of them (2 are 2018 releases, one has no ETA). What was fairly surprising was the complete absence of independent titles on the main stage (they talked about several during the pre-show). This was an area Sony aggressively courted before the PS4 launch and the first few years, but lately it feels as though with the “sunsetting” of the Vita it has become less of a concern of theirs. And look, they’re in the catbird seat right now, with a rumored 2 to 1 sales lead, so they don’t have to do anything but sit back and relax.
MARIO. ODYSSEY. OCTOBER. 27th.
But seriously, there was a lot to like about Nintendo’s “conference” this year. I’m interested in both the new Kirby and Yoshi games, the 1st Zelda DLC isn’t anything that can be remotely considered “groundbreaking” but hot damn I’m still excited for the 2nd DLC release later this year. I have no fondness for the Metroid Prime series so a new entry does nothing for me, and I’m not happy they are making a 2D game on the 3DS when I’ve bought their brand new console and want more “flagship” titles to play on it.
Overall it was a solid if not world shattering set of conferences, but plenty to get excited about and lots of games I’m looking forward to playing in 2017 and into 2018.