E3 (Exciting, Engaging, Expensive)

Donovan Maudsley - 3A Mechanical
Posted on: June 18, 2016

Just some background on me, so that you know where my perspectives come from: I enjoy videogames, and am by no means a hardcore gamer. I can, however, tell the difference between garbage and an instant classic. My twin pillars of a great game are terrific game play and an engaging story, but if you’re a multiplayer first kind of gamer we can still get along. I just find the whole repetitiveness of online shooting somewhat monotonous.

E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo) took place this week and was, as usual, massive and exciting. I’m going to give a brief overview of all the major reveals, as well as my top choices from this expo.

Microsoft started and ended their conference by revealing new consoles, the Xbox One Slim and the Project Scorpio. The Slim is a more compact and less expensive Xbox One, and the Scorpio is an upgraded version featuring 4K graphics resolution and a better CPU. Microsoft’s game line up was rather sparse, with Gears of War 4, Halo Wars 2, and Dead Rising 4 being the standouts. There were no big reveals during their conference, and it’s fairly obvious that their focus is selling consoles rather than making new games. New IPs can be risky projects, but in the long term are needed.

Nintendo has essentially entered a holding pattern until the NX is ready for release. With the Wii U selling horribly and nothing else really going on with them, Nintendo is likely going to wait for their next fiscal before moving forward. With the NX on the backburner, Nintendo showed off their biggest and most expensive game ever: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Taking the classic Legend of Zelda recipe and adding survival mechanics such as hunting and equipment durability, Nintendo hopes to completely redefine one of the best game series ever and force people to buy the NX.

Sony took the opposite approach to Microsoft this year, focusing on games rather than hardware. The lineup of PS4 exclusives announced is enough to make every competitor worry. Acclaimed designer Hideo Kojima, of Metal Gear Solid fame, revealed his new game Death Stranding starring Norman Reedus. Kratos will be returning, taking his God of War duties to a Norse setting. The new IP Days Gone seems like a larger, faster paced version of the Last of Us. Another new IP, Detroit: Become Human, looks to be a cross between L.A. Noire and Deus Ex. The highly anticipated Last Guardian finally got a release date. Resident Evil 7 looks to change the series direction in a good way. Last was Spiderman, a new project being developed by Insomniac Game. Sony’s Virtual Reality system was also on show during their conference, with tons of titles announced for it.

Ubisoft had far too long of a press conference this year, for the amount of content they showed off. The highlights of their show were the game play trailer for For Honor, and Star Trek: Bridge Crew a VR game. For Honor is a melee hack and slash style that has an innovative combat mechanic, and Bridge Crew is a 4 player co-op game centered on a new Starfleet exploration mission.  The demos of Ghost Recon: Wildlands and Watch Dogs 2 also showed cool game play, but were way too long. The scripted player interaction in the Wildlands demo was also horrible. Their other major game reveal was Steep, a sports adventure game.

Bethesda’s conference had its ups and downs. The highs were the announcements of a Prey reboot, and the trailer for Dishonoured 2. The Prey reboot looks nothing like the original game, and Bethesda has said it’s more of a re-imagining of the original. The lows were the lack of other original content. While additional content for Fallout 4 and DOOM was announced, it was nothing major. A cinematic trailer for a new Quake game was shown, but no game play. For Bethesda’s largest IP, the Elder Scrolls series, not a whole lot was talked about. Skyrim is coming to the PS4 and Xbox One through a re master, and the next game in the series is in early development but it’s still a long way off.

EA had a surprisingly packed conference. Their monopoly on Star Wars games is expanding, with a new action adventure series in development, and updates planned for Battlefront, Galaxy of Heroes, and the Old Republic. Among those is a VR X-Wing mission for Battlefront exclusively to the PS4. A new trailer was also shown for Titanfall 2, which will include a single player campaign. The game play for Titanfall 2 looks chaotic and very fun. It will also be available for the PS4, unlike the original. Other AAA games shown included Battlefield 1 and Mass Effect Andromeda, which will both hopefully live up to their predecessors. EA has also decided to include a story mode in the next FIFA game, which seems like an interesting move, albeit one that could pay off immensely. Another cool move by EA was the announcement of EA Originals, a plan to publish and distribute more and more indie developed games every year.

Other, smaller conferences and reveals happened this week, including a new Dragon Ball Z fighting game to be released this fall, an Attack on Titan game centered around the first season of the anime, a new indie Friday the 13th multiplayer game, and Inside, a new title from Playdead games, the studio behind Limbo. I’m particularly excited for the Dragon Ball Z game. It looks like it employs a similar system to Pokken Tournament, having a ranged phase and an up close and personal phase. Netherrealm Games also officially announced Injustice 2, which is going to feature an even bigger roster of DC heroes and villains than the first game.

Best Shooter: Battlefield 1. While it was revealed before E3, DICE’s next entry into the Battlefield series looks terrific. DICE has chosen to do the opposite of their biggest competition, Call of Duty, which is going farther and farther into the future. Crafting a fictionalized version of World War One, Battlefield 1 is only in its Alpha stage but showcases amazing graphics and terrific physics. EA actually let gamers who attended the expo play a few rounds of the game and the reviews were very positive. They’ve been able to make The Great War look exciting and fast paced.

Best Action and adventure: Prey. I’d never heard of the original before seeing the trailer for this game, but now I want to play it. The trailer for Prey starts off weird, with the protagonist Morgan repeating the same morning routine, on the same day. Every time, little things are different and Morgan’s eyes get more and more bloodshot. The fourth time, he awakens in a lab… and everything gets weird. The game play shown closely resembles Dead Space, and looks terrific and terrifying. I’m going to have to play this with the lights on in the middle of the day.

Best new IP: tie between Friday the 13th and Detroit: Become Human.

Friday the 13th: Yes, it’s based on a movie series, and yes Jason has shown up in videogames before, but this is a whole animal. The game as it stands right now is entirely multiplayer based, with one player controlling the monstrous Jason and the rest playing as unaware summer camp councillors. Jason’s many abilities and shear brutality are translated well from the movies, and the councillors need to use their wits to evade and survive.

Detroit: Become Human: A futuristic single player game centered around an android police officer. The neo-noire style game offers the player choices throughout each case that affect the outcome in serious ways. In the trailer we watch a hostage standoff that goes south pretty quickly. The scene then backs up and shows what could have happened if different choices were made. The developers have said that the game is going to be on the short side, around 8-10 hours, but with a lot of replay value, and I can see why.

Worst Idea: Skyrim remaster. Everyone played Skyrim. Everyone played the HELL out of Skyrim. Doing a massive overhaul of Skyrim’s graphics engine makes the game look great, but is it really worth it considering the game is only coming up to its 5th birthday? I’d have preferred a remaster of Oblivion, with the mechanics of the game moving into skyrim’s models.

Best Surprise: Spiderman. One of my favourite games as a kid was Spiderman 2 for the Gamecube. The web slinging mechanic was terrific and Spiderman’s other powers were also well thought out and implemented. This game looks to revitalize that series. A PS4 exclusive, Sony has handed the reins to their long time partner Insomniac Games, the creators of the Ratchet and Clank and Resistance series. Fun games with great game play seem to be Insomniac’s prerogative so Spiderman is set up to be a great entry to the PS4’s library.

I was much more impressed with game reveals that featured actual game play footage rather than just cinematic trailers. Shiny reveal trailers like those for the new Quake and Halo Wars games look amazing, but don’t really tell the audience anything about the game. Actually showing off your game play should be the highlight of your conference, but not enough publishers did.

So Who Won E3? Sony. Gamers want games and Sony delivered. While they do have plans for a new half cycle console, the PS4 Neo, they showed their commitment to PS4 owners with their exclusives lineup. I’m going to be broke a lot in the coming years.