E3 Overview (Opinions Warning)

E3

E3 has come and gone. With it, tons of epic gaming news and many gaming flops and a few gaming concerns. It is time again for another E3 conference overview. Let’s go through the details and see what the conferences gave us. This year there were conferences from (in order) EA, Microsoft, Bethesda, Devolver Digital, Ubisoft, Sony, and Nintendo. Let’s just go ahead and look at these in said order.

 

To start off this E3 conference overview, EA. EA is always trying to look hip at E3 and try something new and different while they announce new sportsball games. This year they had a group of people celebrities and Youtube personalities show off their game like did the previous year, however this year they decided to have one of the Youtubers (not a gamer, a vlogger/prankster) give a guest presentation and he dropped the ball big time. He fumbled and lost his lines and paused and had to start over and generally made everyone look bad. When they have tons of talented gamers on Twitch and Youtube who deserve a chance, they got this guy to fail instead. They even had actual members of Rooster Teeth in their gaming group and they used this guy instead. It was really a big failure that stands out more than most of their games. EA also tried to pawn off several games as having new mechanics and features when they don’t understand what the word new means. They first announced a game called A Way Out and talked about how new and special it is when the only thing new with it is a forced dynamic split screen 2 player locked system. You cannot play single player it is ONLY two player co-op and even if it is online multiplayer the screen is still split because it is a story driven game. Aside from that NONE OF IT IS NEW. It is a combination of Teletale and games like The Last of Us. They also talked about how new it was that their NBA sportsball game lets you create your own custom character. WOW, so new. I know it is hard to tell from typing, but that was sarcasm. However, they did do two new things and they tried to downplay how new they were. First, they listened to their customers. They heard all of the backlash from their first Star Wars Battlefront  game and went back and made Battlefront 2 an upgraded clone of the original. They added in several features of the original and updated a few more also from the original. The second thing they did was not go for a cash grab. It remains to be seen if there will be some system of microtransactions, and I would be surprised if there wasn’t. However there is no season pass. All future “season updates” will be free to all players. Every map and character and item will be released to all players at no extra cost. This is in response to one of the biggest complaints of the first game which is maps being unplayable because they could not find enough users able to access the content. They also showed off the new Need for Speed which adds in elements of Burnout/Split Second in order to “fight” cars and I say it that way because the cars have health bars.

 

Microsoft was next. There were a number of concerns that Microsoft needed to address with this conference and they really had to try hard to step up their game in the light of several disappoints such as the cancellation of Scalebound. They came out with the final details of the Xbox Project Scorpio. They went into details about the tech specs and revealed the official name, the Xbox One X. They announced that it was going to be the smallest Xbox console created to date and they announced the long speculated price point which is going to be a moderate and acceptable $499. However, where they really needed to pull off a win, was with their games. What are you going to play on this console when all the exclusives are being canceled and there is a massive element lacking from their current system leaving them well behind Playstation. They announced that they were going to be showing off 42 games and 22 of them will be Xbox exclusive. Half of these were only shown off in a singular trailer montage but the rest were at least full trailers if not plenty of teaser detail. With tons of games; Forza 7, Metro Exodus, State of Decay 2, Dragon Ball Fighter Z, Playerunknown’s Battleground, The Darwin Project, The Last Night, CodeVein, Crackdown 3, Sea of Thieves, Super Lucky’s Tale, Ashen, Life is Strange Before the Storm, and Ori and the Will of the Wisps. There were a few flops such as Deep Rock Galactic which looks like a direct ripoff of Astroneer with a lot of the same art and assets but including combat now. The Artful Escape and Tacoma both offered trailers with no information or explanation. Minecraft talked more about their community centered updates which included a community store that looks like it will have possible microtransactions as well as a free super graphics pack that takes away from the feel of what is Minecraft with more realistic plant and water assets. I was also disappointed with the Assassin’s Creed reveal because they really took a step away from the franchise and made it very Destiny styled with collectable gear, character levels, skill tree, a controlled “homing” arrow, and a slowed down bullet time when using the bow letting you float gently through the air of ancient Egypt while you take your time to aim at enemies. It is very beautiful and looks like a good game but it does not feel like Assassin’s Creed. They gave the release date for Cuphead, September 29th. I was very impressed with the trailer for Black Desert and I am looking forward to learning more about this game, with a real time Assassin’s Creed/Batman Arkham combat with Fantasy elements it gives the game a very interesting feel. Anthem was announced, a new IP from Bioware, that looked really impressive yet gave a vibe of the broken promises that The Division offered us. A very stunning very interactive system. I think that this game will be able to deliver more but we will see. I think out of all of the games shown by Microsoft, I enjoyed and am most looking forward to Shadow of War, the new Mordor game. They did not change mechanics so much as just build and add to the base of the original game. Building on that base gives it an excellent foundation and they added in conquerable strongholds on top of the controlled enemies, they added new enemies, new weapons, enemy commanders have an enhanced personality system, there is more of an elemental system showing the character’s sword causing ice/freezing to enemies. It also boasts a much larger open world map than the previous game. I am really looking forward to this game and I am looking forward to messing with all the AI. All in all, Microsoft knocked it out of the park.

 

That brings us to Bethesda in the E3 conference overview. Bethesda started with an emphasis on Fallout and Skyrim updates. They announced Doom 4 VR. They announced the release of a full, openworld Fallout 4 VR. They announced a Morrowind update for The Elder Scrolls Online with a giant bear companion of some sort. They announced the Creation Club where mods and devs have come together to create new “official” content for Fallout 4 and Skyrim you can install from an ingame store that looks like it will be a way for Bethesda to initiate microtransactions and make money of user created content. They announced a Skyrim Heroes expansion for the Elder Scrolls Legends mobile phone card based game. They announced the release of Skyrim on the Switch allowing for portable Skyrim. It will also work with the Link Amiibo that will give your character Link’s outfit, sword, and shield. There is a new Dishonored Death of the Outsider. A new Quake Champions game with the return of the Quake World Champions at Quakecon. The Evil Within 2 was shown. Wolfenstein 2 the new Colossus had a long cinematic trailer. It has an interesting story with a Fallout feeling atmosphere that is very 50’s influenced. From the trailer it seems to have some openworld or semi-open world sections. All in all, it was a number of trailers with no real solid information and just more milking Skyrim and Fallout 4, but not in the way people are wanting.

 

After that was a 15 minute parody of the conference world by Devolver Digital that showed off no real games and gave no real information and just took the time to make fun of all the other presenters. It probably doesn’t belong in the E3 conference overview but it was a part of the show. It was a very strange and surreal moment that made me wonder exactly what I had just seen. I cannot even put it into words. But a part of this E3 conference overview it will remain for just those reasons.

 

Ubisoft was next in line. They started off with a long reveal of Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. They said it would not be a jumping platformer like typical Mario games and when they showed gameplay they stuck to that promise. It is Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Xcom. It is a tactical top down shooter where you control a team and and move around a board based battlefield using cover/flanking/overwatch mechanics to defeat the enemies. There are various characters, weapons, there are skill trees. The entire Mushroom Kingdom gets a Rabbids makeover. At the end of the reveal, the team is faced down by a giant Donkey Kong Rabbid. They showed off some additional Assassin’s Creed content in the form of a cinematic trailer. They announced The Crew 2 with various new types of vehicles, not just cars. South Park the Fractured but Whole was given its official release date of October 17th. They showed off a live action trailer for what appears to be a suspense/horror VR game called Transference, but it offered no information or gameplay. They announced a new IP, Skull and Bones, based off the Assassin’s Creed 4 pirate ship mechanics. The entire game is played on ship, there is no land or sea based gameplay. Even boarding enemy ships is done with an animated sequence and your character never leaves the wheel of the ship. It is a heavily pvp based system with both open world play and arena play as well. There are different classes in the form of ship designs and there is actually wind and currents that come into play with piloting and maneuvering the ships. They had another random on stage performance for the announcement of a new Just Dance game. They announced a new mobile phone version of the South Park games called South Park Phone Destroyer. It looks like it has a similar combat style to the other games where you have characters with powers based on their outfits only this time they have added in a ton more outfits for a massive variety of options. They then introduced a new collectable figures game, Star Link Battle for Atlas. It is a flight battle game with both in space and in atmosphere battles. It has a very No Man’s Sky look to it except that it is only spaceship combat and nothing else. You collect pilots, ships, and ship weapons that you then attach to each other and attach to your controller. These look big and in the way. The gameplay looks rather competitive and they say that the pieces can also be collected digitally so you do not have to try and buy all the figures or attach them to your controller. There isn’t any word on if it will be dropped loot, loot boxes, or microtransactions. It will be Switch compatible as well. Steep showed off the trailer for its first DLC which is the Olympics. Far Cry 5 had a new gameplay trailer showing off the AI companion mechanics a bit better. You appear to have much more control over AI help in a similar fashion to the Ghost Recon series having them scout, take sniper shots, and provide cover and various other mechanics. They again emphasized the co-op abilities. Then came a cinematic trailer for the long awaited Beyond Good and Evil 2. It had people moved and so excited while not telling people anything of any value. The game has just started 0 day production and the only information that was shared was the fact it took place in very distant galaxy several years before the protagonist of the previous game was born. I did not find myself impressed by it. I will be waiting to get a release date for South Park Phone Destroyer.

 

Sony is the next in line for this E3 conference overview. They showed off a new Gran Turismo and plan to focus more on competition with this game, but they did not really expand upon how they were going to do this. They showed of the PS Vue after that. A service similar to Netflix but provided through Sony because monopoly is more than just a board game. They want to be your source for all media. They showed off a much longer cinematic trailer for Uncharted the Lost Legacy. It seems to have a decently in depth story with a fair bit of character development far beyond the Nathan Drake style of things. Then came Horizon Zero Dawn The Frozen Wilds. I feel a lot of people were waiting for more Horizon Zero Dawn and they could have held this announcement off as one of their bigger reveals. Days Gone got a much larger and different look from what it received last year. It showed off a bullet time slow down and quicktime events, an investigation/interaction system, the ability to set traps, it also used the zombies themselves as a trap luring them against a camp of raiders/thugs. They also showed off zombified wildlife including wolves and bears. They announced Monster Hunter World. Built off the same backbone of their other games but with several updates to bait, lures, tracking, traps, and even the ability to stealth with the use of things like ghillie suits. It teased a number of gadgets and even showed the player leading a monster into a fight with another monster. They then showed the trailer for the remake of another classic game, this one with many more feels and nostalgia attached to it, Shadow of the Colossus. They then went into a story cinematic for Capcom vs Marvel Infinite building on the world of the previous game. Call of Duty WWII was shown off after that with a look and feel more like the current Battlefield game, at least as far as the campaign is concerned. They then went into a barrage of short VR trailers including Skyrim VR, Star Child VR, The Inpatient VR, Monsters of the Deep Final Fantasy 15 VR (do not get your hopes up, it is just the fishing minigame from the core title), Bravo Team VR, and Moss VR. After that they went into the new God of War showing off more of the Norse magic and the world around them. It teased a few of the story points and showed off more enemies and then it topped it all off by having the world serpent literally pop up. Detroit Become Human showed off more aspects of their decision heavy world. This was a very different look from what was shown the year before, the previous year showing a scene where you are an android working as a police negotiator trying to talk down another android who is a servant and has taken a little girl hostage on a large balcony. With this new scene you are playing as one of the leaders at the center of the android revolution. It was a much different setting and feel to the previous trailer while still being centered on the mechanic of heavy choices. I feel this game will have tons of replayability options. Next was a new trailer about Destiny 2 with the announcement of exclusive gear, weapon, and ship as well as an exclusive strike and exclusive pvp map specifically for Playstation users. Then came the highlight game, the previously announced Spider-Man game. It feels like they went back and really reworked many of the problems of previous Spider-Man games. The combat is very Batman Arkham style with is perfect for Spider-Man with the slow motion and counter attacks representing his spider sense very well and instead of all of the batarangs he has is webshooters to tie up and better combo enemies. There is a major similarity with the Stealth components of the Arkham series as well with Spider-Man silently going around and webbing up any opponents he can before being forced into open combat. Spider-Man also gets his own web based gadgets and there is also environmental combat, highlighted by Spider-Man webbing a large I beam and spinning it to knock out 3 enemies at the start of a combat scene. There do seem to be a number of quicktime events but they appeared to be story related and well placed actually making you feel more like Spider-Man as opposed to taking you out of the moment. At the end of the reveal, in the crowd of people on the street watching Spider-Man flip through the air, was Miles Morales. Miles is the Spider-Man of an alternate universe that is tied to more than one Peter Parker character, so how he is tied into this game and what it means for the possibility of playing as other Spider-People or teaming up with other characters is something I am looking forward to seeing.

 

And finally, Nintendo. Nintendo opted again to not actually participate at E3 in a conference capacity, but instead send a video. They started out with Xenoblade Chronicles 2. This one looks a lot more animated than previous games and they could not resist doing a Sephiroth parody in the trailer. They showed off a new Kirby and this new version really emphasises team play. If you are playing solo or with just one or two people then you can charm AI characters to fill in the remaining spots to your four person party. You are able to combine powers with AI or other players for new special combination moves to get past various obstacles in the world. There has been a lot of speculation about Pokemon Stars for Switch and rumors as to whether it was real or not with subtle hints on both sides of the argument. They did announce officially that there was a CORE pokemon RPG title just starting development for the Switch. They did not even have a name or logo for the title, just confirming that development was beginning. However they did have a logo for Metroid Prime 4. Just a logo. Then they showed off what appears to be a Yoshi’s Woolly World sequel simply titled Yoshi. It features a yarn Yoshi running around a cardboard and paper world colored with crayon. Next was a trailer for Fire Emblem Warriors from Koei, Omega Force, and Team Ninja . It appears to center around a new brother/sister protagonist team and the characters from the Fire Emblem series coming into their world due to the chaos caused by a dragon that has appeared. It is essentially Warriors Orochi for a new franchise, something this development team has done many times before to numerous other franchises. Some franchises translate better than others, and this seems like one of the ones that will translate well. Breath of the Wild showed a trailer for the DLC they have previously announced. There was nothing really impressive to point out and several of the mechanics should have been in the full release of the game or at worst offered as a free update when they were finished, not paid DLC. They also showed a cinematic trailer for the Champion’s Ballad DLC but it did not give any information at all and just showed the four champions from the game. They did announce that the 4 champions would be coming as Amiibos as well. Nintendo is also looking to push into the eSports arena with Splatoon, Pokken, and Arms and held a tournament for each during the E3 floorshow. They gave the official August 29th release date for Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle that Ubisoft showed off. They also announced that Rocket League would be coming to the Switch and that it would allow “cross-network” play allowing people to play on different “platforms”. They make it sound like cross-platform compatibility but by calling it “cross-network” I am not sure if they mean only across Nintendo platforms or if Nintendo plays with PC and PS4 and Xbox One or what. They also said that the Switch version would include exclusive customization items and exclusive battle-cars. The highlight of their show was Mario Odyssey. It strangely blends in the Mushroom Kingdom with real world environments. The new main mechanic to this game is Mario finding a magic ghost hat. This hat gives Mario Kung Lao Mortal Kombat style moves and the ability to take control of the minds of other mobs and npcs taking away their free will and proving that the he is the true villain of the series!!!

 

All in all, in this E3 conference overview, I am going to have to say that Microsoft stepped up and gave their fans something to hope for. With their recent game release issues, this is the delivery they needed. Playstation has been strong the past few conferences and they backed off a bit this year letting Microsoft take the spotlight away from them this year. I feel the biggest letdown was Destiny’s Creed Origins and Detroit Become Human, the biggest games I am looking forward to are Shadow of War, Far Cry 5, and Battlefront 2. Is it bad that I am excited for a mobile game? South Park Phone Destroyer just looks like so much more of the outrageous South Park fun I came to love from Stick of Truth and have been upset over the delays with Fractured but Whole. I am also really interested in several other titles such as Anthem, Black Desert, and Mario + Rabbids and I am looking forward to seeing more as more information becomes available. I may have to invest in playstation just so I can play Spider-Man. Why did Marvel make that one exclusive? Bad form Marvel, bad form. Everything aside, it was another spectacular E3 with many gems to look forward to and so much hype and energy. I am already looking forward to what the holidays have to offer and what development details next year will bring. That is all for this E3 conference overview and I look forward to the next.

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