So Friday has come and E3 2016 is coming to a close. As a huge fan of video games, E3 is always a great time to simply sit back and see what the game industry has to offer, whether it is coming this year or in the future. So with that being said, let us look at the big press conferences of the event and grade them for the games they presented and how their line up looks going forward.
EA opened up the show this year but did not really have much to show and that is more literal than I’d like it to be. Throughout the entire conference, they did not show any live gameplay, including Titanfall 2 and Battlefield 1, two games that are coming out in October. The highlights included some Titanfall 2 trailers, showing off the game’s featured multiplayer and the fan-requested single player campaign, and an inside look at the redesigned FIFA game, that will feature a campaign mode of sorts. However Mass Effect Andromeda was a let down, with only a developer diary being featured, and for the third time in 4 years, no real Star Wars game was featured with the promise of a follow up Battlefront coming next year and Visceral’s game coming in 2018. Just an overall let down.
In their second year, Bethesda came out and presented a solid line up, starting with the surprise return of Quake and finishing with Dishonored 2 gameplay, and by filling in the gaps with Fallout 4 DLC, Elder Scrolls Legends, and the announcement of Fallout 4 coming to the HTC Vive next year, they once again showed that they are a publisher that can go toe to toe with the likes of EA and Activision. The show stalled a bit in the middle with the details of Doom and Elder Scrolls Online DLC, but they were able to finish strong with the Dishonored 2 showcase. As a fan of the original game, it was great to see them highlight the squeal to a game that not everyone played the first time around and I’m excited to get my hands on it later in the fall.
Microsoft’s press conference was everything it needed to be. An hour and a half of pretty much nothing except live game demos. They did have a few XBL updates but they talked about them briefly and kept moving to keep up the pace. For years, Microsoft and the Xbox team has been saying that Xbox is a home for gamers but they this year they truly delivered on it. Games including Gears 4, Forza Horizion 3, Final Fantasy XV, , Tekken 7, Scalebound, and Dead Rising 4 all showed off an impressive game line up that starts this fall. Their line up includes big AAA games but also included some indie games, including Inside, the follow up to Limbo, and We Happy Few, a game that is so dystopian looking, it makes a Orwell fan like me happy in ways I can’t even begin to describe. Plus their emphasis on the new Xbox Play Anywhere program, Xbox games can be enjoyed on the PC so gamers are not tied down to their console. Some people have complained about this but since Microsoft has come out and said that they are not using this to push their PC game store (i.e. you will still be able to get games on Steam), it shows that Microsoft is learning from their mistakes of the past and are trying to give gamers options, something that is always good. They ended with the announcement of Project Scorpio and while that has many questions surrounding it, those are to be answered later. For now, Xbox fans, enjoy a fun and action packed fall.
Ubisoft had a solid conference with a solid line up of games, however watching it was a big of a drag. For almost every game, they brought out someone and they would interview them on stage, and this prolonged the conference and not in a good way. However, the games presented look fantastic, from the action packed Wildlands to the comedic South Park: the Fractured But Whole and from the hack-y Watch Dogs 2 to the intense For Honor. They ended their conference with Steep, a new extreme sports IP, and while it looks beautiful and has impressive mechanics, it felt like a flat note to end on, especially when compared to the Watch Dogs and Wildlands demos. Steep seems like a game only a few people will enjoy (and maybe that is Ubisoft’s tactic; by showing it last, it will get people who would never think about a game like that to see it and consider if they are willing to buy it). Ubisoft also lost points for talking about the Assassin’s Creed movie; that is something for Comic-Con and not E3.
Sony finished off the E3 conferences with a solid showing, starting with the re-imagined God of War and ended with the new IP, Days Gone. In between, they featured the Last Guardian, which will finally see the light of day in October, and Hideo Kojima’s new IP, Death Stranding. However Sony spent a bulk of time on the PSVR and the conference seemed to slow at that point, and that is really unavoidable. A conference like that is not the best place to showcase the VR experience but it needed to be done. A down side to their conference is that they did not show off any indie games, and while I am usually not a fan of such games, it is not a good thing for Sony to do that; indie games are just as important as AAA games for the growth of the industry. All in all, a decent showing with a few big announcements.
Other: PC Games and Nintendo
This year Nintendo did not have a traditional conference yet they did show off Zelda on the Wii U and announced its official title (The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild). They also showed new Amiibo and had some new details for Pokemon Sun and Moon. However with Nintendo’s new console looming in the distance, this seemed to be just a way to have some presence at E3.
This year also featured a PC Games conference but the details of the it were hard to find and I couldn’t find the starting time until it was basically over. Nevertheless, the conference had some announcements from AMD and Oculus and featured details for new PC exclusive games, including Dawn of War III.
All in all, I’d say this E3 was much better that what I was expecting. After seeing some of the leaks, I was worried that there was not going to be much, however thanks to a few surprises from Sony and a solid presentation from Microsoft, my faith in E3 was restored. The other thing that made the conferences good was that is was not as VR-heavy as I thought it was going to be. While every conference featured VR in some way (whether live demos or just mentioning it), it did not take over the week. VR might be the future of games but for now take a breath and hang on to your controller because it is not going anywhere any time soon.