I loved this year’s E3! I usually watch casually and take notes on games that excite me, but this was the first year I looked at the press conferences carefully and analyzed them beyond than just the games but also the level of the presentations — an essential skill for anyone in public relations. Below, I’ll provide impressions of each showcase in order of preference:
The Sony press conference was nearly spot on. Opening up with The Last Guardian was incredible, since it is a game that fans of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus have been awaiting for a long time. It’s hard for me to get SUPER excited about a game that isn’t coming out until 2016, but it’s something. Introducing a new, exciting series kept the excitement up, which is exactly what they did with Horizon Zero Dawn. They even launched a Kickstarter in the middle of an E3 press conference, which is something I never thought would happen. Kickstarter is a great platform — and it’s interesting that it looks like Sony was pushing for the crowdfunding to “prove” that consumers would actually buy Shenmue III, which definitely is the case. The show started to drag a bit when they presented Playstation Vue, but it’s honestly something I’m excited about since I only want cable for the Food Network and ESPN. After that, the show was about average — but Sony naturally has to maintain its relationships with third-party publishers (so even if it’s not super exciting, it’s good to see that the PS4 will continue to have solid support). I thought that’s how they were going to end the show, but then they pulled out the big guns with Uncharted 4, which looks AMAZING. I can’t wait to play so many of these games, and the press conference convinced me even further to get a PS4.
GAMES I’M INTERESTED IN: The Last Guardian, Horizon Zero Dawn, Hitman, Street Fighter V, Final Fantasy VII remake (I’ve actually never played the original), Shenmue III, No Man’s Sky, World of Final Fantasy (I think I’m in the minority in loving the chibi art), Firewatch and Uncharted 4.
Upon seeing the Bethesda press conference, I couldn’t believe that this was their first one! The week before E3, I was talking to my friends about wanting more arcade-y, fun shooters. Well, Bethesda opened right up with DOOM, which will have a super fun multiplayer mode that looks silly — which is just what I was looking for. The game looks disgusting (in the best way possible), and I’m pretty scared to see what that looks like on my huge TV. Dishonored 2 looks cool, and I love that they are going with a female protagonist. I don’t know much about the first Dishonored, so I had trouble putting the trailer into a gameplay context — but I’m sure others were able to. I don’t know how Battlecry is going to play, but their trailer did a good enough job to get me to sign up for the beta. Of course the highlight of the show was Fallout 4, which is beginning to look like it’s going to be the greatest game of all time. I originally thought it was going to be simply a better looking Fallout 3 (which honestly would be great), but they showed that it was SO MUCH MORE. I’m not always the biggest sandbox fan, but I think it is going to work very well in this one. I like how every item will have some sort of purpose, which is something I’ve always had trouble with in the previous Fallout games. The gun mods will be a lot of fun, and I probably won’t be messing around with the Minecraft-y building much — but I like that it’s a possibility if I’m in the mood. The real Pip-Boy is super dorky and not my style, but I like that they will be unlocking the smartphone app for everyone! I had a strong feeling that the game was coming out this year, but I didn’t think it would be that soon. The Fallout Shelter app is a ton of fun, and I’m impressed that it’s a true free-to-play game. I didn’t have a huge interest in Elder Scrolls Online, but their presentation at least convinced me to look deeper. Also, I want those Fallout figurines!
GAMES I’M INTERESTED IN: Literally ALL of them!
The Microsoft press conference was the one presentation I was planning on skipping, since I’ve never been a huge Xbox fan — but I do not regret deciding to watch the show. I always like to see Halo footage because I like the game — but not enough for it to be a console seller for me, especially when one my best friends will be buying every single one and invite me over to play. The multiplayer aspect on Halo looks fantastic, and I like the prospect of a big 24-player mode. The backwards compatibility reveal was essential, but I wish they presented it with more of an apology for taking so long instead of a big. “HEY CHECK THIS OUT!” Just like Sony did, Microsoft presented a new IP right after the big game “reveal” — and it was ReCore, which looks great (and it reminds me of something, but I can’t put my finger on it). They presented a modded control idea for the Xbox One, which I thought was super cool — but being the fourth thing presented felt kind of odd. What shocked me (in a good way) was the super cool indies that will be arriving on the Xbox. The biggest one for me was Cuphead, which reminds me of Alien Hominid — one of my favorite indie games in that style. The Rare news was bittersweet, since I’m a Nintendo fan that lost them on my platforms of choice — but it was good to see some progress coming from them. I was already feeling bad for Gamestop employees when I saw Battletoads was being adding to the retro bundle. My favorite game of the showcase was Sea of Thieves from Rare. If the game is well reviewed and plays as good as it looks, it may end up being a system seller for me. The Microsoft Hololens looks super interesting — and I like their VR approach, which is different from the standard headset. I’m not quite convinced — but if it is truly as good as it looks in a standard household environments, I may have to change my mind.
GAMES I’M INTERESTED IN: ReCore, The Division, Rainbow Six Siege, Cuphead, Gigantic, Sea of Thieves
There wasn’t too much to the Ubisoft presentation, I enjoyed the content. The presenters brought out the right balance of professionalism with excitement. It’s kind of weird that the first title Ubisoft showed off was the South Park game — but the first game was a huge success, and it got the crowd pumped. Ubisoft kept this year’s tradition alive and announced a new IP second with For Honor, which looks super cool. The battle system looks solid, but I’m already imagining myself getting destroyed online. Both of the Ubisoft driving games look like fun, but they probably won’t be purchases for me. I’m scared of Anno 2205 because Cities: Skylines has already been stealing a stupid amount of hours away from my life, but I’ll probably end up ignoring good advice from myself and buying it anyway. I’m not convinced the online in Rainbow Six: Siege will work — but it did work great for games like DayZ, so it’s promising. I’m a big fan of shooters, but I’m also bad at them — so seeing that all my hard work can get destroyed in seconds makes me nervous. If Ghost Recon’s gameplay and story are engaging, I’ll likely be putting way too many hours into it by doing missions in so many different ways. Finally, I thought I was tired of Assassin Creed games, but the London theme is looking too good to turn down.
GAMES I’M INTERESTED IN: For Honor, The Division, Anno 2205 (ugh), Rainbow Six: Siege, Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate
I was so excited for Nintendo’s press conference . . . and was then so disappointed. Still, after I discarded my fanboyism and reflected a bit, I realized it wasn’t too bad. The (digital) press conference was SO Nintendo. It was weird, but still oddly endearing. There were puppets, dancing and the cutest presentation possibly of Yoshi’s Woolly World. They opened up with Star Fox Zero, which everyone covering the event knew was coming. I don’t care too much about graphics (at least when it comes to the brilliant design from Nintendo), but I thought the game looked bad visually. It looked like a Gamecube game, which is sad when I’ve seen beautiful games come out for the Wii U such as Mario Kart, Splatoon and Windwaker HD. I’m not sold on the motion controls, but I’m not losing faith since the motion controls worked so well on Splatoon. The biggest disappointment of this conference was that the 3DS was getting the focus instead of the Wii U, which doesn’t feel right at such a big event. Every 3DS game they announced — except for Metroid Prime — I’ll likely purchase, but this doesn’t pump me up as much as some of the big console games I saw at the other conferences. Still, the new Zelda game for 3DS looks crazy awesome — but I’m not sure how well online functionality (which seems to be essential) will work for the game. I was excited to see a release date for Xenoblade Chronicles X, which is the game that pushed me to finally purchase a Wii U last year. I have no interest in Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, which is a bummer since Animal Crossing is one of my favorite franchises. I’ve just always found the home design in Animal Crossing to be my least favorite part of the series. It’s bittersweet, but at least we’re getting some sort of Animal Crossing for the Wii U — although it looks to be like more of a Mario Party-type game, which is cool with me if they can bring a fresh take on a party game (since Mario Party has been on the decline). The big surprise for me was Mario Tennis Ultra Smash, which I’m currently PUMPED for, since the GBA and N64 games were a huge part of my childhood. Nostalgia is dangerous, but also very real. Finally, if Super Mario Maker has solid online (which is a gamble for Nintendo) — then it may be the top game of 2015.
GAMES I’M INTERESTED IN: Star Fox Zero, TriForce Heroes, Fire Emblem, Xenoblade Chronicle X, Animal Crossing Amiibo Festival, Yo-Kai Watch (super interested to see how this does in the States), Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam, SMT X FE, Mario Tennis Ultra Smash, Super Mario Maker, Yoshi’s Woolly World
PC Gaming Show: I was super happy to see the PC audience get a press conference, but it felt so dry to me. Honestly, I realize that I wasn’t in the right target audience — and that was simply all there was to it. Still, I enjoyed the format; it was more of a talk show presentation, which worked for such a long show. Some things felt weird and bored me extra hard, like the AMD presentations. (I want to build a PC and then leave it alone for at least three years, but I guess that’s why PC isn’t my main device.) Still, I don’t really have too much to say about the show. They presented some games that look interesting — but nothing exclusive to PC that I had to have except for maybe STRAFE, since I love arcade-y shooters. They presented everything professionally and kept things moving at a decent space. There were plenty of things that were interesting — like American Truck Simulator using Google Maps (I’ve heard this series has some die-hard fans), and Gears of War coming to PC. I was also sad to not hear anything about Half Life 3 🙁
GAMES I’M INTERESTED IN: STRAFE, Overwatch, Planet Coaster
Thank God Square Enix still puts out great games because that was the only thing that saved them from their disorganized conference. You could tell that it was the first year that Enix was hosting a press conference purely for how dry and boring they made great games look. For example, take Just Cause 3 — which looks like a perfect combination of Far Cry and Saint’s Row. Instead of just showing an action-packed trailer, they decided to add awkward narrations that felt forced and made the game look like a drag. Okay, I’m tired of dragging them down because the games looked good. If they come back with another press conference next year, I hope they learn how to present and really bring it. NieR is a series I’ve never heard of, but it looked super cool, artsy and fun. (I’m trying to not mention that weird masked man presenting it.) I and the rest of the Novy crew were pleased with how the new Tomb Raider game looks, especially with an appropriate and tasteful outfit that makes sense for the character. Their Lara Croft GO game actually looks super fun, and it’s probably the type of game that developers should be making for mobile. Of course, the Kingdom Hearts III footage was stellar — although presenting a mobile game BEFOREHAND was such an amateur mistake. I’m also pumped to play Hitman and Deus Ex. Square Enix will be better next year; I know it!
GAMES I’M INTERESTED IN: Just Cause 3, NieR, Tomb Raider, Laura Croft GO, Final Fantasy VII, Kingdom Hearts III, World of Final Fantasy, Hitman, Star Ocean, Deus Ex
Meh. It’s kind of a big bummer that EA’s press conference was so underwhelming, since I had high hopes for them for whatever reason. Maybe I thought that after being consistently named the worst company in video games that they would come back fighting. Sadly, they did not. They did bring a lot of flash that included expensive cars that a large majority of the audience will never be able to afford for Need for Speed. Still, it wasn’t a complete waste of time. They presented a game that I am already in love with named Unravel. The game is a puzzle platformer that looks like a Nintendo game and will surely be a ton of fun. I’m a sucker for physics-based games, and it reminds me of one of my favorites: World of Goo. On another note: The more I see of the new Battlefront, the less excited I get. I saw a comment on Reddit (I think), where someone said it looks just like a Battlefield mod — which is spot on. They are missing the huge amount of maps, space battles, online battlefields, and more. My nostalgia was going wild for this title, but I can feel it slowly burning out. I’m excited to see what EA Sports is going to do with NBA Live, since 2K has been needing some competition for its basketball series as the quality has gone down. Maybe this competition will push them back up. I don’t want to say Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 is going to be a blast, but it looks like it will 🙂
GAMES I’M INTERESTED IN: Unravel, Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2, NBA Live Elite