E3 2014 Report Card
E3, the most ridiculously hyped event in all of gaming. No, seriously, no other event gets so much insane press, or brings out so much gargantuan hubris from developers and publishers. This is the first year I've had a blog to really cover E3, but rest assured, this is something I intend on doing every single E3 from this point onward. Like every other schmo on the internet with an opinion on video games, I figured I'd put together my thoughts of all the major press conferences and assign them a score that represents what was brought to the table overall.
Because even though we technically all win, as consumers... isn't it fun to be judgmental?
To be entirely fair, almost nothing Sony could have done after their excellent showing at E3 last year would have been as good. But see, to me, that's a cop-out thing to say. Now, look, I'm a giant Sony fan. Year after year, I defend the brands they put out, extol the values of their systems, support their products. But this time around, I feel very, very cheated. We got a few glimpses of gameplay of The Order 1886, which looks decent. And we got a cinematic trailer for Uncharted 4: A Thief's End. Oh, and a new Little Big Planet, and some inFamous DLC. Other than that, with a few exceptions, there was an onslaught of multiplatform games and indies. Indies that will mostly make their way to PC, along with some that are already bound for it anyway. People didn't spend 400 dollars for indies, Sony. I love indie games, I really do. But... I can already play them. On my PC. And so can most people, considering the low graphical fidelity of them. And, no, your showing of Minecraft on the Vita was not the support that system needs.
Neither is its tethering to the PS4 console, which you are incredibly reliant on outside of a few announcements... most of which are, once again, ports. There are some excellent games coming to the system from third-party developers, and you are doing jack-all with your own system. It's the polar opposite of Nintendo's problem with the WiiU; you have a wonderful device which you continue to sell based on its value to the PS4, not on its inherent value to consumers. It's a bad marketing decision, and you should feel bad for it. For shame, Sony. For shame.
Everywhere else, outside of the obvious hype for Uncharted, there was nothing else here to really care about, on my end. No surprising announcements, outside of an indie game which was made instantly available on PSN; no gameplay of cool games coming exclusively to your system (Suda51's new game doesn't look that good, and we have no idea what kind of game Bloodborne is going to be yet); and what felt like no care for the same consumers you attracted last year. Oh, yes, and your unbelievable pimping of your new television content and the PlayStation TV is not the kind of stuff you take up press conference for. You pulled a Microsoft, and nobody's supposed to pull a Microsoft except for Microsoft.
So yeah, all around, very middle-of-the-road, by-the-numbers, ordinary stuff here. No true compelling reasons to own a PS4... and I'm speaking as somebody who owns one. Right now, I'm seeing little to no exceptional value in it. And that's sad.
Let me be clear. I still don't plan on buying an Xbox One for a long time, if at all. But if I were to tell somebody to buy a game based on exclusives and unique-looking titles, I'm finding fewer reasons to not tell them to go ahead and get one (pun intended.) Why? Well, let's see. Sunset Overdrive looks absolutely incredible, and I'm very, very jealous that I'm not going to be able to get my hands on it for a while. Also, while a lot of people have already played the first four Halo games, that new bundle of them looks incredible, and I'm sure it's going to have a massive amount of content for both newcomers and old-school fans alike.
Other than that, Fable Legends looks like a decent time, nothing special. Crackdown (yep, they rebooted it) will be, surprisingly, just like another Crackdown, most likely. Phantom Dust had a pretty cinematic which also seemed to spit in the fact of original fans, what with the Westernized character designs. And Project Spark still looks... eh. I will say, though, that their further defecation on Rare's properties with the inclusion of Conker in that is not cool. JonTron pretty much summed up my reactions in one minute.
Other than that, it was very humdrum stuff. A lot of third-party titles, including a new Call of Duty (with obligatory timed DLC,) which all looked very nice, yet still doesn't give the console added value. I mean, look, I'm looking forward to Rise of the Tomb Raider more than most games at the moment, but it can played on the PC (in all likelihood,) a PS4, or the Xbox One. Not really an exclusive. There used to be a time when buying a console meant getting an entirely different experience than the other person, and each one had its own value. That's not seeming like the case anymore. The PS3 had a great spate of exclusives, as did the Wii, and the 360, while not extraordinary, still had some neat titles in the first half of its lifecycle. And the further back you go, the more differences you see between the competitors.
Everything today seems like it's just... running together. And that's a damn shame.
Nintendo is the company everybody loves to say is screwed, but somehow, they always survive. In a world where Sony and Microsoft are making jabs at each other, clawing tooth and nail for graphical superiority, and trying to give the best handjob to EA, Activision, and other huge publishers, Nintendo simply does its own thing. And this year, that's exactly what E3 needed. Once again, they skipped out on a giant, moronic press conference and opted to host a "Nintendo Digital Event." This time, though, it was inter-stitched not with live actors for the most part, but sketches made by the folks who do Robot Chicken. It was funny, charming, and featuring Reggie setting a rabid fan on fire who impatiently asked for Mother 3. Remember when Reggie kicked ass and took names? Yeah, this was that good, and then some.
And then, they did something completely unprecedented for most of the conference. They actually showed gameplay. Lots of it. From games that are incredibly varied and exclusive to the console. Yoshi's Woolly World looks fantastic, and features co-op. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker takes the excellent mini-games from Super Mario 3D World, makes a whole game of them, then adds boss stages. Super Smash Brothers now supports Miis, features Palutena as a playable character, and the 3DS version is coming out October 3rd. Let's see what else... Bayonetta 2 hits the system this year and comes with an enhanced version of the original. There's a charming new multiplayer shooter/adorable squid person simulator called Splatoon. Oh, and a custom Mario level maker called Mario Maker. What else... oh, yeah, they announced a new fucking Zelda, which will be entirely open-world, and showed off an amazing tech demo from it. Yeah. That happened.
Other than that, they hosted (and will continue to, throughout the week) the Nintendo Treehouse streams, which show off upcoming titles and reveal new things... like the new Star Fox title coming out. Most of these streams have extensive looks at the gameplay of upcoming titles, which is a sight for sore eyes in a conference full of visual trickery. And aside from that, Nintendo continues to provide indie support while still maintaining a steady flow of "big" games. Also, Devil's Third, which is one of my all-time most anticipated games, is going to be an exclusive. Nice.
The Winner: Nintendo
So yeah, overall? Nintendo had the best showing, has the best exclusives, and the WiiU seems like the absolute best system to own for people interested in something different. There's already a nice library, the system is starting to gain momentum, and it looks like The Big N is ready to build on that. On top of this, their presentation was lively, enthusiastic, and funny as hell. Also, Reggie gave an impassioned speech about the joy of gaming that actually made me cry. No joke. This is a company that has listened to the fans, acknowledged its mistakes, and is looking with a keen, hungry eye to the future. I would not be shocked if their sales pick up even more than they already have with Mario Kart 8, because they are truly the most unique competitor out of the big trio of companies.
Nintendoomed? Not by a long shot.