E3 2015 Report Card


Continuing a tradition that I started last year, here's my hot, totally subjective take on who "won" E3, because that's totally a thing that can be concretely determined! 

Anyway. I'll be covering all the press conferences, except for PC, because nothing really special or new got announced. Oh, I mean, I guess that StarCraft beta. Neat. Moving on.


Bethesda: B



We got Doom, Dishonored 2 and Fallout 4 all in the same press conference. That alone is enough for most to flip out. But it's how good those games looked that really pulled me in. Doom looks like basically more of Doom 3, only prettier and mixed with some elements from Wolfenstein: The New Order, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Dishonored 2 had a gorgeous trailer, and introduced a female protagonist, who I'm pretty sure is the little girl from the last game, which is awesome. And Fallout 4 looks like it's the first entry that will make me truly give a fuck about Fallout, which is a step-up from New Vegas, which only made me give 50-75% of a fuck. 

Everything else was pretty "meh." Battlecry looks pretty uninspired and unpolished, plus it's yet another free-to-play arena shooter. I mean, I know there's an audience for those, but I'm not part of it. And more Elder Scrolls Online stuff seems like a bad idea right now, considering how disastrous the launch has been. And, on top of that, Elder Hearth ScrollStone looks like something I'd play about once and then leave on my phone for a few months before quietly putting it out to pasture.

Personally, and I know it's a little out there, but I would have liked more surprises. What about another Wet? That game was awesome. Maybe more Evil Within? I dunno. Just something a little more surprising, I guess. Again, I'm happy with the three major games they put out, but they're all a bit predictable, and some unexpected twists would have been nice. Or maybe I'm just bitter about those bitchin' Bethesda amiibo that I'll never have.

Microsoft: B+ 

Microsoft started off with a whimper by debuting Halo 5 footage, which is a game that looks increasingly like more of Halo 4 and, by consequence, increasingly less interesting. But then they totally made up for it with the huge announcement of Xbox 360 backwards compatibility. It was a smart move on their part, and a good way to try and lure 360 owners into adopting a new console. I've gotta say, I really like my Xbox One, despite some interface issues, and this opening announcement got me even more excited. Hopefully I can finally pick up Tales of Vesperia, you guys!

As far as current-gen stuff went, they did a pretty bang-up job there as well. Rise of the Tomb Raider looks fucking incredible, speaking as a fan of both the last game and the franchise as a whole. From what I understand, they're aiming to marry the Uncharted-esque gameplay of the 2013 game and the signature puzzle-platformer blend of older titles, and I couldn't be more happy with that. I'll definitely be snagging it in November. Forza 6 looks neat for those who are into that series, and Gears of War 4 looks like a good time (and I'll definitely be getting that re-release of the older titles.)

But what really sealed the deal for me, on top of the promising ReCore, is the double-whammy of Rare announcements. Sea of Thieves sounds and looks amazing. An open world pirate game? Colors that aren't grey and brown? Rare actually making a game again? Sign me up. Oddly, though, I was most excited about the announcement of Rare Replay. 30 Rare games for 30 dollars, including ones that are hard as hell to get your hands on now. That's a massive bargain, and all the extra trimmings and stuff are just icing on the cake.

Overall, while there's some stuff I personally don't care about, Microsoft had a super solid showing this year. For the first time in a while, I'm happy that I have an Xbox One, and I can't wait to get my hands on some of this new shit. Especially Conker's Bad Fur Day, because screw paying 80-90 bucks for an N64 cart that isn't even that scarce.

And hey, now if somebody calls GameStop and asks for Battletoads, they can get a straight answer.

EA: D+


Mirror's Edge Catalyst is a prequel that comes out next year. The new Mass Effect is called Andromeda. EA really cares about their sports games but not enough to actually make them worth buying. Pele has nothing to do with video games but was up on the stage for some reason. Battlefront is basically Battlefield in space with stuff that will make people buy it for nostalgia's sake and not much else. Tumblr won't stop being fucking weird and creepy over that Unravel dev. 

Seriously, dude, they're even doing fanart of him. He's a real person, not a character on Supernatural. Please stop.

But anyway. There. I saved you an hour or so. Next!

Ubisoft: C+


I'll level with you. I only watched bits and pieces of this one, and just found out the announcements after the fact. The presentation itself was, um, pretty cringeworthy. Aisha Tyler was energetic and all, and still funny as always, but she's funnier when she can be herself and not be in the middle of stupid bits/skits/whatever that was happening on the stage yesterday. But, still, it's nice to see somebody who isn't a white dude and who doesn't drone on and on. Even if the whole thing is a bit forced, at least it's a bit different, and at least Aisha is funny when she's doing her own thing. 

Anyway, video games. Ubisoft had some of those. That new South Park announcement was out-of-the-blue but totally welcome. I liked Stick of Truth way more than I expected to, and thought it was one of those rare licensed games that was actually worth something. Rainbow Six Siege seems like it'll be a pretty good time, and that's speaking as someone who hasn't really liked any of those games outside of playing Vegas 2 co-op with my dad back in high school. The new Assassin's Creed looks like it'll be a lot better than the fuckheap that was Unity, and even has me almost convinced to pick it up at launch. Oh, and conceptually, I'm digging For Honor. But I also conceptually dug Watch Dogs, and that ended up biting me in the ass, so we'll see. 

There was other stuff, too, but I didn't really care about or like any of it. Just Dance doesn't need any time in a press conference, and bringing out Jason Derulo doesn't do anything to convince me otherwise. The Crew is getting an expansion pack, because didn't everybody love that game? Everything else was pretty "eh," is what I'm trying to say.

So, yeah. The games were solid, South Park was a neat surprise, and a new IP is always a good thing. But seriously, Ubisoft, stop trying to be funny. That's why you hired Aisha. Let her do that. You do games that aren't functionally broken out of the box. 

Sony: A-


Last year, Sony really blew it. Most of their stuff at E3 2014 focused on TV and PSN games that nobody really cared about, and their big ace in the hole was a cinematic Uncharted trailer. Yawn. And while I can't call it a comeback, considering that Sony has a pretty firm grip on console sales thus far, let's just say Sony made up for last year in spades.

First off, we got a non-stop flow of games. Only at the very end did we get anything about something other than gaming, and that was basically one second. Second off, pretty much all of those games were amazing. Bombshell after bombshell. The Last Guardian? It's coming out next year. Uncharted 4? Hey, that looks alright. That long-requested Final Fantasy VII remake because people can't let that game go? It actually exists. We're even getting a new Hitman that looks alright. Not only that, but we also got some new IPs. Horizon Zero Dawn looks like a cool post-post-apocalyptic game, and it has a rad-looking female protagonist on top of that. The Tearaway devs are making another weird, quirky thing that looks weird and quirky. Aside from a few iffy things, it was a stellar showing, and an overwhelming deluge of titles. 

But I feel like I'm forgetting something. Oh. Yeah. Shenmue 3. Shenmue motherfucking 3. Not an HD collection. Not a remake. A real, actual, "Hell has frozen over" Shenmue 3 announcement. Sony debuted the Great White Buffalo of gaming at their press conference as a Kickstarter. It flew past its $2 Million goal in under 12 hours, only for Sony to say, "don't worry, guys, we're funding it too." So, not only did they debut the game, they're helping do what Sega couldn't and can't: give Yu Suzuki a grotesque amount of money to complete his dream project.

So what's with the "minus"? First off, Sony has an amazing portable out there in the wild, and they refuse to do jackshit for it. That's just bad business, and a sad, lonely fate for one of the best systems I've ever owned. Secondly, capitalizing on nostalgia is regressive, and the whole show, I got the impression they were doing just that. They're cynically serving nostalgia-bait to entitled "hardcore gamers" on a silver platter, and they're lapping it right up. It just rubs me the wrong way.

Anyway. A bunch of games, some new, some old, and pretty much all looked interesting in some way or another. Is there anything else we could ask for from E3? Probably not

Nintendo: B



Nintendo has, for the past several years, turned out stuff at E3 that looks fun and interesting. Personally, I've preferred their stuff to the big guns, and in a way, that hasn't changed. I'm still convinced that the best next-gen system to own is a Wii U. The previously announced stuff coming out this year all looks pretty great, especially Yoshi's Wooly World, Star Fox Zero, Super Mario Maker, Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water, Devil's Third, and Xenoblade Chronicles X. Even some of the new stuff they showed off looked fun. Mario and Luigi: Paper Jam is going to rock. That co-op Zelda thingy will probably be a blast. Animal Crossing amiibo Festival looks like a cuddly little cash grab. And, hey, more Mario Tennis is never a bad thing.

So, why, exactly, am I a little ambivalent towards the rest of it? For starters, and I'm not trying to sound like an entitled baby about this, that Metroid Prime: Federation Force thing was a huge disappointment. It could have easily been a new IP without having to trot out a license that's a bit of a sore spot. And that new Fire Emblem? Christ, that looks bad. Talk about a cynical pitch at otaku audiences. Ditto for that Fire Emblem x Shin Megami Tensei crossover, which is something I was really excited about. Now, it just looks like yet another stupid anime boob game with pop music. Way to blow that opportunity, guys!

It was little stuff that held back Nintendo this year. I'm not going to be a reactionary lunatic about it and go, "oh, no, Nintendo is doomed, they're not doing what I want them to do, they betrayed us!" That's stupid. But I am saying that some of their announcements were underwhelming, and some of their big games just flatout don't look good. Here's hoping I'm wrong. Either way, they still have a great lineup for the next year or so, and the whole Muppet thing they did with the Direct was fun and adorable.

So, yeah. Fun, promising, but a little underwhelming in some areas. That's my take on Ninty's showing this year. No skin off my teeth, as I'm still having a blast with Splatoon.

Square Enix: A- (or F)


Square Enix gets two grades from me. Let's start with the "A-". That's for their awesome showcase this year. Rise of the Tomb Raider, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Kingdom Hearts III, Just Cause 3, World of Final Fantasy, the new NieR title, Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness, even Tomb Raider Go. Everything they showed this year is, in some capacity, something I'm interested in. And that's honestly more than I can say for any press conference this year. Even Sony had stuff that made me go, "eh, I dunno, not for me." Square Enix had game after game that I'm probably going to spend full retail price on.

Why the "F" for my second grade, then? Because the press conference itself was some of the worst garbage I've ever seen. Video issues, a translator who didn't translate half the time, microphone snags, awkward pacing, painfully long talks, looping video reels... the laundry list of "things to not do at an E3 press conference" was checked off in almost every department outside of including rape jokes. It somehow made an awesome line-up feel lame, and that's the exact opposite of what you're supposed to do at these things. E3 is, in more ways than one, an excuse to make us feel good about sixty bucks on a disk with a game on it.

Making me wonder "should I really give money to these jackasses?" just isn't good advertising. So while I'm excited about all of their games, Square Enix's press conference might just be the worst I've seen since I started watching E3 back in 2010. 

E3 Verdict: I Care About Video Games Again

Really, though, I was starting to feel more and more cynical about gaming in the weeks leading up to this E3. Now, I'm ridiculously excited for the next year or two, and it takes a lot to make me feel good about separating my money from my wallet. A pretty good showing from most parties this year. Here's to a year of stuff that doesn't look like shit!

Comments

  1. F-ing. Battletoads.

    Having worked at GameStop corporate, that game was the bane of my existence.

    Can't wait to get my hands on the Rare Collection and play it again. Because I'm a masochist. >.>

    Great review of the press conferences. I pretty much agree with you about all of them. Sony made the right moves this year and really stood out. Microsoft was strong, and maybe a little heavy on the sequels, but they reached their target audience and got away with a joke at Sony's expense, until Sony came onto the stage. Nintendo was charming. Their game line up was just okay, but it'll sell because it's Nintendo. (Mario Marker is surprisingly more fun then I had expected. Little Bit Planet but without the fear of spamming friends to Like your content for trophies).

    And Square - I don't know what that was, but that was not a conference. I'm also fairly certain that the translator dropped an s-bomb just before the KH3 preview. Or I imagined that. Either way, it's funny.

    Keep up the good work!

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