E3 2017: Grading EA, Xbox, and Bethesda Press Conferences
Safe to say E3 is now in full swing. The show floor hasn't opened yet; however, EA, Xbox, and Bethesda have already taken to the stage and provided plenty of news and announcements so far.
While there's plenty to be excited about, press conferences don't always deliver. So which one had the best conference so far?
Let's start with the EA Play keynote that opened both EA Play and E3 week. Like previous years, EA spent a good chunk of time talking about this year's slate of upcoming sports games. Madden 18 will be getting a career mode, similar to the "The Journey" from FIFA 17. Speaking of which, FIFA 18 will also continue the story of Alex Hunter from "The Journey" as he goes on a tour of the United States. NBA Live will also make a comeback this year with NBA Live 18, and it will put a focus on a basketball career that goes from the streets to amateurs going to the NBA.
Outside of the sports titles, EA offered first looks at Need For Speed: Payback and A Way Out. Payback, coming from Ghost Games, offered a glimpse at one of the story missions that will pit a small crew against a syndicate that rules the county. There was also a tease of the car customization available and "relic" cars that could go from scrap to a top-end street racer. A Way Out is the first game from Hazelight thanks to EA's EA Originals program. The game is built on split-screen co-op and will tell the story of Vincent and Leo as they work to escape prison and what happens after they do. This was easily the talk of the show because of the emphasis on offline co-op and since the game's director, Josef Fares, was also director on the critical hit Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. EA also announced the next expansion for Battlefield 1: In The Name of The Tsar that will add the Eastern Front and the Russian army, along with two night maps. There was also a tease of Bioware's Anthem, but more on that with Microsoft.
EA closed the show with Star Wars Battlefront II, going in-depth about what's to come for the follow-up to 2015's Star Wars Battlefront. Most of this was dedicated to the multiplayer, showing the input that some Youtube creators had in helping balance the game and unveiling the first multiplayer trailer. It was also announced that the game would have seasons of free content starting in the winter with its first season based on Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The show closed with a 30-minute match in the "Assault on Theed" map pitting clones against battle droids.
The show itself was pretty on par with EA's past press conferences, it wasn't a bad show but it was light on surprises. Granted, the reveal of A Way Out and Battlefront II's free content were highlights of the show, but outside of that it was the usual suspects and a couple of very awkward moments, especially during Need for Speed.
The Xbox conference kicked off with the unveiling of Project Scorpio, now called the Xbox One X. The first chunk of the show was dedicated to going over the specs, emphasizing that this will be the most powerful console on the market when it releases in November 2017. It was also announced that later this year would bring backwards support to original Xbox games, opening up the playable library of games that will now span a list over 15 years old.
Getting to the games, most of what was shown were games that will most likely be available only on the Xbox Store. Within those titles were several that are of definite note, two of which were Cuphead and Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Cuphead finally got a release date for September after nearly three years of being teased at the Xbox press conferences. Later on came Ori and the Will of the Wisps, the follow-up to 2015's critically acclaimed Ori and the Blind Forest. It looks like it will continue the story of Ori, this time with a small owlet that is seen in the trailer starring at the remains of dead owls.
Xbox did take time to show off some AAA titles as well, but the only Xbox exclusive on hand was Forza Motorsport 7. This game led off the show after the Xbox One X and definitely showed off just how powerful the system is. Then there was the debut of Metro: Exodus, the third entry in the first-person series that will take players out of the Russian metro and to a recovering surface. Assassin's Creed Origins also had its official debut after months of speculation and rumors, confirming the title and setting, telling how the Assassin's Brotherhood formed in Ancient Egypt. Near the end, there was an extended look at Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, showing off more of the expanded nemesis system and the new fortresses available to conquer throughout Mordor. The show closed with the a first look at Anthem, showing off Bioware's long-gestating live-service game that looks like a cross between Destiny and Titanfall. While it's still not entirely clear what the whole game will entail, it defintely looks ambitious.
In terms of sheer volume, Xbox definitely had a good show this year, touting 42 games with exclusivity on 22 along with the debut of Xbox One X. However, there wasn't a lot that could be considered a "system seller" outside of Forza, which could hurt the appeal of the system especially with the list of exclusives Sony could show for PlayStation. That said, it was still one of the better shows Xbox has had.
Finally, there was Bethesda's show that was nice and late, starting at 9 PM on the West Coast and midnight on the East Coast. This may have been the most predictable of the shows thus far because of the limited reveals.
To start off, it went into updates coming to both Elder Scrolls Online, which just released the Morrowind expansion, and Elder Scrolls Legends, Bethesda's card game and answer to Blizzard's Hearthstone. it was also shown that Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on Nintendo Switch will have amiibo support for Link from Breath of the Wild. Then came the debut trailer for Dishonored 2: Death of the Outsider, the stand-alone expansion to Dishonored 2 that will give characters control of Billy Lurk in her quest to rescue the assassin Dawd and kill the Outsider. There was also more about Quake: Champions, which will add Wolfenstein's B.J. Blaskowisz to the roster along with a $1 million tournament at QuakeCon later this summer.
Bethesda also annoucned VR support coming to two of its tentpole titles — Fallout 4 and Doom. Both will offer the campaigns fully playable in VR, though Doom will rely on transportation and Fallout 4 will still use normal movement options. While the trailers offered a fun look, no release window as given and, as of right now, will only be playable in HTC Vive.
There were still a couple of big announcements for Bethesda this year. First was The Evil Within 2, the follow-up to the 2014 hit horror game. The trailer showed off more mind-bending horror that players and Sebastian will get sucked into in their efforts to save Sebastian's daughter. Lastly, Bethesda closed out the show with the reveal of Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, the sequel to 2014's Wolfenstein: The New Order. The game will continue B.J.'s battle against the Nazi regime that rules the world, this time in America in an effort to unite the resistance cells to topple the Third Reich.
This was an interesting show since all the focus was on the video screen with not actual demos. Instead Bethesda kept it short and sweet, making it the shortest press conference so far, taking less than an hour. And while it wasn't filled with many suprises, it was still an entertaining show at least with plenty to look forward to.
Kevin Billings Tech Times editor Kevin Billings is a born geek at heart. Whether it's video games, movies, tv, comics, or tech, you will likely find Kevin there. And he feels gratified in his passions now that geek culture has come to dominate mainstream pop culture.