E3 is the premier show for the video game industry, so it’s important that every company with a product worth flaunting manages to stick out in a sea of new titles, hardware and technology.
While plenty of companies went above and beyond to stick out among the countless other projects showcased at the event, there were some that were memorable for all the wrong reasons.
For every epic press conference, there was a head-scratcher; for every game reveal that sent the crowd into a frenzy, there was one that was met with nothing but crickets; and for every hardware reveal that everyone ran off to preorder, there was one that will ultimately go the way of the Virtual Boy.
So instead of combing each and every bit of news from the show, I’m going to cut to the chase and crown who won and who lost at this year’s E3.
Everyone assumed Microsoft’s press conference would be big, but no one knew that the company would start the show off with the best event of the week. The announcement of backwards capability was completely unexpected, but also universally applauded. The trailer for Gears of War 4 absolutely brought the house down — as did the official reveal of Dark Souls 3. The new Gears of War HD edition on the Xbox was another expected, but still welcome, addition to the event.
There were plenty of highlights from the company during the Microsoft event and throughout the week, such as the demo for the Hololens and — on a smaller note — that the show’s sleeper hit, Cuphead, will be heading exclusively to the Xbox One and Steam. 2014 wasn’t a particularly great year for Xbox One owners, but Microsoft went a long way toward rectifying that at this year’s show.
So how did the House of Mario respond to Microsoft’s stellar showing? By streaming a prerecorded Nintendo Digital event across the Internet. That’s right, whereas companies like Ubisoft brought the likes of Aisha Tyler and South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone to a live audience, Nintendo felt a simple Nintendo Digital Event stream — complete with some strange puppet action — would suffice.
Sure, most of these press conferences are more about flash than anything else, but Nintendo’s event didn’t even have the substance to overcome its misguided presentation. Fans were hoping for a blockbuster announcement like a new Metroid game, and while one was announced, it was in the form of a new DS title that was about as popular with the crowd as doing your taxes. And that typifies where Nintendo is at: fans want bigger and better, but they’re only being fed glimpses of what should be.
Like Microsoft before it, Sony brought some huge news to E3 in the form of a range of new titles, including the surprising Horizon: Zero Dawn, the experimental Dreams and the unveiling of the long-awaited remake of Final Fantasy VII. There was also an extended look at Uncharted 4, which showed off some impressive gunplay and driving set pieces.
None of those could match the hype for The Last Guardian, though. This game has been in development for so long, the world had basically given up hope of it ever being released. And while there’s no release date set just yet, seeing that the game still has a pulse was more than enough to work up the crowd.
Sony didn’t stop at just gaming, though, because the company also struck a huge blow against cable by revealing that the PlayStation Vue will allow for a la carte cable packages, leaving it up to viewers what channels they want to watch. It’s easy for an announcement like this to get lost in the gaming shuffle, but this could potentially set a precedent for how you watch TV in the coming years.
Loser: Grim and Gritty Shooters
Video game developers have some of the most advanced technology in the world right at the tips of their fingers, yet for some reason most of them used the power of the PS3 and Xbox 360 to make titles muddier, grayer and grittier than every before.
Series like Gears of War and Killzone have set a precedent over the recent years that all Triple-A games need to be dark and serious to be successful. Thankfully, this new console generation has been moving away from that, with titles like Dreams and No Man’s Sky bringing lush colors and experimental ideas back to gaming.
In fact, so many diverse and colorful games were announced at E3 that when Ubisoft revealed its new grim 'n' gritty Ghost Recon reboot, it just seemed outdated and out of place.
Have we seen enough of the gruff white dude with the shaved head and machine gun at the center of every title? A few choice titles from E3 seem to signal a welcome change in direction.
One of the prominent themes of E3 2015 was the return of iconic franchises, and both EA and Bethesda gave fans exactly what they wanted. With more Star Wars: Battlefront, Mirror’s Edge, Fallout, Mass Effect, Doom and Dishonored on the horizon, E3 proved that while fans want new and exciting, they’re usually just as happy with updates of old favorites.
Ubisoft’s entire presentation was basically all about its upcoming sequels, with more Assassin’s Creed, South Park and Ghost Recon being detailed. For some, this might seem like a step backward as the industry keeps reheating old favorites, but most of these titles do genuinely add something new to their respective franchises. Plus, these companies need to keep the lights on somehow.
Microtransactions. It was the dirty word on everyone’s mind at the show, and developers were barraged with questions regarding their stance on the practice. In short, microtransactions are in-game purchases meant to "enhance" the gameplay experience. Heavy-hitters like Metal Gear Solid 5 and Halo 5 already have microtransactions confirmed, much to the infuriation of gamers. But those are tentpole franchises that can withstand the scrutiny.
Other developers, however, went on a pre-emptive strike against microtransactions, with confirmation that titles like the new Hitman, Forza and Fallout offerings won’t include any in-game fees. I’m sure developers don’t want to be hounded by questions like this when there are so many other gaming features they can speak on, but the frustration and anxiety over this practice was one of the underlying story lines of the convention.
Stay tuned for more E3 2015 coverage all week from TechTimes and T-Lounge.