Who Won E3?
For nearly 20 years E3 has been delighting people. Whether it was initially the retailers, whom the conference was originally aimed at, getting excited at the prospect of millions of dollars, to the consumers who now flood into the event after the press conference day, there has always been someone to impress. Recently however, it has become more of a competition based around the press conferences on the first two days, here at The Working Gamer, we’ve taken a look back at those conferences to decide who won.
First for those that are uninitiated we have the competitors, this year as with most years we had the big 5, hardware giants Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, and software kings Ubisoft and Electronic Arts. On Monday over the course of almost 12 hours, Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft and Sony took to the stage one after another, each with a raft of games (for the most part) to generate excitement for what has so far been a slightly lacklustre launch to next-gen. Sure Sony and Microsoft have sold a tonne of consoles (sorry Nintendo fans, but all is not lost) but the games haven’t been prevalent so far. Nintendo’s pre recorded presentation went live on the Tuesday, just before the E3 doors opened to the general public.
So let’s do this in order – I’ll take each conference, go over it’s highs and lows and give it an overall score, winner takes it all!
Microsoft opened with a bang with the latest iteration of Call of Duty; Call of Duty : Advanced Warfare. Giving more of an insight as to how the game will play than the previous teaser trailer, it looked like call of duty, but prettier and was a suitable if predictable opening gambit from Microsoft. And then they just didn’t stop. Unlike last years PR disaster, where all they seemed to concentrate on was what the console “could” do and not what games you would play on it, this years Microsoft conference was game after game after game. Announcements that you would usually expect to made on stages, such as exclusive DLC were made via in video captions. There was some talking, Xbox boss Phil Spencer came out a couple of times, but for the majority of the 90 minutes was pure game footage.
As good as this sounds, there was a problem for me with this, out of the 14 AAA games shown, 7 can only be played on Xbox, and out those 7 games, 2 were games that you will never have seen any other iterations of. Now that’s not that bad, but it’s also not that interesting. Because they spent so much time concentrating on games, they didn’t give you a reason to buy an Xbox One to play them on. If 7 of the games could be played on PS4, what makes those other 7 appealing, and if you don’t like Halo, then you can reduce that list to 6, and if you take out PC games then reduce it further to 5, you get the idea. Sure it was great not to be told that Kinect is going to revolutionise the way we play, because I think they have finally admitted that it hasn’t and it won’t, but there has to be other reasons other than a new Crackdown game to be excited. The other major downside was the distinct lack of actual gameplay footage. Far too much FMV and CGI for my liking, tho The Witcher 3 did look AMAZING.
That being said, it wasn’t a terrible showing, and on first view, it was very impressive to see all these games whizzing past your eyes at a rate of knots! Overall for me, Microsoft scored a solid
EA’s showing was disappointing for me, so i’m not going to spend an awful lot of time on it. Like Microsoft before it, a lot of the games they showed didn’t feature a lot of gameplay. EA decided the best way to start their conference was to show a developer diary video of Battlefront, the new Star Wars game Battlefield developer DICE is working on. Whilst it was great to see that they have been working on something, and we did some very early game engine footage, it lacked something, and for a game that’s due to launch next year, albeit late next year, you’d hope they had something more to show at Gamescomm in August.
This was then followed up by some weird decisions. The obligatory “we have every sports franchise in the world” section starring Fifa, Madden, NHL and a totally bonkers PGA Tour trailer (Battleships in the PGA?!) was expected, what wasn’t expected were Burnout and Need For Speed developer Criterion’s section, which equated to, “We’re making a game, but we aren’t sure quite what it is, check out our helicopters.” and BioWare, who pretty much explained that they are making a new Mass Effect, but we couldn’t see it, and they are making a new game, which sounded like it will be a typical BioWare game. The conference finished with an announcement that EA’s worst kept secret Battlefield Hardline was indeed real, and more excitingly the beta launched there and then for PC and PS4
It was all a bit wishy washy, and by the time it had finished i think underwhelmed was an understatement. For me EA’s conference was the weakest out of the 5, not any real innovation, and although the new sports games looked amazing, they are just new versions of previous titles. Battleship golf and the Hardline beta announcement saved it slightly but not enough, a disappointing
Ah Ubisoft, king of the announcement. After Watchdogs, then The Division, the question on everyones lips before the conference, was what game will they announce today, for next year, that will be delayed for a year after that. I’ll get to the answer to that later, but they started big, FarCry 4 looks epic, and a must buy for anyone with a next-gen console. Aisha Tyler then said an unintentionally funny thing. She said they showed FarCry 4 first because at Ubisoft they like to start off big, and then go bigger. So they followed up FarCry 4 with….. Just Dance, you know that HUGE game. The weird pacing continued throughout the showing. A bonkers fitness game Shape Up was followed by Valiant Hearts, which had quite possibly the most moving trailer out of the whole lot. It just seemed to constantly clash, and felt like the running order hadn’t been thought about carefully enough, Aisha Tyler was amusing throughout, I know she gets knocked by some, but she helped gel the moments between games as well as she could, a thankless task considering. Games like Assasins Creed : Unity and The Division showed well, as did The Crew, but the best was saved till last, with Rainbow Six : Siege making everyone believe in team play in shooters all over again. Whether is turns out to be another game that gets delayed by a year, and looks nothing like it showed is another thing, but it was definitely one of the games of the show.
Ubisoft didn’t have as many games as EA, Microsoft or Sony, but what they did show with the exception of Just Dance and Shape Up, and lets be fair, those games will sell millions of copies as well, looked amazing. Whether they can afford to have another mega delay on one of their top tier games is something to think about another day, but I will say this, no Prince of Persia or Beyond Good and Evil 2. Shame on you Ubi! Still you did score an impressive
And so to wrap things up in their traditional spot Sony took to the stage at around 2 am for me, but they kept me awake, just. It was a totally mixed bag from Sony, for a team that last year walked the walk and talked the talk, and for the most part then went on to deliver on their promises, they seemed to lose a bit of focus here. Maybe they were shocked by Microsoft’s approach, or maybe they just got cocky. For 45 minutes of the 90 odd they were on stage they delivered. Starting with Destiny, along with an accompanying announcement of a white PS4 and a Destiny Alpha (of which there will be a first look over the weeked!) solely for PS4, they swiftly followed up with another of the many, many games delayed till 2015, The Order : 1886. A bit of DLC here, a new Little Big Planet, and a totally new IP, Bloodborne from Demon Souls and Dark Souls developer From Software and they were cooking on gas. Mix in British indie game No Man Sky (which i predict will win Game of Show or at least be very close) and it was all looking rosey.
Then came Powers. I am still not sure why this was here. It’s an animated TV series, i’m sure it will be great, but it didn’t need the airtime it got. The section dragged, it’s creator stumbled horribly through his lines, and it just made a huge lull, especially after Grim Fandango was announced as getting a remake, and FarCry 4, Dead Island 2 and Diablo III : Reaper of Souls Ultimate Evil Edition (complete with Playstation exclusive content) had done quite a bit to maintain excitement. The conference was wrapped up with GTA V for next-gen being announced, the release date of The Last of Us Remastered, Batman : Arkham Knight (which showed really, really well) and finally a jaw droppingly beautiful in-game engine trailer of Uncharted 4 : A Thief’s End.
Again much like Microsoft there was a distinct lack of exclusives, 17 big named games shown, 7 exclusives, and only 2 out those 7 IP’s are new, but where Sony differed is they gave you reasons to play the third parties on Playstation. FarCry 4 has an exclusive multiplayer offer, where you can invite 10 friends to come play with you, for a limited time, even if they don’t own the game. Diablo III has tangible exclusive content, which isn’t just timed, and will add a bit of fun to the game. When GTA V was announced, they got to say, “you can bring your saves from PS3 AND Xbox 360 over to PS4″, without doubt the reverse to Xbox One will be available, but Sony got to say it, and for some people that means only Sony can do it, little things like this is where Microsoft missed out, and as such, Sony fared a little better, awful hosting though and because of that, and the horrible lulls in between sections, they score another impressive
So all that left Nintendo to deliver their Digital Presentation on Tuesday morning, (or afternoon for me). And deliver they did. Starting with some typically bizarre Robot Chicken sketches, CEO Satoru Iwata and Nintendo of America boss Reggie Fils-Aime then faced off in totally bonkers style, before laying down Smash Brothers on both 3DS and Wii U. Then they announced their Skylanders like toy range Amiibo, you could see the dollar signs rattle through Fils-Aime’s eyes as he spoke, albeit confusingly about the new product.
Yoshi’s Wooly World, and Captain Toad : Treasure Tracker melted hearts, though the section on Yoshi’s could have been shorter, but these two were just the horderves. If Zelda on the Wii U, looks anything like the brief but wonderful trailer they showed for it, then they will sell millions. Set to be the first Legend of Zelda title to be open world, the game looked wonderful, and promised to deliver a new way of playing Zelda, bigger and better than we have ever seen before. Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire whet the appetite of millions of fans further, as did the announcement that Bayonetta 2 will come with Bayonetta 1 on the disk at no extra cost, a clever strategy considering it was more of a cult hit, and a lot of people may have wondered why they were playing a sequel.
Zelda and Dynasty Warriors tie in Hyrule Warriors carried on looking like what it is, a Zelda themed Dynasty Warriors, but then came a nice surprise in an online shooter exclusive to Nintendo. Splatoon is a weird one, an ink based shooter based upon the principle of squids and shooting ink rather than bullets. It all looked bizarre, and I just loved the fact that they thought, “hey this game needs squids”.
Splatoon rounded off the show, tho Miyamoto did tease Starfox Wii U without saying anything about it, obviously playing it on a blurred out TV and Wii U Gamepad. The game was later announced but we can’t count that here! Nintendo didn’t take themselves seriously, and the don’t have many third party games to shout about, because of that they know they have to deliver with their first party games, and this year, they didn’t talk about well-being or fitness, much like everyone else, they spoke about games, and for once, their games spoke back to everyone else – they score a magnificent
So out of the main press conferences Nintendo for me came out the strongest, out of all the companies, they had to come out fighting this year to ensure that they didn’t lose any further ground, and as long as they fulfill on what the promised, the Wii U will continue its revival that began with Mario Kart 8.
It is worth noting however, that as a gamer, there wasn’t a lot to look forward to for this year, 2015 was the number present in a lot of the highlight reels shown, and that is a slight worry. October is chock full of games this year, but not the big names that people have been talking about, or saw at E3. It will be interesting to see what gets announced during Gamescomm this year, as I am sure some things have been held back.