You’ve got to love E3. For those who don’t know, E3 is the Electronic Entertainment Expo. It’s an annual event held in Los Angeles, where video game developers and publishers show off upcoming games and unleash cringe-worthy marketing stunts. For every gamer, the big publisher conferences are must-see events. So I thought I’d take a break from my writing-themed blog posts, and do what every other gamer does at this time of the year: give my thoughts on the games shown.
Prior to E3, there’s always a slew of speculative articles and blog entries, written by every gamer from the excitable individual through to the monolithic journalistic websites.
During E3, social media lights up with reactions to the announced news, and memes.
After E3, the same gamers and news outlets sit down and analyse what they’ve just seen. More often than not, the excitement mellows into mild disappointment. The internet collectively shakes off that unfamiliar cap of excitement and optimism, and dons the soothing hat of cynicism.
This year, however, I really enjoyed the conferences and presentations. There was less bafflingly ill-conceived, desperately hip fluff than usual. The less said about EA in that regard, the better.
We even had trailers that featured actual gameplay footage! See, I knew the Dead Island trailer would become a cautionary tale… Sorry, I digress. In short, it seems that there’s plenty to look forward to this year and in 2018, and, in the case of Metroid Prime 4 and the untitled Pokémon RPG, when the ice caps have melted and artificial intelligence has analysed Trump and decided that humanity can no longer be trusted with its own survival. I jest, of course. Sort of.
There were a few particular highlights for me.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus looks to have retained the dry humour, over-the-top action, and diligent world-building of its predecessor. In my opinion, Wolfenstein: The New Order should be hailed as the golden standard of how reboots should be done. It kept the spirit of the old Wolfenstein games, and the violence, but demonstrated that these facets don’t preclude a surprisingly engrossing story.
Microsoft had a decent showing in my book, but didn’t show any games that demand to be raved about. That in itself is telling. I’ll keep on happily playing my PS4 until the next generation comes along, then I’ll decide all over again which console has the best offering.
A few previously-revealed games surprised me. Days Gone looked like frantic, braindead nonsense in its first reveal trailer. In the latest one, however, it showed impressive stealth chops and great potential for environmental interaction.
God of War continues to look better and better, particularly with the sensible decision to explore Kratos’s humanity (or lack thereof) through his son. I adored the original God of War on the PS2, but by the third game it had simply lost its way.
Heck, even Ubisoft managed to pull off a decent conference. I’m sure they’re breathing a big sigh of relief right now; their plan to wait a year and hope everybody’s enthusiasm for the Assassin’s Creed series rekindles itself seems to have worked.
I want to give a special shout-out to a little indie game called The Last Night. It takes a lot for indie games to get prime spots in E3 conferences, and I have a feeling we should be very excited for this upcoming beauty. The Last Night’s gorgeous pixel art lends itself perfectly to the dystopian cyberpunk aesthetic. It looks simultaneously bleak and thought-provoking. There’s a lot of rain, a lot of neon, and a lot of resignation. Basically, it could be Blade Runner: The Game. Need I say more?
Before I finish off with my favourite games shown at this year’s E3, there were a few letdowns. Marvel’s Spider-Man looks slick, but was so heavily-scripted it’s hard to get an idea of what the gameplay will be like outside the huge set pieces. Even so, the prevalence of QTEs is worrying; I want to feel in control of Spidey, not being given permission to witness his exploits by pressing the right buttons. Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is another game on my radar. The first Ni No Kuni was a delight, and shouldn’t be overlooked by any RPG fans. Its sequel, however, has ditched the collectible sprites called familiars, which tapped in to the collector instincts in every RPG fan. Instead, there are unremarkable critters called Higgledies which can be commanded in battle. That said, the story is supposedly more mature, so we’ll have to wait and see.
Enough of that doom and gloom, however. Have a picture of a dinosaur with a Mario cap on.
You’re welcome. Although we already knew Super Mario Odyssey was coming, we didn’t know just how wonderfully insane it will be. Nintendo’s short and sweet Direct presentation showed us more of the plucky plumber’s latest outing, with lots of gameplay footage shown afterwards. I could write a whole article about Super Mario’s Odyssey’s unbridled creativity, luscious environments, and intriguing mechanics. I won’t. Instead, just look at that dinosaur again. You can possess all sorts of things in Odyssey, including a T-Rex. I need to start saving for the Switch now.
Nintendo also perused social media a couple of hours before filming the Nintendo Direct presentation, and identified the games that people most wanted to see announced.
“Metroid Prime 4 and a Pokémon RPG? Okay, we can do that. Only got time to make up one logo, though. Take your pick, Mr. Artist.”
That’s how I imagine it went down, anyway. Still, the announcements sent the gaming community into a meltdown, aptly demonstrating that we’re still desperate for Nintendo to fully utilise their IPs once more. It’s anybody’s guess how long we’ll have to wait for these two behemoths, but at least Nintendo have shown some sort of awareness of what the community wants from them. That’s an improvement over the last eight years or so, anyway.
And there you have it. Those were the games that really piqued my interest from the E3 2017 presentations. There are plenty more I didn’t touch on – Anthem, Star Wars Battlefront II, Far Cry 5, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, The Last Guardian remake, and so on. What caught your eye?