Tomorrow we’ll be giving our ‘bests in show’, but we wanted to share some highlights of E3.
Like every year, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, is a big metaphorical tent held up by press conferences that show off the blockbuster titles of each year. This year, the usual suspects of Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo, EA and Ubisoft were joined by new press conferences by Bethesda, Square-Enix and PC Gamer. So, looking at these is the best way to frame a round up of the highlights of E3.
The show started with Bethesda on Sunday. Obviously, their big announcement was Fallout 4, but they also announced Dishonored 2, Fallout Shelter, Elder Scrolls Online stuff and Doom. Fallout was the star of the show for sure, but the announcement of being able to play Dishonored 2 as Emily was really exciting. This started what was an emerging theme of this year’s E3 – adding influential female protagonists. Bethesda also introduced Fallout Shelter, which is available now on iOS and will release soon on Android. It was a fantastic mobile title, especially considering the developers are people who aren’t content with the current mobile games environment. And of course, Fallout 4. I could, and probably will, write entire separate articles on Fallout 4, but I’ll start by saying it actually looks to have a very low Lily Rank for a modern WRPG. The protagonist begins the game with a spouse and child. And while you can play as male or female, it isn’t clear that as much effort went in to thinking through the female lead’s background and motivations, at least not at the moment. We have asked Bethesd about the return of Cherchez la Femme and Confirmed Bachelor, but gotten no reply. Which isn’t shocking considering our size, but is still somewhat concerning.
On Monday, Microsoft also talked about Fallout. They also showed Gears 4 (one of those ‘new female protagonist’ games) and a new Halo, which were neither overly surprising. Recore, on the other hand, was an unexpected delight. The problem with Recore, though, was how vague it was about the kind of game it is. I’ve worked hard to forget that part where they lowered a car from the ceiling, but the stunt that totally worked was showing off Hololens. The way they approached showing off something that is so hard to understand without trying it yourself was very clever. Lastly, it is so worth mentioning that XBox One will use some really inventive software sorcery to make itself backward compatible.
EA and Ubisoft didn’t do a ton of things that weren’t compensation for insecurity in masculinity, but the ones they did had a lot of promise. Mass Effect: Andromeda got a very cinematic and very uninformative trailer that nonetheless made my heart explode with joy. Thankfully, Unravel was so lovely and cute that my heart was successfully reassembled. For the first time, FIFA 2016 will allow playing as women’s teams, and for the actually-not-the-first-time, Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate brings us an amazing-looking female assassin. Sadly, the presentations focused deeply on sports games, racers and shooters which personally don’t appeal to me. Especially the hyper-awful humanity shown by the online multiplayer of Tom Clancy’s The Division.
And then Sony made everything else look like child’s play. E3 basically burst with joy the moment Sony took the stage with The Last Guardian, a Shenmue III Kickstarter which is already fully funded, the much-desired Final Fantasy VII Remake and a new exciting title called Horizon: Zero Dawn. Each of these games deserves an article in it’s own right, but together they make this press conference Christmas in June. And we can’t forget No Man’s Sky, which was a darling of last E3 and this year showed off its massive scope.
Tuesday came around and Nintendo didn’t give us much new, sadly, but they did show off a new Star Fox and a their platformer designer Super Mario Maker. There were also a lot of 3DS titles that weren’t main-series installments in their franchises: an Animal Crossing home designer game, a Metroid without Samus, another multi-Link portable game, Hyrule Warriors, and so on. And, of course, Yoshi’s Wooly World showed off some more yarn platformer oddness. And Yarn Mariyoshi scared the hell out of me. Sadly, most of the larger Nintendo franchises seem to be being held off to launch the new console, the NX, which also made no showing at this E3. What did? Muppet Nintendo Exceutives. Because reasons.
Square-Enix showed off a new Nier title using some horrifying cosplay on the part of director Yoko Taro and a few mobile games for Hitman and Lara Croft. But where they truly became Squeenix was Kingdom Hearts III. I, personally, also was blissfully excited over two other JRPG projects: Star Ocean 5 and project SETSUNA. One thing from Square that’s made a lot of news is the announcement that the remake of Final Fantasy VII may not precisely follow the original game. This has given me ample hopes and a glorious fantasy harvest but probably means much less than media speculates. Also, for fans of philosophical shooters, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was shown off. Oddly, Final Fantasy XV: Broad Trip of Destiny wasn’t shown.
Last and totally least was the PC Gaming Show put on by AMD and PC Gamer. They were by far worst at presentation. But it was their first year; one hopes that in the future they will run a shorter, tighter-controlled conference more like E3 than Late Night with Day 9.
Overall, there were some great trends present this year. The move away from brown and gray worlds that used a reduced color palate to try to seem edgy is very, very welcome. So is the increasing presence of female protagonists in games. Also, yarn is in this year. And girls with robots. And VR. E3 always has some weirdnes, but the fact that both XBox and PS4 have exclusive girls and robots games amuses me to no end. And yarn is such a strange theme to have in the game industry.
Check out some of E3/s highlights below.
What are you most excited about? Tell us in the comments.