Into the Fray: My E3 Reactions
Now that E3 is over and I have had some time to take it all in it has dawned on me that this was the pinnacle of gaming conferences. We saw so much. From the huge leap we are making to the next generation to the not so playful jabbing from one console maker to another, it truly has been an epic event. Each year players get extremely excited for this particular expo, but this year was something so entirely different. There we so many questions surrounding both Sony and Microsoft that fans lined up days in advance to get a chance to be present at either conference. This week was so incredible that I can’t wait to share with you how everything made me feel and who I thought came out of E3 as the winners and losers.
Electronic Arts has long been a giant in the gaming industry and it is completely justified that they have their own press conference at E3. That being said, I came away from their show just a tad bit disappointed. Not because the games that they were showing wont be good, but most of them just aren’t for me. Sure, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare looked cool and I am sure fans of first person shooters are salivating at the chance to play Battlefield 4, but that just wasn’t enough for me. As I get older I find myself less and less interested in sports and sports video games so the EA Sports lineup, while interesting, doesnt grab me the way it would have just a few short years ago. The EA Ignite engine that is powering them sounds like an incredible idea and I am sure that at very least I will be playing FIFA when it is released.
I don’t want to sound like there was nothing at the EA conference that I liked because that just wouldn’t be true. I love the fact that a new Star Wars Battlefront game is coming and Need for Speed: Rivals looks fantastic as well. One game that really did get me going was the announcement of Dragon Age Inquisition. I love all of the the Bioware RPGs and this title looks to be another in a long line of fantastic adventures provided to us by this immensely talented studio. All we saw was a teaser trailer, but that was more than enough to get me excited to jump back into this Arthurian world of magic and deception. EA was good, but there were so many who were fantastic at this years E3.
Being first on the stage of a big event can often be a a huge plus for anyone and as it was happening I was in awe of what I was seeing from the Microsoft team. Starting the show by announcing that Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain was making its way to the Xbox One set the tone for a fast and furious spree of games. I couldn’t help but think to myself that Xbox just took a massive shot at the PS4 by taking one of their marquee exclusives and bringing it to their platform. It wasn’t only Xbox One getting attention either, shortly after announcing that they are releasing a new model of the 360 we saw that Microsoft is bringing the online free-to-play smash hit World of Tanks to the 360 later this year. This was huge, World of Tanks has a massive following that only stands to get bigger by bringing the title to the massive subscriber base that is entrenched on Xbox Live. Dark Souls 2 was announced right after this and almost seemed like a moment to breathe and collect ourselves as we got ready to jump back into the furious flow of next-gen titles being brought to us on the Xbox One.
Next up was a title that we saw two years ago at E3. Usually when we see something like this fans are frustrated and ready to complain about the fact that a game is still showing us demos at E3. Ryse: Son of Rome is not that title. When we first saw this game it appeared to be a gimmick. We saw a guy standing in front of his Kinnect and making slashing, blocking motions before he unleashed the most awkward headbutt in E3 history. What we saw this year couldn’t of been farther from that. We watched as one of the developers led us through the Roman version of storming the beach and it couldn’t have been any more epic.
The next few games have been met with mixed emotions for me. Killer Instinct does nothing for me personally, although I know this is a title that has excited the fighting fans as much as any title in recent years. Sunset Overdrive was a different story altogether. First things first, Insomniac making an Xbox One exclusive seemed like another shot fired at the team at Sony. While this was an extremely short trailer, it intrigued me as much as anything I had seen to this point. Next was Forza 5 and I was very impressed with the visuals and the creative nature of the Driveatar feature the team unveiled. This feature could change offline racing completely and bring Forza into the forefront of racing titles for the foreseeable future.
A lot of people were extremely excited to see Quantum Break at this year’s E3. To me this was one of the most underwhelming displays of the entire show. While other games are showing us real-time gameplay and in engine displays, Quantum Dream gave us a generic CG trailer. I must admit that this title does look intriguing, but until I can see what this game looks like in action I refuse to get all that excited about it. Project Spark hit the stage next and it appears to me that this is a next-gen version of what LittleBigPlanet has been doing for years, albeit on a much grander scale.
Outside of Ryse, three of the next four titles might have been the best that Microsoft brought to the table all day. We saw Battlefield 4 as it fizzled out and had trouble getting their trailer started as some of the more disrespectful fans began to boo and laugh at the misfortune of a very good conference to this point. We also saw a trailer for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt as well as Halo 5 which will keep Xbox fans happy for a while yet. We saw the price of the Xbox One announced at $499 which made me cringe quite a bit. If I am shelling out that kind of money I dont know that I can live with some of the strange restrictions and visions that have made the Xbox One a pseudo villain in the gaming world. While the next game was not the last thing shown, to me it was the coolest thing that I saw from Microsoft all day. Dead Rising 3 is not only looking to be head and shoulders above its predecessors it looks like a potential game of the year candidate regardless of the year it is released in. I could tell you all about it, but this video speaks louder than anything I could say about the title.
Whenever you come out of E3 being declared the front-runner in a console war you must have done something right. The guys and girls at Sony took a decent amount of time talking about the PS3 and Vita, and while this time was not wasted, I found myself getting a bit antsy. I tuned in for the PS4 to see which of the big two were going to have the momentum coming out of the most important expo of the year. It did not take long at all for us to get that answer. Sure Sony showed off some interesting looking games. The Order 1886 looks to be a fantastic new direction for God of War creators, Sony Santa Monica. I love a trailer that can leave me with more excited questions than before I saw it. The time period is vastly unexplored in gaming because of its lack of modern day weaponry. Well, Santa Monica Studios fixed both of those problems with awesome looking results. Color me interested. For years now we have seen the tech demo put forth by Heavy Rain creators Quantic Dream. While most of us probably thought this was going to be another dark and dreary story, it appears that this is something light-hearted and fun for us to enjoy. Other news was good, such as The Elder Scrolls MMO coming first to PS4 and a slew of indie titles coming to PS4 lead by the smash hit Don’t Starve.
It was abundantly clear that Sony has been paying attention to the things gamers want most. Sony took shot after shot at the Xbox One and had the crowd both in the auditorium and at home both laughing and cheering. We all know by now about the Xbox One and its DRM and anti used games philosophy, and Sony did a great job of taking advantage of those things. Some people may forget that these conferences are about sending customers away with a lasting impression of what your brand has to offer and I think Sony clearly understood this and delivered their message concisely and to a hungry audience. I have been wondering since the press conference ended whether or not Sony made a last minute decision to launch their console $100 cheaper at $399. In this incredibly tight economy, saving us that hundred dollars can mean a whole hell of a lot. For the price of an Xbox One I can get a PS4, a one year subscription to Playstation Plus and a game. To me this is the kind of thing that pushes consoles and this is the kind of thing that helps Sony get an early advantage on the market.
This E3 could very well be the point where Sony takes off from in the next generation. Last time they started off well behind Microsoft and still ended up selling virtually the same number of consoles before all was said and done, mainly due to the amazing exclusive titles they have. If they get out of the gates fast and keep pumping out incredible content then Microsoft may never have that same opportunity to recover.
To me the Ubisoft press conference was all about two huge games being announced. Sure, they showed us some really cool footage of Assassins Creed IV and they had other cool stuff to show but it all came down to two games for me. We all expected Watch Dogs to be a huge event, but I don’t know that any of us knew what was coming when it came to The Division.
Watch Dogs was probably the most anticipated title coming into this years E3, and it did not disappoint at all. I was in awe as I watched the main character hack any and everything in site. Not only did the game seem to be an awesome step in a new direction it appeared that the team had put a lot of thought into what their vision for the title was going to be. We saw a very tense police chase end in seconds as Aiden Pearce hacked a security gate and quickly shut off the engine of his vehicle so that no unwanted attention would brought upon him. Soon after that he was in a coffee shop where a patron quickly noticed his face on the news. I sat in amazement wondering to myself if I would have been able to hack the TV in order to prevent those in the room from even seeing the broadcast in the first place. This game appears to have so many directions that that player can take it in and that alone excites me about the prospects of this title.
The next scene had us hacking security cameras in order to help our friend T-Bone escape from a very precarious situation. There were so many hackable objects in the room that I have to wonder how many different ways we will be able to allow our associate to escape. After he has cleared the building Pearce gives precise directions while getting a birds eye view of the surrounding police from yet another hacked security camera. Watch Dogs delivered on everything that we could have asked for and has only furthered the excitement and anticipation for this title.
For me there is one game that clearly emerged as the “Best in Show” at this years E3. Tom Clancy’s The Division looked like a blockbuster in the making for a myriad of reasons. From the short demo that we were shown this title looks like a spectacular mix of urban war title and a 3rd person version of Borderlands. We watched as three players made their way through a ravaged city on their way to check out a disturbance at the local police station. The map function even displayed on screen and allowed for players to keep their head of a swivel as they plot their next objective. Our team communicated well as they located and scouted their location. As they commenced firing upon those who had overtaken the station a friend joined the fray while controlling an air vehicle via their tablet. After a beautifully crafted battle the team scoured the stations armory and located a cache of new weapons that would help them along the way. Full weapon statistics were displayed and we moved onto extraction.
This RPG based, open-world shooter looks to offer a multitude of objectives and hours of co-op goodness that will keep fans satisfied for days on end. It is quite the incredible feat for a virtually unknown title to come in and simply steal the show. While there were obviously tons of things to get excited about at this years E3 conference it was Tom Clancy’s The Division that left my jaw dropped and thirsting for everything I could find.