Every year E3 comes along, bringing with it both the worst and the best things about the gaming industry. It showcases the medium’s creativity and innovation, but also the money-grubbing corporate side with wooden conferences planned by a committee to be as “cool” as possible. (If only I had a dollar for each time a developer said “epic,” “visceral,” or “innovative.”) Each E3 is full of joyous and exciting moments, but also cringe-inducing pain.
Fortunately this year had more of the joy than many previous years, though there were certainly some bizarre moments as well.
E3 started off right with Bethesda’s first ever conference. Having just released the first trailer for Fallout 4 the week before, there was a lot of hype surrounding the conference and it didn’t disappoint.
They started off the night by showing off a new Doom game, which elicited a lot of raucous cheering from the crowd with the gory graphics. The game looked okay, but as someone who’s never had any desire to play a Doom, game I didn’t care much. The best part was the reveal of a robust level creator in the game. Otherwise it looked like pretty standard first-person shooter antics.
The middle of the conference was pretty unremarkable overall. They announced Bethesda.net, which will launch all Bethesda games from one unified platform, and a card game called Elder Scrolls Legends. Not much else was revealed about these aside from the fact that they exist and sound almost exactly like Blizzard’s Battle.net and Hearthstone game. They also announced Dishonored 2, which will feature a female main character named Emily.
Fallout 4 stole the show and probably the entire week of E3. There was reveal after reveal about the game. You can play as a man or woman (this was emphasized after rumors circulated that you would only be able to play as a man), the story starts before the nuclear fallout actually happens, there’s a dog companion, you can build your own settlements, there’s a robust crafting system, and most importantly that the game will be released this November.
Alongside Fallout 4 they announced a mobile game called Fallout Shelter that released to the apple store that very night. It’s a fun strategy simulation game along the same vein as Xcom and SimCity, and it’s free to play.
With all these great announcements, Bethesda set the bar high for the rest of the week, and unfortunately few conferences could match it.
Poor Microsoft has gotten a reputation for being the most soulless of the usual E3 conferences by only announcing sequels to existing games and overusing buzzwords to sound hip and totally epic and cool. Not a whole lot was different this year, but we at least didn’t have to sit through more barely-functional Kinect demos.
Microsoft announced a plethora of games, but few of them stood out as anything interesting. Halo 5, Gears of War 4, Fable Legends, and many more sequels. There were a few independent games showcased, but they barely got more than a couple minutes each.
One highlight was a trailer for a game called recore, which featured a woman with a robot dog companion fighting other robots. The coolest part of the conference was definitely a demo for Hololens, a set of virtual reality glasses. The demo showed Minecraft gameplay through the glasses, and kind of has to be seen to be believed.
As I watched, I could only think that this is where the future of gaming is going.
Sony started off by dropping a bomb: the return of The Last Guardian. This game follows the adventures of a boy and his huge dog-cat-eagle companion. It was first revealed at E3 2009 and slated for a 2011 release, but dropped off the face of the earth to the point where pretty much everyone believed the game had been cancelled. Not so, apparently, and there was even a bit of gameplay shown in the trailer. The Last Guardian is now set to finally release in 2016.
The most interesting-looking game of the conference to me was Horizon, which showed a woman armed with a bow and arrow fighting robot dinosaurs (!) in the ruins of a modern city. The world was intriguing and cool, and I only hope that more will be revealed about the game in the very near future.
Later in the show, Sony dropped yet another bomb with a trailer for a Final Fantasy VII remake. If the crowd reaction is any indication, at least 1,000 people peed themselves with excitement. Though no actual gameplay was shown, it’s apparently enough just to know that it exists.
If you’ve never thought you could die of secondhand embarrassment, think again. EA finally delivered some of the awkwardness I’ve come to expect from E3. The conference is full of applause breaks where no one applauds, even more buzzwords, a guy in a zombie suit, and — most appalling of all — a mobile game featuring the minions from Despicable Me.
There were a few good parts, though. Namely a trailer for a new Mass Effect game, subtitled Andromeda. Not much is known about it other than it will allow players to travel to the Andromeda galaxy. Later in the show they also finally showed gameplay of the upcoming Star Wars: Battlefront game. As someone who played the Star Wars: Battlefront series religiously as a child, this was particularly exciting for me.
The main highlight has to be the announcement of a game called Unravel. This adorable game was presented by an equally adorable man whose passion for his creation was the high point of the entire conference.
Another Assassin’s Creed game, hooray.
Ubisoft didn’t really have much in the way of highlights. Some games, like a new PvP sword fighting game called For Honor, stuck out as somewhat interesting, but there wasn’t much to get excited about.
The best-looking game they showed has to be The Division, an already announced MMO shooter. A good portion of gameplay was showcased during the conference, and it was nice to see how the game might play when it eventually comes out. Overall it was a very underwhelming conference, but at least Mr. Caffeine wasn’t there.
I love Nintendo so dearly as a company, which is why their digital event this year was extremely disappointing to me. I was hoping to hear about a Wii U Zelda, or brand new games, but instead we mostly got more information about games we already knew about.
The only really big announcement was for a Wii U Star Fox game, but even that looked fairly underwhelming, even if it was announced with typical Nintendo charm.
Another fairly disappointing conference. Like Nintendo, Square Enix didn’t show much that we didn’t already know was happening.
There’s not a whole lot to talk about aside from finally getting a fully-fledged Kingdom Hearts 3 trailer. And even though the trailer looked amazing, and got me super hyped, it didn’t actually show a whole lot. There was some gameplay and a little bit of story, but no actual details on anything, including when it would be released. For all we know, it’ll come out in 2020.
Though not exactly a conference like the others, the PC event was actually hosted by famous streamer Day9. Not much was officially announced in terms of PC exclusives, but they did talk a lot about more technical aspects of gaming.
The only thing that elevated this over-two-hour-long livestream above a snoozefest was Day9 himself, who kept me interested in all the things I wouldn’t have otherwise cared about by interacting with the crowd and being consistently entertaining.
This year’s E3 was certainly a mixed bag, but overall pretty good, especially compared to E3s of the past five years or so. There was less emphasis on watching tv through your console, motion controls, or other similar gimmicks, and more focus on the games themselves. Even through all the awkward silences and jokes that fell flat, it was still nice to see and get excited about games and the future of gaming again.
Joel Wallick is currently pursuing a degree in film studies at Bowling Green State University with a minor in creative writing. He has been gaming since early childhood, beginning with Pokemon Silver. Follow him on Twitter @SuperNerdJoel.