E3 2018 Roundup
Earlier today the world was given the final E3 conference of 2018 with Nintendo's 45 minute direct. With that, we've been taken on a roller coaster of ups, downs, and everything in between; we've been shown longer gameplay demos of games we knew about, a few reveals, and a whole lot of reminders that 'Hey, remember this game? Well, it's coming out soon!'
Overall, I do think that E3 was pretty damn good even if it was short on surprises. We got to see a lot of stuff for games I'm excited to play and got a lot of positive confirmation on things for games I was unsure of (such as how Fallout 76 isn't an MMO and how Smash Bros Ultimate has every character.) Each of the conferences had their own slightly different way of showing the goods – some worked, and some did not – But I think that outside of EA and Square Enix, all five of the other major conferences had something good or great to show.
Here are my rankings for the 7 E3 conferences. (I did have number values to each of them, but I really don't see the point.)
7 – EA
Honestly, the only things I saw here that I was even remotely interested in was Unravel 2 and Sea of Solitude, both indie titles. Their presenters were really hard to watch, most of the conference went to sports titles, mobile titles, showing off games we already knew about, and assuring us that they 'really learned from their mistakes, guys, really!' When 10 minutes of your conference is some stupid e-sports mock-up of two guys playing a simplistic mobile Command and Conquer game, you know you're in trouble. And no, Anthem is not in any way interesting to me.
6 – Square-Enix
On its own, Square-Enix's presentation could have been good or great! The games they showed were all somewhere between meh and excellent, but virtually everything we saw in this presentation was recycled from Microsoft's presentation or bested by the showing at Sony's conference. Outside of two games (The Silent Man and Babylon's Fall, both of which were basically titles and logos with almost nothing shown about the gameplay), there was nothing new or interesting here. They would have been better off not doing a conference.
5 – Bethesda
To be clear, I actually ended up really liking Bethesda's conference. Everything from here on is good to great in my mind. However, almost all of what I liked about this conference was Fallout 76 and Elder Scrolls related. It's good to see Doom is getting a sequel, but that's basically all we know. Quake is gonna be good, Rage 2 looks alright but wasn't surprising due to it being leaked early, and as much as I love Andrew WK he had no place here. Fallout 76, however, is exactly what I wanted out of an experimental side game in that franchise. It's not an MMO, but it's not strictly singleplayer, either. It's a MASSIVE open world RPG with PVP and PVE elements as well as an emphasis on base building in a lush, pretty virginia. All of my yes, please! Oh, and they caved and showed that Elder Scrolls VI is coming out. We don't know anything about it (and even Todd Howard seemed annoyed that he had to share despite not having anything to show), but it's coming and I squealed a bit.
4 – Ubisoft
Again, Ubisoft had a really great showing. From the silly dance number that started it to the 10 minute demo of Assassin's Creed Odyssey, I thought pretty much everything from this presentation popped. Yeah, I figure I'm only interested in about half the games shown (I have no interest in The Crew 2, Just Dance 2019, The Division 2, or Trials), but they have a knack for making trailers and building hype that I get caught up in every time. I've also come to trust them on first sequels, as they seem to make great second iterations (Assassin's Creed and Watch_Dogs being prime examples). Plus, two of my favorite games from the whole show were Ubisoft titles: Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Skull and Bones. I was really happy with this presentation and I admit I'm pretty excited for the next year or so.
3 – Nintendo
In 2016, Nintendo came to E3 with only one game in its repertoire: The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild. By many accounts they won that year's showings, and I can't disagree. They tried a similar approach here, and while it wasn't as successful I can basically boil down everything I LOVED about their presentation to the 25 minutes (out of 45) dedicated to Smash Bros. Sure, they showed a lot more in their Nintendo Direct, but it wasn't much we didn't know already or wasn't something we were sure was coming. Still, all the stuff shown about Smash Brothers got me super excited and I can't wait. Also, I'm still on the fence about Pokemon but I really love that Pokeball attachment. Good stuff, Nintendo.
2 – Sony
Much like Nintendo, Sony opted not to go the 'throw everything and see what sticks' mentality, but instead focused on 4 upcoming games, all of which are some level of good to great. The Last of Us Part II is almost certainly a classic in the making, Ghost of Tsushima blew me away, Death Stranding has my mind scrambled in a good way, and Spider-Man is looking like the best superhero game of all time not starring Batman. In addition, we also got a few cheeky reveals like Nioh 2 and that Resident Evil 2 remake and a superior Kingdom Hearts III trailer. Sure, the actual presentation was a little awkward and I'm baffled at the need for musical interludes or intermissions, but the content was top notch and got me so excited for Sony's output that I couldn't help but love what I saw.
1 – Microsoft
I'm as shocked as you. A company that has gotten infamous for not showing games, caring more about hardware than software, and being woefully disconnected from their audience (or just doesn't care) has somehow hit all the right points and handily 'won' E3 through sheer volume of reveals. 50 games were shown at this conference, many of them being shown for the first time, and almost all of them ranged from good to great. Sure, the only heavy-hitter exclusives were the trifecta of Halo/Gears/Forza and Crackdown, but the showing was great overall and easily got me the most pumped with the least amount of cringe of any of the presentations. It sucks for Microsoft that most of these games (especially Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice) are on PS4, because I know I'll be getting them on PS4, but for sheer volume and content, Microsoft had the strongest showing of E3 2018!
Of course, it's pretty hard to judge like this because a lot of people are looking for the big three to be judged differently based on the fact that they have hardware to sell, not just software. I see a lot of arguments and discussions about how Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo should be judged not on quality of their presentation but by how much it makes you want their consoles; in some ways I understand this and want to agree, but if that was the case I'd just default to putting Sony and Nintendo at the top by default because I know those are the game systems I'll be playing the most. I AM biased, I'm not going to pretend otherwise, but I'm also an optimist and not looking to find reasons to be cynical.
By this same stretch, I could give Square-Enix a better ranking because of how eager I am for Kingdom Hearts III, but the showing at E3 was terrible. And of course, in the end we have no idea if any of these games are actually going to be good or not. Death Stranding might be terrible, and Crackdown could be the greatest game of all time, we don't know!
But with all of that said, I'm also going to make a list of my top 5 most anticipated games based on what we saw at this year's E3, as well as a few honorable mentions. These are the games that influenced me the most in regards to what console I like the most, what presentations impressed me the most, and the ones I'm most likely to buy at launch or even pre-order.
5 - Skull and Bones
Honestly, I love basically everything I see in this. From what I can tell it's Assassin's Creed IV without any of the Assassin's Creed story (Which is great because I never really considered Black Flag to be an Assassin's Creed game). In essence, I'm treating this as a spiritual successor to that game and I'm certain I won't be disappointed because Black Flag was one of my all-time favorite games and easily my favorite Assassin's Creed game. I do feel we need to know more about it, but I'm very optimistic because I love pirates, I love naval stuff, and I think we need more sailing games.
4 - Assassin's Creed Odyssey
I still have to beat Origins, but damn I loved everything they showed on this game. The setting, the dialogue trees, the refined combat and RPG elements, the fact you can play as a man or a woman, all of it. I love all of it. It would be higher, but I still gotta play Origins first to see how that goes. As it stands, I quite enjoy the direction it's going and I'll happily pick it up.
3 - Fallout 76
Like many I was worried about this before the conference because I'm not much of a multiplayer gamer and I tend to avoid always-online games. That said, it sounds more like a freeform variant of Fallout with PVP and PVE elements where the online stuff is at least partially optional. This is a side game, and Bethesda is welcome to experiment with stuff and I think this is a great way to do so, plus it's by far the prettiest of the fallout games and I love the emphasis on base building. I still have a hint of reservation about this title, but I'm excited enough to overlook that.
2 - Ghost of Tsushima
Easily the pleasant surprise of the conference for me. We knew it was going to be shown and knew a small bit about the game, but now we've seen gameplay and it looks outstanding to me! The art direction is some of the best I've ever seen, the combat looks weighty and visceral, the stealth seems very Assassin's Creed, and the overall tone and feel is a head and shoulders above the rest. Easily the greatest surprise of E3, and yet another reason to own a PS4.
The Last of Us Part II – Looks great, but I wasn't as into the first one as others were.
Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu/Eevee – Need to know more before I put it in my most anticipated list.
Sekiro: Shadow's Die Twice – Samurai Dark Souls. Need I say more?
Nioh 2 – See above, and it's a sequel to a game I LOVED. Should be great!
The Elder Scrolls VI – Just a logo but of all of these, probably the game I anticipate most.
1 - Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Shouldn't come as a surprise one bit. Smash Bros is one of my all time favorite franchises, I've loved everything this series did since Melee and they gave me pretty much everything I wanted. All the characters, what appears to be all or at least most of the stages (All with Omega and Final Destination forms), many subtle but important tweaks, and Ridley! Seriously, all things considered I don't think I'd ask for more than what we got, even if I'm still a little apprehensive at the lack of announced story mode. Hell, they could just NOT release any more characters and I'd be okay with that. Still, as it stands, easily the single most excited I got for any game this E3.
That said, there were some notable omissions from the conferences, even if they were minor. Here are some things I personally would have liked to see:
1 – Metroid Prime 4. We know it's coming, but still early in development.
2 – Bayonetta 3. See Metroid Prime 4.
3 – Bloodborne 2. The director is working on Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Probably doesn't exist.
4 – Final Fantasy 16. Might not even exist, but I love Final Fantasy and Square needed it.
5 – Final Fantasy VII Remake. Seriously, we know it's coming, show us more!
7 – Rayman Legends sequel. Ubisoft is a big company and this is probably a cheap game. Do it!
I don't hold it against anyone that those games weren't shown, but those were my hopes for this E3 that I didn't get a chance to see. Otherwise, I think it was a great show!
Also: I have no intention of responding to negative comments/responses. You can be critical without being an entitled dick, I promise. I chose to be positive and focus on the good, not whine and cry and carry on when I don't get my way. Don't like seeing all the negativity out there, and E3 this year is a prime example as to why I feel we're living in a golden age of gaming.
It must suck to be you if you're the type to be cynical all the time and hate or be disappointed in everything shown. If you are like that, just keep it to yourself. All of my little write-ups have been host to dozens of comments about how I'm wrong for giving Sony or Nintendo good scores or being excited at what I saw of Smash. If you don't like certain things, that's fine, but there's better ways to express yourself than shitting on those who disagree with you. I'm excited, I hope others are excited, and if you're not excited I'd prefer if you kept your aggressively negative attitude to yourself, please.
Discussion is welcome. Disparaging comments aren't. Criticism is fine, but be constrictive.
Carry on, and peace out.