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Saga's E3 2017 review

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2017's E3 in review:

See you next week.

Oh, you wanted more?

This year's E3 has been truly special, I tell you. In an "odd" sense of special. I will refrain from commenting on EA and Bethesda's conferences because I did not watch them, and also because from what I gather from my timeline they were both pretty boring - one of them being a disaster (guess which one!). I'll focus on those I did watch.

Microsoft's Exclusive X

I am not the right person to talk about this one, to be fair. I am a Playstation man. I don't care a leek bundle about their franchises. Also, I cannot for the life of me understand MS' approach to its consoles. Every "exclusive" game coming to Xbox is either a timed console exclusive or also coming to PC. I know not everyone has a decent gaming PC but... it's like throwing away the word exclusive because it's free. Call me what you want but I have a PS4 because there are games there that I can find nowhere else... Xbox shares with PC so, yeah, that.

Also Scorpio, the most powerful console ever created, will be $499. Minecraft in 4K! Also for exclusives... that also come to PC. What is the... Know what? I'll move on.

Final comment: wanna bet Anthem gets downgraded to hell when it releases? It looked too good to be true. So good that people started asking why it looked so good when Andromeda looked so... moving on!

Ubisoft's surprise

While their specialty are bullshots and whatever the equivalent term is for video, I can hardly deny that Ubi had a good lineup of games present at their presser. Not that I care about all those games, of course, but the lineup was solid. The Crew 2, Steep, South Park, Assassin's Creed Origins, Far Cry 5, Just Dance. All cool in their own way - except for the Just Dance segment: we're way beyond dancers and singers on stage.

Assassin's Creed looks great but seems to be more of the same (which could be a good or bad thing), and Far Cry 5 looks very Far Cry-y (although I dislike demos where everything moves oh-so-perfectly... feels like a target rather than reality). The surprise of their show was definite... wait, don't get ahead of yourself. Sure, Beyond Good and Evil 2 was a welcome reveal, but it was basically a CG trailer. There's nothing to show yet. Nevertheless, as we'll talk about later, these CG trailers serve an important purpose.

As I was saying, the surprise (discounting the fact that it was leaked before the presser) was that Mario + Rabbids game. It looks colorful, nice, has personality (in its own Minion-ish way), and it even sports Xcom gameplay. That was not something I was expecting to see. As I said on Twitter, that was the first time in this E3 I felt like the Switch was a worthy console to consider. Oh boy, that would not be the only time... oh, no.

Sony stumbles

As a Playstation man I have to admit Sony's presentation was pretty... lacking. I think we were all expecting megatons and a show not unlike the E3s of the past couple of years. Instead we got a pretty run-of-the-mill event. Starting with those dudes playing exotic music and then a trailer for that Uncharted spin-off that hasn't rocked my underwear yet. Did I mention how, in Ubi's presser, the worst part were those dancers and singers? This is similar. I watch E3 to get info on games, not artsy-fartsy stuff. That takes away time from important games info and reveals. Days Gone still hasn't convinced me either. Looks nice and all but... I haven't had that "oh shit!" moment yet.

Then came the second worst thing you can do in a media showcase: the VR segment (the worst worst is talking about numbers and sales and the like). Yes, I dislike VR. Or rather, I don't think VR is where it should be at, and thus it's mostly a gimmick right now. It doesn't help when most VR games shown were not impressive at all. Skyrim VR looked as if it was running on a Nintendo Wii. I don't even need to bash that Final Fantasy XV fishing VR thing... its sole existence is ridiculous. I know some of you have PSVRs and like seeing it supported... but to me this was a waste of show space.

Not all of it was bad. Destiny 2's trailer is my jam. Shadow of the Colossus is getting a remake of sorts (at least it's not a direct port). God of War looks great, though I could have done with a bombastic battle sequence like those that were all the rage in 3. Spiderman also looks neat, though it's no "day 1" for me.

And that was it. Really. To this day is baffles me how they revealed or showed trailers for sort of better stuff before the conference started, in their pre-show. A final Crash Bandicoot remaster trailer, Ni No Kuni 2 trailer and release date, Gran Turismo trailer, fucking Knack 2 trailer, Everybody's Golf (formerly known as Hotshot's Golf) trailer, Superhot VR announcement, and holy-fuck-why-not-in-the-main-show Undertale on PS4... AND VITA. At least half of these deserved a spot in the main presser.

There was also a distinct lack of surprises. According to Shuhei, this was by design since they're saving surprises for Playstation Experience at the end of the year. Would it have hurt them to show one or two surprises? I guess we'll never know.

Before moving on, a curiosity. During MS' conference it was announced that Minecraft would have cross-play with PC and other consoles... except PS4. Later, when Rocket League was announced for the Switch it was said that it would also have cross-play with PC and other consoles... except PS4. In both of these cases, this was by Sony's refusal. This is very odd. Let's say I am wrong and am mis-remembering that Rocket League has/had PS4-PC cross-play, I am however very much certain that PS4 has cross-play with PC in Final Fantasy XIV. I am guessing this is a matter of who hosts the servers (XIV depends on SE's servers) but it's quite odd that Micro-"we won't cross play with Playstation"-soft and Nin-"what is a network"-tendo are spearheading cross-play in 2017 and Sony is suddenly refusing it left and right. Odd.

Metroid. I mean Nintendo.

Look, I don't hate Nintendo. They're a big part of my childhood and while I haven't bought one of their consoles in years, and admit to making fun of their choices and perils with my friends, I don't want them to die or anything like that. I also don't give a crap about most of their current big-name franchises. I see people lose their collective shit about Fire Emblem whenever a new one is announced, and I have more excitement seeing fresh paint dry. I don't give a rat's ass if you're a kid or you're a squid. And so on.

But when Nintendo tells me they're making Metroid Prime 4 for Switch... I listen. When Nintendo tells me they're developing a main, not spin-off Pokémon game for Switch... I listen. And when they, after the show, show a remake of Metroid 2 for Nintendo 3DS... I listen. Ubisoft's Rabbids game was the "man, Switch is looking up" moment of the conference, Metroid was the "oh fuck, I need a Switch" one. I also want a 3DS now since that Metroid 2 remake looked sexy (3DS also has quite a few games I would love to play from past years, such as Phoenix Wright and the Bravely Default ones).

Kirby is cute but I don't care. Fire Emblem could disappear and I wouldn't bat an eye. Cutesy Yoshi is for children. Xenosaga looks... urgh, let's not talk about that. As I said, the Nintendo of the past few years has games I don't care for. But they announce Metroid Prime and I am losing my shit.

And Mario to close the show. Mario... it just looked fucking good.

I want a 3DS and a Switch. Maybe in a few years when they are cheaper?


"How can you be the most excited for a game that we only got a title image for?"

Because it's a promise. Metroid fans have spent years dreaming of a new Prime and for the first time in forever we are being told it's gonna be real. In a couple years, sure, but it's gonna be real.

Sometimes, these logo and CG trailers go a long way in generating a positive impression. How many years have you seen E3 "megatons" that weren't more than titles or CG trailers? Look at people losing their shit for Beyond Good and Evil 2... and that was just a CG trailer. Remember Sony's legendary E3 in 2015? There were three megaton moments then:
  • The Last Guardian gameplay
  • Final Fantasy VII remake announcement
  • Shenmue 3 announcement

TLG was a vaporware game becoming real, so it's a different situation from the topic at hand, but the other two are perfect examples. FFVIIR was announced with a CG trailer (which probably had more work put into it than what has been done with the real game so far) and just last month SE hired people for its development. Shenmue 3... have we heard anything besides a screenshot or two per year? Bot of these announcements were megatons. They drove people wild and people widely said that Sony "won" E3 that year (whether you believe anyone "wins" E3 is neither here nor there). They stopped presses. They became legends.

Neither of those games are real yet. Until we're told otherwise, we can safely consider both of those as vaporware.

But vaporware sells. The promise sells.

Metroid Prime 4 is vaporware. Until we see the game running and with a solid date, it's just a promise. And that's exciting. It's not fulfilling... it's exciting. That's where Sony dropped the ball this E3: they lacked promises people wanted, they showed stuff we know about (good stuff, don't get me wrong) but no big promises for the future. We'll see if Playstation Experience proves us wrong, but until then, nothing from E3 rocked my world from Sony. Nintendo played its cards well... and you can bet they saved some aces down the line.