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Special Report: E3 2017

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Ah, E3. The time of year when gaming companies try to sell gamers on their future projects, the big three try to show why their minor differences make them better than the competition, and gamers argue about why these two companies failed in their press conferences, but this company that I coincidentally support had the greatest press conference I’ve ever seen, even though they were more or less the same. E3, hoo-rah! That cynicism aside, one of my favorite E3 traditions is watching the press conferences and preparing these write-ups. Now it’s time for your yearly tradition of reading this special report -- unless it’s not your yearly tradition, in which case maybe you should pick up a new yearly tradition!

Microsoft
Going into Microsoft's press conference, there was one topic on everyone’s mind: Project Scorpio. After an announcement at E3 last year and countless leaks, Microsoft finally unveiled the newest member of the Xbox One family, the Xbox One X (XB1X) which will be released worldwide on November 7th. After spending a fair bit of time talking about this new Xbox’s specs, showcasing the improved graphics, and trying to convince gamers that this marginal upgrade would be worth their hard earned money, Microsoft then moved onto their upcoming games. Now, before I talk about the games, Microsoft waited until just before their final trailer to announce the price of the XB1X -- $499. This felt like an acknowledgment that Microsoft knew that upgrading to the XB1X would be a hard sell and they needed this E3 to sell players on their upcoming lineup. Time will tell whether they succeeded, but personally, I’m a bit skeptical. The first game Microsoft showcased was Forza Motorsport 7. I get that racing games do not place the same demands on a console as many other games while still looking incredibly beautiful, but at the same time, it’s hard to get excited about a racing game so I think this was a poor first reveal. Next, Microsoft unveiled Metro: Exodus, the third entry in the Metro franchise which will be released in 2018. Personally, I’ve never played a Metro game, but this game looked gorgeous and exciting and made me interested in a franchise I had only seen in passing. Assassin’s Creed: Origins took the stage next with an exciting trailer that got me excited for an Assassin’s Creed game for the first time in years, followed by a gameplay segment which completely wiped-out that excitement. I will admit that I have not played an Assassin’s Creed game since Black Flag, and this reveal did little to convince me to return to the franchise. Microsoft then announced that Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds would be coming to the Xbox in late 2017. I know some people really like this game and consider this a huge reveal, but of the DayZ/ARMA mods, I’m partial to Rust, so it was hard to get too excited. A brief trailer for weirdly geometric looking Deep Rock Galactic was next, followed by State of Decay 2, an open-world zombie survival game which didn’t look too impressive, but I imagine will excite fans of the first. Microsoft then showcased The Darwin Project, which looked like an uninteresting Overwatch clone, but has sounded better as the week progressed, before moving onto the obligatory Minecraft segment. Next, Microsoft unveiled a new DBZ fighting game, Dragonball Fighter Z, and an MMO called The Black Dessert which somehow reminded me of Assassin’s Creed, The Witcher, and Skyrim at the same time (not in a bad way). They then presented two indie-looking games, The Last Night and The Artful Escape, before a trailer for a Bandai Namco JRPG looking game called Code Vein (which may or may-not be an anime Dark Souls). Sea of Thieves, planned for release in early 2018, took the stage next. The world, the gameplay, and the social aspects of this game look incredibly fun, although I feel like I am in the minority in my excitement for this game. An uninformative trailer for Tacoma was next up, followed by Super Lucky’s Tale, a game which looks like an old-school platformer (so thank you to Yooka-Laylee if we’re returning to that era). Another platformer came next, the 2D, 1930s inspired Cuphead, which is finally coming out this fall. Terry Crews was then featured front and center in a trailer for Crackdown 3, which is apparently more or less the same as the first two entries -- which may or may not be a bad thing depending on your experiences with this franchise (if your experience with this franchise is only buying a copy to access the Halo 3 beta, then..). A number of quick clips of independent [email protected] games were shown next, followed by an artistic looking game called Ashen. Square-Enix then officially revealed a prequel for Life is Strange (which reminded me to download the first game as it’s free for PS+ players) followed by Shadow of War, a sequel to Shadow of Mordor featuring an overly loquacious orc general. Microsoft then unveiled Ori and the Will of the Wisps, a sequel to 2015’s phenomenal game and then announced that they were expanding their support for backwards compatibility to the original Xbox’s library. At this point they announced the price of the XB1X before moving onto their final game, BioWare’s Anthem. EA had teased this game the previous day, so there was a lot of excitement around this reveal and honestly, I think it lived up to the hype. Anthem looks like a massive open-world scifi game with a lot of potential. At the same time, while the trailer and scripted gameplay looked amazing, it reminded me a lot of Destiny’s reveal in 2013. Don’t get me wrong, I love Destiny, but the final product was vastly different than the demos and reveals along the way, so I’m maintaining some healthy skepticism at this point in Anthem’s development cycle. So that was Microsoft’s press conference -- a new console, some shiny trailers, but there wasn’t a lot that I felt I immediately needed to play. And I think that's a problem given that they needed to do well to sell gamers on the XB1X. I give them a passing grade this year, but not much else.

Pros:
Sea of Thieves keeps looking better
Shadow of War looks like it’s going to be better than its amazing predecesor
Lucky’s Tale reminded me of old-school platformers
Anthem looks promising, with the aforementioned caveats

Cons:
No major first-party games
Most of the so-called exclusives (all?) are not actually exclusives.
No Halo or Gears (although that’s supposedly in the works?)
XB1X is expensive, and this press conference did little to make it seem worth the price.

Final Grade: C+


Sony
While the lead-up to the Microsoft press conference was dominated by Project Scorpio, the lead-up to Sony's press conference was instead focused on a single game: The Last of Us Part 2. Unfortunately, while the first game featured was from Naughty Dog, it was a standalone expansion to the Uncharted series, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. Honestly, I get that Uncharted 4 was extraordinary game, but there was no way that this game would satisfy fans’ cravings for more about The Last of Us Part 2. Next up, Sony briefly teased The Frozen Wilds, an upcoming DLC for Horizon Zero Dawn which served as a great reminder to pick up Horizon this week while it’s on sale. The next segment focused on Days Gone, the upcoming zombie survival game which appears to take place in an open-world. Sony introduced this game last year with an interesting trailer, but concluded their press conference with a gameplay demo that eliminated any interest I had for this game. Unfortunately, the gameplay featured in this year’s demo did little to reinvigorate that interest. Sony then showcased a new Monster Hunter game, Monster Hunter World. I will admit that, while I have tried multiple games, I am not the most ardent fan of the Monster Hunter franchise, but from what I’ve heard, fans were somewhat disappointed by this trailer, soo.. Sony then revealed a trailer for a new HD remake of Shadow of the Colossus, which, while it is one of my top-ten games of all time, was not exactly the most exciting reveal. They then presented a trailer for Marvel vs Capcom Infinite which felt like it failed to really elicit any excitement due to the incredibly poor character models. Honestly, I think the only thing people were talking about here on BG were the character models, so take that for what it’s worth. Sony then revealed the latest and obligatory entry in the Call of Duty franchise, Call of Duty: World War II, before moving onto a brief VR segment. This segment revealed gameplay for Skyrim VR, Starchild (a VR sidescroller which raised a number of questions..), a first-person asylum game called The Inpatient, a fishing game built from Final Fantasy XV subtitled Monster of the Deep, a first shooter called Bravo Team, and a VR adventure game featuring an adorable tiny mouse titled Moss. As someone who doesn’t really care about VR, most of these games seemed irrelevant, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued by Moss. Seriously, the tiny mouse with her cute little sword are adorable and I cannot wait to partake in her adventure. After that momentary adorable interlude, Sony moved back into the serious realm with a new trailer for God of War. For those who missed the reveal last year, this game picks up with Kratos and his son confronting dangers drawn from Norse mythology. This trailer teased more of the story questions and hinted at a number of mysteries which would be worth exploring. I’ll be honest, I have never been the biggest fan of the God of War franchise, and I have questions about how God of War’s hack-and-slash gameplay is going to translate to an open-world game, but I’m also incredibly excited to see what Sony does with this game. God of War is currently scheduled for release in early 2018. Sony then presented a new segment for Detroit: Become Human. As I said last year, if you’re a fan of Quantic Dream’s games, you are probably excited for this latest game. However, if you’re like me and do not find their games interesting, I imagine this segment did little to sell you on this game. Sony then moved on to one of the games I am most excited for, Destiny 2. Look, I could write an entire blog post about Destiny 2 (expect at least one, sooner rather than later..), so I will save you all from that. Destiny had its flaws, but I have a lot of faith in Bungie. I will admit I am still more than a little salty at their decision to not carry things over from the current rendition of Destiny, but I am also incredibly excited by many of the structural changes that are coming with Destiny 2. Destiny 2 will have an open beta in a little over a month, so if there is any part of you that is interested in this game, I cannot encourage you enough to give it a try. Sony closed their press conference with a gameplay segment focused on their upcoming Spider-Man game. This game was announced last year, and I will admit that I was not especially interested. However, Sony showcased gameplay that looked like a merger between Spider-Man and the Arkham games. This gameplay was one of the bigger surprises for me and I am actually pretty excited to pick this one up. With that, Sony closed their press conference. As it drew to a close, the overarching sentiment I could not shake was, “that’s it?” Yes, Sony showed some intriguing games, but at the same time, I did not feel especially excited at the end of their press conference -- at least not as excited as I have felt in previous years.

Pros:
Moss looks adorable
God of War still looks promising
Destiny 2!!!
Spider-Man looks like a day-one purchase

Cons:
Nothing about The Last of Us 2
VR seemed mostly irrelevant
Days Gone continues to look mediocre
A lot of gameplay/trailers, but few of them were actually worth getting excited about

Final Grade: C+


Nintendo
By Tuesday morning, expectations were pretty low for Nintendo. Nintendo again opted for a prerecorded Nintendo Direct followed by a day dedicated to deeper looks at their lineup. The general consensus was that Microsoft and Sony had both been pretty lackluster, and given that it was expected that Nintendo was going to focus heavily on Super Mario Odyssey, there wasn’t a lot of suspense. However, in thirty minutes, Nintendo managed to generate more excitement than Sony or Microsoft had done in double and triple the time, respectively. Nintendo opened with a new trailer for Xenoblade Chronicles 2 which focused on the relationship between the male and female leads and drew on more than a few iconic images for fans of Xeno- games. A lot of people have speculated and rumors have circulated that this game had been pushed back to 2018, but the trailer ended resoundingly, stating it is expected to be out this holiday season. Xenoblade was followed by the reveal of a new co-op Kirby game. As someone who loves Kirby, this was a welcome announcement and was the first confirmation that Nintendo is working hard to support the Switch with its stellar lineup. Next up, Nintendo showcased Pokkén Tournament DX, which would have been exciting, had Nintendo not discussed it in detail a week prior in a Pokémon dedicated direct. Now, fans have been asking for a core console Pokémon game for years, and in the first of their earth-shattering shocks, Nintendo announced that they had one in development for the Switch. Before we were given a chance to recover, Nintendo fired off another shot, shattering what was left of the Earth into even smaller pieces by announcing Metroid Prime 4. Yes, nothing but a title image was shown, but that doesn’t matter. The first entry in the Metroid Prime trilogy is one of my top-ten games of all time, and the other two are both exceptional games. Announcing a new Metroid Prime game, one which will more closely resemble the first was, without a doubt, the biggest announcement at E3 this year for me. At this point, I was in a fervor, so I may have been too hyped to accurately respond to the rest of Nintendo’s lineup. Nintendo unveiled a new Yoshi game that looked like a merger between Woolly World and Paper Mario and is slated for 2018 followed by a new trailer for Fire Emblem Warriors. If you’re a fan of either franchise, I imagine this game is already on your radar -- as someone who has enjoyed both Hyrule Warriors and the Fire Emblem franchise, I imagine I’ll be picking this one up. Speaking of Hyrule, Nintendo then visited the Zelda franchise, highlighting the Zelda gear for Skyrim for Switch and then the upcoming DLC for Breath of the Wild. The first DLC, The Master Trials, is scheduled for the end of this month, while the second DLC, The Champion’s Ballad, is scheduled for the holiday season. I’ll be honest with you all, Breath of the Wild is currently my front-runner for game of the year (by a long shot), so anything that adds more incentives for me to immerse myself in this rendition of Hyrule is a welcome addition. Nintendo then moved onto Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle which.. ..Look, there is no part of me that is willing to admit I am interested in this game. That said, I cannot deny that some type of merger between Mario, Rabbids, and XCOM sounds intriguing. It’ll be out at the end of August, so… Nintendo then briefly showcased Rocket League, complete with Mario hats, before moving onto what was supposed to be the crux of their show, Super Mario Odyssey. Scheduled to be released by the end of October, Mario Odyssey looks so promising. Colorful open worlds. Exploration. New hat-based mechanics. This game looks incredible and is a day-one purchase, without a doubt. For me, Nintendo won E3 with their “press conference.” It wasn’t just the amazing games they showcased, but it was also the fact that almost everything they announced will be a day-one purchase for me.

Pros:
Xenoblade is still on track for this year
New co-op Kirby
Core console Pokémon
Metroid Prime 4!!!!!!!
Zelda DLC looks substantial
Mario+Rabbids is probably going to be worth picking up..
Super Mario Odyssey looks stellar

Cons:
No dates for either the Switch Pokémon or Metroid Prime 4
...ummm? I’m stretching here...

Grade: A-


Game of E3: Super Mario Odyssey
Like many of you, I wasn’t really impressed by the first few days of E3, even though there were a number of games that stood out. However, by Tuesday morning, Nintendo had blown away the competition, and one game had claimed its place as my Game of E3. Of all the games at E3 this year, the one that stood out to me most was Super Mario Odyssey. I will admit, part of this comes from Nintendo’s brilliant decision to follow their Nintendo Direct with a thirty minute segment devoted entirely to Mario Odyssey which showcased the innovative and exciting new gameplay and a number of the gorgeous worlds. Even admitting that unfair edge, if there was a single game I had to commit to picking up on day-one, it is undeniably Super Mario Odyssey. Also, that jazz theme is incredible and has been occupying my speakers all week.

So there's my wrap-up of E3 2017. What were your thoughts? Who do you think had the best press conference? What games are you excited to play this year? What were some of your biggest surprises and disappointments this year? Feel free to leave a comment below~

Comments

  1. 6souls -
    6souls's Avatar
    Should be noted that Lucky's Tale was formerly an Oculus Rift exclusive.