Last week was E3 2016, and it was epic. I know that term has been so overused in our modern day that it has become nearly devoid of any substantial meaning, but I’ve been following E3 news and events for about a decade now and this year’s E3 just might have been the best I’ve ever seen, so epic is a fitting description of it. This year’s lineup of games was simply phenomenal, and even though I’m not interested in all of them, there’s no denying that the sheer number of quality titles we are getting over the next year is an embarrassment or riches for the gaming community.
On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week I’m going to be giving my own thoughts and observations on this year’s E3. I won’t talk about every game or every announcement, but will instead be highlighting on the ones that meant something to me, and I’ll be using a bullet-point format. On Monday I will discuss the EA, Bethesda, and Ubisoft press conferences; on Tuesday I will discuss the Microsoft and Sony press conferences; and on Wednesday I will discuss the showcase from Nintendo, as well as a few miscellaneous items.
Today is Monday, so here are the things that stood out to me about the EA, Bethesda, and Ubisoft press conferences.
* EA’s conference began with Titanfall 2. Because the first Titanfall was multiplayer only, I skipped over it even though it looked fantastic from the media coverage I watched at the time. Titanfall 2 has a dedicated singleplayer campaign, and is coming to PlayStation 4, so I’ll be playing it at some point after it comes out.
* The EA conference was actually held simultaneously in two places, Los Angeles and London, and the camera would alternate back and forth between locations at certain times. While the idea of having the same conference in two different cities at the same time is novel in concept, I found it a bit disorienting to be moving back and forth between them.
* Mass Effect Andromeda got another behind the scenes trailer. While I would have liked a trailer that was just gameplay, or better yet, an actual gameplay demo, there were bits of the game in the trailer and I pulled a few more details about the game from them. The name of our new ship is the Tempest, and both the Asari and Krogan races are confirmed in the game. Since the trailer is about an exodus out of the Milky Way Galaxy and into the Andromeda Galaxy to find a new home for humanity, it seems reasonable to infer that in the cannon ending of Mass Effect 3 the Reapers messed up the Milky Way really bad. The fact that we’re still not getting a substantial game trailer or demo for Mass Effect Andromeda likely means that the game is still far from being completed, and I would not be surprised if it gets delayed again, into the second half of 2017.
* A good chunk of EA’s conference was dedicated to its various sports games. I don’t play sports games, so I zoned out during those sections.
* Star Wars Battlefront 2 was confirmed. I messed around with the first Star Wars Battlefront a little and had a good time, so I’m looking forward to this one.
* EA also has a bunch of other Star Wars games under development and we got another behind the scenes trailer showing the various studios working on them. Almost nothing from the games themselves were in the trailer, making the Mass Effect Andromeda trailer look like a deep dive by comparison. EA really needs to stop announcing games before they are ready to be shown. They made the same mistake last year with Mass Effect Andromeda’s premature announcement.
* The EA conference closed with Battlefield 1, which is one of my most anticipated games coming out this year. We got a very cool trailer for the game, along with actual details about how it will work. Being set in World War 1, the game will have both airships and horses, as well as dynamic weather (such as rain and fog) that will effect multiplayer. A public beta will take place later this summer, and if I have time I will get in on it. After the conference ended there was a live 64-player multiplayer match demonstration, which I watched part of.
* Overall, the EA conference was just ok. There was some good content, but also a lot of material that had no business being there, like the Star Wars games in the behind the scenes trailer. That should have been cut in favor of going deeper with other games that are closer to completion.
* The Bethesda conference was an interesting reversal from the EA conference in that while Bethesda only had one game that I’m interested in, the conference itself was much better, keeping a steady pace for the most part and having more content in the games it showed.
* The first game shown was Quake Champions. I remember playing a demo for the original Quake when I was a kid, but otherwise I have no history with the series and have no desire to play it.
* A bunch of Fallout 4 DLC was next. Again, don’t care.
* A little later there was an announcement for a remastering of Skyrim. While I’ve never played any of the Elder Scrolls games, I’ve known some people who played Skyrim and it seems to be well liked, so I might give this one a try.
* A CG trailer for Prey was shown. I assume this game replaces Prey 2, which disappeared into development hell some time back. As much as I love CG trailers, you can’t use them to make any substantial judgments on the games they’re for.
* DLC for Doom was revealed. Another game I have no interest in playing.
* A number of announcements related to the Elder Scrolls Online came next. Generally speaking, I avoid playing MMOs so I’ll pass on this.
* Bethesda is working on some VR offerings for several of its games. I’m probably not going to get my hands on VR for at least a year, so this doesn’t affect me, yet.
* The final section of the Bethesda conference was dedicated entirely to Dishonored 2. This part of the conference lasted too long and dragged down what had otherwise been a well-paced performance by Bethesda. There was both a trailer for the game and a demo. While the world of Dishonored looks interesting, something about the way it plays does not appeal to me. I didn’t play the first Dishonored and don’t see myself touching this one either.
* Clocking in at a full two hours, the Ubisoft conference was the longest of the major E3 press conferences. While there was a lot of good stuff shown, there was also at least 30 minutes of material (if not more) that could have been cut for a better, tighter conference. Aisha Tyler hosted the Ubisoft conference again this year, and she did a good job with it.
* After the opening, the Ubisoft conference’s first game was Ghost Recon: Wildlands. I’ve only played one or two Ghost Recon games in the past, but I remember liking them. There was an extended gameplay trailer for Wildlands that showed off the tactical gameplay with four players working together to capture a target. I liked what I saw, though the banter between the players was the cringe worthy sort of people trying too hard to sound like Special Forces operatives.
* The next South Park game followed. While I’m not a South Park fan, the game looks like it will have the same crude humor the TV series is known for.
* After that was a trailer and announcement for the DLC expansion of The Division. Before the year ends I hope to have played The Division in some capacity.
* VR got its own section of the Ubisoft conference. Because of the way VR works, it’s hard to demo, but to Ubisoft’s credit they made a good effort with a game called Eagle Flight. There was also a trailer for a Star Trek game that uses VR. I can’t remember when was the last time I played, or even heard of, a good Star Trek game (and who knows if this one will be any good). Actually, when was the list time I played a Star Trek game at all?
* When the VR section ended, there was a cinematic trailer and a gameplay demo of For Honor. This game looks really cool, but I have a bad feeling that it will turn out to be like Ryse: Son of Rome (a great looking game with so-so gameplay).
* Trials of the Blood Dragon got announced. It’s a fusion of Far Cry: Blood Dragon and the Trials games. While I would have preferred to just get a new Blood Dragon game, this might be fun.
* For some reason, Ubisoft felt compelled to talk about the upcoming Assassin’s Creed movie. I realize that as part of their greater entertainment portfolio they must have deemed it worthy of stage time, but in my opinion it had no business being there. This, along with the later discussion about a future Watch Dogs movie should have been cut from the conference.
* Speaking of Watch Dogs, we got to see a good amount of Watch Dogs 2. The new game is set in San Francisco and looks to be improving on the features of the original. In particular, the new protagonist appears to be much more interesting than the one in the first Watch Dogs. I expect good things from this game and look forward to playing it.
* The last game shown was a new extreme sports game called Steep. I’m not an extreme sports person, so this game doesn’t appeal to me. More interesting to me was the placement of Steep as the final game of the conference. I think a stronger finish would have been to switch the placement of Steep and Watch Dogs 2, as Watch Dogs 2 makes for a much bigger exclamation point to end the conference with.
* Before the conference ended, all the developers behind the various games shown at the Ubisoft conference came out to waive and say goodbye to the audience. While sort of awkward, I liked it that Ubisoft took a moment to highlight the people who make the games, as they oftentimes toil in obscurity.