Last week was E3, one of the largest video games expos in the world, which is held annually in the Los Angeles area. One of the highlights each year are the press conferences held by several of the major gaming publishers, and I, like many others, took the time to watch them and enjoy the spectacle that is E3. Today and tomorrow I’ll be giving brief, bullet-point style overviews of the things I saw that caught my eye during the conferences I watched, which were the ones from EA, Microsoft, Bethesda, Ubisoft, Sony, and Nintendo. Sorry, but I didn’t watch the Devolver Digital presentation or the PC gaming show. Today I’ll recap what I found notable about the EA, Microsoft, and Bethesda conferences.
* Taking a cue from the corporate marketing teams that are constantly pushing forward the date of Christmas sales, EA moved up its press conference so that it was the first gaming publisher to have a conference at this year’s E3. We can only hope and pray that this does not trigger a war of escalation between the gaming publishers wherein next year’s E3 starts a month prior to the actual opening of the show floor.
* A large chunk of EA’s conference went to covering two of its largest sports titles—FIFA and Madden. I don’t care about sports game, and yet I can’t help but be impressed by what EA shows of them each year. EA churns these titles out annually but seems to be genuinely committed to steadily improving with each new game. Also notable is the new focus on a story-driven sinngleplayer campaign in Madden. I guess last year’s FIFA story campaign set an example that Madden is now following (and FIFA’s is getting a continuation of last year’s story campaign).
* Battlefield 1’s next two DLC packs were shown. The first one has a bunch of new multiplayer maps that are set at night, but the second one, titled In The Name Of The Tsar, looks really cool and is set on the Eastern Front of WW1. I’ll be playing Battlefield 1 at some point before the end of this year, and while I’ll likely not delve deep into multiplayer the trailer for the DLC is helping keep my interest in this game alive and well.
* A gameplay demo for Need for Speed: Payback gave us a very flashy action sequence, much like what you’d expect from a Hollywood blockbuster. I don’t have much of a history with the Need for Speed games (the only one I played a lot of was Hot Pursuit) and I’m not much of a racing guy, so I could see myself maybe trying this one out, but it could also easily get passed over for other games.
* An interesting co-op game call A Way Out was debuted. It comes from the same developers who created Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, which was an interesting and fairly good indie game I played years ago. The game’s creator stated that the game can only be played in co-op and that split screen co-op is the way it’s meant to be played. Unfortunately, these days I have very few friends who play games and I don’t see myself being able to get any of them to try this one with me.
* A new game from Bioware, called Anthem, got a teaser trailer. At first I thought it was a sequel to Evolve, but that’s not the case. A full reveal would be held at the Microsoft conference. It turned out to be the game Microsoft closed their conference with.
* NBA Live 18 was revealed. Like Madden and FIFA, I don’t care but I realize that lots of people love sports games, so I understand why EA shows off games like these every year.
* The last part of the conference was a 30-minute multiplayer match from Star Wars: Battlefront 2. I did enjoy my limited time with the first Battlefront and I’m planning on playing this at some point in the future. While the main thing I’m looking forward to is the singleplayer campaign, I was also very pleased to hear that all DLC for the game is going to be free, so whenever I dip my toes into multiplayer I won’t be missing out on and of the newer maps and game modes.
* The Microsoft conference clocked in at a bit over 90 minutes and was jammed full of so much content that I had trouble remembering everything that I saw. Seeing as how Microsoft was debuting a new console and needed to show that lots of games were coming to it, I can understand the decision to have a long conference.
* Xbox’s Project Scorpio console is officially called the Xbox One X. That’s not the name I thought they’d pick but I suppose it falls in line with the naming convention Microsoft created with the Xbox One S. My one concern is that the letter X can sometimes sound similar to the letter S, so hopefully no one mixes up the Xbox One X with the Xbox One S when they go to buy it.
* Every time someone says “Xbox One X” I can’t help but hear the lyrics from DMX’s song X Gon Give It To Ya.
* True to Microsoft’s claim, the Xbox One X will be the most powerful gaming console on the market when it launches. Lots of technical details were given, but they largely flew over my head. Games will look prettier and run better is the main message I took home. All current Xbox One games will be playable on the One X, and supposedly they will even look and run a little bit better. The One X is also significantly smaller than the original Xbox One, which is great for people like me who try to be really efficient with storage space around the TV.
* First big game shown was Forza Motorsport 7. Not a racing guy, so I doubt I’ll play this, but it’s a really good looking game. I don’t doubt that within a few more years we’ll finally reach the point where certain games look exactly like real life.
* Metro Exodus got a debut gameplay trailer. Never played the other two Metro games and likely won’t play this one either, but not because the game looks bad. I had assumed that the Metro series was done, so this new game was a bit of a surprise.
* After the usual deluge of leaks that seem to surround every single Assassin’s Creed game, we finally got a gameplay reveal of Assassin’s Creed Origins. I played all the Assassin’s Creed games up through Black Flag and am kinda looking to get back into the series, so I expect I’ll play this. The game is set in ancient Egypt and tells the story of the founding of the Assassin Order.
* The conference then had section of going through several games that I don’t care about: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, State of Decay 2, Deep Rock Galactic, The Darwin Project, Minecraft, and Dragon Ball Fighter Z. I always feel bad for not caring about certain games, but even if I did like them I wouldn’t have time to play them all.
* Next was a gameplay demo for Sea of Thieves. I’m both curious and skeptical about this game, but I’ll never get to try it out for myself because it’s a co-op game and almost none of my friends play games these days. This might be a genuinely fun pirate game, or really boring.
* Both Cuphead and Crackdown 3 got release dates. While I’m not going to be playing either of these, I’m glad to see they finally have release dates, as they’ve been stuck in development for so long and lots of people have been waiting on them. I hope they are good for the sake of the fans thats have been waiting for so long.
* Tons of indie games in a montage sequence and then a trailer for a new Life is Strange game. The original Life Is Strange struck me as another tale of teen angst that I normally roll my eyes at, so I’ll pass on this one too.
* More footage from Middle-earth: Shadow of War. The previous Middle-earth game, Shadow of Mordor, holds the unfortunate distinction of being one of the very few games that I liked but for some reason never finished. Shadow of War looks really good and I’m seriously considering playing it, but maybe I need to go back and finish Shadow of Mordor? Not sure.
* Ori and the Will of Wisps was revealed. Love the art style, but not all that interested in the game itself.
* Original Xbox games are being added to the Xbox One’s list of backwards-compatible games. I personally don’t own any original Xbox games and have no desire to go back and replay any original Xbox games, but this is a really good publicity move for Microsoft and got lots of cheers from the crowd. I’m really glad to see Xbox is listening to fans and giving them features that they want.
* Final game shown was Anthem, which was teased in the EA conference. Great game to end the show with, and definitely has my attention. It’s being made by Bioware (and not the B-team that made Mass Effect: Andromeda) and looks like a combination of Destiny and The Division, set in a futuristic post-apocalyptic world.
* The price of the Xbox One X was smartly saved for the very end of the conference. It will be $500, which is no surprise since Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox, had been talking about it as a premium product in interviews over the preceding months.
* I watched the Bethesda conference despite the fact that I can’t remember the last time I played one of their games.
* Bethesda’s conference was about 45 minutes long, which felt good after the marathon that was the Microsoft conference. What was also nice about the Bethesda conference is their claim that all games shown will come out before the end of the year, which contrasts to some of the other E3 conferences that have a tendency of showcasing games that are years away from release.
* This year’s conference was a virtual tour through Bethesdaland, a theme park based on Bethesda’s various gaming properties. This approach gave the Bethesda conference a very different vibe from the preceding ones from EA and Microsoft.
* Bethesda isn’t as big of a publisher as EA, Microsoft, Ubisoft, or Sony, so they didn’t have quite as much to show as the other major press conferences, but they did a lot with what gaming properties they had. Sadly, only one thin caught my eye.
* VR for Doom and Fallout 4, DLC for The Elder Scrolls Online, a club for Skyrim and Fallout mods, an expansion for The Elder Scrolls: Legends, Skyrim on the Nintendo Switch, a standalone expansion for Dishonored 2, more content for Quake Champions, and The Evil Within 2 were all announced. None of these did anything for me.
* The one game that actually caught my attention was the final game of the conference, Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus. While I have not played the previous Wolfenstein, it’s a game that I’ve had under consideration since it came out and maybe at some point next year I’ll give one or both of them a try.