The annual E3 video game expo is currently wrapping up in Los Angeles. I didn’t follow the news coming out of E3 as closely this year as I’ve done in years past but I watched most of the various press conferences and showcases that were held and today I’ll be sharing my thoughts on some of the things from them that caught my eye.
EA kicked things off on Saturday with an extended live stream in the place of a traditional press conference. This was probably a good move seeing as how EA has struggled over the last few years to put on a good show, and there’s also the fact that they don’t have a lot of big upcoming games to show off. The only EA game that has my attention is Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order, which you might remember took the award for last year’s most awkward game announcement at E3 2018. Being a Star Wars fan, I’m always interested whenever a Star Wars game is shown and Jedi Fallen Order definitely looks like it has potential, but from what we saw in the gameplay trailer I’m not sold just yet. The gameplay reminds me of The Force Unleashed—which is a good thing—but nothing shown in the trailer was overly impressive to me. I’ve read accounts of people who have seen a behind-closed-doors presentation that the game is much better than what the general public was shown, so for now I’m still willing to give this game the benefit of the doubt.
Xbox delivered a 90-minute press conference with lots of hype, plenty of potential, great theatrics, and with tons of games shown. Overall I’d say they did a good job but I do have to deduct points for the general lack of substance (i.e. actual gameplay) in the conference. Three things from this conference stand out to me.
First, and easily most importantly, Keanu Reeves is in Cyberpunk 2077. He showed up at the end of the game’s trailer and then appeared live on the stage to rapturous screams and applause. While I have no interest in playing Cyberpunk 2077 I couldn’t help but smile during the entire time. This will easily go down as the biggest hype moment of this year’s E3.
Second, a new gaming pass called Xbox Game Pass Ultimate was announced. For $14.99 a month you get an Xbox Live Gold membership, unlimited access to over 100 console and PC games with more being added regularly, access to Xbox Game Studios games on the same day as they are released to the general public, as well as discounts and other perks. The Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is a great value and once again Xbox has raised the bar in terms of services offered to their players.
Third, the next Xbox console was officially announced and some of its technical specs were teased, though we still don’t have a ton of concrete information on it. Currently the console is referred to as Project Scarlette and will supposedly deliver a fourfold improvement over current generation consoles in terms of technical performance. It was also confirmed that the next Halo game is going to launch with the next Xbox, which is a smart move. Halo games may not command quite as much cultural cache as they used to but it’s still a big franchise and having the next Halo game release with the launch of the next Xbox will definitely help boost sales of the new console. Project Scarlette is scheduled to be released during next year’s holiday season.
There was no PlayStation conference this year, so I’ve got nothing substantial to say about PlayStation for this year’s E3. Ceding the field of battle to Xbox is a bold move and we’ll have to see if PlayStation is planning something big for later in the year.
Bethesda’s conference was over an hour long but should have been at most 30 minutes. There weren’t a ton of games shown, much of the conference felt like filler material, and we got to see Todd Howard dancing around the disaster that is Fallout 76. I’m guessing Bethesda’s conference will be widely regarded as the worst one at this year’s E3 but to their credit I can say they did one that’s never happened before—they showed games that I’m actually interested in. For whatever reason, I’ve never cared about Bethesda’s marquee titles such as Doom, Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, Wolfenstein, etc. I’ve watched every Bethesda E3 conference since they started doing them and every year I got through to the end of the conference without seeing a single game that piqued my curiosity, until now. Two games from this year’s conference caught my eye—GhostWire: Tokyo and Deathloop. We know very little about these games but it looks like GhostWire: Tokyo takes place in Tokyo after supernatural events cause most of the populace to disappear, and Deathloop is about two characters caught in a never-ending time loop where they kill each other endlessly. Both of these games might lose my interest but for now I can finally say that there are Bethesda games I’m looking forward to.
I’ve never played a Devolver game but I watch their conference every year purely for the storytelling. For those that don’t know, for the last couple of E3s Devolver has been released prerecorded fake press conferences that mock the tropes of traditional E3 press conferences and tell the ongoing tale of a fictional Devolver marketing team. Watching the Devolver conferences is almost like tuning in to a TV show, except you have to wait a full year for the next episode to come out.
Ever the wildcard, Ubisoft delivered an eclectic mix of games and other forms of entertainment. Many of the announcements—such as Roller Champions, Rainbow Six Quarantine, Elite Squad, Rob McElhenney’s new TV show, and Gods & Monsters—didn’t do anything for me personally but a small number of things stuck with me from the conference.
I was reminded yet again that I’ll eventually need to get around to playing The Division 2. Three episodes of additional content are being added to the game over the coming months, which means there will be a lot to do whenever I finally start playing.
Watch Dogs Legion looks interesting, but like Jedi Fallen Order I’m not yet sold on it. The third entry in the Watch Dogs series is set in a near-future London and instead of having a main protagonist you play as (former) NPCs who have joined DedSec’s resistance against the authoritarian government and organized crime syndicates that have taken over London. Supposedly you can recruit any NPC you see on the streets (a claim I’m a bit skeptical about) and if these characters die they are gone for good and you have to switch to another character.
In the past I used to find the regular Just Dance stage performances kind of cringey but now I find them strangely endearing. I just can’t stay negative about a game with this much bubbly enthusiasm. Also I’m a terrible dancer myself, so I have no right to judge other peoples’ dancing.
Lastly, Ghost Recon Breakpoint is a game I’ll likely skip but there’s a chance I might give it a try. I didn’t play Ghost Recon Wildlands and these types of games seem to be at their best when you’ve got a squad of friends (I’m normally a solo player) but I’ve enjoyed the trailers I’ve seen so far for Breakpoint so maybe I’ll reconsider and take the plunge.
I wasn’t expecting much when I watched the Square Enix conference but was pleasantly surprised by what they showed. The big news, of course, was everything shown for Final Fantasy 7 Remake. I am officially sold on this game. It looks great and while I won’t play it right at launch I’ll definitely get to it eventually. A bunch of other announcements also came out of the Square Enix conference but the FF7 Remake is the main thing I remembered.
It’s true that I don’t own a Switch, and consequently I have no ability to play any of the games shown in Nintendo’s prerecorded E3 presentation, but I watched it anyways to help keep me in the loop of what’s happening in the gaming world, and because you can count on Nintendo to put on a good show with minimal fluff. If I owned a Switch I supposed the announcements that would mean the most to me would probably be the announcements of new Smash Brothers characters, No More Heroes 3, and a sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I’ve not owned a Nintendo console since the Wii and don’t see myself purchasing a Switch for the foreseeable future but if my lifestyle changed such that I was commuting to work on a bus or a train I could see myself buying one.