June 16, 2016

The E3 Blog: 2016


Oh man. It feels like such a long time since I've done this! So this is my annual (for real, not like my Game Over series) written coverage of E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo), the E3 Blog. If you haven't seen one of these before, basically I watch the major press conferences at E3 (sans PC game show), North America's largest convention for gaming and game electronics, and log my thoughts in real time, with no additional research (I try to ignore pre-E3 rumors, as well). It's tough to keep up, especially since I decided to get my nails done the week before (slows down my WPM tenfold), so I'm a little all over the place, but hopefully you get the gist of things!
This year featured press junkets from regulars EA, Ubisoft, Microsoft (Xbox) and Sony (Playstation), as well as a victory lap for Bethesda and a half-assed something-or-other from Nintendo. Evidently EA drew the short straw, so we're getting them out of the way first. Let's go!
Electronic Arts
I can't tell if putting EA at the start of the expo was a good thing or not. EA's conference is usually a rather painful one because the company does some iffy things, it's sports heavy and most of their releases are pretty predictable. I'm going into this guarded, but hopeful.

Talk talk talk, talk talk talk, talk talk, Titanfall. Clearly I'm not the target audience for Titanfall 2, but I will give them a clean thumbs up for a flashy trailer and the addition of a single player campaign. If this game has any chance at all of getting me to play it, it's through a single player campaign. I'll be interested to hear what Titanfall fans have to say about it… I don't think I know any Titanfall fans. Expected October 28, 2016.
Are we doing the sports games already? I realize this is EA, but jeez. I really wish I was a fan of sports games. I don't know what happened. I really love sports, but with a handful of now ancient exceptions, I've never really liked sports games. Consequently, I'm more excited for the actual NFL season to start than I am for Madden '17 or Madden competitions. Expected August 23, 2016. 
So we're hitting the reset button on Mass Effect, huh? Based on my experience with the existing ME games (I still need to finish the trilogy... ugh.) I don't really have any reason not to try Mass Effect Andromeda. I'm certainly having a little nerd moment thinking about leaving the galaxy… but I'm surprised they still don't have much to show. I feel like we've known about this for ages, and all they present is a short "making of" video? Hm. Expected Late 2017.
And now, a word from our sponsors…
…this guy couldn't buy applause. I kinda feel bad for him. Even the other guy had caught on! 
Fifa time! While some dude dramatically romances Fifa '17, I'm going to give you a moment to reread my aforementioned claim on sports games! Meanwhile, I'm going to plan my road trip to Pittsburgh to watch real football: men in tights, tackling each other over a pigskin! (haha!) I don't know much about footie but I know trash talk when I see it. Evidently, they should have just hosted their E3 conference from London. Expected September 27, 2016.
So EA is pledging to support indie developers with a program called EA Originals. Hoping to relive the success of Unravel, I suppose. I'm all for it, especially from EA, I think the likelihood of them producing great games grows significantly if they'll support original material and smaller studios. Their poster child for this program is a game called Fe. The artwork is very pretty, but I think I'll have to see more to develop an opinion. 
And now we're onto Star Wars! Another pool of games I've never really jumped into. No reason, just never had the time, I guess. This chick just rhymed off at least three games I know nothing about, so that's where I'm at. Nice to see Amy Hennig again.
I'm confused. Why is it called Battlefield 1? Did Microsoft name it? Not gonna lie to you, I didn't even watch the trailer. Used the time to fix typos for this blog. Battlefield has never been my jam, so I'm not terribly invested in this anyway. Expected October 18, 2016.

In summary: EA called this 'EA Play', but there isn't much here I personally want to play. A lot of the same. The show was technically sound, but lacking energy, complete presentations or anything I really want to see. On the plus side: short and to-the-point, I'm hopeful for EA Originals, and want to see more of Mass Effect. Onto Bethesda!


Bethesda
I was actually really pleased with Bethesda's showcase last year, so I'm going into this one with high hopes. Let's see what they have in store!

Hmm… not sure how I feel about Quake Champions. I haven't even had a chance to play Doom yet, but I seem to recall feeling much more excited when it was announced. It's been a hot minute since I've played Quake and it was never as close to my heart as Doom. On the other hand, people seem to really be enjoying Doom, so if Bethesda can handle that, perhaps they can produce a great Quake, too. Time will tell. Expected eventually.
Pete Hines is a well-spoken fella. He's doing a great job, again. Recapping last year, but that's what my E3 Blog is for! ;)
We're getting a short introduction to Elder Scrolls Legends now, and while it may be fun, I'm finding it sounds an awful lot like every other card game ever. Expected 2016.
Back to Fallout 4, another game I haven't played. I hope Bethesda's whole exhibition isn't going to be just add ons for existing titles. Catchy tunes, though. Available now!
And here's the Skyrim Remastered Edition that everyone already predicted. I'm getting bored, here, Bethesda. Step up your game. I haven't started Skyrim yet. Maybe they're trying to give me a hint… Expected October 28, 2016.
Good morning, Morgan. Still have no idea what Prey really is but it has a fantastic premise for a movie. Looks neat. They've promised more information at QuakeCon, but they have my attention so far. I just hope it doesn't handle exactly like Dishonored. I didn't gel with Dishonored. Wait. Is this a remake? Expected 2017.
More Doom info. Making me even more anxious to play Doom…
AND JUST AS I SAY THAT, they offer the first level for free. Excuse me while I go boot up my PS4... This offer is only valid for the week of E3, so if you're reading this on it's publish date, you still have time! Available now!
And back to the boring shit we already know, Elder Scrolls Online. Blah blah blah. Available now.
And then Dishonored 2! I don't even have anything to say about these games! I've already said everything last year. At least they showed extensive footage and a few demonstrations. Looks cool, probably won't play. Expected November 11, 2016.

In summary: well that was disappointing. This was just a pile on from last year's display. I'm struggling to remember if they even announced anything new (luckily, I wrote it down, just up there). I can't say I'm excited about anything from this except the opportunity to play their surprise from last year, Doom. This was heartbreaking, Bethesda. I think the only thing that could have made this bearable is being there at E3. Beth has some amusing VR demos out which would have been fun to poke around with.


Microsoft
I never know what to make of Microsoft at E3. They're probably my least favorite of the "big 3" but that also puts them in an excellent position of actually being able to surprise me. I go in with a blank slate...

So Microsoft kicked off this briefing with the console they should have released in the first place, Xbox One S. I'll admit it's looking a lot nicer, smaller and less expensive, which is a lot of what may convince me to buy one sooner than later. It's the only 8th gen console I'm holding out on. Available August 2016. Maybe I'll buy one.
We're moving onto what is probably the most predictable submission here, Gears of War 4. Still haven't played a Gears game, so none of this means much of anything to me. But I know there are a lot of Gears fans out there, I hope this lives up to your expectations. The acting is awful; the gameplay looks… interesting. I can't find the words I want to describe the visuals, but the play itself doesn't look like much fun to me. I'll have to give it a try though, many games are much more fun to play than to watch. Expected October 11, 2016.
Next up, Killer Instinct! This is an Xbox exclusive so I've not seen or really heard any of this particular version, but apparently they've incorporated characters from Battletoads, Halo, and now Gears, too. Neato. Available now.
This trailer for Forza Horizon 3 is really fucked up. It starts with like, kangaroos, and I'm thinking, "ooh! What's this now?" Smash cut to cars. I guess they're just trying to accentuate global diversity but I'm just really confused and annoyed by this bored-to-death cover of Wicked Game. No thank you, Xbox. Expected September 27, 2016.
This is Recore, yeah? I remember this from last year. Still lookin' neat. Expected September 13, 2016.
Now we're apparently looking at Final Fantasy XV. It's taking every fibre of my being not to skip past this. I'm done with Final Fantasy. I tapped out. Christ, this looks awful. All he's doing is running? This looks more like a bad Shadow of the Colossus knock off than a Final Fantasy. Just watching this is pissing me off. Ugh… next! Expected September 30, 2016.
More Battlefield 1… next! Expected October 18, 2016.
I guess we're talking about communities now? I've seen Playstation's version of this on my PS4, but haven't really bothered with it yet. I don't think this is really aimed at people like me.
There's a new tournament platform, too, called Arena and a group find apparatus, to find people to play with I guess. He lost me at "EA Sports".
Minecraft is another game not up my alley, so multiplatforming for Minecraft doesn't mean anything to me. Probably really cool for people care though, right? Available now.
This ad about custom Xbox controllers reminds me of the old iPod commercials.
We've reached the indie game portion of the lecture, which basically means a quick brush over a bunch of games with no real explanations. I spotted Cuphead, which I feel like we've been waiting for forever , but still looks incredible, and other than that and a game called Shadow Tactics, nothing really jumped out at me. Still don't know how to feel about Bloodstained or Yooka-Laylee.
Topping off the whole ID@Xbox snippet with a look at a game called We Happy Few, which gave me a short shock of Bioshock vibes for just a moment there. On prozac. This is all sorts of strange and creepy. In a good way, I think. Expected July 26, 2016.
CD Projekt Red guy is here, so we're obviously talking about a Witcher content spinoff… Gwent, a Witcher-based card game. I'm starting to feel overwhelmed with all the card games out now. In-game card mini games are notoriously good, and we've always joked about making Triple Triad its own thing, and yet when it actually happens I'm kind of annoyed. I think my deep cynicism is affecting my enjoyment of this year's E3. Regardless, my best to CD Projekt Red.
Not gonna lie, Tekken 7 looks fun and gruesome. Akuma looks totally gross and awesome. Love the look of story mode. Right on. Expected 2017.
Christmas music is never a good sign… Dead Rising 4 looks like… total fucking chaos. I don't even know what I'm looking at. Negan meets Grand Theft Auto with… christmas cross bows?! I either need to stop drinking, or start drinking much, much more. Expected December 06, 2016. Maybe.
Scalebound is another one we've been waiting forever for, right? I actually can't decide how I'm feeling about this game. I'm getting a lot of mixed feelings… definitely has the Platinum attitude, but the visuals aren't doing a whole lot for me. Definitely need to see more of this one before I jump in. Expected 2017.
Pirates are a good way to get my attention. Sea of Thieves has some catchy promo media, but I seem to recall it looking a lot cheerier last year. Oh, never mind, here we go, some actual gameplay! The fact that it's first-person view kinda stinks. And I can't decide if these folks are overselling the fun a bit, but it still looks cool to me! Expected eventually.
I'm getting really tired of seeing/hearing the Xbox One, Windows 10 exclusive thing. We get it, Microsoft… you're Microsoft. This is a Microsoft conference.
Well this is American patriotism if I ever saw it. State of Decay 2 looks a lot like a bunch of other things we already have, but also doesn't look bad. If I'm ever hard up for Xbox games, I'll keep it in mind. Expected 2017.
Nifty trailer for Halo Wars 2. Don't play Halo. Didn't know there was a Halo Wars 1. I'm the worst Xbox gamer ever, huh? Once again, I hope it lives up to its reputation for Halo fans, but I'm not among them. Expected February 21, 2017.
So I guess they're tying this whole thing up by confirming rumors that Microsoft, too, is rethinking their 8th generation console with a 4K edition, referred to as Project Scorpio. No comment.

In summary: I feel like things are finally looking up for Xbox, but there's still a lot of repetitive tech talk in their conference which stands out even more to a lesser Xbox gamer like myself. I give them points for showing lots of games (even if I wont play them) and the crossover opportunities with Windows 10 are great, if a little late.


Ubisoft
Alright, I've had dinner. Bring on crazy amazon lady!
Queue obligatory Just Dance 2017 performance a.k.a. Katy Perry's Super Bowl halftime show revisited. It's a little difficult to take a serious moment to sympathize with tragedy in Florida when there's a giant giraffe standing next to you, but she tried. At least they didn't waste tons of time talking about a game nobody plays and we already know everything about and instead jumped directly into Ghost Recon: Wildlands. Another game I'll probably never play but it does look like a bonkers action movie. This fella is doing a swell job of selling it, too. In spite of the technical hold ups… This gameplay feature is unnaturally fast. It's not doing them any favors. Expected October 2016, March 07, 2017, respectively.
This South Park: The Fractured But Whole trailer is so epic that it's actually hilarious. Glad to see the boys (Stone and Parker) on stage this year. The Stick of Truth was a beautiful restructure of the television program, mad fun for any SP fan and I am super excited to play TFBW. I had a big, stupid smile on my face throughout this whole presentation. They've said they improved combat, which I'm glad to hear. Loving the new look. Can't wait. Bring on December 06, 2016!
And now, the 300 millionth mention of the Division. I don't play it so I have no idea what Underground is, but I hope it's cool. Available now.
Eagle Flight actually looks like a lot of fun, but being VR only means I'll probably have very few chances (if any) to play it. Watching the crew on stage play was a giggle. Would make a cool party game. Expected 2016.
I hear Star Trek...  This is hilarious! It's like Star Trek meets D&D. Nerds will lose their shit with Star Trek Bridge Crew. Again, I'll likely not have many opportunities to play it, but I'd probably have a ball geeking out over this with the right people. Expected mid-late 2016.
So I'm watching the trailer for For Honor, and I'm thinking, "yeah. Kay, 1000 years of war but everyone is just fighting everyone. There's no purpose here!" and then I started getting real bad N3 flashbacks and decided I probably won't ever play this game. Fail, Ubisoft. I think this creative director missed his calling, though. Definitely could have been an actor. Expected February 14, 2017.
Grow Up is a cute, colorful little diddy. I don't think I played Grow Home, and I don't really remember it from last year. I'm not sure what to think or expect here. Expected August, 2016.
This featurette for Trials of the Blood Dragon is hilarious and taking me back to my childhood. Available now!
Ooooooh yeeaaaaaah. Assassins Creed. I almost forgot about that. Almost. I'm still neutral on the A-Creed movie. I'm not especially tied to the game so I've got nothing to lose. I hope it's okay. I've got some really polarized opinions of video games being turned into movies but that's another topic for another day.
Thought I was watching some Mr. Robot type thing. Turns out it's Watch Dogs 2. Question: I thought everybody hated Watch Dogs. How did it get a sequel? More toss-a-drone! I guess I'm as uninterested as ever in this series. Expected November 15, 2016.
And finally, I love the words "new I.P.", bring it on, fabulous frenchman! Um… I think the only thing the Steep trailer succeeded in is making me want to jump off a cliff. No, no, no! I'm into that shit! I'd totally love to try some of this for real, but I don't know that I can get behind a video game of it. Certainly looks pretty, though. Expected December, 2016.

In summary: where's the giraffe? I think Ubi did okay. Not a whole lot here for me personally, but what else is new? I'm stoked for South Park. That's good enough for me!


Sony
Okay, I'm ready for the big guns now. If Sony doesn't have anything for me, the hell has truly frozen over. This is probably the one show where I do want to hear more about some things that were announced last year, but here's hoping for something new as well. And we're opening up with an orchestra. That's a good sign for me… I'm enjoying just watching this!

Well shit. Talk about epic intros. This looks fucking nuts, too! I feel like I might be better at Dad God of War than this guy. That's saying something. But I'm loving the look of it so far! Strong start, Sony! Expected when the kid finds the deer.
Days Gone is yet another "been there, done that" looking game, except a lot prettier than the others. Need to see more to decide if it's worth my time.
Update: okay, they showed more. Basically, this looks like The Last of Us with bikers. BUT! That's not necessarily a bad thing. If this game has a super strong narrative, I'm in. Fun fact: I have a thing for bikers. Expected when that guy gets off that roof.
I'm so ready for The Last Guardian. This trailer damn near made me cry. AND WE HAVE A RELEASE DATE.  WE HAVE A RELEASE DATE! THIS IS NOT A DRILL, PEOPLE! OCTOBER 25. I WILL DISAPPEAR ON OCTOBER 25. Just kidding. Y'all know I'll be on twitter. ;)
So far this conference has been nothing but trailer after trailer. Next up is Horizon: Zero Dawn. This was one of the outstanding titles from last year. Looks like we're getting a bit of gameplay this time! It's looking rather complicated. I hope the tutorials in this game are well done or I'm going to suck at it. Curious how the game slows down when you pop open the menu… some really intriguing weapons, too! I'm excited! Expected February 28, 2017.
Wow. Detroit: Become Human looks like a video game designed for my mum. She's into crime shows and shit, I've been meaning to get her to try Heavy Rain but she's even more stubborn than my pop when it comes to games. I'm into this, too! I'll definitely give it a shot. Expected when he saves the kid. Or doesn't.
So after watching the featurette for Resident Evil 7, I feel like I probably have 7 days to live? Okay so here's the thing… Resident Evil kinda lost me a long time ago when they kept making sharp left turns into something that was not Resident Evil… fuck you, Curtiss. So from  this little sneak peek, I'm gathering: first person - meh; inventory - thumbs up; nasty horror shit - yay; no combat demo - humph; amazing atmosphere - great; and comes out just after my birthday - not bad. So… more pros than cons! I'm definitely gonna hop on and check out that demo ASAP. Maybe keep an eye on my twitter, I'll drop my thoughts there after I get the chance. For the record, I would really, really love to see RE get back on track. I want to love that series again. Expected January 24, 2017.
What's this Sony Imperial March shit? Oh. VR. Right. Pass.
Kay. I got distracted. I heard Star Wars (that explains the march) and now I hear the Joker. Arkham VR? That's interesting. I really need to find some synonyms for "interesting." Expected when I learn to pay attention.
I don't wanna talk about Final Fantasy XV. Expected September 30, 2016.
True story: I stared at this demo for a good while, got super bored, and flicked over to something else and let it play in the background. Turns out it's Call of Duty In Space Infinite Warfare. Makes sense. Moving on! Expected November 04, 2016.
Naturally, they followed this with an equally boring trailer for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered, which I wish I'd skipped. that series is definitely not for me. Expected November 04, 2016.
They're remastering a bunch of Crash Bandicoot games, but the best part of that was watching Mr. Uncomfortable stroll across stage with Crash's animated shadow. Something something draw your own Skylanders something something.

Can you tell I'm exhausted?

More Star Wars. Lego this time. Looks like a direct Lego counterpart to The Force Awakens. Cute! I think I'd be more inclined to watch a Lego Force Awakens movie than to see the real one again. Expected June 28, 2016.
I don't know what the fuck Kojima just showed us. Death Stranding? That was goofy lookin'. But I trust Kojima, he's among the most prolific writers in video game history, so I'll be keeping and eye out for this one. Expected when the dude quits tripping on acid.
I love how the audience slowly clued into the Spider-Man trailer. Unlike so many others, I have little to no experience with Spidey games, so I'm a clean canvas here. If I ever get around to trying it, I'll likely be developing my opinion from scratch. Could be fun! He arrives just in time.

In summary: I feel like Sony introduced more new stuff than anyone else. I don't know if that's statistically true, but it felt like it. I'm pretty stoked to be a Playstation owner right now! They spent significantly less time sending out corporate goons to talk about shit and more time actually showing you shit! I think I prefer this, especially from Sony or Micro, 'cause they've certainly have more to chirp about. The fact that they chose to showcase games speaks volumes. Well done, Sony.
Also props to - I had to google this - Bear McCreary and his orchestra (and totally boss name). Well done.


Nintendo
Once again, Nintendo opted out of a traditional press conference, instead choosing to do what they call a Treehouse presentation. I think at the top of everybody's list is the long awaited Zelda, so let's see what they've got for us.

And there it is, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The animation is… uh… different. But I know better than to knock visuals when it comes to Zelda. The game does seem to present a much more serious tone, which has more or less been the way of Zelda games for a while now, but coupled with this graphics style and everything else, it's already feeling a lot bigger than its predecessors. I'm not going to sit and watch a ton of the gameplay, 'cause I'd rather experience it for myself, but so far my impressions are that everything seems much deeper and different than before, except the sound effects. They're still bubbly and cartoon-y. I'm remaining decidedly neutral until I can get my own dirty paws on this game. Any judgement I try to make now will like be overridden after that. Expected… I don't know, probably never?
What else have you got, Nintendo? I can't seem to find a proper, reasonable version of this exhibition so I'm just going to hop over to Nintendo's YouTube channel and see what's there.
Looks like there was a demonstration of the latest Pokemon installments, Sun & Moon. I'm way behind on my Pokemoning so I likely won't be diving into these any time soon. Looks like this series got a bit of a makeover, too. Expected November 18, 2016.
I also found a trailer for a game called Severed, which in spite of its super cool music appears to be a very kid-friendly game. If a bit grotesque. Expected Summer, 2016.
Conversely, Runbow Pocket is a cutesy, colorful running platformer, which appears to use color in a unique way. There doesn't seem to be much more info on it, despite the fact it's due this year.

In summary: Zelda. Zelda Zelda Zelda Zelda Zelda. Zelda? Zelda.
But really, it's a little disappointing that Nintendo didn't participate fully in the E3 presentation circuit. I get that Zelda is a big deal and everyone has been waiting patiently *snort* for it, but I feel Nintendo should make an effort to keep up with its peers and this was pretty unsatisfying. No terribly exciting game news (beyond Zelda, of course), no updates on the NX. Did I miss something? I'm feeling a little left out here.

Sadly no conference from Square, or any newcomers. After last year, I was looking forward to E3 continuing to grow and change... I didn't really get that this year. In fact, this whole E3 seemed largely a regurgitation of last year's information. There were few exciting announcements, and even fewer concrete release dates for them. Is anyone else left a bit… empty? I feel like this isn't the gaming event it used to be and I'm getting a little depressed. Even the crowds were unexcitable in some of these rooms.
This year's E3 felt significantly smaller than last years. As I edit this article, I feel it's underwhelming and uninformative, but I really don't have much to add.
While I can't say I'm terribly pleased with E3 2016, there were a handful of great showings and a few games I'm (still) very excited about. I guess this is the world we live in now. Companies would rather release information slowly and steadily instead of blowing everyone's minds once a year. Plus, it's becoming extremely difficult to keep secrets from gamers. So I understand, but I've not quite accepted it yet. I think I'm going to have to try actually going to E3, see what I come up with then.

But for now, let's end on a high note! Games I'm totally excited for: South Park, Last Guardian, Dad of War, Horizon, Zelda. Games I'm probably excited for: Mass Effect, Prey, Tekken 7, Sea of Thieves, Recore, Days Gone, Detroit, Kojima on drugs and possibly Scalebound. And I'll give Resi 7 a shot, but my heart can only handle so much. So not a bad haul, really!

How 'bout you? What caught your attention at E3 2016?

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