For the vast majority of gamers unable to attend the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, watching presentations from the three major hardware manufacturers and a handful of third-parties is the closest we get. Naturally, we make impressions of those presentations based on what we saw. So, as I did last year, here are my thoughts on E3 2017 presentations.
Games will come next week.
Last year, I wrote that “Electronic Arts’ portfolio of content just doesn’t appeal to me”, referring to their E3 2016 presentation. Their E3 2017 presentation effectively erased any doubt I had regarding my prior statement. Without a new Dragon Age, and with Mass Effect on ice, little that EA showed excited me. Sports? Yawn. Bring back college football. Star Wars: Battlefront II and A Way Out aren’t for me since I lack an active Live Gold or PlayStation Plus subscription, although that latter game was easily the most interesting title by being a story-driven cooperative game. So, y’know, points for that.
I hoped to get excited from Anthem, BioWare’s new project, but we only saw a teaser during EA’s briefing. Let’s return to Anthem during Microsoft’s conference.
Annoyingly, EA was one of a few companies that put a focus on streamers, or whatever dumb term they called ’em. (Taste-makers? Bah, I can’t remember.) That said, their existence didn’t leave much of an impression on me. Remember that one streamer who stumbled his way through his introduction of (I think it was) the new Need for Speed? I didn’t until I started writing this. If that awkwardness wasn’t lodged in my brain, why should a bunch of people playing Battlefront II who didn’t talk? And that begs the question, what’s the point if they made no impression on me?
Easily my least favorite presentation. Last place wasn’t even a contest.
After crowing about specs and showing off games, Microsoft finally announced the price for their upcoming Xbox One X: $500.
Um, yeah, no thanks.
I didn’t buy into PlayStation Pro either, largely because I already own the regular counterpart and don’t own a 4K television. Microsoft did mention that games will also appear nicer on non-4K televisions, but I don’t have a problem with how games already look. And that price. Is Microsoft planning on selling the One X as a boutique item or do they honestly expect people to pay half a grand for this? Given the existence of the cheaper One S, I’m guessing it’s more the former.
We did see cool games, naturally. Metro: Exodus appears tense and exciting, while Sea of Thieves looks surprisingly fun and whimsical. Who wouldn’t want to search for treasure and take on opposing pirates with a handful of friends? (Maybe I should investigate reactivating my Live Gold account.) And man oh man, I’m so ready for Life is Strange, although it’s disappointing that Chloe’s voice actress Ashly Burch won’t be reprising the role due to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike. (Burch is assisting the new actress, at least.)
Then there’s Anthem: one half Destiny, one half the Iron Man suit. My biggest worry is that EA’s influence pushed BioWare to create a game that could’ve been made by anyone. I mean, this doesn’t look like a BioWare game, y’know? There’s no sign of computer-controlled companions with personalities and histories for us to gradually dig into. Are there any RPG elements or is the suit how we customize the nitty-gritty aspects of our character? I have too many questions, starting with whether I, as someone who doesn’t play Destiny, am part of the target audience.
Microsoft had a decent presentation, but nothing mindblowing (something you’ll hear at least two more times). That price, man.
Wait, did Bethesda rent a theater only to show a Nintendo Direct-like video presentation? Regardless of how they wasted money, centering the video around a fictional amusement park named Bethesdaland was mildly cute, although I’m guessing it was their intention to combine the positive associations attached to theme parks with the dark and violent games that Bethesda typically releases. In the very least, it made a largely predictable presentation a little more memorable.
Predictable doesn’t necessarily equal bad, of course. Wolfenstein II looks fun, and I’m thrilled for more Dishonored. Still, there was a definite feeling of déjà vu. DOOM and Fallout 4 and VR, along with Skyrim on Switch, are names we heard during their 2016 E3 presentation, as was Quake Champions, Elder Scrolls Online, and their Elder Scrolls card game. Given how familiar this felt to Bethesda’s previous E3 showing, I’m left wondering why Bethesda wanted this briefing. Couldn’t they have released the same video online without renting a theater and saved themselves money?
I didn’t watch the entirety of this, um, presentation, dropping out during the portion when a handful of people on a couch played games that looked like something created on the NES (which wasn’t included in the above video). What I did watch flirted between cringe and hilarious, depicting a Devolver press conference where a member of the media loses his arm while the presenter’s head explodes. Considering how stiff regular E3 presentations can be, a little lampooning felt rather refreshing.
Well, that’s a surprise. The very existence of Mario + Rabbits: Kingdom Battle, which was leaked before E3, is crazy. Almost as crazy as Mario’s papa Shigeru Miyamoto taking the stage with a Bullet Bill-themed handcannon in tow. I’m still sorting through my feelings for this game, but I’m far more positive than I expected. Me and most of the internet, it appears. Who knew that tossing Mario into an XCOM rip-off would be received so warmly? Regardless, the rest of the presentation didn’t inspire similar feelings, unfortunately.
Ubisoft’s portfolio doesn’t typically grab my attention with games like The Crew 2 and Skull & Bones, while Starlink: Battle for Atlus probably should’ve released a few years prior when the toys-to-life craze was more heated. I had my fill of Far Cry with the third game, so tossing us into the U.S. to tackle extremists doesn’t sound exciting. At least South Park: The Fractured But Whole continues to look strong, although I want to play the first game before I jump into this sequel.
I can’t cease talking about Ubisoft without noting the long overdue Beyond Good & Evil 2, which looks visually stunning and surprisingly risqué. I don’t recall the original Beyond including swearing or, well, breast movement. It’s a pity that we’re not playing as Jade (apparently she’s not yet been born, so there goes any cameos), but hopefully BG&E2 is successfully enough to earn a third game starring the first game’s heroine. And that ended an uneven conference, but hardly the worse. Second least favorite.
Maybe we’ve become too used to Sony dropping bombshell announcements at their E3 presentations because their 2017 E3 presentation felt a tad hollow. The biggest announcement is probably a tie between the Shadow of the Colossus remake and Monster Hunter World, a new title apparently aimed at Western fans. We also got our first real look at Spider-Man by Insomniac, which I failed to get excited for. I wasn’t crazy about the combat or the amount of QTE packed into that action-packed second-half, and it probably doesn’t help that I’m not much of a Spider-Man fan to begin with.
Otherwise, Sony showed games that they showed elsewhere, and none of the new footage looked better. Days Gone failed to make a case for its existence, while Detroit looks like another David Cage game, for better or for worse. God of War, which piqued my interest last year, failed to retain that interest. The handful of PlayStation VR games also failed to give me a reason to purchase the expensive peripheral, which is a problem because Sony desperately needs a killer title for VR.
The lack of surprises and known quantities adds up to a presentation that could’ve been much better.
With a presentation lasting a scant 25 minutes, it became obvious that Nintendo didn’t have a bunch to show, perhaps the natural result of having Direct presentations steal potential surprises throughout the year. Still, they had a few unexpected moments, although nothing earth-shattering (Metroid fans might disagree). The highlight was obviously Super Mario Odyssey, showcasing the new ability to possess enemies, objects, and even normal humans. The game looks fantastic, and it’s probably my Game of Show. Not that I played it, of course.
Nintendo also dropped new Kirby, Yoshi, and Metroid games. Two Metroid games, although there was so little to the Metroid Prime 4 reveal that it should barely be considered a reveal. The bigger surprise happened after the video (and I’d be remiss to ignore it): a 3DS remake of Metroid II: Return of Samus. Developer MercurySteam doesn’t have the greatest reputation, but hopefully Nintendo is keeping close attention. The footage (which I’m watching as I write this) looks good, at least.
There wasn’t much else of note. Despite pre-E3 rumors, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is still releasing this year, and the character designs are pretty bad. Fire Emblem Warriors revealed three additional playable characters, but (female) Corrin, Xander, and Ryoma (all from Fire Emblem Fates) aren’t surprising in the least. I am happy that Chrom and (child) Tiki are getting amiibo. Sadly, the rumored Smash on Switch was a no-show, which could’ve helped elevate the presentation a tad higher. Like with Microsoft and Sony’s showing, Nintendo had a decent presentation.
June 17, 2017: A little cleanup. Changed a few words, for instance.