Dear God why did there have to be so many announcements. I’ll do my best to just point out the coolest features from each press conference, and for the sake of length, try and keep it to the most interesting trailers.
Microsoft’s conference was very good, and while it came close to being great there were a couple times where it faltered. Beginning the conference with the unveiling of an Xbox One Slim and ending it with the announcement of a completely new console (Note this console doesn’t even have an official name yet, it’s just labeled Project Scorpio) wasn’t just a polarizing reminder that Microsoft will have three consoles by end of next year, it also felt very rushed. A good friend of mine pointed out that Sony recently confirmed they are Working on a PS4 Neo, which is rumored to be a massive upgrade from the standard PS4 model. Microsoft, unnerved by Sony outpacing them in sales, might’ve chosen to throw a new console announcement because they were that scared of Sony just leaving them in the dust (and to be honest, if Sony’s conference was any indication they will but we’ll get to that in a sec).
As far as games go, there were a couple that looked great and others that looked fine but not groundbreaking, and Gears of War 4 is a great example of this. It certainly looked great graphically and using the Buzzkill (a weapon that fires saw blades) with your environment to bounce saw blades off the walls was cool, as far as gameplay went, nothing really looked innovative. It keeps the traditional “get into cover and shoot” gameplay of the previous Gears but at the cost of looking very similar to…honestly any other shooter. Maybe I’ve just been spoiled by innovative games such as Quantum Break or Uncharted 4 but comparatively, Gears doesn’t look all that interesting.
Anyway the first game to really stick out to me was Forza Horizon 3. The seamless co-op, the Australian setting and the signature ultra-realistic graphics flow together to create a game that’s even interesting someone who isn’t a racing fan at all.
Another game that continues to stick out is Recore, Keiji Inafune’s latest project that looks like just the right combination of a Pixar movie and Journey, with some unique action to boot.
The next cool thing Microsoft unveiled was the announcement of Xbox clubs, looking for group and Xbox Arena. Clubs are communities you can join so you can meet more people who play the same game (which is fine, that’s not necessarily new but it’s good for players who are much more social), Looking for group, which allows you to post to a board if you need help with a certain project or boss in a game and let players join in to help you out (a really cool way to connect gamers who share a common interest or who would enjoy a possible reward for helping a player out with a certain job) and Xbox Arena which allows anyone to easily set up a tournament for a video game or get more involved in the Major League Gaming Scene. All of this sounded really cool…
…and then it my excitement died down with an incredibly cringeworthy Minecraft demonstration. Everyone up there was incredibly awkward, delivered cringeworthy humor, and made me lose a little hope for the “looking for group” feature if the best thing they can show is another demo of Minecraft.
Thankfully, tone shifted pretty fast with a very creepy and very unique trailer for Inside, the follow-up to the indie hit Limbo:
It says a lot about how great a trailer is when in less than a minute it shows us a decidedly normal setting, and finds a way to make it look more ominous and sinister with each shot, especially without showing anything scary. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing this title once it’s released.
Actually on the topic of creepy, a game that caught my eye again is We Happy Few. It had a great announcement trailer that really caught my eye, a horrible gameplay demonstration that made me think this game was never going to be good, and now it’s brought my attention back. Hopefully it stays that way, but if this trailer is any indication of the future, I won’t change my mind again anytime soon. Also, anyone who starts a trailer with a Leo Tolstoy quote has good taste. It’s as if the BBC made a videogame, and that’s not a bad thing.
There were a couple other cool announcements, but there wasn’t enough on a gameplay front to really get my interest. Sea of Thieves still looks interesting but still doesn’t seem to have a clear idea of what the player can do in the game. Yes, it’s a pirate MMO and yes you can team up with others to sink enemy players, but is there a story? Treasure to hunt? For now, the concept on its own isn’t enough to wow me.
One of the final announcements from Microsoft however was Halo Wars 2, and wow that’s a great trailer. As Ryan Mccaffrey at IGN pointed out, even the little details such as Captain Cutter brushing away a missile while he walks past it (as it’s launching at an enemy) not only show players that for the commanders,one battle means very little in the grand scheme of things, but that this isn’t a shooter, and is designed around a strategic approach.
As far as Ubisoft’s conference went, it was pretty standard. There were two or three titles that looked fantastic, a couple with unique concepts, and some that fell flat.
Ghost Recon: Wildlands is one of those titles that’s currently very divisive. What looked like a beautiful open world filled with action and adventure is starting to look less interesting by the minute. First, it’s clear that there’s been a massive technical downgrade, and the graphics don’t look nearly as good as they did even last month. The animations look stiff, the takedowns don’t look like they’re intended to kill, and the enemy A.I. clearly can’t hear an assault rifle without a surpressor which is concerning to say the least. The co-op gameplay still looks fun and teamwork clearly plays a great part in the game, but I’ve got a sinking feeling this is another Ubisoft game that will fall flat.
There was a massive shift in tone right after with the gameplay demo of South Park: The Fractured But Whole, which looks like it’s going to parody all of Civil War and the Marvel Cinematic Universe while staying true to the RPG gameplay founded in The Stick of Truth. As someone who very much enjoyed that game, I’m definitely looking forward to whatever Matt Stone and Trey Parker put forth next:
There were a couple announcements about Ubisoft moving into VR and a new Division expansion but it was the campaign demo of For Honor that rejuvenated my interest.I mean who wouldn’t want a game about knights fighting vikings fighting samurai? The craziest thing was that apparently there’s an entire story behind how this is possible. But the gameplay shown here looks not just brutal but unique. I mean it’s a duel between a viking and a samurai so there’s no way you can’t look at this and just go “Wow.”
But the game that really won Ubisoft’s conference and blew me away was Watch Dogs 2. Ubisoft looks like it’s righting the wrongs of the first Watch Dogs and making this a much more lighthearted take on hacking and corporate conspiracy. Here’s to hoping the parkour, the hacking and that sick billiard ball weapon all come together to create a hacking masterpiece. Also, it’s worth watching just for the music choice. Definitely a cinematic demo that will hopefully carry over to the final game.
No words needed. Just look at this stuff and tell me it isn’t incredible.
Here’s the highlights from the Playstation Virtual Reality coverage:
NOTE: There was a Call of Duty Infinite Warfare VR demo that admittedly looked really cool. I can’t find it but I strongly suggest searching for it if it ever goes up.
And last but far from least:
Yeah Sony kind of won E3 again. Anyway be sure to sound off what looks the best in the comments! I’m going to take a long nap now, so good night/morning