This year’s E3, known as the Electronic Entertainment Expo, has been underwhelming. Not many new games were announced and/or shown. At first glance, this may make fans feel robbed of what a good conference should show, but I believe it’s partly a shift in the industry. As Jason Schreier talked about in his book Blood, Sweat, and Pixels, most gameplay and trailer content shown during E3 is curated for it. The months spent in crunch time (hours of unpaid overtime, weekends worked, and time with families lost) by developers to work on those pieces are often chucked out the window once the event is over. With the recent walkouts and organizations like Game Workers Unite attempting to generally shift the video game developers work culture. Either that or Sony is right in that maybe there are more innovative ways to engage with the community.
Pre-Expo: June 6 – Google, Bungie
A couple of companies made announcements on games and services before the official kickoff of the expo. For example, Google kicked off expo by talking about its new streaming platform, Stadia, something we already knew about and received minimal new details on.
Bungie’s news was lackluster as the company spoke only to Destiny 2 fans and their new DLC (Downloadable Content) as well as moving players to Steam. Destiny 2 is another game set to be released on Stadia. These newsworthy pieces could have been made online rather than in a large convention center for the world to see. Yet, the best part about the upcoming DLC is it will be the last from Bungie when they were with Activision. Anything from this point on will be their own, a scary and exciting time for the studio.
June 9: Microsoft, Bethesda, Devolver Digital
Finally, E3 is underway, and we can get into the good stuff, right? Nope. Even with the news of both Halo and Gears of War games (the struggle to make a fresh IP is real), there was no gameplay or even a trailer to highlight what those games may look like. A next-gen console, known as a Project Scarlett, was announced which will include an AMD chip and an SSD (solid-state drive), so that felt briefly promising. Perhaps the weirdest part of it all was seeing Keanu Reeves step onto the stage as a character from Cyberpunk 2077, confirming a release date of April 16, 2020. Personally, the most exciting part of the Microsoft/Xbox showcase was Elden Ring, a new game by FromSoftware and George R.R. Martin. This is the best combo of bleak and dark yet hero filling high fantasy world creation I can imagine, and I’m excited about it. The trailer looked phenomenal, and I have no doubt that the gameplay and world will be too.
Now, we take a hard nose dive into a world of cringe to watch Bethesda’s conference. Fallout 76 is still somehow going, and they’re taking it even further away from the Fallout franchise by making it a Battle Royale. As a fan and native of West Virginia who pre-ordered everything possible for Fallout 76, it’s extremely disappointing to see the game in its current state. Will the Battle Royale be redemption or disaster? Bethesda did shine for a moment when Arkane Studios, developers of the Dishonored series and Prey, announced a new game called Deathloop which will focus on excellent level design and a story centered around two assassins, one female and one male. I’ve loved and played everything Arkane has made so far, but I’m curious as to what the story is. Only time will tell.
Devolver Digital had the shortest showcase that stole the conference for me. Not only did they announce a cool game that I’ve been following the development of for months (Carrion Game), but they’ve announced that they will sell bootleg versions of their games. Carrion is a reverse horror game where you play as the monster. It reminds me of The Thing in a platformer atmosphere which sounds awesome. See the teaser above. As for the collection, it’s known as “Devolver Bootleg” where eight of their most popular games will be 1% off. Be sure to read the description of each. They’re pretty enjoyable.
June 10: Ubisoft, Square Enix
Ubisoft announced yet another Watch Dogs game, Watch Dog Legions, This will be the third installment in the series. Some Division 2 DLC announced as well, but the most intriguing part was a new IP from the Assassin’s Creed team called Gods & Monsters. In this new beautiful world, players a young Greek god. The trailer only being a minute long did not tell us much in the way of gameplay, but it is something different from Ubisoft that I am looking forward to.
With the final Avengers movie out, it feels only naturally the fans would get to play those same superheroes they love. Crystal Dynamics, of Square Enix, announced the new Marvel Avengers game where players can be Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, The Hulk, or Iron Man. The new game will have no loot boxes and no play to win systems. Fan of the comics and movies should be excited as the release date is set for May 15, 2020. The only interesting announcement was a new game called Outriders. This game will be a one to three player cooperative shooter with dark science fiction elements, so it could be interesting or another generics FPS. We shall see.
June 11: Nintendo
Nintendo had a lot to share from Luigi’s Mansion 3 to what looks like a Zelda Maker, there was a lot. Everything in between with a lot of content garnered for younger audiences and JRPG fans. One of the two biggest pieces to be revealed was some footage of Animal Crossing: New Horizons which takes players to an island with seasons and a wide variety of gameplay. The other was the announcement that development of the sequel to Breath of the Wild is underway. What might have fans the most excited is that Banjo Kazooie is going to be in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. It seems Nintendo had a little bit of everything for everyone in their showcase.
The three days of showcases were a bit of a bust, in my opinion. There were moments of excitement with new games here and there that sound promising. A few new IPs brought light to the room, but overall the showcasing was mediocre at best. Let’s hope the demos and networking are worth it.
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