Another year, another E3 for us to sink our teeth in to, foaming rabidly at the mouth for properties and games that are still but a tiny dot in the distance of the horizon that makes up our lives, providing ample time for speculation, uncontrollable fandom expectations and, in a lot of cases, that most popular Internet hobby of all: trolling.
Y’know, cause #yolo, right?
E3 2015 brought with it a shift within the gaming industry, (mass) effecting (teehee) gamer culture and its wider audience – even if they aren’t fully aware of it.
This is the first real E3 where the majority of the press conferences detailed primarily current gen technology, with little to no acknowledgement of old faithfuls, the PS3 and Xbox 360, who at this point have been treated a little like Old Yeller by company execs.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it may have taken the better part of, what, two years, but we’re finally here: we’re finally living in the current generation actual.
I’ve never made it a secret that I take inspiration from a wide range of geeky past times, and gaming is one of the bigger ones I choose to take part in – usually making myself feel guilty the entire time because, y’know, I should maybe be writing instead? (just me?)
Watching E3 has never been about getting caught up in mindless excitement for me; I’m looking out for things that resonate with me, that excite me on an intellectual level, engaging me on a deeper level where I think to myself: this looks like a story worth telling; that looks like a character worth knowing.
And, man, did the big boys come out blazing!
So indulge me, if you will, as I lay out the major takeaways I had from E3, rounding up the major hits, and big time misses, that stuck with me, with second opinion giver and guest blogger from YouTube channel, Ctl Alt Defeat, Jamieson.
Note: Obviously, this is all personal opinion, so if I’m missing a game that took your breath away, bear that in mind. But how will you know?
Well, read on, intrepid reader.
JAMIESON: So E3 is done and dusted for another year, and was the best E3 in the last few years in my opinion. From the amazing exclusives and new titles being launched, to the incredible leap that Microsoft has taken into the VR Realm, there was so much for us gamers to take in. Luckily for us we had one of our guys, Leith Farah, over there to take in the sights and sounds and fill his pockets with goodies.
YES! YES! YES!
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
This is, undoubtedly, my pick of the show. As if it would be anything else. I’ve been a huge Uncharted fan since buying a PS3 and the first game in the series as a thinly veiled excuse for my University dissertation. Despite the minor technical hiccup at the beginning of the demo (Drake seemed pretty unfazed by the peril the cut scene did a good job of building), this was just a minor bump in the road of unfettered awesome that Naughty Dog plan to unleash upon us with Nate’s, supposed, last adventure. I can’t wait.
Final Fantasy VII: Remake
It’s finally happening, what so many people have been clamouring for over the long, long years: the Final Fantasy VII Remake is official, and it’s beautiful, even if it won’t be exactly how we remember it.
I loved the meta voice over that ran throughout. Seriously, watch it again and imagine it’s talking primarily about the audience hounding them for the remake and it makes perfect sense, and is perhaps all the more poignant because of it.
JAMIESON: The Final Fantasy VII reboot looks amazing. As always SquareEnix was consistent with the titles that they brought to the E3 table, just like each and every year. For me, as soon as I saw the back of Cloud’s head, in a clearly platonic way, it made the hairs on my arms stand up, bringing back so many amazing childhood memories.
A Dreamcast currently sits behind me in my office; with it are two old, well loved, copies of Shenmue and Shenmue II. It’s been 14 years since Shenmue II left us hanging with an awkward high five – finally, 14 years later, we get the high five we were promised so long ago. A story needs a complete beginning, middle, and end, after all and, honestly, I’m glad for the excuse to finally reacquaint myself with the first two parts of what will finally be the epic trilogy it was always meant to be.
After SMASHING Kickstarter records, Shenmue III is officially on track, as Ryo tracks down Lan Di through mainland China for killing his father so long ago. I assume he jumps a few times to do it, if the Kickstarter trailer is anything to go by. Let’s just hope that the voice actors are merely placeholders for a more engaging, immersive, performance in the final product.
Nintendo Presentation – Intro
Seriously. How cute?
South Park: The Fractured But Whole
Probably one of the biggest, unexpected surprises of the entire Expo was the Ubisoft reveal of NEW South Park game: The Fractured But Whole (contender for greatest game title of all time?)
After having a notoriously difficult development with their first outing, The Stick of Truth, Matt Stone and Trey Parker took to the stage to announce their new game, apparently set the next day after the SOT, and hilariously rip into the microphones Ubisoft provided them.
The first game was a pleasant surprise that finally charted out the town of South Park in geographical detail, filled with references for long time fans of the show, such as myself. Dirty, lewd, funny and observational, the Fractured But Whole will probably be a great send up of the Superhero genre, much in the way SOT so successfully homaged/made fun of fantasy.
Kingdom Hearts III
Kingdom Hearts III has been through such a long, protracted, development time that it somehow managed to miss an entire generation of hardware.
Think on that for a moment.
I remember playing Kingdom Hearts for the first time, dubious over how Square would implement this new world, crossing their Final Fantasy characters with Disney properties. I was ready to deride it, to disregard it, but, like so many people, I was completely captured by the charm, fun, and positivity that exuded from every corner of this game.
Square x Disney was an experiment that seemed destined for failure. It wasn’t, and has become a much loved series, and rightfully so.
I’m hopeful that the promises are kept, and that our expectations are well and truly exceeded when we finally get to play this instalment of the Kingdom Hearts franchise in….eventual…the future.
I wanted to say ‘near’ future, but I don’t want to lie to you, or to myself.
Rise Of The Tomb Raider
Confession time: although I dabbled in the past, I had never played a Tomb Raider game from beginning to end until the latest 2013 Crystal Dynamics effort.
The characterisation they brought to Lara, the harsh reality of her surroundings, and the fact she was inexperienced, prone to mistakes, and suffered many bruises throughout her journey because of it, created a captivating character that seemed to be lacking in the other “rich bitch explorer” games that propelled an enjoyable survival story.
Rise Of The Tomb Raider looks to continue this, and given the amount of meticulous detail that has gone into the character design (down to the pores and material of the clothing), I can’t help but feel that the same service has been showered upon the story, and I look forward to the results.
JAMIESON: Rise of the Tomb Raider looks so grown up now that SquareEnix and Crystal Dynamics have their hands on the series. The first one was such an immersive experience, from the crisp snow covered mountains to the dark, dank caves filled with ritual sacrifices, the footage for this one doesn’t let up. A reassuring thing about the new title is that Crystal Dynamics have listened to the feedback that they got from the first game and built upon that. A lot of gamers felt it was taken too far away from the original and that it needed to stay true to its namesake. So there is a lot more raiding (there a lot more caves and tombs that aren’t attached to the main story line, but are still vital to the gameplay) but they haven’t compromised on the action and gun play.
This tech was amazing, and although I’m still doubtful over the long term utilisation of VR within gaming, it’s an exciting time for the tech itself. Throwing up the map onto the desk was a definite highlight, and being able to manipulate what you were looking at in order to guide your friends is inspired. It does make me wonder what kind of applications could perhaps use this tech for more important purposes: medical science alone could surely benefit from the things the Hololens could provide?
But enough talk, I’ll just leave this here:
This was a little gem that could be missed by many, but I’ll be damned if I don’t take a moment to mention it here. Rare are responsible for a plethora of games I played and loved as a kid, and the fact that you can get 30 fucking games for 30 goddamned dollars?! It’s almost enough reason to buy an Xbox One if you haven’t already. Seriously, it’s a total steal, and if you haven’t played much from Rare before, especially some of the older classics, now is the time. At least all those oh so subtle (not) Battletoad hints can be put to rest now.
Hit the jump for a full list of the 30 games included on this exceptional treat.
JAMIESON: I’m saving my best till last….Fallout 4 .
Now I wouldn’t call myself a Fallout fiend. I haven’t played them all the way through, but I still enjoy and get excited for the advancements they’ve made on this title latest addition. Just a few weeks back, when they released the trailer to wet our dried out tastebuds, the gameplay looked good, but nothing amazing, just standard graphics that we know and love from previous Fallout games, yet still appealing to a lot of fans.
When Bethesda kicked off the proceedings with their conference and showed us the real Fallout 4, I felt undersold from the trailer. The game looks phenomenal with its amazing open world gameplay and dialogue, to building amazing settlements and guns with their new Minecraft-esque crafting mechanics.
NO! NO! NO!
Nintendo Presentation – Everything Else
Literally everything else to do with Nintendo’s presentation was awkward, stilted, and underwhelming. Even the new games presented just felt lacklustre in comparison to the far superior offerings from Sony and Microsoft.
Maybe I’ve just gotten old, and it saddens me to say it, but perhaps opting to start developing for mobile platforms is the smartest move Nintendo could possible have made.
Call Of Duty Exclusive DLC
Timed exclusivity is completely pointless in the current gaming climate. Wait long enough and you’ll have it eventually, whatever it may be. Be patient for long enough and you’re virtually guaranteed it will be rewarded by an eventual release. Why pay more for ‘x’ amount of days worth of play or ‘x’ amount of maps or bullshit weapons?
There are more important things to life, and DLC like this further monetises an already saturated industry that seem worryingly concerned with selling you a new blue shirt for your avatar rather than investing time into, y’know, narrative purpose.
I found this online and it’s too appropriate to exclude.
Such a waste of potential. Such a waste of my money.
Horizon: Zero Dawn
There’s nothing wrong with a new IP, in fact I genuinely wish we saw more of them. It’s always refreshing to see something new revealed, but robo-dinosaurs in a world where nature has taken back the earth and humanity has devolved, after seemingly reaching a technological breaking point, with no explanation as to what the dinobots/dinomals are really made of and, most importantly, who the fuck is making them in the first place?
Seriously, this trailer had me captivated until the moment a goddamn dinobot invaded my screen.
True, it was just a reveal, and the story itself will probably detail this, but the logic, or lack thereof, jarred me – made all the worse when, in the trailer, they deftly dodge the obvious question with an airy dismissal that “they [their old stories/history] don’t tell us why the machines rule this land.”
This gave me the same feeling I got when viewing a second year art project.
I don’t quite know what I’m looking at, or why it exists; I don’t know why anyone would want, or use, this thing that, honestly, looks like someone has tried to visually capture an LSD infused fever dream.
Art, allowing you to give digital form to the thoughts half formed in the corners of your mind, or unmitigated pretension?
Well, that’s it for my E3 Takeaways, detailing the Yes! Yes! Yes!’s and the No! No! No!’s of what I observed, and what struck a chord with me.
Thanks again to Jamieson from the YouTube channel, Ctrl Alt Defeat, for his thoughts and opinions (and second opinions) on this years E3!
What did you think of E3? Was there something I missed from my list that has definitely made the top of yours? I’d love to know what the fallout reaction to this post will be, so feel free to shout out below!