Now you’ve had a week to let the dust from E3 2017 to settle, and I’ve had a week’s time to eat up reactions to E3 from all over the world. So let’s talk about reactions. I enjoyed E3 a lot this year. One of the obvious reasons for me was that during 2017, I haven’t spent a huge amount of time crawling every website known to man for gaming news. I haven’t delivered editorial gaming content in half a year: First break in a decade. And I have had just a casual glimpse of gaming by turning on my PC, mobile or console whenever I felt like it. So I wasn’t spoiled this year.
And spoiled is almost the word I feel like using when reading a lot of gamers reactions to E3. It’s easy to tell that a lot of journalists and consumers prefer to be overly critical and almost angry about practically everything at the show. Understandable. It’s easy to get swamped up in politics and hidden agendas when looking at the art of making games. And as I said earlier, it is easy to get angry about something… Anything, as it’s the same deal for me as well. Even so, I always find it perplexing that some people indulge in a hobby that seemingly makes them so constantly disappointed. At the same time I am also aware that if one cares deeply for something, then feelings often dominate – rather than the objective or even naïve look at things.
I’ll try to be a bit more objective, perhaps even naïve, as I think we as gamers at times need to scale back on our criticism and actually remember to enjoy the ride. So here is my “the glass is half-full take” on the E3 2017 conferences.
First let me get that half-empty glass out-of-the-way. Because that’s what I felt when watching EA’s conference. Empty. It felt fake. Influencers can be great fun watching and following, but they often aren’t experienced presenters, and that showed. The joy didn’t seem real. It felt like constructed scenes with bad actors forgetting their lines. The games didn’t do much for me either. The only game I felt for was “Anthem”, and that was mainly because it got a chance to stand on its own. Well, at least the tiny teaser we saw from it. Furthermore, after “Mass Effect Andromeda” who knows what’s in store?
Okay, let’s get back to the half-full glass shall we?
Gamers in love with EA’s many franchises got what they needed. “Star Wars Battlefront II” promised to make amends for a less impressive first try. We got a new Need For Speed in the form of Payback, racing along like a cross between Fast and the Furious and Burnout – with that coating of movie-like action on top. “Battlefield I”, “FIFA 18” and “Madden 18: Longshot” looked as great as ever, with the latter even getting a story mode. And we got “A Way Out” for those of us feeling less in the mood for big well-known blockbusters. It was a heavily franchise dominated presentation (a list of “Games you know, now even better”). EA didn’t spend much time on indie games.
Speaking of: I think Microsoft and Xbox One X stepped up their game this year. Phil Spencer held an informative and gaming heavy conference. I could have done with less use of hammering in “Eeexclusive” all the time. After all, I don’t think there is more value for me as a customer in knowing that some people cannot play my favorite game. However, they did something, that Sony used to be good at: They had a focus on a lot of indie titles. They spoke to their audience, and they showed they had listened to their customers and wanted to deliver.
Ending with “Anthem” was great. That feeling of watching something that triggered the same hope and emotions as the first showing of “Destiny” did, is no small feat. However, before getting to that we got a fantastic looking “Forza Motorsport 7“, a scary bite of “Metro Exodus”, the great-looking “Assassin’s Creed: Origins”, PlayerUnknown’s “Battlegrounds”, the long-awaited and utterly explosive sandbox fest “Crackdown 3”, and as mentioned, a lot of indie titles stood out with its mix of pixelart and Blade Runner-esque visuals (especially “The Last Night“) . So bringing in classic Xbox gaming with a new coat of paint also made me smile. I was happy as a gamer.
Watching Ubisoft’s conference did not change that. As usual, I go away from a Ubisoft show smiling. And this year was no exception, even without Aisha Tyler. I don’t even care which games they show. They just seem so honest and happy about being part of the gaming culture. You know, like one big happy family =) Just on stage to show what they have poured their hearts into recently, with genuine smiles and even heartfelt tears. You can’t fake those loving looks that Yves Guillemot sent his staff during the show.
Of course being greeted by Nintendo’s legend Miyamoto as one of the first things, and talking about friendly rivalry, only helped bringing home that feeling of “in the end, we all are one big family of gamers”. Seeing Ubisoft treat Mario with respect and still adding some craziness in the form of the ever obnoxious Rabbids was fun. “Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle” felt like it is doing to turn-based strategy what “Splatoon” has done to the shooter genre: Add colours and friendly fun to the mix.
“The Crew 2” delivered a solid mash-up of racing genres that had me intrigued. I wanted to drive, sail and fly in equal measures. “Assassin’s Creed” again looked as awesome as ever, and if we sat there missing the pirate theme of Black Flag, we got plenty of that with “Skull and Bones”. South Park was back with butt-jokes and super heroes. Great seeing a bit of mobile gaming as well as new toys. VR came in the form of the unsettling “Transference” and Elijah Wood presenting. Ubi seems to be the one publisher embracing that platforms shouldn’t matter. Only the love for gaming should. I even managed to enjoy the short dance act, which meant I actually watched “Just Dance” without cringing. Good job.
Finishing off the presentation with “Beyond Good & Evil 2” and more tears of joy was almost perfect. I’m saying “almost”, yes. Why? Because the trailer for the sequel made me a little worried, as it felt like Ancel Marcel (and his team) were thinking that swearing equals maturity. It felt a bit desperate, and also like the developers were forgetting why the first game felt mature and interesting. It wasn’t for the use of F-words. That’s for sure. So I felt that the good spirited feeling, the looming darkness, the Orwellian setting and the uniqueness of the first game had vanished. We will have to wait and see. I stay hopeful. Ubisoft did well.
Then there was Sony PlayStation. What a show. As Sony showed one blockbuster game after another, games that I’m really looking forward to play. So yeah, gorgeous visuals and grand stories awaits me/us! As it felt like a long line of cinematic trailers softly embracing the gameplay to come, and they made me want more (more “Uncharted”, more “Horizon Zero Dawn”, more “God of War”, and even more “Call of Duty“).
Opening up with two awesome blockbusters getting new content, continuing with the awaited “Days Gone“, some “Capcom vs Marvel” action and of course showing Monster Hunter World looking better than ever, was solid. Presenting a diverse selection of action-oriented stuff, even some tempting VR in the form of The Inpatient was great. So was seeing more of the amazing looking “Detroit Become Human“. Finishing of with Spidey in action seemed like a great ending to one huge cavalcade of blockbuster entertainment.
What Sony lacked was indie titles and more information – and that connection with the gamers. One thing Jack Tretton was exceptional at delivering. Shawn Layden did his best. Nevertheless, it felt strange having only one man pop up a few times to say hi before running through another list of trailers for games that we for most parts knew existed…And the missing elephant in the room: Yes, I would also have loved to see more of “The Last of Us 2”. Nevertheless, still PlayStation made me want to be a gamer in 2017 and 2018. It made me want more.
The same could be said for Nintendo’s show. They delivered the games I was only dreaming about as a kid. Mario, Link, Kirby and Yoshi were all looking better than ever. “There are two sides to every story – and every stage”, proclaimed Yoshi. And that was doubly true for Nintendo and my normal reaction to their products: I get annoyed at Reggie trying so desperately to sell old tech as being innovative and awesome, yet I’m also loving almost everything Nintendo does. As so often before at E3 I went away from Nintendo’s presentation wanting more (especially more than that tiny teaser for “Metroid Prime 4“). The Rocket League announcement and the hefty selection of JRPGs were just icing on an already tasty cake.
So, yeah, E3 2017 has been great (in my opinion).
However, E3 is also a money driven celebration of games. As it is a place where smaller developers fight for attention, it is about politics, opinions and disappointments. Furthermore, it’s also about stressed journalists trying to be edgy by bashing stuff. About gamers being impatient because they already know too much. Fanboys only caring about exclusives. Console wars. Frame rate dips and bugs…And now I am almost getting angry. So back to my point: Let’s be happy about gaming for once. E3 is also a great way to catch up and make that checklist of games that we need to keep an eye on. As I want to keep my glass half full, because I love gaming.
I think Layden said it best: “Let’s just agree that we love games”.
And with that said, what’s your take on this matter? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section down below!
Robin Ek – Editor
Nintendo’s E3 2017 press conference
Sony’s E3 2017 press conference
Ubisoft’s E3 2017 press conference
Microsoft’s E3 2017 press conference
EA’s E3 2017 press conference
Bethesda’s E3 2017 press conference
This is a personal opinion of the writer, and it doesn’t necessarily represent the other writers (nor The Gaming Ground´s) opinions.
The Gaming Ground
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