Sorry this week’s 5+ is running late, but it has been chaos keeping up with everything that came out of this year’s E3. The Electronic Entertainment Expo is always the biggest gaming event of the year, and there was a ton of news broken at the various conferences and presentations. However, not all of the news was good and several companies did more to make fools of themselves. This week’s 5+ recaps my own biggest take-aways from this year’s show and where each of the major companies currently stands.
Sony had a lot of great content during their press conference, but they did a terrible job of presenting it. They opened strong with a look at the lore of the highly anticipated Destiny and used that to lead into the reveal of a white Playstation 4. Then we got to see some gameplay footage of the PS4 exclusive The Order: 1886 that was revealed at last year’s conference. Suddenly, they went into a small-scale downloadable game called Entwined before announcing new stand-alone DLC for inFamous: Second Son. There was an audible crack from the amount of whiplash that the audience experienced from seeing an artsy indie game sandwiched inbetween all of those triple-A titles. Showing support for the independent developers appearing on your system sends a good message to a lot of important people, but you don’t go to a five-star restaurant for the salad and you don’t buy a $400 console to play indie games that are inevitably going to be 75% off on Steam. Entwined should have been saved for later in the show to appear with the equally artsy Abzu and the other indie games that Sony had to show. Using it as one of the opening acts just made the show feel scatter-shot. It got worse as the show went on when Adam Boyes attempted to inject some comic relief into the show and only managed to add embarrassment. However, the worst part was when they set up No Man’s Sky as their final game of the show, outright saying that it was “one last game”, despite still having Mortal Kombat X, Batman: Arkham Knight, and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End up their sleeves. Some of you may be surprised to hear that those games were at Sony’s conference at all considering that you checked out after they announced that No Man’s Sky was their last game and they started rambling about a TV series based on the Powers comic book series. Again, Sony had a lot of good content, but they needed to do better job of presenting it.
Call me biased on this one, but the Super Smash Bros Invitational Tournament was nothing short of electric. The competitors were on fire, the crowd was lovably insane, the commentary from Prog, D1, and Scar was hilarious, and Pikachu trolled the Dorito Pope (you had to be there). Every second of the tournament was a thrill and the thought that Nintendo might take this show on the road as Reggie Fils-Aime hinted at in the closing ceremony is an exciting prospect indeed. My only regret is that my favorite competitor, Masaya “aMSa” Chikamoto (AKA the world’s #1 Yoshi player), didn’t take the trophy, but seeing him make it to the finals with Olimar was still pretty awesome.
When the Xbox One was first announced, it sounded less like an entertainment system and more like something out of George Orwell’s 1984. The policies on always-online, mandatory Kinect, and rejecting used games made it something that I wanted to avoid like the plague. However, Microsoft has wisely listened to the outcry surrounding their console and backtracked on everything that made it so infamous. This was the year of redemption for the Xbox One, and they earned it with the strongest conference of the year. It wasn’t a perfect show (*cough* Conker *cough*), but they were on fire for the most part with a wide variety of big announcements. Halo: The Master Chief Collection is a massive love-letter to their core audience, Sunset Overdrive and Project Spark continue to show a lot of promise, and the combination of Scalebound and Phantom Dust may finally get the Xbox brand to break through into the Japanese market. Just don’t make new stupid mistakes, Microsoft, and the Xbox One may still have a bright future ahead of it. Oh, and speaking of stupid mistakes…
While it may take a lot to build trust, it only takes one misstep to destroy it. I was already wary of Ubisoft going into E3 after the reveal of Watch_Dogs last year that wound up not living up to the massive hype that they had built around it (which has recently gotten even worse), but I was not expecting that amount of incompetence that Ubisoft brought to the show floor. While being interviewed on Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Ubisoft stated that there will not be playable female characters in the game. Considering that one of the most significant assassinations of the actual French Revolution was carried out by a woman (and if they actually retcon that the game’s fictional male protagonist was the one who actually did it, I will burn something), this is utterly ridiculous. Well, there’s that plus the fact that this is flat-out misogynistic. In fact, Unity’s four-player co-op will have no diversity whatsoever as all players must play as identical clones of the one white male protagonist. Ubisoft’s excuse for this was that one of the largest corporations in modern gaming working on a major installment in one of the most successful franchises going today is financially incapable of doing something that independent developers are able to throw together in under a week. This was, of course, a bold-faced lie and almost the entire gaming industry has stepped up to call Ubisoft out on it. Anthony Burch revealed how casually the developers at Gearbox were able to make half of the cast in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, Insomniac recently revealed a playable female assassin for Sunset Overdrive, and even Assassin’s Creed 3 director Jonathan Cooper has made a number of damning statements against Ubisoft on his Twitter page. Oh, and Far Cry 4 won’t have playable female characters either. With a single sentence, Ubisoft managed to make a world of enemies and no amount of PR smoke-and-mirrors is going to make it go away.
Microsoft may have had the best conference, but Nintendo had the strongest overall presence this year. Nothing else had a grip on my interest at this year’s E3 more than the Nintendo Treehouse, which streamed live gameplay of all of the upcoming games for Wii U and 3DS for three days straight. There were franchise favorites like Mario Maker and Hyrule Warriors, brand new IPs Splatoon and Code Name S.T.E.A.M., mature games like Bayonetta 2 and Devil’s Third, Shigeru Miyamoto’s experimental alphas for Project Giant Robot and Project Guard, and even indie titles like Shovel Knight and Swords and Soldiers 2 just to name a few. Again, these weren’t just prerendered trailers or scripted demos, but the actual games in action with the developers on hand to provide insight on the design of the games. Too many developers really on flashy trailers that tell little to market their games (look at the trailer for Phantom Dust and tell me where it conveys that actual gameplay is going to revolve mainly around trading cards), Nintendo had enough confidence in their titles to show the world what they’re games were capable of. The Nintendo Treehouse and everything that it had to offer was definitely the best in the show.
What stood out most to you at this year’s E3? What made you smile and feel happy to be a gamer? What got your blood boiling and your head sore from how ridiculous/insulting it was? Leave a comment below and you may see it featured on a follow-up article. Check back on July 3rd for the next installment of 5+.