by Bob Reinhard
Let me just start by saying I could probably write multiple articles and about two week’s worth of material about this year’s E3. But that would require effort, and no one wants to read a short novel among a sea of other short novels on the same thing. So, instead, I’m going to do a quick point by point summary of some of my thoughts about this year’s show.
What impressed me? What games did I like? What was disappointing? I’ll try not to be too wordy about it!
Game Of Show: Final Fantasy XV
I’ll be honest, I was pretty uninterested in Final Fantasy versus XIII all this time. I didn’t like that it looked very much like an attempt to cash in on Final Fantasy VII fans lust for emo protagonists in an industrial setting. That said, I was genuinely surprised to see Square suddenly change FFvXIII into FFXV at Sony’s press conference. I figured Agni’s Philosophy would be FFXV and Versus would be an afterthought. Then I saw the game in action in the gameplay video show later on and was blown away. The insane pacing and scope of the combat is incredible. The graphics are beautiful. It really is a true showcase of what this next generation is going to be. Gotta laugh at there being like… two female characters in the whole bloody thing though!
Sony’s Press Conference
Sony’s end of things was incredible. I was pretty disappointed at first, going so far as to call it a disaster. They focused forever on Vita and PS3 without showing anything new. No Vita price drop. Long-winded gameplay footage of games we’ve seen for two years now. Everything was starting to feel like they had nothing.
And then everything went nuts.
An indie showcase that nearly moved me to tears with how awesome it was, Jack Tretton’s shiver-inducing bitch slapping of Microsoft by dropping countless bombs about PS4’s DRM and used games policies, the awesome Square Enix reveals, and to top it off with the massive price surprise that made the PS4 incredibly desirable. That said, they didn’t reveal a ton of games and I’m hoping to see more in the future. Knack and Second Son look excellent and give me plenty reason to want one early in 2014, but it still needs to tighten it’s library a bit. Also, the console itself is butt-ugly. Though the internet jokes about it being Italicized were hilarious, I’ll admit.
MS actually surprised me with a lot of new IPs and some interesting looking games. Project Spark looks cool and Quantum Break sounds like an interesting idea. I wasn’t as into Titanfall as everyone else. It looks neat, but nothing really mind blowing or new. At least not yet. Of course, nothing they showed during the conference is able to make up for the severe PR blows they took leading up to the show.
Then, to add insult to injury, Don Mattrick steps up and makes one of the most brain melting arrogant and idiotic statements I’ve ever heard post-E3 in regards to “if you don’t want an online console, stick with 360”. So in other words: a lot of you shouldn’t buy our new console! That’s a good way to alienate a lot of your consumer base and chase them off to the PS4. Good thinking. Idiot.
The Big N didn’t surprise me at all. In fact, they pretty much did exactly what I predicted on such a level I’m almost worried they simply read all my predictions on Twitter and used it as a business plan. Super Mario 3D World looks awful. I hate 3D Land, and simply making another one is showing they’re all set to give 3D Mario the same risk-free and uncreative treatment they give 2D Mario. Mario is pretty much useless and unappealing to me now because of their inability to try with it. There wasn’t a single new IP or interesting idea among the Wii U lineup. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze looks cool, but that’s not what I wanted from Retro. Just cramming one of their best development studios into the sequel box gives me very little faith in Nintendo as a whole. The fact that Mega Man being in Super Smash Bros. was the biggest and most talked about thing was pretty sad.
Two other little things. If you Google “Cat Mario”, you actually just get pictures of a recent indie game called Cat Mario. Where you play Mario, But as a Cat. Interesting.
Also, I’ve seen outside-of-gaming news publications covering Nintendo’s end of things refer to Super Mario 3D World as Super Mario 3D Land. That’s probably a bad idea. Confusing your consumers. Didn’t work so well with the Wii U, now did it Nintendo. Stop naming things so painfully similar and making them look painfully similar. It’s going to bite you in the ass.
On the 3DS side of things, I was disappointed as well. Yoshi’s New Island slightly interests me, along with A Link Between Worlds (which is an awful name…), but other than that, I felt like the 3DS just isn’t looking too exciting for me still. The big surprise was how much I was sold on Pokemon X/Y after the panel on it. The new ideas sound cool and the new Pokemon look excellent. I doubt I’ll buy it immediately this year, but it sounds like another reason to absorb myself in the drug of the video game world. Other than those titles, there isn’t much coming out on 3DS I want either.
The Indie World
Horizon was a really awesome event, serving as an alternative to E3 for some indie developers. It was awesome seeing games like the fascinating Hohokum take center stage. The big surprise that lit the internet aflame was, of course, the Fez 2 teaser that was dropped at the end. But for me, the game that I was most excited about came from the new project from Funomena. Bringing together former members of thatgamecompany and Keita Takahashi, the creative mind behind Noby Noby Boy and Katamari, excites me. I can’t wait to see this blocks-come-t0-life game come to life in the future.
Outside of Horizon, Sony presented a ton of amazing indie games as well that will be getting a lot of attention on their consoles. Transistor looked spectacular and it was great seeing the guys from Supergiant Games on stage talking about it. Also, Darren Korb’s soundtrack in the trailer was jaw-droppingly beautiful.
Another game I’m super interested in is Contrast, which looks to have a wonderful aesthetic and sound design and unique shadow gameplay mechanic. Other games like Doki-Doki Universe and Octodad: Dadliest Catch had me so excited for the growing attention to indie games as a whole. Great time for indie developers, I think.
Aside from almost everything Nintendo did this year, there were a few disappointments I had in terms of what wasn’t there and what was dropped on us. Jack Tretton let it out that The Last Guardian isn’t cancelled, but is on “hiatus”. Bummer. I was pretty angry with Ubisoft for having that Pey’j from Beyond Good & Evil 2 picture on their Facebook promoting E3, but didn’t mention the game anywhere. I was really hoping to see a Vita price drop, which didn’t come. Playstation Plus being required for online play on PS4 was a bit of a tough decision for me to choke down, but I’ve ultimately learned to just live with it. I was also incredibly sad to see another year go by without any love paid towards Kirby games. I would have also liked to see more on Yarn Yoshi, but it seems to have completely disappeared from the radar.
Of course, I have to talk about my favorite moment from E3. Jack Tretton droppin’ the mic!
If you missed Geoff Keighley’s post-E3 presentation interview with Jack Tretton, you missed one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. By now, it’s floated around the internet so much I’m sure most people know what I’m talking about. But for those you that missed it, let’s watch it one more time. Or ten more times.
I was much happier with this year’s E3 than the last few years. Great games were shown, indies got their day in the sun, and overall I came out with an optimistic view of the future of gaming. The PS4 is currently my must-have console, with the other two being almost completely undesirable. Sony undoubtedly demolished this year’s E3 and I’m hoping they can stick to their guns and show us some games!
Good times, gamers. This year’s E3 was just flat-out good times.