E3 2018: Because F*ck Nazis

So before I go into my opinions on each major event at this year’s E3, let’s bring up the white elephant in the room. My username. Ben.tendo. Sounds a bit biased don’t it. And yeah, I have a Hyrulian shield on my wallet. I do own the majority of the Smash Bros Amiibo figures. And yes I did receive a free Cappy hat with my pre-order of Super Mario Odyssey… that I have worn, at work. But that doesn’t mean I bleed Nintendo from my veins. For me, gaming should be “fun”, and Nintendo are predominantly just that. But then games come along on other consoles such as the beautiful and amazing The Last of Us, or the clever and funny Fez, that prove other developers and console makers can do the same thing. So when reading my opinions of the major companies’ events, bare in mind that it’s not about things being Nintendo, it’s about things being fun. This isn’t meant to be The Twilight Saga or 50 Shades after all…

Electronic Arts

Entirely predictable, very amateur, with an extra dollop of self loving thrown in for good measure. If EA didn’t have it’s sports catalogue or Battlefield to fall back on every year I’m not sure what they’d reveal next time. For a company who are meant to be one of the (if not the) biggest publishers in the world, I find their use of their franchises very confusing. No push whatsoever for globally popular titles such as The Sims and SimCity, but stupidly long segments centred around FIFA, Madden and NBA releases. The only real surprise was the instant launch of Unravel 2, which is the sequel to a game which quickly became free on PlayStation Plus anyway. Just disappointing.

Microsoft

For possibly their strongest E3 event in many years, Microsoft found the secret ingredient they’ve needed for some time. Purchase a ton of developers, form a new unified company, and get them to make games for you! Fifty games, eighteen exclusives, fifteen world premieres. For a Microsoft gamer it was a dream event. Halo, Gears of War, Cyberpunk, Fallout, The Division 2, Just Cause 4… see a pattern forming? If you’re into shooting, Xbox is your console! There were one or two surprises in there which broke the mould that the rest of the event was made from of course. Cuphead’s DLC “The Delicious Last Course”, the return of Ori in “Will of the Wisps”, and the ‘Zelda having a baby with Fox McCloud but giving it up for adoption before Reggie found out’ title “Tunic”. All of which look like the platform and adventure audience hasn’t been completely ignored this year at least. And of course the gorgeous looking Forza Horizon 4, this time set in the UK. Expect a lot of drizzle and mist in glorious HDR 4K. Actually a strong showing from MS this year, but in my opinion single genre minded. Oh, and Battletoads? Rare forgot Banjo’s anniversary I’m guessing.

Bethesda

An amusing event that always knows its audience incredibly well. And whilst the majority of the games they announced were pretty obvious (Doom, Wolfenstein, Fallout, Rage, Elder Scrolls, etc), there were still a couple of nice surprises that didn’t disappoint. Starfield (the game rumoured as “Skyrim in Space”) is the companies first next-gen title to be announced. Elder Scrolls coming to mobile will help expand the userbase a lot before VI is released. And the announcement of Fallout 76’s gameplay and narrative was a call back to the popular elements of older titles. Only four times bigger. But of course the highlight of the event has to be Skyrim: Very Special Edition. An Amazon Alexa controlled take on the award winning game. And while the trailer came across as nothing but a parody, it is real, and it is available now. And if that wasn’t enough for you, the use of the words “f*ck” and “Nazis” multiple times, might have been just what you wanted from a Bethesda event. If you’re not German at least.

Square Enix

At least Enix were clever enough to announce the predictable delay for Kingdom Hearts III until 2019 (I personally think even January is optimistic, but we shall see!) a week prior. So now that the disappointing news was out the way, they could concentrate on discussing the rest of their library. Games such as Dragon Quest XI and Shadow of the Tomb Raider will sell very well, and it is nice to see something like Dragon Quest continue to be localised in western territories when a game like that probably wouldn’t have been considered for the west nowadays if new. Was never going to be the most shocking or surprising event, but was more than enough content for people to get their hopes up for whilst waiting for Kingdom Heart III’s eventual Summer 2019 release. I’ve called it first.

Ubisoft

We are still getting games for the Wii it seems, never mind the Wii U or Switch! Yes it’s the annual event known as the Just Dance conference! No not really, all joking aside Ubisoft are becoming known for consistently having one of the stronger events year on year, and this year seemed to be no exception. As a season pass owner, a true reveal of the Donkey Kong DLC for Mario & Rabbid’s Kingdom Battle was always going to be fun to watch (that Rabbid take on the original DK game could become a full game, let’s be honest). And the surprise of Ubisoft being handed another Nintendo franchise in the form of Star Fox as part of their new title Starlink (including that cool Arwing model bundled with the Switch edition) continues that fun and affectionate partnership between the two developers. The other standout surprise being Transference, possibly one of the creepiest games ever revealed. Whether the game lives up to the reveal however we will have to wait and see. And of course the gameplay of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was inevitable, but looks promising. Whether it’s as entertaining as Assassin’s Creed Sunshine though I’m not sure.

Sony

Set in a barn at the back of E3 with very nervous sounding game show hosts, I was expecting some sort of cult sacrifice to be made half way through of Goat Simulator or something. And then out came the banjo (at least someone had Banjo), and yeah… so anyway, The Last of Us: Part Two. Once you work past the obligatory LGBTQ+ sexuality aspect, Ellie probably “won” E3 in a five minute segment didn’t she? Just a shame the format of their presentation turned into an episode of The Jonathan Ross Show (during the Four Poofs and a Piano era) on some strange rooftop studio, complete with adverts. It just felt like the main show was done on the pre show set. Then we cut to another room and a man from Mystical Ninja playing a giant panpipe. And Kojima had a bloke carrying an unborn baby in a jar. TeamNinja had a dead flower on a table become undead? Sony were smoking some good stuff when setting up this show. So yeah, not quite sure what to say other than buy The Last of Us: Part Two, feel sorry for MediaMolecule who had Dreams used as stings but no software reveal, and try whatever Sony was smoking.

Nintendo

Every. Challenger. Ever. When Marvel stated that Infinity War would be the most ambitious crossover in history, Nintendo just responded with “Hold my beer”. Super Smash Bros Ultimate appears to launch with nearly 70 characters, with newly added Daisy and Ridley (not Daisy Ridley) alongside the previously announced Inklings (imagine the Amiibos!). And more will come between now and December’s release. That is just a mind boggling feat of licences and voiceovers and developers to come together and achieve that. Heck Ike has different voice actors depending on which version of him you play as, and David Hayter is back as Snake! So yeah, wow. Smash Bros aside nice reveals of Super Mario Party (took them long enough to use that name didn’t it?), games such as Fortnite and Hollow Knight landing the same day as their announcement, and apparently Killer Queen Black is actually a big deal? I’ll leave that to the arcade enthusiasts… negatives however include making you have to purchase the Pokéball Plus to unlock Mew in Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee (which is a very dirty move by Game Freak), and the complete lack of Metroid or rumoured StarFox Grand Prix (which should just become an F-Zero title now). And let’s not get the community started on Animal Crossing doing a no show. Perhaps the Treehouse over the coming days will make up for it, but judging each company by their main events it’s disappointing for big brands such as those to not appear this year.

Other Mentions

Some games in smaller events are worth mentioning. My Friend Pedro for PC and Switch is what can only be described as Shadow Complex on LSD, looks simple, fun and completely mad. Who could say no to a sentient Banana who has lost the plot, after all? Or how about Maneater? The first ever Shark RPG, with ability trees where you can evolve and alter different parts of your Shark’s body to make them better at attacking people on beaches? And on a more serious note whilst already shown online prior to E3, I do have to give an exceptional shout out to the new Xbox Adaptive Controller. Possibly the most groundbreaking accessory in gaming history, and isn’t getting the level of press attention it truly deserves. I look forward to the controller giving the world of gaming million’s of new users who have just as much right to enjoy the world we so easily live inside and take for granted.

Overall

So what did E3 2018 bring us overall? We learnt that in some scenarios quantity can be better than quality (Sorry Sony). That 2019 is a hell of a year for gaming, but 2018 for Xbox and Microsoft gamers is a bit dry. That innovation with controllers for the disabled really can be groundbreaking and innovating. That fun and a love for gaming still exists with a devloper such as Ubisoft. And to not mess with Nintendo when it comes to copyright and licensing.

For some E3 this year will feel a bit damp, given that 99% of the games shown were already known. For others, it was an intimate event that gave greater insight into announcement already made. For Sony, I’d just recommend laying off the Meth. And if all else fails, f*ck Nazis…

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