Well, the announcements are done and dusted now and overall I’d say it’s been an underwhelming conference this year. I think this was due to a lack of any true surprises as it seems like a lot of stuff got leaked in advance this year where that isn’t always the case. I also feel like it’s due to the stuff that was shown that really interests me not likely being out for a good while yet. That said there some standout plus and minus points which I’m going to go into a little just so I can try to apply a little brevity here, obviously, this is all merely my opinion and I totally appreciate other people will have differing views.
The minus points first:
1. EAs conference being extremely lacklustre – Barring Battlefield and Anthem they really didn’t have much big beyond the usual annual sports updates and there was far too much talking. This was highlighted for me with the segment for the new mobile Command and Conquer game which went on far too long.
2. No Dragon Age or Mass Effect – Not unexpected given the focus on Anthem but still a shame given that we know that the new Dragon Age is being worked on and that Mass Effect has been more or less brushed over since the well-publicised struggles with Andromeda.
3. The Rage 2 live performance – I totally understand the intention and the reason it was in there. I’m also sure it appealed to a hell of a lot of people but it just wasn’t for me. To me it was a little gimmicky when all I wanted to do was see the game and get an idea of whether it appealed to me or not.
4. Microsoft’s lack of exclusives – This is something that Microsoft have been pulled up for a little while now and this year was no exception. This obviously comes with the caveat of Microsoft forming a new studio and acquiring 4 more as a way of turning this situation around, though obviously, this isn’t a quick fix.
5. Sony’s intermission – Sony showed off the Last of Us 2 and then cut to an intermission before proceeding to the main conference. It just seemed an odd move and sucked some energy out of proceedings where they could’ve capitalised on the reaction to the Last of Us 2.
6. Lack of release dates – I appreciate that everyone is bricking it over Red Dead Redemption 2 this year and some of the stuff on display is likely very early in development but it was still slightly frustrating that a lot of stuff had no release date. Obviously better that than rushing to meeting a date and delivering a broken game.
7. Notable absences – Games I was really hoping to see like the Final Fantasy 7 remake, Shenmue 3 and the new Yoshi on Switch but presumably they’re not currently in a shape to be shown off which is a shame. The lack of a Fable or Animal Crossing announcement was also disappointing.
As I’ve said this is purely my opinion and I appreciate that some of these points make me sound overly picky or spoilt which is probably a fair shout all told. With that out of the may let’s move on.
The positive points:
1. Microsoft’s conference – Microsoft had some solid games to show off and some interesting announcements. Obviously, the standout for me is that there’s finally a new Halo on the way but there was also Cyberpunk 2077, Forza Horizon 4 and lots of other things that looked pretty splendid, all in all, a good showing.
2. Bethesda’s conference – Bethesda also had a pretty good showing (live band aside) and the new Fallout is both interesting and worrying in equal measure given it’s online. Starfield is intriguing as in theory it’s a much more sci-fi RPG and then there was the confirmation that the Elder Scrolls 6 is in development, though presumably a ways off yet.
3. Resident Evil 2 – The Resident Evil 2 remake is on its way and arriving sooner than I expected. It’s my favourite game of the series so I’ve been looking forward to seeing the remake since it was announced and I won’t lie I’m excited about it. The fact that it’s out in January next year is a nice little bonus too.
4. Last of Us 2 – This looks just as good as you’d expect it to. I’m nervous about it as I couldn’t really play the first one as it made me insanely tense but I’m looking forward to giving it a go. The absence of Joel so far in the footage I’ve seen raises questions that have me intrigued too.
5. Assassins Creed Odyssey – The lastest Assassins Creed is set before Origins so presumably before the Assassin order which makes me curious. It also looks fantastic and seems to be introducing a Mass Effect style conversation system, this coupled with the ancient Greek setting has me looking forward to this one.
6. Ubisoft’s show – No surprises this year which was a shame but Beyond Good and Evil looks like it’s coming together nicely, the work with Nintendo looks like it’s producing fun results and there’s something nice about seeing the people who work on the games getting emotional about their work.
7. Smash Brothers – Now this presentation went on far too long but it also had the effect of making this the first Smash Brothers game I’ve ever wanted. The roster of playable characters is absolutely huge, more than 60 at this point including a number of guest characters from non-Nintendo games.
8. Square Enix – Their show had Tomb Raider, Kingdom Hearts 3, Just Cause 4 which all look like they’re shaping up nicely and there was also Captain Spirit (set in the Life is Strange universe), Octopath Traveler and the Quiet Man which all look like they could have quite a lot of potential.
All in all, while there was a fair bit to be seen that’s got me interested but this years E3 also wasn’t as exciting as previous years for me. I think the lack of surprises definitely hurt things and the spectre of Red Dead Redemption 2 meant that we weren’t going to see tons coming out this year but even so it was all a little flat.