The yays and nays.
Talk about defining moments of E3 and you’ll think along the likes of “$299”, the debut of MGS2, the first Zelda: Twilight Princess trailer, Final Fantasy XIII’s betrayalton and thensome. E3 is made for moments of such legacy.
But E3 can also provide the stupid too. Hello, Jamie Kennedy. And let us not forget Peter Moore singing and playing guitar to The Hives’ Main Offender on Rock Band’s debut, the You’re in the Movies demo from Microsoft’s E3 2008 presser. And there’s, of course, Sony’s E3 2006 and Konami’s E3 2010 pressers respectively.
Moments are made for better or worse at E3. These are some of the moments, for good or bad, that defined E3 2013.
+ Microsoft’s “Red Wedding” – Sony’s E3 Press Conference
I’ve never watched an episode of Game of Thrones (though I have the Season One boxset still waiting to be watched). But even as someone who hasn’t watched it, you’d be hard pressed to not know of the ‘Red Wedding’ event in the books or the show that has appeared these past few weeks. I won’t give it away – mostly because describing it even after a few weeks is still taboo – but to fit it into E3 terms, Microsoft had its Red Wedding moment on Monday.
Lets be clear here: Microsoft had a great press conference. It came out with games as promised and it was core game after core game with no ounce of entertainment. But with Xbox One’s second-hand and always-online confusing messaging before the show and the subsequent announcement of the $500/£430 pricetags, Sony had a real powerplay here to essentially 1UP MS. It took it, but the way it did will live in infamy as one of E3’s finest moments.
Sony announced it would impose no restrictions on second-hand sales (“When a gamer buys a PS4 disc, they have the rights to use that copy of the game, they can trade in the game at retail, sell it to a friend, lend it to a friend or keep it forever”), no always-online authentication and undercutting Xbox One by $100/£80. But the nature of how these announcements were given by Jack Tretton and Andy House were brutal. They weren’t skimming their way around Microsoft, they were aiming for Microsoft. And with what was announced, as well as the video of SCEA dev relations boss Adam Boyes and SCE WWS head Shuhei Yoshida, lets be honest, they landed it.
Will there be such drama like it again? Most likely. But we probably won’t see moments like it for a long time at least.
+ Have Faith – The Return of Mirror’s Edge
Five years on, we finally have a Mirror’s Edge sequel inbound. While development was confirmed on a sequel back in 2009, we hadn’t seen anything of it. In fact, rumours of its cancelation in 2011 and less than decent sales of the original (despite critical success) looked like that Mirror’s Edge was dead.
But five years on, DICE has given us what we’ve been dying for. The company, who had essentially given us the best of the EA press conference with the reveal that it was bringing back Star Wars Battlefront and a knockout worthy 64-player multiplayer demo of Battlefield 4, bookended it with the reveal of an origin story for Faith and our first look at gameplay on Frostbite 3.
Thankfully, it’s maintained the same ethos as the original game. No heavier emphasis on guns and no Kinect stuff as feared before the show (at least, not yet). It’ll be ready when it’s ready, according to DICE, but having heard this past week of development been ongoing since April last year, Holiday 2014 sounds like a good guess.
+ Square Enix’s Double Whammy – Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III
Final Fantasy XIII was essentially my debut entry to the series. I was stupidly excited for that game from about early 2008 until release in March 2010. Then I played it and was quite disappointed by it. So was the hardcore Final Fantasy audience. But the redeeming thing was that Versus XIII was, despite its long time out of the spotlight, inbound. It was the most intriguing game of what was then the Fabula Nova Crystallis saga.
Versus XIII becoming XV was always going to be inevitable. besides its long time in development and the likely switch to PS4 from PS3, making it kind of obsolete from the FNC saga, XV’s scope and ambition was much more of a mainline Final Fantasy game than just a mere spin-off. It’s something that, according to director Tetsuya Nomura, Square Enix had recognised and pulled the trigger on. And the stuff shown this past week has me rather excited for the series again. FFXIII and XIII-2 didn’t do the trick, but you know what they say: third time’s the charm.
But Square Enix had another ace up its sleeve: Kingdom Hearts III. After years of continued demand, it was finally announced for PS4 and Xbox One. I’ve not played a KH game beyond 1 (though I do have Birth By Sleep on a shelf nearby), but I was quite giddy to see that being announced. So much so, I’m actually gonna pick up 1.5 HD. After that? Maybe I’ll eventually play BBS. Maybe I’ll play the remainder of the handheld games. Maybe even before III comes out, we’ll get a 2.5HD?
– Soderlund’s Frustration – The Non-Starter Called Battlefield 4
You’ve got to feel sorry for Patrick Soderlund. There were a good few technical hiccups during the E3 press conferences – mics being left on, loss of sound during trailers and stuttering demos. But the EA Games boss’s presentation of Battlefield 4 started well (the usual stuff of Frostbite 3, best shooter out there etc).
And then, just as the demo started, no sound followed it. It took a good minute-and-a-half before it was eventually fixed with a massive cheer in the crowd following it. If it’s any consolation to Soderlund, the demo was one of the most technically impressive of the show. Not to mention that the studio he once led as General Manager – that’s DICE, by the way – pretty much dominated the EA press conference with BF4, Mirror’s Edge, Star Wars Battlefront and other games being shown on the DICE-made Frostbite 3.
But what happened on that Microsoft stage was one of the most awkward moments not just in E3 2013, but probably in E3 history. This’ll take a good while for Patrick Soderlund to live it down.
– The Wait Continues – Still no Last Guardian
We thought it was going to happen. That at E3, as a final surprise, Sony would announce The Last Guardian, known since 2009 as a Team Ico PS3 exclusive, would finally make the jump to PlayStation 4. The internet would break. We would cry tears of happiness. Unfortunately, we never got it. And with it, our long wait to finally have that catratdragon thing in a PS3 (or PS4) continues.
Of course, there’s still two big opportunities to reannounce it for PS4 – gamescom in August and, the more likely venue, in Tokyo in September during Tokyo Game Show. For now, we’ll have to wait even more to see what more comes from Team Ico and if The Last Guardian, after such a long wait, can become an even bigger classic over Ico and Shadow of the Colossus.
Over to you, Ueda.
– Xbox One and the Nuclear Sub Remarks – Don Mattrick’s love for nuclear subs revealed
Oh Don Mattrick. Just don’t do PR. Ever. Seriously, whoever your handlers are, tell them to not let you near anymore interviews. First, there was that backwards compatibility remark following the Xbox One reveal in May. But this takes the biscuit.
In an interview with GameTrailers TV and Geoff Keighley (who, it must be said, was fantastic throughout his executive interviews during E3, including Reggie Fils-Aime, Jack Tretton and Phil Spencer before the MS conference), Mattrick said the following in regards to Xbox One’s staunch online requirements:
“Some of the advantages that you get, of having, a box that is designed to use an online state, so, that, uh, to me is the future-proof choice, and I think people, could’ve arguably gone the other way if we didn’t do it and fortunately we have a product for people who aren’t able to get some form of connectivity, it’s called Xbox 360.”
But it gets better. He continued:
“Well, if you have zero access to the internet, that is an offline device, I mean, seriously, when I read the blogs, and thought about who’s really the most impacted, there was a person who said ‘hey, I’m on a nuclear sub,’ and I don’t even know what it means to be on a nuclear sub but I’ve gotta imagine it’s not easy to get an internet connection. Hey, I can empathise, if I was on a nuclear sub, I’d be disappointed.”
You should read the VentureBeat interview that followed Mattrick’s remarks and if it’s possible to get an internet connection on a nuclear sub with an active US military soldier. It’s quite the funny read.