That was an E3 that happened This year was a mixed bag of quality for the press conferences for me in terms of consistency compared to last year, but it did give us quite possibly the greatest E3 press conference ever. Lets be honest here, this isn’t so much about finding a winner – we already have – but rather determining who came best out of the rest. Here it is.
Bethesda – 8/10
For a first ever press conference, Bethesda more or less held its own here. A really slick presentation MC’ed by Bethesda VP Pete Hines and a set of games from well known franchises that’ll appeal to the core. Well, Battlecry didn’t jump out for me and although I can understand why they’re doing it, The Elder Scrolls Legends somewhat wiffs of riding Hearthstone’s coattails. And there was TESO too.
But otherwise, there was some other fantastic stuff. Small worries aside about it, Doom looks incredible and seems like will be my first proper foray into the series. Dishonored II’s debut trailer went down super well, having Princess Emily from the first game be front and centre of it as duel protagonist of the game (alongside Corvo) and a definitive edition of the first game to tide people over before the sequel comes out next year is a big crowd pleaser too.
And of course, a little game called Fallout 4. There was nothing negative about how it was presented, everything that was shown by Todd Howard impressed. From crafting to VATs looking much slicker and everything inbetween, it was more or less the perfect demo. The fact it’s coming out this year too (though not the specific date I would have picked) was just the cherry on the cake. The sprinkles on the cake came in the form of mobile game Fallout Shelter.
Bethesda did good for a first attempt. It seemed like the perfect time to do it with a lineup building over time and made do with the hour it went with and didn’t drag it out (unlike another third-party who we’ll get to in a minute). Who knows if they’ll do it again next year, but after this year, I hope so.
Microsoft – 9/10
In any other year at E3, this would be the press conference that won it. Microsoft had perhaps the most unfortunate luck this year ahead of what would happen a few hours later at Sony, but this was a press conference that was on its own merits great. Backwards compatibility for Xbox 360 games on Xbox One got a huge, huge cheer and had more or less piled the pressure on the point of PlayStation Now.
There was a decent focus on new IP too with Keiji Inafune and Armature’s Recore announced for Spring, whilst Xbox One and Windows 10 moba Gigantic coming in August. A much better indie focus with ID @ Xbox this year: Tacoma announced as a Xbox One exclusive (albeit timed) is a big get, as is the announcement of an early access program featuring the announcement of an Xbox One version of Day Z and its creator Dean Hall announcing his own game for the program, his first since leaving Bohemia and Day Z.
There was the obvious third-party appearances too with the exclusive Rise of the Tomb Raider, Fallout 4, Rainbow Six: Siege, The Division, Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 and the reveal of Dark Souls III getting a run out. But it’d be Microsoft’s two flagship IPs that would start and finish the show with Halo 5: Guardians giving quite the decent campaign demo and a new look at a new multiplayer suite, while Gears of War skips past the Gears 1 Remaster besides a brief mention of a date and a beta and going straight into a demo of Gears 4, at least eighteen months before it comes out. Forza 6 and Fable Legends got there too, whilst Rare’s new IP Sea of Thieve looks like possibly a return to some of Rare’s old days (which is also why a Rare collection of all of its previous game is just great). And that’s nearly forgetting an incredible Mincraft demo featuring Hololens.
On any other year, this would be a Microsoft E3 win. This was, for me, their best press conference since their 2009 effort. At least in August, plus with the addition of Scalebound, Quantum Break and Crackdown, they won’t have to worry about what the competition will do next in Cologne a few hours later.
EA – 4/10
I’ve typically given EA a lot of leeway for their past press conferences at E3. I even enjoyed last year’s press conference, one of the very few who did. Nope, not this year. Sure, they started it with a great reveal trailer for Mass Effect: Andronmeda, but it all just went downhill from there. Need for Speed looking very unappealing, an unneeded mobile appearance, sports stuff (besides NHL maybe) went complete long in the tooth. Oh and that’s piling into that nugget of complaint of an onstage Pele interview that went way too long for its own liking. And I say that as someone who’s looking forward to FIFA 16 this year.
In fact, that interview was what sealed EA’s fate for me. For a publisher that typically has an hour-long presser, padding it out with a 20 minute interview, even if it is one of the best footballers of all time, is just ridiculous in the worst possible way. And then to stick the knife in with those Madden and NBA bits as well.
Not to say EA had their moments. Earlier Mass Effect announcement aside, Unravel was heartwarming and is perhaps one of my favourite games this E3 so far. We also had the first proper look at Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, which just looks flat out stunning. The fact they’ve completely dropped guns from the game as a player thing is even better news. And you know what? After that unconvincing first trailer and its gameplay reveal taking its time, I’m convinced of Star Wars: Battlefront.
But that was as good as it got. EA was a straight up bust. Presentation was dire, it was super padded out – with massive help (but not entirely by) Pele – and not including said FIFA segment, EA Sports segments were dire. EA really had a big fall (not a typo) this year.
Ubisoft – 5/10
Ubisoft was a bit better, but didn’t fare as great as last year: For Honour (without a U, but I’ll use it) didn’t really look all that amazing to me, Just Dance 2016 was Just Dance and Trackmania was not all that appealing. And no matter how hard they try, this is the first time I’ve never felt a semblence of interest for an Assassin’s Creed game – stop trying to make Syndicate happen Ubisoft, it won’t happen. Sadly, it felt felt like Aisha Tyler was off this year. She was a terrific presenter last year, but this year, it just felt forced and that she was maybe just trying too hard.
That said, Ubisoft gets an extra point for the fact we got the announcement of a new South Park game. Plus Rainbow Six: Siege looked alright, The Division looks cool (and much better than the trailer shown at Microsoft) and the announcement of Ghost Recon: Wildlands show a game that could have massive promise if done right.
And I’ll give Ubisoft credit for actually sticking to an hour or near abouts compared to EA.
I’d give it a six, but Jason Derulo means it drops a point. Because Jason Derulo ruined one of the finest Imogen Heap songs ever.
Sony – 10/10
Seriously. I mean, what the actual fuck. This was not even close. It’s not even comparable to 2013 and that was a great press conference. This is the stuff of legend that’ll be told years down the line. Where were you on June 15 when Sony had its E3 2015 press conference?
If you had said we’d see at least one of either The Last Guardian, Final Fantasy VII Remake:or Shenmue III, that would be enough to get everyone in a tizzy. But the fact all three were announced within an hour was just pow after pow after pow. Just having one of them is a megaton. Having all three there is basically a full-scale nuclear war sense of detonation. You will never see this again or at the very least, for a very, very long time.
But besides those three, Sony was just wall-to-wall full of games. Guerrilla’s Horizon just looks stunning, Media Molecule’s Dreams has wonderful potential, the reveal of Hitman looked rad, No Man’s Sky got its first ever public live demo and looked incredible as it would, Street Fighter V shaping up nicely and after its showing at EA convinced me of its potential, more Battlefront isn’t a bad thing. As isn’t more Destiny. And even if you’re not exactly a fan of the series, Sony poaching Call of Duty from Microsoft is shrewd business but one that makes a whole lot of business sense. Oh and Black Ops III? Yup, I’m in.
In 2013, there was a 10 minute spell of Sony Pictures which gave nothing and last year, another ten minute segment given to Powers – which felt like 20 minutes. This year, there was a brief mention of PlayStation Vue, but that was no more than five minutes. I can honestly live with that.
My only complaint – and it is literally the only one – is that I would have spaced out the announcements a bit more. Have Last Guardian start the show, as it did, then have Shenmue III’s Kickstarter be the midway point announcement and then have the Final Fantasy VII announcement for the end. Because having it end on Uncharted 4, as impressive as that demo was, felt like a bit of an anticlimax after what had just happened earlier. And that tells you a lot about what happened when I consider a new demo for perhaps my most anticipated game of 2016 from my favourite developer as a conference closer an anticlimax.
Seriously, you will never see another press conference like this with so many megatons. All it needed at that point was Half-Life 3 and it would have gotten infinity/10. But man, this was just incredible. The best press conference E3 has ever had.
Nintendo – 5/10
Call me bitter, but the way Nintendo handled the Animal Crossing stuff – was just dire. Admittedly, having thought it was just a smaller game based solely on interior design, it dawned on me watching it in the Digital Event that Happy Home Designer on 3DS was a new, fully-fledged title. And you know? I’m now going to buy that in September.
But it was Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival that really provided the knife in the stommach moment. It’s not so much that it exists – I’m okay with it existing (and the fact it’ll be free to play (albeit, get some amiibos) takes the sting out) – but the way Nintendo built that announcement up as if we were about to get a fully-fledged Animal Crossing for Wii U, something I’ve been clamoring for for nearly eighteen months (and also a big reason why I still have a Wii U post-Bayonetta 2) only for it not to be is what got my goat to the point I had actually had a minor meltdown about it. And now I can basically give up on it coming to Wii U because at this point, the Direct was also Wii U’s death sentence with Nintendo more or less affectively acknowledging it’s now in a holding pattern ahead of NX’s reveal next Summer.
Sure, StarFox Zero from Platinum looks promising ahead of a Holiday release, we’re getting Xenoblade Chronicles X in December, Mario Maker confirmed for September (and to give Nintendo credit, the Nintendo World Championship really sold that game) and Shin Megami Tensei x Fire Emblem is definitely coming west next year. Oh and Yoshi coming out in the States months after the UK, Europe and Australia (we get it next week).
But besides Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival and a new Mario Tennis, there was nothing announced for Wii U we didn’t already know about. That’s including Zelda, which was, as promised by Nintendo, not shown. Watch for that to show up as a duel-platform Wii U/NX game next year.
Meanwhile, 3DS goes from strength to strength. A new Zelda: Four Swords-like game with Triforce Heroes looks great, Hyrule Warriors 3DS getting a shoutout too, Fire Emblem Fates confirmed for 2016 and the hugely popular in Japan Yokai Watch confirmed for this Holiday. And then there was Metroid Prime: Federation Force for 3DS, which has everyone up in a tizz. Petitions, by the way, aren’t going to get this game cancelled for, say, a new Metroid Prime.
The only reason it gets a five is for the strength of 3DS’s lineup this year. Otherwise, for the Animal Crossing debacle and essentially confirming this was essentially the end for Wii U this year, it’d be getting a lower score.
Iwata, Reggie and Miyamoto muppets were nice, though.
Square Enix – 7/10
Hands up who thought Square Enix would have a better press conference than one of the first-parties? Nope, I didn’t think so too. But lo and behold, it happened.
That’s not to say Square was flawless – far from it – as some of their presenters, including Square Enix west boss Phil Rodgers, was dullfully trotted out. And not to mention, that one guy who clearly wasn’t told this was a press conference, not a PAX panel, when Kingdom Hearts III was shown.
But otherwise, they had a great lineup and decent surprises to cover it. Just Cause 3’s first proper gameplay video showed promising stuff ahead of a December release, a surprise Nier sequel from Platinum Games was massive news (though the lasting image of that segment will always be Taro Yoko wearing a mask on stage), the announcement of Star Ocean V being localised, Lara Croft Go from Square Enix Montreal who are just on a roll right now with mobile hits, the incredible looking first gameplay of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the first gameplay of io’s Hitman reboot just looked swish as hell and the announcement of Project Setsuna, a new IP from new studio Tokyo RPG Factory that’s due to release globally next year.
Of course, the main event was when Square Enix
regular troll master producer Shinji Hashimoto came to represent Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts. Another look at World of Final Fantasy’s trailer from Sony the night before, the Final Fantasy VII remake trailer with additional caveat we’d get more info on it this Winter and the big one: new gameplay of Kingdom Hearts III for the first time in nearly two years, as well as the confirmation of the first world in the game being related to Disney’s Tangled.
Square Enix’s presentation had the perfect mix of eastern and western games, something I was perhaps a bit unsure of going into the event, as well as a few handful of surprises: I certainly didn’t expect Kingdom Hearts III ahead of a previously announced blowout at D23 Japan later this autumn, but hey, we got it.
So well done, Square Enix. Just improve on your presenting skills a little bit and if you have a lineup like you did this year, you can definitely come back again next year.
No score for The PC Gaming Show as I never got to watch it due to sheer exhaustion.