Yesterday marked the first day of E3 2014. It was filled with awesome moments, strange moments, surprising moments, and just plain ugly moments. A much closer competition than last year, Xbox held its own against Sony with great pacing and a focus on, as Phil Spencer says, “games, games, games, games.” So what exactly caught our imaginations and excitement, and what made us want to fall asleep?
In a pure departure from their maddening conference last year, Xbox completely ditched their app, tv, and movie talk and chose to machine gun games at the viewers. It was exciting to watch, and each speaker talked just long enough for the viewer to process what they had just seen, before the next video rolled. It is clear that Xbox listened to the fan reactions last year (I mean thank god) and Phil Spencer had a very successful first conference.
For a few years running now, Ubisoft continues to steal the show at E3 Day 1. With showings of Far Cry 4, Assassins Creed: Unity, and the tear jerking (I just have something in my eye) and artistic Valiant Hearts, Ubisoft wowed the audience with their reveals. It was also made public that Troy Baker (voice of Joel from The Last of Us, Delsin from inFAMOUS Second Son, etc.) will be voicing the Far Cry 4 evil villain this year as well. He sure is getting a lot of face time recently. But not really, ha, cause he’s a voice actor (does motion capture count?)
While Sony had some pacing trouble, it was clear that their exclusives lineup is packed to the brim with incredibly diverse exclusives coming in the next year or two. Two huge shockers, LittleBigPlanet 3 and Grim Fandango, got us incredibly excited for whats to come. The LittleBigPlanet 3 gameplay was as friggen cute as expected, but three new playable sack types really surprised us. On top of these two biggies, Sony showed more of The Order: 1886, revealed the incredible looking Miyazaki game, Bloodborne, showed a brief live-action trailer for over the top Suda 51 game Let It Die, and showed more of the gorgeous Uncharted 4.
No Man’s Sky
While this is coming to the PS4 first, what really matters is that the game itself even exists. The first ten seconds had me interested. The first 30 seconds had me on the edge of my seat, and a minute in I was captivated and so excited for its release. This is the game many of us have been waiting for since we were playing make-believe in our cardboard boxes, and from first impressions it looks to rival Minecraft on scale of fun, creativity, and size. Evidently no player will start on the same planet, and their procedurally generated galaxy is infinite in size. Here’s hoping we don’t meet all the same species on each planet! The ease of exploration also seems excellent. Let’s hope it can now live up to all of the hype, and can deliver on its promise of infinite exploration. If you haven’t seen the footage yet, watch it NOW. It is also touching how moved the developer is to be on stage.
While I felt the demo had something missing that I couldn’t quite place, the trailer blew us out of the water. The generic cutscene with men shooting was drab and painful; until in comes a colorful dude with a crazy gun, blasting away all the terrorists. The trailer is super meta, but in a tasteful and hilarious way. After the trailer concluded, we got a peak at the gameplay. Its incredibly fluid and colorful, and looks like it would be good fun for everyone. I didn’t get totally jazzed though, and felt that it seemed to play like Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One. The movement was great but the action and shooting wasn’t quite there for me yet.
While it started out fairly well, EA managed to annoy many people by showing the tiniest glimpses of its most anticipated games. Star Wars: Battlefront 3 and Mass Effect had maybe 20 seconds of gameplay between them, the rest was promises and conceptual art. On top of this disappointment was “sports, sports, sports, sports, Bruce Lee, and sports.” The overall energy of the conference would have put an irate child to sleep in seconds. The only real redeeming quality of the show was the Dragon Age: Inquisition gameplay reveal and some of the Battlefield: Hardline gameplay, though I am very peeved they are already working on a new game when their last one, Battlefield 4, is still so broken and incomplete. Talk about jumping ship.
Project Morpheus is supposed to be the next huge movement in video games; Sony’s step into virtual reality supposedly validating VR as new promising tech. Then why was it mentioned for thirty seconds?! Andrew House announced that a few demos would be playable backstage, but there wasn’t a single on-stage demo for it. I could have excused this if they cut it short cause they had to show tons more games, but instead it was stunted so they could talk about TV. For weeks I had been hoping for a Morpheus stage demo, and had Sony done one and nailed it, it could have been a megaton against their competitors who haven’t even revealed similar software. Argh!
The music makes it less awkward.
I’m sorry about this one, I really am, but come on. While I appreciate her upbeat energy and her seemingly strong passion for games, it all just seems so… annoying and fake to me. When she takes the stage I am reminded of those girls at parties who talk too loud and try too hard to relate with everyone. While undeniably beautiful, her foul mouth and off-putting snarkiness just didn’t jive with us this year. Maybe if she was the voice of any other company, but Ubisoft seems so tame and temperate that there is a disconnect between their company culture and their announcer saying the F Bomb and Sh*t every other word. Maybe I’m just getting older…
Conker is Back! Aw hell no…
The logo for Project Spark appears and soon after a chainsaw wielding chipmunk slashes the logo down. It is unmistakably Conker. As he stand on the wrecked logo he announces “Ten years without a new game… Guess we’ll have to make our own!” In what at first looked to be the release of a new Conker’s Bad Fur Day, it turned out to be a gimmicky lure by Project Spark. He will be available as an asset in game. The sighs and “awws” were audible in the audience as their excitement for a new Rare game careened into the ground like an inexperienced Flight Simulator X player.
The real thing that got to me during Microsoft’s presser was the shear amount of multiplatformers they showed. While it kept the pace great, it was almost a slight of hand trick to impress the audience. In total, Microsoft showed Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Evolve, Assassins Creed: Unity, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Inside, a much preemptive showing of the new Tomb Raider, The Witcher 3, and The Division. Thats a lot of games that are also coming to PC and PS4, and will most likely look better on both if current multiplats are a pattern.
Exclusive Content and Early Access
It pained me to see how much “exlusive content” and “play it on ___ first” we witnessed this year. To me, all of this stuff is a gimmick, and its just silly to watch most of the time. “And we have HUGE news… The PS4 edition of Super Space Fliers 4 will get an EXCLUSIVE pink ray blaster that is purely cosmetic and actually does nothing.” I fear that the industry is going this way more and more. Lets have less exclusive add-on crap and more exlusive GAMES please. There were a few cool exlusive announcements, like the open Destiny beta this thursday (I will definitely be checking that out), but it was super far and few between.
Kinect? Whats Kinect? I can’t recall us ever designing that?
The elephant in the room for the Xbox presser was most definitely the lack of Kinect shown. In fact there was pretty much zero kinect games shown at all. That is a HUGE turnaround from “it’s impossible to remove, sorry.” Microsoft skirted the topic like a teenage daughter telling her father how much she loves him so he doesn’t notice the new dent in his car’s fender. This total turnaround does make Microsoft look quite silly, and many fans were annoyed that they had just purchased a console that now has a seemingly unsupported peripheral they were forced to buy mere months ago.
Shawn Layden and Powers
I mean what the hell guys? Does it only take 12 months for you to forget that the thing that gave you a commanding lead last year was not talking about TV, Apps, or dropping numbers?? The first few minutes Layden was on stage was promising. He is a skilled orator and seemed gracious to be on stage at E3. After minite five, it was all downhill from there. After discussing Sony TV and Playstation Now (which admittedly looks very cool), Layden descendend into the pits of the WHAT THE F*CK zone when he began preaching about Free to Play and how Sony is looking at ease of entry. I speak for most gamers I think when I say “STOP. WE DONT WANT FREE TO PLAY AND THE ENSUING MICRO-TRANSACTIONS.” But thing only got worse… much worse… when they announced some show of some random comic most people have never heard of. BUT WAIT THERES MORE. They then brought the guy who wrote it ON STAGE to talk about what his show is. TALK, not SHOW. TALK WITH CONCEPT ART. “Wow gee! This is awesome!” – No One Ever. This random man was on stage for FOUR MINUTES. Thats longer than most of the game reveals during their press conference. Sony got right back on track after Layden left the stage, but boy did that damage their show. Had they cut Layden to five or six minutes, and NEVER included that “Powers” borefest, Sony would have been so much better off.
Well that concludes it for Day 1! Ton of Nintendo news is being announced as this is released, our thoughts on that will be out soon. Have an exciting and lazy E3 everyone!