With E3 now wrapped up, Chooch’s staff take a look back at what we saw, and offer our reactions. We’ll be doing a couple of editorials over the next few days, and in this first part of our post-E3 series, John, Kay, Niall and Michael pick the best and worst press conferences.
The obvious “winner” is Sony. It’s hard to be displeased with Sony’s showing, even if I’m wishy-washy over how quality the “big reveals” will end up being, I still got excited over Final Fantasy 7 and Shenmue. Uncharted 4 has so many new details and interactables that add to the gameplay, and I laughed pretty hard at Sully’s lines, so that’ll be good. Even divorced from franchise revivals, things such as Horizon: Zero Dawn and No Man’s Sky were what really kept my attention. I spaced out during the Morpheus bits, but overall I think Sony knocked it out of the park, at least comparatively. It wasn’t a great show conference-wise, but being on the show floor, I was able to find gems that didn’t have a lot of press time, or I learned details about games that made me love them more.
Even though I feel like Ubisoft had fewer interesting games, EA’s conference was so poorly formatted, I almost feel sorry for them. Following up the genuine and heartwarming Unravel with goddamn Plants vs Zombies? I almost choked on my own spit from the whiplash. Everyone brings up how awful the Pele/Hoop Gawd bits were, but that’s because THEY WERE THE WOOOORST. EA’s sports section is constantly terrible, even if you look at it from a sports game fan’s point of view. Mirror’s Edge and Star Wars: Battlefront were sensational showings, but it was the diamond buried deep within a turd. EA didn’t have the worst set of games, but they had the worst show.
For me, placing the best conference this year is a bit harder than placing the worst. Nobody was a standout as Super Amazing, but most of them were competently done and entertaining, with enough interesting games between them to keep people interested. While I’d argue for some kind of honorable mention to Nintendo for having the most “fun” conference to watch, Sony manages to edge out the competition for best conference at E3 this year. While it didn’t have cute muppet versions of presenters, it had a lot of titles people have been chomping at the bit for. Even ignoring everything else, the combination of The Last Guardian, a Final Fantasy VII HD remake, and Shenmue 3 is enough to give them a critical edge over the competition, and that’s not including the other cool tidbits they featured. I know I was personally overjoyed by both the glorious return of Birdie in Street Fighter V and the amazing gameplay demonstration of No Man’s Sky. While it wasn’t as awe-inspiring as seeing what was essentially a hologram of Minecraft on a table, Morpheus certainly looked fun. While there were some low-points spread out in there like Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 and DLC for Destiny, they managed to end on a high note with a demo of
Uncharted Kart Uncharted 4: A Theif’s End. While Bethesda, Microsoft, and Nintendo all put out solid conferences, Sony managed to offer just a little more than the rest of them.
This year, for me there was one particular standout in the shitty conference department, and that standout was Ubisoft. Some might argue in favor of EA being the worst, but for me it was like the difference between watching The Room and watching Grown Ups 2; one is a movie that while bad, is humorous and enjoyable because of it, while the other is a painful experience that makes you want to avert your eyes and ask how it ever got made. Starting off on the wrong foot with a South Park game, the show managed to go downhill from there. The show was mainly padded by Tom Clancy games, to the point where you expected Tom Clancy himself to rise from the grave and come on stage with a loaded gun in one hand and a controller in the other to participate in the painfully scripted demonstration of The Division. Between these parts were such lowlights as the them talking about The Crew DLC for reasons unknown, lolrandom DLC for Trials Fusion that looks straight out of the mind of a 13 year old who’s trying way to hard, and the people at Ubisoft trying to force a meme despite apparently not knowing what a meme is. I want to give Aisha Tyler credit for doing her best to seem genuine despite hosting a horrible conference, but also she was wearing a golden “girlwood” necklace. Trackmania Turbo looked interesting, but everything else was either uninteresting or straight-up boring. It wasn’t the WORST e3 show of all time (looking at you, 2010 Konami Conference), but it was definitely the worst one this year.
It’s gotta be Sony. Microsoft came out swinging, and were probably well on their way to “winning” E3 – if you can call it that – but as soon as The Last Guardian hit, Sony had it in the bag. I don’t care much for Final Fantasy VII – I think the original suffers from some dreadful writing – but nobody can deny that news of a remake was earth-shattering. For Sony to follow that up with Shenmue III, and show off new IP like Horizon: Zero Dawn, they hit back at Microsoft punch-for-punch, just as hard. No Man’s Sky looks absolutely amazing, Uncharted 4 is gonna be huge, and even though it’s a little inside baseball, bringing Call of Duty – whatever you think of the series – to the stage was a major power play for Sony, and a real gut punch to Microsoft. Just about the only disappointment I had where Sony was concerned was the lack of David Cage. WHERE WAS HE? WHERE WAS THE MESSIAH?
For the life of me, I just cannot care about anything that was shown at Ubisoft’s press conference. The Division didn’t interest me when we first saw it, and it still hasn’t won me over. Rainbow Six has always been a pretty decent series, but it doesn’t particularly excite me either, and rounding the show out with more Tom Clancy via Ghost Recon was a let down. I haven’t played The Stick of Truth, and while I’ve heard good things, I’m not super interested in more South Park. And don’t get me started on Assassin’s Creed – seriously, can we not just give that series a break? And c’mon, could we not have seen at least a teaser for some kind of standalone Blood Dragon game? Sure, Square Enix’s press conference was pretty amateurish in it’s execution, and yes, EA made some strange choices in terms of presentation (Pele? Tha Hoop Gawd?), but at least both of them showed off games I actually want to play.
While both Microsoft and Sony delivered some strong conferences this has to go to Bethesda. For their first time conference Bethesda looked like they belonged among the big boys and brought plenty of ammo to keep up. Doom 4, now just called Doom, started the show off and though I wasn’t convinced by their gameplay trailer it did look flashy and gruesome. Dishonored 2 was announced with a female and male protagonist and hinting at different powers, weapons, and enemies with the same stealth/action assassination gameplay from the original. Then they ended with the big bomb, Fallout 4. The world looks varied and colorful compared to older entries in the series and the addition of a build-able and destructible world seems incredible. In one hour, and for the first time, Bethesda proved they’re a contender in the games industry. Just go watch Square Enix’s conference, another publisher making their conference debut, and you can see just how boring Bethesda could have been.
Electronic Arts. Probably the second largest publisher in the industry with a huge team of developers at it’s beck and call and we got ten minutes with Pele. Even with Battlefront and Mirror’s Edge waiting at the end EA meandered and wandered aimlessly like a drunk frat boy trying to walk home. Need For Speed and Unravel were great anchors towards the beginning of the show, but that was it. We waded through mobile games, an Old Republic update, and Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 before finding the truly stinky part of their game lineup swamp, sports. Hockey, basketball, golf, soccer, and football peppered the show with excruciating presentations. Hockey was given a lengthy trailer with emotional voice over, NBA Live brought on “Hoop Gawd” their community manager, and Madden gave us the same tired line about fantasy leagues and “completely reinvented” passing. Their sports should be lumped together in an all encompassing spot but instead, we were given one sports surprise after another. And then FIFA turned our boredom into a coma. Pele, arguably the greatest player of all time, was sat on stage next to an EA executive who then asked him about his career. Ten minutes went by, time slowed, for a moment we could see the universe bending until finally it was all over. EA felt like a fever dream deep in the jungles of the Amazon.