Every year, I head over to L.A., this gorgeous city, for my share of bright sun, Instagram-worth food, and of course, video games. June is the month when you can catch me over there, and the reason is obvious; it’s all about E3.
E3 for IMGMR is an important video game convention to attend, as it is to any other media outlet. For me, on a personal level, E3 is an opportunity to play new games I can brag about on social media, connect with other gamers, talk video games all day, and grab all the goodies I can fit in my Atlus bag.
This year was my fifth time attending the show – it was also IMGMR’s fifth – so I pretty much got used to how everything works out. I got my appointments on check, scheduled where I will be hanging out each day (South or West Hall), and have a breakdown of everyone I need to connect with. With my schedule done and ready, I tackled E3 with the mindset of a shark – I was going to lead my team like a boss.
Was E3 really a satisfying one this year? This question brings out many debates and the answer most often expressed by fans is “yes”. Arguments supporting the show claim that E3 had great games, awesome unveils and tons of attendees. However, after experiencing it firsthand, I am confident enough to face the Internet with my head high and share my own thoughts on the show by touching two major elements: the conferences and the games.
The Conferences: It’s Not All About Trending
Let me start by talking about the conferences. By definition, the conferences that take place during E3 are what we call a Media Briefing. Its goal is to allow the company to unveil the new games, products and services they have been working on. Being E3 and all, many expect these unveils to be featured on the show floor, preferably playable (or could be tested). A good conference, in my opinion, should at least focus on products planned for release within the same year.
Sony and Microsoft did a decent job with their briefings. Although most of Sony’s games weren’t features on the show floor, the reveals were followed by gameplay – they weren’t limited to teaser trailers. They were able to keep the buzz going for a while, well until everyone realized that they had almost nothing to show at their booth.
Microsoft, on the other hand, bombarded the viewers with new games, interesting game-changing services – the Looking for Group is definitely a shocking unveil – and dropped the mic on two new consoles. Most of the games Microsoft had in their conference was on the show floor, playable – even the new Xbox One S and custom Xbox One controllers were used in the booth.
Now by contrast, Ubisoft and Bethesda’s conference couldn’t measure up with the two publishing leaders. I was very disappointed to see how fan-focused Bethesda’s conference was – a Skyrim remaster, really? What really made me laugh was how they tried to tackle Blizzard by announcing Elder Scrolls Legends and Quake. They didn’t announce directly that it was to compete with Hearthstone and Overwatch, but I understood the message loud and clear.
Ubisoft wanted to be brighter, and brighter they were – it was like watching Katy Perry start a firework show during an award ceremony. They brought over celebrities, had live interviews and showcased a few new games. I was sitting down and for a second, I was expecting the MAD TV and SNL crew to take over the show – it really felt like being at gaming-themed Def Comedy Jam. Conferences like these are being watched by thousands of people around the world and honestly, there were no censorship what so ever. An extra hour to the conference and Ubisoft might have broken South Park’s record for most slur in a show.
EA, compared to the others, wanted to offer a completely different experience, so they made their conference coincide with the one that took place in the UK. From time to time, they would stream what was going on there, and they did the same. It was a fresh idea. The UK put a lot of emphasis on sports titles, such as FIFA 17, where they introduced The Journey, an experience that puts you in the shoes of a new player making his way up to the top. For FIFA fans, it brings a fresh air to the series and has the potential to change everything we know about FIFA games. It would have been better to play as a custom professional, but as some of the fans I know mention, it is a great start.
The Games: The Demos Speak for Themselves
On the show floor, there were many games to play – it is E3 after all! Titles such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Sea of Thieves, Battlefield 1, ReCore, We Happy Few, Gran Turismo Sport and more were showcased. As usual, marketing for the bigger games was very much present and some of them succeeded in attracting lines of players. Overall, the titles were interesting, but were they all worth the wait?
When I look back at the big titles of E3, games like Mafia 3, Zelda, Battlefield 1, and Resident Evil 7 had huge lines not only because of the hype, but also because word came out that they were good. After checking them out for myself, I can indeed, from a critical perspective, say that they were worth the detour. Other games as well should be on the list, such as ReCore, Sea of Thieves, Tekken 7, Farpoint and Ghost Recon: Wildlands to name a few.
When I take a look at the good games of E3 versus the less appealing ones, the ratio isn’t really in favor for the light – there were more decent and less interesting games than sound ones. I wasn’t impressed by titles such as Forza Horizon 3, which failed to wow me – the new Lamborghini drives well, and the puddles were a cool new addition, but that is pretty much all there is to it. I also had very mixed feeling in regards to We Happy Few and the Final Fantasy XV demo. We Happy Few wasn’t what I was expecting, but still had a great gameplay and concept, and Final Fantasy XV featured a demo against a Titan – you would expect a Shadow of the Colossus-like approach against these massive entities, but it felt more like a dodge, slash, dodge repetitive showdown until you froze the giant.
As for the VR games, it comes to no surprise to see most of the attendees after them, it is the direction gaming is going towards. However, I feel as though it is a little too early for the community to be able to properly criticize virtual reality titles – it is too young and using the current format as a base isn’t the way to go. Having fans play the games and share their experience on social media is great publicity and all, and medias doing the same on their website also helps more minds to open up to this fresh technology. However, being young and all, I believe that the media and other critics need a little more time to properly analyze VR before a game can be deemed as good or bad – the conventions of VR need to be set in stone.
At the end of the day, E3 is a trade show where the industry started to open its arms to fans; it isn’t limited to critics, media and influential social media gurus. The fact that E3 is accepting a lot more fans only shows where they want to be heading, and that is an important element to take into account when debating whether or not E3, or even the conferences, were good or bad. I personally have my own opinion on the matter and the text above pretty much speaks for itself, but I would like to hear your point of view. Whether you have attended the event, only saw the conferences, or heard about it on social media and in articles, how was your E3?