"Who won E3?" It's what most people ask after the multi-day lead up to the iconic summer event in gaming. We all have an opinion. We all decide who's press event had the most flash, the most surprise, the unexpected. Who had the most games? Who had the best games? Who "won"? The problem is, we all judge the events with our own set of rules. So I am going to try and explain mine, grade the major players, and explain why. Does this sound interesting to you? Great, please continue. If not, thanks for your time!
First off, I'll explain what E3 means to me when I am judging the events. It's an annual event. To me, E3 is where companies showcase the next year in gaming. Usually, that would best be done with realtime gameplay moments and exciting live demos of games that'll most likely be out this holiday season. Games we haven't quite see a fully featured look at. Think of the Uncharted demos Sony has done, or what they just did with Spider-Man. Another expectation is quantity/exclusivity. A good showing to me has double digit games, and a majority having exclusive existence on said platform or exclusive content. Finally, I like to see the obscure or unknown. It could be a world first reveal of a game that'll be out in 2+ years (one that'll have another E3 showing with an exciting gameplay demo like I mentioned before!). It could also be a smaller scale showcase of some quality indie games, or a montage of a number of indie games to be excited for in the coming year. Honestly, my expectations aren't unique or hard to satisfy, but you'd be surprised how often companies "try something different" and it never goes over well. These types of showings are typically what resonates with gamers with positive comments on sites and conversations on the internet. This isn't the only way to do it, but it's what I am expecting.
The reason I expect things delivered in those ways is because E3 is an annual event. It isn't a unique showcase or a one-off event. It is going to happen every year. We should be mostly looking at things that will be out and we will be playing BEFORE next E3 (unless its a surprise reveal/teaser, those are ok in moderation for that wow factor). So those are my "rules". That's where I am coming from. So now I will recap the big three and grade how they did based on my opinion and system.
Halo Infinite kicked off the show with a "game engine demonstration" which has some mystery around it. This could be an Xbox One and NeXbox (can I just make up a name for their next system?) dual release. The quality of graphics COULD be done on a One X, but how does that work on a One or One S? Will this scale between hardware automatically? It could be a great way to bridge hardware and launch a new system.
A brand new (and exclusive) reveal is the right way to kick off E3 in my book. Microsoft then went on with hype and trailer after trailer. Again, a great move, but a significant number of their games were multi-platform so the Xbox SPECIFIC excitement wasn't really there. The original titles they did show off of games coming within the next year was a shorter list. Crackdown 3 was once going to come out Fall of 2017 and recently it was announced its out early 2019 now. Even then, it doesn’t look to be that good... The Gears of War titles and Forza both had big showings to make up for Crackdown 3. Plus, we got a new unexpected announcement for a new Battletoads game. Points, again. Add in the sprinkling of future potential with new studio acquisitions and comments about new hardware, they basically covered it all.
Overall, I think Microsoft had plenty of QUANTITY and their pacing was right on, the only concern I had was the number of exclusives, either games or content, was lacking. When I look at my expectations for a good showing, Microsoft did pretty well, but there was room for improvement if they would have dialed back the number of 3rd party games and spent some extra time on more of their own projects. At this point, they probably have a number of internal teams working on next generation titles, so the next 2 years of E3 will probably be light on Microsoft published content.
Next up was Sony. They had an evening showing that they prefaced with a focus onÂ four major exclusives with a deeper look. They sprinkled in some other trailers and things, but it was a different affair. This was a little bit of a let down. The first game they kicked it off with was The Last of Us 2. Much like Halo Infinite, this is the way to start a show. They followed with a not so exciting Call of Duty bonus announcement, followed by some quick blast titles they showed off in their daily lead up streams during the last week. The show then started... again... with Ghost of Tsushima. This was the first look at actual gameplay and I am all in on this one.
The structure of the show was... odd. It wasn't the usual Sony affair. To be honest, Microsofts was more typical to Sony's usual showing. There were a few new showings, like the multi-platform Control and actual gameplay of Death's Stranding, but no actual idea of pacing or mechanics. I will say that Spider-Man's showing was great. A large chunk of gameplay that hasn't been seen yet and a number of villain reveals. I am personally excited for it.
Ultimately, there wasn't anywhere near enough shown. We were warned in advance about what we would see, but I was still hoping for a surprise. I will give points to the fact that it's likely we will be playing mostly all of these titles before next E3. Plus seeing actual gameplay for Ghosts of Tsushima was a big deal. When I compare this showing to years past where there were indie titles showcased, exciting reveals and double digit games shown, this was mostly a let down.
Wrapping it up, Nintendo always has to do things their way. They've done these Nintendo Direct style showcases for a few years now, so this wasn't a surprise. With the Switch in its second year and the massive sales success that its received, I was thinking this was the year Nintendo finally answered to the fans and brought its A game. Initially, that's what we got. Just like Microsoft and Sony, they kicked off their showing with something big and new, DAEMON X MACHINA.
DAEMON X MACHINA is the mech game for mech/action fans. The developers are basically a who's who of the genre, and this should be a hit. A vague 2019 date was listed, so this could be potentially Fall 2019 and be shown again next E3. Still, it was exciting. To follow that up, though, was a DLC addition to a game that's already released. A significant amount of time was given to it, too. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 fans will enjoy it, but did this really belong at the start of the E3 direct? More info was shown for the light-on-gameplay-looking Pokemon Let's Go titles. A super casual Mario Party was something new, then a major title was shown with a Switch Fire Emblem game. This is what I want to see as a fan. Gameplay and a nice reveal. It's not going to be out this year, and up to this point, the holiday season looks a little grim for the Switch.
The next few showings were all "new to you" rereleases of games already on other platforms. Then there was a 2018 montage that lacked any kind of impact title, and again showcased a number of games already out on other platforms (though, Carcasonne on Switch is going to be awesome). This basically wrapped up the show as the final nearly 30 minutes were all devoted to a single game we already knew about, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
This game will sell. This game will be talked about and obsessed over. It'll be an evergreen title for the life of the Switch, and it's out this year. All that said, I am still disappointed by this. Realistically, if you think about how Nintendo has attempted to fill out its Switch catalog with Wii U enhanced ports (recently with Hyrule Warriors and other games like Mario Kart 8 and Donkey Kong Country), this isn't really a NEW game. It's the Wii U release with extra characters and stages. Like I said, it'll be enough for fans to enjoy, but what are Nintendo's internal developers working on? After all the success the Switch has had selling consoles, how has Nintendo not funneled that money into development studios to capitalize on the glaring opportunity for content?
When it was all said and done, Nintendo laid out a road map of ports and minor titles like Super Mario Party to poorly satisfy gamers between now and next spring/E3. They expect the weight of Smash Bros. to carry them through the holiday season, and it most likely will, but I can't help but be disappointed that Nintendo is failing to capitalize on their opportunity to really steal the number 2 spot in gaming.
I am surprised to say Microsoft did it right. They lack the solid punch of exclusive reasons to play on their hardware, but for the E3 platform, they revealed a bunch of new games to be excited about in the coming year and beyond and teased more for the future. Typically, Sony has always won the show for me with that same formula and more exclusives, but they stumbled for sure this year with a focus on far fewer titles, even if they all looked great and will mostly be all released bu next summer. Nintendo... well, they'll keep doing what they do. Nostalgia and a slow drip of games their fans will love, but as a hardcore gamer, I couldn't be satisfied on a diet of Nintendo alone.