By Bryan Smith on June 19, 2015 at 9:33am
E3 2015 has come and all of the major conferences have been shown off. Sony and Microsoft are making themselves very competitive, companies like Bethesda and Ubisoft showed they had tricks up their sleeves, and new games have been revealed.
Having discussing with fellow Player Theory writers, I’m going to discuss how we felt with the conferences shown. Note that most of these thoughts are my own, but the general consensus of the quality of the conferences is the same.
Bethesda: The Good
This presentation is utterly amazing for a company doing one for the first time. They showed “DOOM” not in trailer but in nice, long, action-filled gameplay. That’s how you do it. Despite it being leaked, they announced “Dishonored 2” along with a definitive version of the first game for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Above all, they showed so much information on “Fallout 4,” and everybody loved it.
I can see why Bethesda wanted to show the trailer before E3. Even without the hype blowing at the sails, Bethesda had a lot to show. The beginning of the game, customization, base building/defense, an app game for “Fallout 4” that’s really free (with no paywalls) that came out on the day of, a real-life Pip-Boy, fighting, and more. Best of all, with the development taking place long before the reveal, “Fallout 4” is coming this year. I mean wow. That’s how you show off a video game.
Bethesda: The Bad
Well… maybe the fact that Bethesda really can’t do conferences consistently? Their games don’t let them afford to. Maybe the segment with “The Elder Scrolls Online” and the card game too. The card game could be a way to cash in on “Hearthstone.” Other than that… not much else I can say about the bad side of Bethesda. Good job for a first time presentation.
Microsoft: The Good
With this conference, I’m more impressed in the Xbox One now. I see more work put in now than there was two, heck even one year ago. Games a plenty were shown off; big, small, new, old. One of the biggest announcements was backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 games. Now that is a game changer and something to keep Xbox One very competitive with the PlayStation 4.
The indie games they had looked pretty cool too. I’ve never seen something as spectacular like “Cuphead” before. “ReCore” looks interesting, though I’d want gameplay for more of an opinion. The “Rare Replay” is a great collection. People can finally play (as it looks like it for now) “Conker’s Bad Fur Day” without paying almost $100 or more, i.e. the original Nintendo 64 version. Not only was “Gears of War 4,” announced, but a remastered version with extra story content was also revealed. I think Microsoft did a pretty good job in convincing people of getting an Xbox One, and a fantastically better job than previous years. God bless Phil Spencer, as he’s really trying his best on turning the Xbox One around from the train wreck that debuted with in 2013.
Microsoft: The Bad
With all that was shown, there wasn’t really a super big announcement or game. Everyone knew about both “Gears of War” announcements prior. Sure, there were cool reveals, but it was more on the play-it-safe side. Other than “Sea of Thieves,” “ReCore,” “Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare 2,” and the “Rare Replay,” they stuck close to “Halo,” Forza,” and “Gears of War.” To be fair, there could be surprises at Gamescom, but it felt too safe considering they have games that should be made, especially Rare sequels. I know people are still waiting to buy an Xbox One just for a “Banjo-Kazooie” sequel. Also, that Early Access equivalent Xbox Preview idea screams bad idea, seeing how bad it can get with Steam.
Another thing, and this is in terms of Xbox on a long-term thing, is that I think Microsoft is throwing Xbox under the bus. Games are coming out for the PC that should be exclusive to Xbox One: “Killer Instinct” and “Gears of War Ultimate Edition.” The reason to buy an Xbox One is getting even shorter when someone can buy all of those games on the PC. Policies and plans that started off in 2013 are getting scrapped. Xbox One was stated very early on that the Kinect would be mandatory for the Xbox One experience and backward compatibility is backwards thinking. Yet here we are with the feature people want and the Kinect not even featured during the conference.
I’m afraid to say it, but I think Microsoft is slowly pushing the Xbox brand away. It won’t disappear for several years, granted, but Xbox could be merged into PC at some point down the line. Games are going to PC. Xbox is getting Windows 10 probably to get those users used to how a Windows 10 PC feels. Microsoft keeps saying they want to embrace those who use PC, and the best way to do that is to go all in. Think of it this way: Microsoft, with the Xbox, is competing with themselves with PC. The PC division is still great for Microsoft, while people have considered selling the Xbox division. People may not like that idea, but it’s getting closer to that possibility. People also probably said the same thing about Sega and the DreamCast. It’s just something to consider.
"Rise of the Tomb Raider:" The Bad
I don’t think E3 2015 nor 2014 has been kind to this title. After the outrage generated by the exclusivity (which turned out to be timed extremely quickly), people are skeptical of a game that could be great following “Tomb Raider (2013)” but won’t touch it because of Microsoft most likely paying Square Enix time exclusivity. At this point, I think Square is very tired of exclusive deals. Microsoft is still proclaiming the game will be “Holiday Exclusive 2015” while Square kept quiet that it was even on Xbox throughout E3, especially at their conference. Once the deal is over, probably by January if I were to guess, I bet Square will be on sites announcing “Rise of Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition” for PlayStation 4 and PC.
Even without the rage caused by the deal, the “Rise of the Tomb Raider’s” release marked doom for the game. It releases November 10, 2015. Know what else releases on that day? “Fallout 4.” Bethesda’s one game is, without doubt, going to kill “Rise of the Tomb Raider’s” sales big time. I know that there will be people who can buy both, but realistically, November is a big gaming month to buy things and most people have a budget. Something has to give, and I’m willing to bet it’s the game that is timed exclusive for a console that has less of a user base than the PC and PS4.
I don’t understand what Square Enix was thinking with this. Only after “Tomb Raider (2013)” had hit sales of 5-6 million on five different platforms did they finally say, “This made a profit to our expectations.” Even then, they probably still thought it was a failure deep down. With E3 2015 and “Fallout 4” looming over “Tomb Raider” like a behemoth bully wanting lunch money, it’d be a miracle for “Rise of the Tomb Raider” to sell well. That’s also not considering if the game is high quality either. I have a strong feeling that “Rise of the Tomb Raider” is that one game that said, “I should have stayed in bed” when E3 rolled about.
EA: The Good
Umm… the next “Mass Effect” game was announced. “Mass Effect: Andromeda.” Don’t know much about it though. They showed a bit more of “Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst,” releasing on February 23, 2016. This sequel dives into Faith’s origin story. “Star Wars Battlefront” was briefly shown off. The new “Need for Speed” reboot is coming November 3. Uh… that’s about it really. Not a whole lot new…
Oh! Probably the best and most surprising thing was “Unravel,” a puzzle platformer that stars an adorable cat made of yarn. The presenter actually showed a lot of care about this title and it looks really colorful and unique, something EA needs a lot more of. This looks like it could fit right in with “Yoshi’s Wooly World.”
EA: The Bad
Remember when Microsoft was the butt monkey of E3 2013, where everyone would make fun of them by going, “TV, Sports, Sports, Sports, TV, Sports, Call of Duty?” I don’t quite think EA got the memo where “Sports” is generally a bad thing to show at an E3 conference where the majority of your audience doesn’t care about sports. EA desperately needs to separate the sport games from every other game into two different presentations.
All the games that people who don’t want or like sports games were pushed into very short snippets as the sports games took most of the conference. We want to see more of “Unravel.” Give us more details on “Mass Effect: Andromeda.” Showcase “Star Wars: Battlefront,” since that is easily one of the most anticipated games this November aside from “Fallout 4.” EA conferences are usually criticized and bash, and this year is no different. They paid people to lower a car into the stage. That’s money that could go into games like “Unravel.”
Ubisoft: The Good
Ubisoft actually had a few surprises. First of all, no one expected “South Park: The Fractured but Whole” (Ha!) to be announced. I think that’s probably the highlight for me, considering how great the first game is. “For Honor” was also announced, which looked interesting with it looking surprisingly fast. For what it’s worth, “Rainbow Six Siege” still looks interesting, despite me not being a fan or knowing much of “Rainbow Six” to begin with. Angela Bassett is a good addition regardless, though.
Overall, it was a good presentation. Aisha Tyler did her best and I think that is commendable. Nothing groundbreaking that “Beyond Good & Evil 2” or a new “Prince of Persia” game could have done, but it could have fared worse. Remember Mr. Caffeine?
Ubisoft: The Bad
For most of the games that we already did know about, they just weren’t given anything amazing to show. It just felt meh as things moved along. Expansions for a lackluster game like “The Crew” also don’t inspire confidence.
While Aisha Tyler did her best, there’s also a point where trying to hard makes the conference a bit much. Ubisoft tried to pen off “iconic” on a new character in “Watch_Dogs,” where that is the job of the press and fans. I had a feeling they tried to make a meme this time around too. Aisha… you don’t make memes. People on the internet do. People are also having a blast using the meme you tried to make, just for the exact opposite reason- to make fun of Ubisoft.
Sony: The Good
Holy shit. Three legendary games were shown at E3 thanks to Sony. “The Last Guardian” with actual gameplay. “Final Fantasy VII Remake.” “Shenmue III.” Saying Sony knocking it out of the park is an understatement. They also showed off new games. “Dreams” were new (or at least given a title) and either impressive and/or rather creative. “Uncharted 4” still looks very good and natural, considering the silly control mishap.
Despite that the main attractions for this E3 are coming in 2016 at the earliest, the fact that they exist in the first place fills me up with hope. Let’s also be real here. Big games are going to take a while to make. We can’t have a whole lot of games coming out so soon, or we’ll get something like “Assassin’s Creed Unity.” Give them time, and these games will be awesome when they release. Well done, Sony.
Sony: The Bad
Probably the fact that these awesome games won’t appear until 2016 will irritate a few people. Greatness awaits, I suppose. We still have “Until Dawn” and “No Man’s Sky” this year though. Another thing that might irk people is all of the timed exclusivity and exclusive betas. Xbox was guilty of that last year, and it seems Sony is guiltier this year. It reeks of corporate buyout on things, and it is a bit unpleasant. Heck, PlayStation 4 will be the main place for “Call of Duty: Black Ops III” with the maps, content, and betas going there first. That, however, I feel is more of Activision’s decision, seeing the user base is larger for PS4 than the Xbox One. This would have also been a perfect time to roll out “Crash Bandicoot” and/or “Spyro the Dragon.” People will flock to the PlayStation 4 to buy the game.
I would have hoped that Microsoft would have forced them to get backwards compatibility. Having to pay to play older games, where Xbox One doesn’t charge for that, is comparatively worse. Seeing that Microsoft started to do it, I think Sony might reconsider PS Now… hopefully. If they did, more people would find reason to buy a PlayStation 4.
Nintendo: The Good
The best part for Nintendo was the Muppet skits. As far as presentations go, they had the most fun and I think they get an A+ in terms of keeping things interesting. I can’t say the same for their show of games, however. But they did have a few good things to offer. They did reveal release dates for “Xenoblade Chronicles X,” “Yoshi’s Wooly World,” and “Super Mario Maker.”
They showed “Star Fox Zero,” which was a great start to their show. It looked interesting, though it could use some polish as I believe some assets were used from previous games. Also “Mario & Luigi Paper Jam” has potential, as the two RPGs are great. It’ll be interesting to see how the two series work off of each other.
Nintendo: The Bad
… The most disappointing conference goes to Nintendo’s content in games. Nintendo, guys, the Wii U is not doing the best. You need games that make people want to buy your console. With this presentation, I’m told that the Wii U is dead after the next “Legend of Zelda.” I don’t want the consoles I bought only a few years ago to be outdated this fast. I have a feeling that the NX will replace the Wii U very soon, and that’s a big problem.
Aside from practically declaring the Wii U is dead, a lot of these games were asinine and a slap to the face for certain franchises. “Metroid Prime Federation Force” is the worse decision Nintendo could have made for “Metroid” fans. You’re on thin ice since “Metroid: Other M” and “Metroid” hasn’t had a game for five years. I really didn’t want to have a future entry for my “Capcom Stigma” article, but Nintendo decided to slap one right on for me.
The other games were underwhelming and not interesting either. Whereas they said “The Legend of Zelda” Wii U game wouldn’t be at E3 2015, I don’t think “Zelda” fans were quite looking for “Tri Force Heroes.” It just looks like “Four Swords” with one less sword put into “Link Between Worlds” engine. Maybe it’ll be good, but it doesn’t scream must own. “Mario Tennis Ultra Smash” barely looks like an improvement from the last one on the Gamecube. The less said about “Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival” the better. Those fans are just as pissed off as the “Metroid” ones. Hell, that’s not taking into account how rare these figures are going to be with Nintendo’s awful stocking of amiibo in the first place.
What makes this presentation the most disappointing is that Nintendo looked like they had big surprises in store. With those mini Directs before E3 and hints, it appeared they wanted to get the smaller games out of the way for the big guns. Retro has been working on a game but they stayed quiet. They announced “Mother 1” (“Earthbound Beginnings”), but didn’t have “Mother 3” to get the big bang. Reggie had Little Mac’s clothes to tease a possible “Punch Out!!,” yet there was nothing to show. Nintendo, I hope this NX you’re touting is this absolutely fantastic device and has the games people expect, or I don’t think people will support you. Sega learned the hard way- I hope you don’t.
Square Enix: The Good
Putting the presentation aside, the games they showed were pretty good. “Kingdom Hearts III” is really coming along nicely in terms of gameplay. “Just Cause 3” looks like it’ll be a blast. “Nier 2” was a pleasant surprise, seeing the first game didn’t get a lot of attention the first time around. That moon mask was hilarious, as I’m sure no one knew what to make of it. I’m hoping that Tokyo RPG Factory keeps the RPGs coming, since Square is best known for them.
Square Enix: The Bad
Oh boy. When people refer to E3 as a “men in suits” affair, this is what they point to. These guys had no fun in showing their games (except for “Nier 2.” The moon mask guy was great). How does someone make “Just Cause 3” look boring by just talking about it? The way Tetsuya Nomura teased “Final Fantasy” and “Kingdom Hearts” fans, while admittedly funny and trollish, was aggravating as well. Considering how dense Square Enix can be with decisions (i.e. “Final Fantasy XIII,” calling “Tomb Raider (2013)” a failure in sales, not localizing fan-requested games, etc.), that just screams amateur.
Personally, I don’t think Square should try again with a press conference unless they get better presenters. Games aside, it bored the audience. Talking about games more than showing them will irritate and bore people.
PC: The Good
At the very least, Sean “Day” Plott had fun with the show. What was shown in terms of games was interesting, though nothing earth shattering. Indie games “Day Z,” “Planet Coaster,” and “Dirty Bomb” were shown off with expansions for “Pillars of Eternity” and “Arma III.” AMD introduced the newest dual Fiji GPUs. Most interesting, however, is in the form of Phil Spencer and Rod Fergusson of Xbox and The Coalition. As I stated with Microsoft, they announced that “Killer Instinct” and “Gears of War Ultimate Edition” would be coming to the PC.
For the content itself and Sean Plott generally having a fun time with the guests, the show was decent. Looking at it after the fact and not seeing the show in full, it was relatively decent. Put into full motion with its execution, however, is where this thing falls flat hard.
PC: The Bad
Apparently no one thought to plan out how long the PC show should have been. I mean damn; it was 2 and a half hours long. I could have watched most of “Titanic” while the show went on. For what was shown, sitting through the 2 and half hours was unacceptable. In fact, even if something like “Half-Life 3” was announced during all this along with other “Shenmue III” levels of surprises, I would probably still be annoyed and irritable by the length.
I also find it a bit unprofessional at times where bias seeped in from Sean Plott. I’m directly looking at his “Bloodborne” comment. That kind of talk just makes those who play of PCs look bad and gives the mentality that screams, “We want all games on our platforms! PlayStation 4 is stupid and should give us their games too!”
If PC Gaming was to do this again in the future, they have to edit the length down to an hour. They try having over 2 hours again with the content they shown this year, I can guarantee they’d be laughed out of E3. Perhaps they can have the interviews set up before the show going live, cut the fat out, and be a respective length. That’d make for a better show. They can then put the uncut footage online for those who want it.
So that was E3 2015. To sum it up, Sunday and Monday had some of the best content shown at E3 in years from Microsoft, Bethesda, Sony, and Ubisoft. Tuesday, however, was more filled with disappointment and lackluster presentations. Strange how the days really match the highs and lows of E3, right?
So what did you guys think of E3 2015? What did you guys find the best and worst? I think there might be a few more surprises left to show. Heck, Nintendo had more to show with “Codename S.T.E.A.M.” and Pac-Man being in “Super Smash Bros.” after their presentation last year. What last minute things you want to see happen?