E3 is the biggest gaming event of the year, and is only getting bigger. The big media conferences, once restricted to the Monday before E3, have now bleed into Sunday, resulting in what some call E3 Day -1. This year’s Day -1 featured conferences from EA and Bethesda. EA has been a mainstay of E3 for a long time, but Bethesda only started hosting a major event last year, but certain impressed. Major news and announcements are the bread and butter of the E3 press conferences, but some certainly do better than others. Here’s what I thought of EA and Bethesda at E3 2016:
EA has traditionally struggled to impress gamers at E3, partly owed to their dogged loyalty to their EA Sports titles. While the financial importance of these games to EA cannot be denied, few who watch E3 are actually major fans of the franchises hungry for updates. Twitter viewed these sections, broken up into Madden and FIFA segments, as glorified bathroom breaks.
EA took an interesting step in hosting events simultaneously in Los Angeles and the UK, switching back and forth between the two as needed. I haven’t spoken to anyone who was present in the UK, but I have to imagine they were more bored than the Americans at Madden. Still, offering an alternative to flying across the world for the local fan base is a cool move.
I found EA to suffer from a severe lack of actual gameplay. I believe in the concept of Show, Don’t Tell, and EA broke that rule in spades. Major titles like Mass Effect: Andromeda and Star Wars featured no trailers, no gameplay demos, but some rather short videos featuring developers talking about how great things are going to be, and how they’re making the best stuff ever. I found the lack of real Mass Effect news to be the most disappointing of all. We’re on the cusp of its release in Q1 2017, yet the information given in E3 2016 mirrored that of E3 2014, with concept art, animation tests, and developer quotes rather than actual gameplay and story info.
I only played a little of the original Titanfall, but to be honest, what I saw in the Titanfall 2 presentation looked almost identical. All the additions, like 6 new titans and new weapons, seemed like glorified DLC. I’ll be hands-on with Titanfall 2 later this week, so I’ll know more then, but for now, I’m underwhelmed. The bright point for me was the addition of a single player campaign, something notably lacking from the original. It is my hope that the single player campaign will feature memorable characters and a gripping story, but I won’t be surprised if it’s simply a tacked-on, “here it is now shut up and just play the multiplayer like we intended” move.
Apparently they’re working on Star Wars. More news pending whenever EA feels like it, I guess.
EA Originals looks like a really cool concept. I’m all for indie titles, and getting a small developer big backing has big potential. It also has potential to tie up good ideas in huge amounts of EA executive red tape. Time will tell, but for now, Fe looked reminiscent of Journey, and I’m almost certainly going to play it.
Battlefield 1 looked exactly like we hoped – big and explosive, and as one tweeter put it: “Exactly how World War 1 didn’t happen.” That’s ok! If games were like actual war, we wouldn’t want them! There was some fresh footage shown, but other than that, I’ll have to get hands on to know more. It’s still worth getting excited about.
Overall, I felt that EA was underwhelming, and after one day, they’re in last place and I don’t expect them to move up the board.
Nostalgia courses through the veins of Bethesda, and they opened their show with a new Quake multiplayer game, Quake Champions. Unless I’m mistaken, it’s multiplayer only right now, so that’s a little disappointing, but Quake has been dormant for some time now. I’m more excited about the Wolfenstein tease of The New Colossus. That’s all the details we have right now, but I’m a huge Wolfenstein fan, and The New Order was fantastic.
Dishonored 2 is the game from Bethesda that I’m most excited about. People forget about the great single player games as their lifespan is much shorter than an active multiplayer game. I know I forgot about Dishonored, even though it was one of my favorite games the year I played it. I love the female protagonist with the option of playing either. Emily looks like a true badass, and the new powers featured, such as Domino, which ties what happens to a single enemy to all the others through a tether, such as tripping a mine, look really fun to use.
While I love DOOM as much as the next guy, I was surprised by how much they talked about it at the show. It’s been out for a month, and the presentation seemed to say “Look how good it is! Look how well it’s been received! Please don’t stop playing it!” They had two 6v6 setups at the show for multiplayer, and it was still fun, but I have that at home. I didn’t have to drive 700 miles to play DOOM! I am pretty excited for DOOM VR, as that kind of combat lends itself to 3D perfectly. However, the line was way too long that night to experience it for myself.
Prey 2 has been in and out of development, with a trailer showing up several years ago and intriguing everyone, yet being canceled later on. Now we have a reboot in development. The trailer looked, once again, intriguing, but the development lifecycle has a long way to go before I’m willing to go all in on hype. Enjoy it for what it is right now: a shiny trailer.
I’ll be honest: I’m not a huge Elder Scrolls fan. I played Oblivion for 8 hours and never really got into it. People love Skyrim though, and so a lot of people were thrilled about Skyrim Remastered. I really don’t much see the point of remastering a 5-year-old game. I can think of a lot of 90’s and 2000’s games I’d rather see remastered. Duke Nukem 3D. There’s one. This feels like, to borrow a phrase from Mel Brooks, Skyrim: The Search for More Money.
Bethesda certainly won the day, though I don’t see them beating Xbox or Sony for thrills and reveals. The problem with developer presentations is that they don’t have more than a few games in development in a given year, so there’s just not much content to get through an hour. I’m not going to complain, though. Blink 182 performed during a sick after-party.
Stay tuned to Rectify Gaming here and on Twitter. We have several people on site and are live tweeting throughout the show and we will continue to give you behind the scenes coverage of all things E3 2016.