We’re only halfway through E3 week and we already have a lot to talk about. Kyle LeClair and I have compiled a list of some highs and lows from the main press conferences, trying to include games outside our personal fandom. And since we didn’t get any new Sly Cooper OR Kickle Cubicle this year, that wasn’t easy to do. But we came out on top.
Backwards Compatibility –
Kyle: Well well, it looks like Microsoft might be atoning for their past mistakes. Bonus points for covering digital games as well. Now the only question is what games will become backwards compatible, because according to Microsoft, that’s in the hands of the developers. But given that a lack of backwards compatibility has been an obvious flaw for the Xbox One, this is still a huge improvement, and the ability to broadcast these old games is a great update as well (can’t wait to try a Let’s Play or two with some 360 classics). So it took them a while to realize that we needed it, but this was grand move for Microsoft.
Bryce: As the stubborn curmudgeon who partly feels left in the dust by the current trends in the gaming industry, this is something that brought music to my ears. I have often looked at my shelf of great Xbox 360 games and thought, “In 20 years most of these games won’t even be playable because this console will be obsolete.” Of course Microsoft has backpedaled with Xbox One specs before, but this time it feels special. This time it hints at a brighter future where great games aren’t thrown away in a matter of years.
Kyle: Okay, the odd thing I noticed is that every year at E3, the game I love the most from the Xbox press conference is a CGI trailer with no actual gameplay. In 2013, it was Sunset Overdrive. 2014, it was Scalebound. And now in 2015, we have Recore. I guess that means these trailers are doing their job, but it just seems odd…of course, it helps that I’m a Keiji Inafune fan, so when his name popped up I was already throwing money at the stage. Throw in the fact that Microsoft is focusing on a new IP again and that it appears to have a clever gameplay concept, and I’m in.
Xbox Game Preview –
Kyle: On one hand, the opportunity to help better and promote several potential indie classics via the Xbox One now as well as PC. On the other hand, the possibility on unfinished console games with bugs littering up things. Hmmm. Gonna have to wait and see on this one.
RARE Replay –
Bryce: Another one that is sure to please those of us who love classics that stand the test of time. I even got to take a selfie with a statue of Rash the Battletoad. This alone made my E3 experience a triumph.
Kyle: I demand that everyone with an Xbox One purchase this game, if only to prove to Microsoft that their Rare franchises still have the legs to demand new games. Still an awesome idea as is, even with the awkwardness that is playing over a dozen games from Nintendo consoles on your Xbox One.
Sea of Thieves –
Kyle: I swear, part of me was wishing all throughout the reveal for this to be a Monkey Island MMO. I know it makes no sense, but I wanted it so bad…still, what we got looks damn intriguing, and definitely suggests that Microsoft still has some faith in Rare.
Rise of the Tomb Raider –
Kyle: Okay, I said this before, but the gameplay trailer shown during the Xbox One press conference could have used more, you know, actual gameplay. It probably feels better when you’re actually playing the game, but that just felt awkward. That being said, I loved the Tomb Raider reboot, and I’m sure the sequel (now with actual tombs!) will deliver as well.
The Last Guardian –
Bryce: This was a brilliant trailer. It showed puzzle mechanics, tone, great graphics – and all in the form of pure gameplay. Controlling my giant pet as both a partner and as a movable setpiece is something that I cannot wait to do.
Kyle: You know, between this and the Xbox One’s backwards compatibility, I could point out how the biggest highlights of the show have been features and games that we should have already had. But then I watch the Last Guardian trailer and all negativity disappears as my jaw drops wide open. It’s just so damn beautiful and looks so damn creative, fun, and touching…worth the wait.
Final Fantasy VII –
Bryce: I’ve never even played this particular Final Fantasy game, and my jaw dropped during this reveal. A lot of nerd brothers and sisters have talked about this for years. I hope it delivers for them.
Kyle: As much as I’m probably not all that excited for the actual game (chalk that up to the sheer amount of remasters and re-releases these days), I can’t deny that this was an incredible announcement sure to please legions of gamers. Bravo, Square.
Shenmue 3 –
Kyle: This almost feels like a reponse to all of those moments where we take a beloved game we wanted a sequel to like Psychonauts or Beyond Good & Evil and said “Well, why not just put the game on Kickstarter? It’ll be funded in mere days!!” And as it turns out, we were right. I’m just wondering that between the money raised on Kickstarter and the extra financial backing from Sony, what will the size and scope be like? Will it focus more on story, or still have a huge open world to dick about and play mini-games in? Well, whatever the case, it added another bombshell to Sony’s presentation.
Kyle: I admit I wasn’t 100% sold on this game in the beginning (starting out with too many post-apocalyptic clich?s), but as I saw it action, it grew on me…and then the part happened where you essentially get to battle Grimlock. At that point, I was sold.
Kyle: Have I mentioned that Devolver is my favorite game publisher operating right now? Well, let me mention it again: Devolver is my favorite game publisher operating right now. And for Sony to showcase four major must-haves from them means they score a multitude of bonus points from me.
Uncharted 4 –
Kyle: The Uncharted 4 trailer was absolutely incredible. That being said, I still expect there to be a ten-hour loop of Drake standing still in the middle of a crowd on YouTube soon. Indeed, kind of a mood-killer for Sony’s final grand gesture.
Mario Paper Jam –
Bryce: The brilliant Mario and Luigi handheld series collides with the even more brilliant Paper Mario series to create what looks to be a great experience. Mario’s RPG games have always been good about blending action with the turn based elements, but this game looks like it could be classified as both genres.
Kyle: Frankly, I’m a tiny bit concerned given that Paper Mario: Sticker Star had a bare-bones story, whereas the key selling point in Mario RPGs is their rich stories, unique characters, sense of humor, et cetera. The gameplay looks solid, but a crossover like this deserves at least a semi-epic tale.
THAT’S NOT Metroid –
Bryce: Nintendo, you fucking cowards. You wouldn’t know what your fans wanted if we threw it through your window. None of this is cute.
Kyle: I’m certain these will still probably be decent games, but dammit Nintendo, this is cheating. You know damn well these aren’t Metroid games. You’re just slapping a famous name on these things and cashing in on the tears of your fans. No Samus, no peace.
No indies from Nintendo? Again? –
Bryce: Nintendo’s floor was 98% Mario, Zelda, and Star Fox. The rest was Chibi-Robo, Animal Crossing, and Happy Home Designer shoved into a corner. The complete lack of smaller developers was only emphasized by the presence of Nintendo’s favorites. Minus lots of points.
Kyle: Nintendo…what the fuck happened??? Last year you had Splatoon, Bayonetta 2, indie games, prototypes for new IPs from Miyamoto, and Devil’s Third in the Digital Event. But this year…this was just sad. Last year, you convinced me to buy a Wii U & that you were finally moving in fresh directions again. This year…well, you said the theme of your show was “transformation,” but it felt more like it should have been “relapse.” Falling back on a stream of the same old IPs for safety in brand recognition with your fanbase. Shame on you…well, except for Star Fox Zero, points for that. But mostly shame.
Too much Amiibo focus –
Kyle: Nintendo, the games should define the Amiibos you produce, NOT the other way around. And to showcase all of those Super Mario Maker characters and then say we need to cough up ten bucks apiece for them? Not cool, guys. Again, don’t put all of your eggs into this basket. Notice how Microsoft used the same strategy years earlier with the Kinect? And notice a complete lack of Kinect this year? Think about it.
Bryce: I love Nintendo and I love action figures and yet somehow this amiibo thing already feels worn out. Maybe it’s because it has been such a heavy focus for them lately, or maybe because they revealed they only have more plans to milk the amiibo cow. Staying on one game really helped Skylanders feel fresh. Across an already-saturated universe of characters, it feels almost disingenuous.
Yo Kai Watch –
Kyle: I’m kind of surprised Nintendo presented this game more casually, what with the series being a major phenomenon in Japan right now. Will America actually be accepting of a game involving Japanese mythology? I hope so…
Fallout 4 –
Kyle: I though they couldn’t top New Vegas. I thought they couldn’t top a futuristic ’50s Western setting. I thought wrong. And oh, how I am glad for being wrong.
Kyle: Yep, that’s a Doom game alright. It looks like crazy old-school shooter fun, but with recent revivals like Shadow Warrior and Bethesda’s own Wolfenstein: The New Order proving you can do both crazy old-school shooter fun and have a strong focus on plot and character development, will this Doom still fit in? We shall see.
Dishonored 2 –
Kyle: Honestly, I don’t have much to add to this one other than “YES PLEASE.” Though it did suck that Bethesda spilled the beans on this game before the conference, meaning they had little in the way of actual surprise.
5. Electronic Arts
Kyle: EA, I deliberately didn’t watch your press conference because I was absolutely certain you would have nothing new to provide…and then you went and did the most un-EA thing possible. An indie 2D puzzle-platformer with an amazing art style that you gave a full spotlight to? Bravo, you evil bastards. Extra bravos to the EA execs who actually grew souls and greenlit this.
Ghost Recon –
Bryce: This one looked so much fun, and that’s coming from a hippie who likes dinosaurs and outer space. I don’t know how they managed to sell me on a Tom Clancy title, but I could see myself owning this one. And I liked that it had gameplay to prove to me how fun it was.
Kyle: I’ll admit I wanted to be as excited by the trailer as Bryce was, but after already seeing three other Tom Clancy games during the show, I guess I felt fatigue sitting in. The game seems like it could be good, though.
South Park –
Kyle: All I have to say is that this is a sequel to The Stick of Truth, a game that let me battle the giant mutated aborted zombie fetus of Khloe Kardashian. And now there’s more of it. Needless to say, I’m in.
For Honor –
Kyle: A bit bland at times, but at least the multiplayer seems to assure us that this will be the best unofficial Deadliest Warrior game ever made (as opposed to the Deadliest Warrior game we actually got.
7. Square Enix
Kyle: Okay, well, now I know what my nightmares for the rest of the week are going to involve. Still, Platinum Games is involved with this game, so hell yeah.
Kingdom Hearts 3 –
Kyle: I’d be more excited if was still able to follow the plot to this series. Instead, I’m just regular excited. Though I guess it didn’t help that we all saw this trailer coming a mile away. Also, a Tangled world is neat, but throw in some Darkwing Duck or Gravity Falls worlds and you can consider this a day one purchase.
8. Miscellaneous Musings
VR is eVRything –
Bryce: Between Project Morpheus, its game Rigs, and the consumer model of the Oculus Rift, virtual reality is alive like 1985.
Kyle: I admit that I haven’t been too interested in the recent VR trend, but yesterday a little game called SMS Racing proved to me what this style of gameplay is capable of. That being said, Oculus Rift gets Insomniac Games to provide them with an exclusive title…and it’s a third-person game? Yeah, feels kinda contradictory…
Tim Schafer and Double Fine w/ Adult Swim Games –
Bryce: You read that right. Mastermind and funnyman Tim Schafer is collaborating with other masterminded funnymen on an unnamed project.
Lack of Vita –
Bryce: Fans who know the Vita know that Sony seems to ignore its potential, and their conference only showed where it sits on their priority list: on the cutting room floor, as we saw precisely 1.3 seconds of the Vita in a fast montage of Sony showing off. Hmm. Still a great conference though.
Well that’s what we’ve got for now, but make sure to come back when we have our list of favorite games of the show.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go find Kyle so we can see some more stuff. Last time I saw him, he was taking pictures with Cammy and Chun-Li.
Bryce Abood is a musician and screenwriter. He has toured 40 states with multiple bands and played on over a dozen albums. Bryce has written about E3 and done video coverage for San Diego Comic-Con, as well as contributed to several podcasts including Topless Robot Live. Bryce also writes about scripts for never-made movies, often collaborating with a visual artist to produce fake concept art. His spare time goes to consuming or creating cartoons. Bryce lives in Los Angeles, in the Hip Hop section at Amoeba Records.