The annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is the biggest event of the gaming calendar. But with rampant leaks and rumours ending up as truth, a lot of E3 2018's charm was lost to its predictability.
EA PLAY: A SHOCKINGLY BAD START TO E3
This year's EA Play was hosted by Andrea Rene, whose awful hosting perfectly summarises the show. First on stage was DICE who briefly talked about Battlefield V. They clarified that the game would not have any lootboxes or premium passes. They also briefly mentioned the new Battle Royale mode.
Next up was FIFA 19 which is finally including a fully licensed UEFA Champions League. The release date for FIFA 19 was announced to be September 28 and EA has made FIFA 18 along with the World Cup update completely free for a limited period of time.
Andrew Wilson, the CEO of EA, took the stage next to announce a live game streaming service named Origin Access Premier.
Vince Zampella from Respawn Entertainment announced a new Star Wars game called Jedi: Fallen Order. The game is slated for a Holiday 2019 release. There were some updates regarding Battlefront II like, the introduction of new features and modes such as the Squad System, Starfighter mode and a Capture mode. The Clone Wars are also coming to Battlefront II, marking the video game debut of Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Next up was Unravel Two, which received its announcement and full release within the span of the next few minutes. Sea of Solitude, an EA Original being developed by the German indie studio Jo-Mei was also announced.
The worst part of the show was the game play demo of a very generic-looking mobile strategy game which was later revealed to be Command and Conquer: Rivals, a mobile game for iOS and Android.
The much anticipated Anthem was revealed last with a cinematic and a game play trailer and is set for release on 22 February, 2019.
MICROSOFT/XBOX: LOTS OF GAMES BUT A LACK OF REAL EXCLUSIVES
NUHAN B. ABID
After EA's disappointing conference, Microsoft took the stage to deliver a great games conference, but not altogether a great Microsoft conference.
Microsoft kicked things off with a teaser for Halo: Infinite, before moving onto the much lauded sequel to Ori and the Blind Forest. This was followed up by the trailer for From Software's Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. A surprise crossover hours before Bethesda's own conference had Todd Howard come in to drop a first look at Fallout 76.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, Dontnod's new game set in the Life is Strange universe, is going to be fully free come June 26th. Four other Square Enix titles were revealed, with the showcase of Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Just Cause 4, Kingdom Hearts III and Nier Automate Become as Gods. This was followed by surprise reveals like Dying Light 2, a fighting game from Bandai called Jump Force that brings several hit anime/manga franchises together in a crossover event and a new trailer for a very cute looking 3D isometric game starring a fox called Tunic.
A ten year wait ended for Devil May Cry fans, as Microsoft's newest acquisition, Ninja Theory, dropped a trailer for the newest instalment in the series. A surprise reveal for Battletoads, an almost forgotten franchise at this point, came along as well, coming 2019.
New entries for AAA titles Forza Horizon and Gears of War were also shown, the former particularly stealing the spotlight with their new Seasons feature. Crackdown 3, their other AAA title, finally got a release date for February 2019 after some delays. And to round out the conference, CD Projekt Red's long awaited Cyberpunk 2077 got a trailer shown off too. Microsoft showed off 50 games in total, of which 18 were exclusives and 15 were world premieres.
BETHESDA, EXPECT THE EXPECTED
It's safe to say that the viewers were going into Bethesda's E3 2018 press conference with a clear idea of what they were going to get. And Bethesda delivered just that.
The conference started off with the pre-alpha preview for the upcoming Rage 2 followed up by the Elder Scrolls franchise, with glimpses from the new The Elder Scrolls: Legends card game and the Wolfhunter and Murkmire DLCs for The Elder Scrolls Online. Bethesda also went on to reveal The Elder Scrolls: Blades, to introduce the Elder Scrolls experience to mobile users. However with a freemium model looming over it, it did not look very promising. To the delight of the fans, Bethesda also confirmed the development of The Elder Scrolls VI.
The sequel to the Doom reboot, Doom Eternal was announced with a teaser while, Prey and Wolfenstein were both announced to be getting major DLCs in the form of Mooncrash and Youngblood respectively.
The biggest reveal however was announced by none other than Todd Howard. After embracing many of the memes about Bethesda and himself, he went on to explain what Fallout 76 was really about. This multiplayer experience looks to bring a softcore survival experience to a shared world inhabited by real human players instead of NPCs. With interesting dynamics such as getting to drop actual nukes to wipe out an entire area, Fallout 76 managed to live up to the hype it created with its teaser. Bethesda concluded their conference with news about the development of their newest IP, Starfield, which is shaping up as an overarching sci-fi franchise.
DEVOLVER DIGITAL: THE ANTI E3 CONFERENCE
After their ridiculous 2017 E3 show, Devolver Digital again presented the world with a spoof pre-recorded conference. While doing so they featured three games namely, My Friend Pedro, Metal Wolf Chaos XD and SCUM.
My Friend Pedro is a 3D side-scrolling action game with fast gunplay. Much like the conference, the action in the trailer was fast, flashy, ridiculous and gory. Fun fact: Pedro is a banana, who tells you to kill people. The game will come out on PC and the Switch in 2019.
SCUM, the supermax open world survival game, continued the trend of over-the-top violence in its trailer.
It featured drones, violence galore and a particularly endearing robot “Mr. Smiles”. This game is cited to come to Steam Early Access in August of 2018.
Mechs, explosions, and overly-dramatic voice acting were up next with the Metal Wolf Chaos XD reveal. The best part about it was the tagline – Mech America Great Again. The game is supposed to come out for Xbox One, PS4 and PC.
Other highlight of the show included insulting gamers' intelligence for buying into things like nostalgia, battle royales, marketing strategies and loot boxes. The loot box point was nailed with the reveal of a new form of “cryptocurrency” called LootBoxcoin – a currency which has no value whatsoever and whose online prices fluctuate for no legitimate reason. Devolver later reported that all LootBoxcoins were sold out.
SQUARE ENIX: A LUKEWARM DISPLAY OF TRAILERS
There's not much to talk about when it comes to Square Enix's presentation as it was just a flurry of trailers. The presentation was kicked off by the Shadow of the Tomb Raider. Alongside the Tomb Raider, Square Enix also showed off The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, Nier Automata Become as Gods, Kingdom Hearts 3 and Just Cause 4, all of which were already shown at the Xbox Conference.
Already off to a predictable start, Square Enix then showed off Stormblood Final Fantasy XIV Online and a confusing crossover between Monster Hunter World and Final Fantasy XIV (slated for a summer 2018 release) one after the other.
They weren't done showing JRPGs though because next up was the long awaited Dragon Quest XI Echoes of an Elusive Age. Final Fantasy Brave Exvius is also collaborating for the second time with Dragon Quest and it is set for release in September, 2018.
Babylon's Fall, a Platinum Games title for PS4 and Steam was shown next with a small trailer. Octopath Traveller's trailer was up next and it will be available on 13 July for the Nintendo Switch.
The presentation was closed off by a trailer for The Quiet Man but we have to wait till August for more details on that.
UBISOFT E3 PRESS CONFERENCE: QUANTITY OVER QUALITY
Ubisoft's conference kicked off with an incessantly long dance performance that led to the reveal of Just Dance 2019. Beyond Good and Evil 2 received a new cinematic trailer featuring fan-favourite character Jade. The developers also announced the “Space Monkey Program”, a partnership with Joseph Gordon-Levitt's company, “HitRecord”. The Hollywood actor got on stage to explain how people all over the world can send original content such as artwork, murals or music which are to be included in the game.
Rainbow Six Siege received three eSports tournaments, as well as a documentary film, titled “Another Mindset”. Ubisoft Red Lynx revealed Trials: Rising, which will be released on February 2019.
The Division 2 received two cinematic trailers. It will also have three free story DLCs and will feature an 8-player mode called Raids. The game will be releasing on March 15, 2019. This was followed by briefings for the games Mario Rabbids and Skull and Bones.
Another Hollywood actor, Elijah Wood, appeared on stage to announce a psychological thriller titled “Transference”. The game will be releasing in fall 2018 in VR and traditional platforms. StarLink, a space exploration game that will feature Star Fox exclusively on the Switch version will be releasing on October 16, 2018.
For Honor is receiving a major update titled “Marching Fire” which will be available October 16. The update will feature a new 4v4 Breach mode. This was followed by a trailer for The Crew 2.
The last, and probably the best game to be revealed was Assassins Creed Odyssey. Alongside a cinematic trailer, we got a short gameplay demo showcasing the stunning visuals and some new additions to the franchise such as character choices and dialogue choices. Odyssey comes out October 5.
PC Gaming Show: Mediocre as always
A mixture of quirk and lack of imagination, the PC Gaming Show wasn't a plethora of jaw dropping moments but rather nuggets of mildly amusing ones. The conference was kicked off by Satisfactory, a game about building factories from the makers of Goat Simulator. Neo Cab was shown off next and is an indie title where you are a cab driver in the near cyberpunk future. This was followed by the first 1,000 man battle royale game titled, Mavericks: Proving Grounds.
A total of 32 game trailers were shown at the conference games and Maneater, an open world action RPG where you play as a Shark was perhaps the most uninspired looking of the bunch. Adding insult to injury, the entire SEGA line-up was just long awaited ports for the PC.
Games like the long awaited Star Citizen, Star Control Origins, Don't Starve: Hamlet, Bravery Network Online and Two Point Hospital are just some of the strategy games showcased at the event. The action adventure game Sable was the standout showcase for me because of its unique cell shaded visuals. Rapture Rejects was another unique looking title. With visuals identical to Cyanides and Happiness, it's a top-down isometric battle royale styled game.
SONY E3 2018 PRESS CONFERENCE: STRONG START BUT THAT'S ABOUT IT
I woke up early for Sony's 7AM conference hoping to be blown away by exclusives and third party titles. Surely enough, Sony showed off The Last of Us Part II at first but not before a display of bad banjo-playing. The trailer lived up to expectations but didn't do an amazing job of giving us a good idea of the direction the game is taking.
The Last of Us Part II was followed up by new details about the new IP, Ghost of Tsushima. The combat and the story looked interesting but it's lifted from a familiar setting (which we'll be seeing more of this in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Nioh 2).
Spiderman was shown off again but I am really worried if this will become another Batman: Arkham series clone. The visuals look great but if they can't deliver with the story and game play, it will fall flat on its face.
The Resident Evil 2 remake was a surprise bonus but don't even get me started about Death Stranding; I sincerely hope Mr. Kojima is alright.
All in all, in the E3 wars, we've seen Sony beat Microsoft to a pulp this generation. This time, however, things felt really different.
Nintendo: Family Friendly, Switch-ing your hype on
Nuhan B. Abid
Nintendo's E3 Direct was once again played safe, but played great.
The Switch conference started off with a new mecha game called Daemon x Machina. It looked like it's full of just about what Japan loves about action packed giant robot battling. This was followed by the trailer to a DLC story for Xenoblade Chronicles 2.
Pokémon Let's Go Eevee/Pikachu also got some more footage. Although more would be showcased post conference on the Nintendo Treehouse stream, the new Pokémon game is looking like the most immersive experience yet, with realistically sized Pokémon walking around and a new catching system lifted from Pokémon Go. Super Mario! Party was also revealed followed by the newest mainline game for the Fire Emblem franchise, the first on the Switch. Octopath Traveller got a release date, and several ports were shown off in a montage of trailers, which include games like Hollow Knight, Dragon Ball FighterZ, FIFA 19, Fortnite and Overcooked 2.
But of course, the main announcement was Super Smash Bros Ultimate. And leave it to Nintendo to showcase just how much improvement they made since their last Smash title. It's easy to feel hyped for Smash because of game play changes like Final Smash tweaks, graphical upgrades and a roster featuring EVERY character Smash has ever featured including newcomers like Daisy and Ridley from Metroid.