Nintendo once again declined to participate in the live stage awkwardness of E3, and instead broadcast a Spotlight video. E3 live stage presentations are a production boondoggle that Nintendo has wisely opted out of for the past few years. Safe-for-all-ages Mario and Pikachu just don’t cut it in an auditorium full of bloodthirsty gamers intent on chainsaw-shotgunning their way through hordes of zombies.
Nintendo of America’s Reggie Fils-Aime and other luminaries stressed the competitive experiences on the Switch console. It will have ARMS, and Rocket League, and Splatoon 2, and Pokken Tournament DX! The Switch is portable, so take it anywhere and challenge other Switch gamers. It’s not like the Wii U, so please get out there and fight it out.
Yoshi and Kirby made appearances in their games coming to the Switch, battling it out for eponymous supremacy. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Fire Emblem Warriors competed for the “Most JRPG Dialogue” award. Ubisoft popped in to remind everyone that Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle features combat of sorts. The upcoming DLC for Zelda: Breath of the Wild features a harder mode and a champions-focused prequel story. Super Mario Odyssey looks to be a platforming return to form for the plucky plumber.
Finally, we got a tease for Metroid Prime 4. More accurately, Nintendo showed off a title. A title that elicited orgasmic cries of glee from gamers.
How do you perplex an audience of gamers? Sony began their E3 2017 show with a musical number performed by live sitar players and drummers. Then, for maximum confusion, just as the new trailer for Uncharted: the Lost Legacy started, Sony dropped their audio feed for most outlets. Is this a Lara Croft game? No! It’s a spin-off from Uncharted, now with girl power tomb raiding. Don’t fix the audio just yet, Sony! You’ve got The Frozen Wilds DLC for Horizon Zero Dawn to put on the big screen and make gamers strain to hear it.
Unfettered by the need to push any new hardware, Sony concentrated on PlayStation games. Here, a tease for the PlayStation 4 remaster of Shadow of the Colossus. There, an extended look at Detroit: Become Human‘s main character and android revolutionary, Marcus. Sandwiched in-between was another look at totally not Walking Dead Days Gone. If spandex heroes mashed up with videogame licensed characters are your thing, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite has got you covered. We got a peek at Call of Duty: WW II‘s cinematic take on action warfare. Monster Hunter: World reminded all the Horizon fans what fighting dinosaurs used to be like. Destiny 2 rolled out their first big bad guy, Dominus Ghaul, who should absolutely not remind anyone of a Halo boss.
PlayStation VR got some time on the stage. Bethesda announced Skyrim VR for everyone that thought clumsy-looking VR waggling should be extended to dragon shouts and Nords. If that wasn’t your thing, you could guide a mouse through VR environments in Moss. Too cute? Try The Inpatient, a VR horror title that takes players through another ho-hum haunted sanitarium.
Sony wrapped their show with two headline games. There was an extended trailer for God of War, with Kratos teaching his son how to commune with nature and find his inner peace. Also, how to tear his enemies apart by hand. The show ended with a good chunk of Insomniac’s Spider-Man. In the clip, the fearless web-slinger hit a dozen quick-time events and aped Rocksteady’s Batman as hard as he could. The quips were solid though, so the game has that going for it.
This is how you get gamers to cheer. Start your E3 press show by marching Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto on stage to play with goofy gun props and laugh with Yves Guillemot over Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Is there anything more infectious than Miyamoto’s smile? Sure, the game is a weird three-way between Ubisoft’s Rabbids, Nintendo’s characters, and XCOM’s tactical turn-based combat (complete with zoom-in views for dramatic shots) but with Miyamoto chuckling along it looks like a good time.
Without Aisha Tyler hosting, this year’s Ubisoft E3 show barreled through game announcements. The Crew 2 adds boats and speed planes to the open-world racing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like we’ll be getting a mob revenge story in the campaign this time around. Assassin’s Creed: Origins continued to wow folks with its lush recreation of ancient Egypt. Remember how you wanted someone to make a full game out of the piratey goodness in Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag? Ubisoft Singapore took the ship-to-ship combat straight out of that game and made Skull and Bones out of it. It’s pirates and competitive multiplayer on the open seas. South Park: The Fractured But Whole made it’s 156th E3 showing. Elijah Wood and SpectreVision made their virtual reality debut with Transference. Full-motion video and VR? It’s like Lawnmower Man with Night Trap. We got a little snippet of gameplay in Far Cry 5. Hey, your best buddy in crazyland Montana will be a dog! Starlink: Battle for Atlas excited everyone until it turned out to be a toys-to-life game for the Nintendo Switch. Steep is going to going to the Olympics, and by that I mean the game is getting an official 2018 Winter Olympics expansion.
Finally, Ubisoft aired a cinematic trailer for a sequel to The Fifth Element, no wait, it was for Beyond Good and Evil 2. Gorgeous, evocative and exciting, right up until Ubisoft used these dreaded words: “Shared online playground.”
Bethesda announced paid mods for Skyrim: Special Edition and Fallout 4 via the upcoming Creation Club. This is something Bethesda has been creeping towards since their ill-fated experiment with Steam and the original version of Skyrim in 2015. This time, we’ll see if they get it right. It’s the Bethesda.net mod workshop but with curated community-made DLC you buy with credits. There’s no word yet on the exchange rate between real dollars and the Creation Club funny money, but you can assume it will be controversial no matter the cost.
The rest of Bethesda’s E3 2017 briefing was a parade of sequels and oddities. Doom VFR moves the demon ripping and tearing to virtual reality. How will Doom’s dance of death work in VR? It doesn’t. Movement seems to be changed to teleporting around. Fallout 4 VR offers the full open-world experience but with virtual fumbling and hand-waving. Dishonored: Death of the Outsider is a standalone serving of stealthy assassinating. Evil Within 2 showed off more inexplicable horror and things shuffling in the dark. Finally, BJ Blazkowicz returns in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus.
Microsoft brought out a new Porsche for their E3 press briefing. The 2018 911 GT2 RS was silver and looked like it could go really fast. It was a “monster” according to the breathless presenters. The car was at the briefing to introduce Forza Motorsport 7, but it was obviously also a metaphor for the new Xbox One X console, formerly known as Project Scorpio. Scads of horsepower in a teeny package. And expensive. The Xbox One X will launch on November 7th for $499. I’m sure there will be holiday bundles for even more money.
Microsoft showed off 42 games in total. Some of them only got a couple of seconds of video during a buzz reel for the indie games program, but the company hammered on the fact that 22 of the games shown were exclusive to the console which is a fancy way of saying “Pay no attention to the PC you already have.”
4A Games kicked things off with a surprise announcement for Metro Exodus which puts fans back into post-apocalyptic Russia. Ubisoft showed Assassin’s Creed: Origins, which now has random loot and a Far Cry primal hawk buddy that acts like a sighting drone. If trolling and betrayal are your thing, PlayerUnkown’s Battlegrounds should be right up your alley. Speaking of trolling, Battlegrounds will be exclusive to Xbox. State of Decay 2‘s trailer presented a min-tale of finding a new survivor in the zombie apocalypse, saving her, letting her join your game, then ended with her ultimately leaving. Rare answered the question “How can we show Sea of Thieves with co-op plaers that do not exist in real life?” Super Lucky’s Tale looked like Conker’s Good Fur Day. Crackdown 3 rounded up the games section of the show with Terry Crews and some decidedly last-gen looking explosions.
Microsoft announced that the Backwards Compatibility Program will be extended to original Xbox games. Good news for people that have held on to their Crimson Skies or Fable disks.
Finally, BioWare ran through some canned gameplay for Anthem. Giant robots. Exosuits. Beasts. Open world co-op gameplay. Jump jets and random loot. It’s Destiny all smashed up with Horizon Zero Dawn and Titanfall. The video also took a cue from Sea of Thieves and presented co-op gaming wholly incongruous with reality.
E3, now starting even earlier, kicked off with Electronic Arts’ EA Play press conference on Saturday. There was a lot of Star Wars. It’s EA, so of course there was the sports and bombast of various flavors, but droids, lightsabers, and Darths loomed large over the proceedings.
There was a taste of Madden 18‘s first-ever cinematic and playable story campaign, Longshot, which seems to take cues from the work already being done in other sports titles. We saw a glimpses of NBA Live 18‘s gameplay. EA Sports was keen to let everyone know that Cristiano Ronaldo supplied mo-cap for FIFA 18.
With the obligatory sports titles out of the way, EA demonstrated how much Need for Speed Payback could look like The Crew mashed together with The Fast and Furious movies sprinkled with a dash of Burnout spice. Battlefield 1 piped up to ask everyone not to forget about it. Josef Fares, the writer and director of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, presented a first look at his cooperative story game A Way Out. BioWare teased a snippet of Anthem, their new game. EA was so excited to let everyone know that Anthem was a “new IP” that you could almost see the disappointment of Mass Effect Andromeda peel away and float into space.
Finally, they got to the headliner of the show: Star Wars Battlefront II. With stormtroopers and fanfare EA kicked off a thirty-minute extravaganza of Lucasfilm videogaming. Their preview began with a mea culpa of sorts; by sheepishly acknowledging the criticism of Battlefront’s absent story campaign and map packs that split the community. All corrected this time around. An epic campaign story! All post-launch maps and modes for free! More charcater customization options! Remember that bit in the Star Wars prequel trilogy when there was a running gun battle on Queen Amidala’s home planet? Throw Han Solo, Yoda, Rey, and Boba Fett into it. Eschewing any sense of timeline coherency, EA and DICE have opted to let fans play with their toys like they did as kids. Why can’t Han Solo fight Separatist droids on Theed? This isn’t Star Trek! No one cares if it doesn’t make any sense!