We are half way through the video game industries annual trade show E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo if you’re nasty). Multi-million dollar corporations rub shoulders with indie kids living on a prayer and a dream. They all want us to know one thing — they love us, they really do. Our relationship has grown, no longer will the industry dominate us and tell us what we want like so many dead eyed Christian Grey’s. They’ve gone to counseling and learned the benefits of two way communication. Yes, the industry has heard us and they are still listening, they want to collaborate with us and make all our dreams come true. Now we’re just one big happy family.
Sunday night, our cool older brother Bethesda had it’s first ever E3 press conference. Our bro is home from college here to show us all the neat shit he’s been up to. It went well. The presenters were laid back and confident, the crowd ate it up. How awesome does Fallout 4 look? We get to build our own home bases, and they gave us a puppy! A puppy who can’t die. That’s on record okay, the dog lives. On Monday, sandwiched between Microsoft and Sony, our divorced parents desperately trying to buy our love, were EA and Ubisoft. There were no losers at this year’s E3. The conferences were generally entertaining and the energy of the audience was infectious, however some winners were more winning than others, and then there was EA.
EA is the weird rich guy who lives down the street who you really want to stop inviting over to your house, but they are holding some of your favourite toys hostage. EA started off with a bang showing the teaser for Mass Effect: Andromeda. Since the game doesn’t come out until 2016 it was not a big surprise that we didn’t get to hear much about Andromeda, but they could have let the Bioware people say something. Besides introducing the Andromeda teaser and briefly talking about the new The Old Republic expansion, Bioware didn’t get to do much of anything. Bioware seems to be a fairly popular and loved studio in the gaming community; it would make sense for EA to set aside some time for them to talk about what they’re up to. What’s the next Inquisition expansion going to be, what’s that original new game their working on, how’s their day going? But that would have taken away from all the sports talk.
Hey you know all those sports games EA makes that they release installments of every single year, they’re getting new installments this year! Unless you are revolutionizing the games (which slightly better shooting, catching, kicking, and throwing are not) you don’t need to talk about every single game in depth. Just when you thought the sports talk was over they would return to it. As someone who does play and enjoy some of those very same games, the EA conference was starting to feel like a punishment. The audience’s initial whoops and cheers turned into golf claps. EA Sports, it’s in the game, is no longer a catch phrase, it’s a threat. At least Pelé seemed to be enjoying himself. EA did one thing to save themselves, they gave us a true hero to root for.
Martin Sahlin and his little doll Yarny won the hearts of audiences, both at E3 and watching from home. The way his hands shook from nerves and excitement, and his genuine enthusiasm and love of the genre was a refreshing addition to a show that favours hype over substance. The fact that his game, Unravel, looks beautiful didn’t hurt either. Fanart started showing up that night. Proof that memes are not created, they are born. Sorry Ubisoft.
Ubisoft, the younger sibling who just tries so hard. It was the only event to have a host, Aisha Taylor. Besides the time she tried to make memes happen, she was entertaining and kept the conference moving. After EA tried to squander all the goodwill they had gained, it was a relief to hangout with people who just wanted to have fun. Trotting out Jason Derulo to sing a catchy tune and promote the latest Just Dance? Awesome dancing is fun. There’s yet another Assassin’s Creed coming out? Great I enjoy playing those games sometimes. Hey there’s even a lady assassin! Although it looks like you’ll only be able to play as her on the PS4.
Speaking of the big two they did not disappoint. (Nintendo, being the eccentric uncle they are, bowed out of the race holding it’s own online only event on Tuesday, turning it’s top guys into muppets.) Microsoft started off strong getting us that cool retro bike we were asking for. The XBox One will now be backwards compatible. Microsoft used to be a disciplinarian but now they’re the cool parent, they won’t charge us for games we already own. There’s more Halo if that’s your thing, some interesting exclusives (Cuphead!) and while I’m not ready for the virtual reality revolution (wake me when they invent holodecks) the Minecraft demo looked neato. Yes everything went well for Microsoft, little did they know that Sony was waiting in the wings ready to go Oprah on everybody.
Yes, you’re getting that game you always wanted, and you’re getting that game you always wanted, and so on and so forth. It was the end of the day we were tired, cranky and full of sugar, what could Sony do for us? Blow our minds that’s what. After opening their show with The Last Guardian, a game long thought dead the hits keep on coming. Oh they’re never going to remake Final Fantasy VII? Boom Final Fantasy VII: Remake! What’s next Shenmue? Give us a bit of your allowance and we’ll make that happen for you too. Whispers of The Last Guardian were heard in E3 coverage but nobody actually expected any of this to happen. The Sony conference tapered off around the halfway mark and ended with some technical difficulties but the damage had already been done. Sony executives could have spent the last 40 minutes sitting on the stage staring at the audience and the audience would have asked for more. In terms of audience reaction, Sony is this year’s clear winner.
All the press conferences are done and the big announcements have been made, now it’s time to sit back and watch livestreams of people playing all the games we want to play. Damn those lucky bastards.
Games I’m most looking forward too: Fallout 4, Mass Effect Andromeda, Unravel, Horizon Zero Dawn, Dreams, and The Last Guardian.
Quote that best sums up E3 2015: “As far as stupid gimmicks goes, I assure you this is the best fucking one I’ve ever seen. It is awesome.” — Todd Howard, Bethesda Studios.