E3 2018: More of the Same

So far, this has been a rather lackluster show and the conferences and video presentations were mostly soft.

Written by J.T. Johnson

This week, gamers everywhere are gathering both in Los Angeles and around their computer screens to watch live streaming videos from the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2018, otherwise known as E3. This is the event where gamers get to see what developers are going to offer them later this year and beyond. I sat through all the conferences and video presentations that precede the actual floor show and I must say that overall, I was disappointed.

Maybe I’m just getting older, but every game I saw was simply another version of games I’ve seen before. All the conferences talk of “changing the game”, but I saw very little change this year once I calmed down and took a look and what they were offering.

EA started with a conference that focused primarily on apologizing for mistakes such as the microtransactions in “Star Wars: Battlefront II” and promising us a new Star Wars game with no footage or substantial information. They then moved on to sports games and a couple of other minor titles before showing us “Anthem”, their big title for the conference and while it admittedly looks good, it looks like several other games that BioWare has made before with hints of “Destiny” thrown in for good measure.

Then, there was Microsoft’s conference. Now, for me, I think that Microsoft’s goal should be selling more systems, especially their “technically superior” Xbox One X. Unfortunately, despite having a way better conference than what they’ve had in the past, they didn’t really address their exclusivity issues. Also, if anyone hasn’t bought an Xbox One for “Halo” and “Gears of War”, then “Halo: Infinite” and “Gears 5” are not going to help sell any new systems at this point.

People may point out that Microsoft did acquire five new gaming studios this year, which could hint towards the future. My problem is that if Microsoft manages these companies as well as other companies they’ve bought such as Rare, then I don’t have much hope for these acquisitions.

Now, Bethesda came out strong with their presentation and I liked what I saw. Yet again, their biggest hitters (“Fallout 76”, “Rage 2”, and “Doom: Eternal”) are continuations of other titles. Also, while they announced “Starfield”, they didn’t have anything to show for it and they only had a title card for “The Elder Scrolls VI”, a game that is probably still two or three years away. These are good announcements, but they only confirmed what we already knew.

Square Enix returned with a video presentation after being absent from the conference for three years. I wish they had stayed absent because their presentation was the absolute worst. They offered nothing new in their presentation beyond “Kingdom Hearts III” and “Shadow of the Tomb Raider”, two games that we’ve known about for a long time. Other games such as their apparent “Avengers” game and “Final Fantasy VII Remake” were nowhere to be seen and most people wondered why they even bothered showing up.

Ubisoft wasn’t too bad but they too only offered sequels and updates to previous titles. Therefore, it was really down to Sony and Nintendo to impress me.

Sony’s conference started off both strong and weak. They began in a tent before showing off more of “The Last of Us Part II”, which really did impress with its cinematics and the gameplay it featured. Then, we had to awkwardly cut to a booth outside so that the crowd in the tent could be ushered into the main theater where Sony continued their conference.

From there, though, Sony impressed with looks at future titles such as “Ghost of Tsushima”, a surprise announcement trailer and release date for the remake of “Resident Evil 2” and “Death Stranding”, the mysterious new game from Hideo Kojima starring Norman Reedus. There was still one major problem with their presentation, though. Almost no release dates for their heavy titles.

Yes, it is always great to see new footage for games such as “The Last of Us Part II” and “Death Stranding”. At this point, though, I’ve gotten to where I would like to know when I’m going to actually play them. At least, unlike other conferences, games such as “Ghost” and “Death Stranding” are original titles that have intrigued me.

Finally, it was Nintendo’s turn. They’ve had a hot year with the Nintendo Switch and I was curious to see how they are going to keep that momentum going for the rest of 2018 and beyond. Like previous years, they chose to give a simple video presentation on Tuesday.

This time, they definitely placed all of their bets on “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate”. They revealed a fighting game with an impressively large roster and that they would be releasing the GameCube controller for the Switch. Finally, they announced that the new game would be available on December 7, 2018.

Still, like all of the other conferences, Nintendo never really gave us anything new beyond what we already knew. I wanted to hear more about other titles such as “Metroid Prime 4” and I wanted to know more about their online platform, set to be released in September. Yet, the only real focus was Pokemon and Super Smash Bros.

I guess that I just expect too much from E3 sometimes. I’ve always seen the event as a way for developers to show us what’s further on the horizon and not what’s right in front of our faces. Ultimately, there are many great games to look forward to, but as far as any exciting projects beyond this year, I guess I’ll just have to wait until next year’s event to find out more.

HERE ARE MY GRADES FOR THE CONFERENCES:

EA Conference: B
Microsoft: C
Bethesda: B+
Square Enix: F
Ubisoft: C
Sony: B-
Nintendo: C

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