The games shown at E3 2018's presentations from Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo teased everything from joy-smothering conflicts to riotous celebrations of life and color. It was a good show overall, and the variety of content on-hand is a sign developers and publishers are getting more comfortable with using games to express themselves. It wasn't that long ago when attending E3 meant sitting through 30 straight minutes of generic multiplayer war game footage.
I feel like those dishwater-dull E3s of the early '10s are finally behind us (hopefully they stay there). 2018's trailers, news, and announcements were plentiful and interesting. Outside of the 20-minute delay Sony initiated by switching its live audience from a church to a proper theatre after the demo of The Last of Us 2 (weird), I don't think I ever glanced distractedly at my phone during the presentations.
I did shut my eyes for one moment, however: The instance when a hapless prisoner was disemboweled, screaming, during Naughty Dog's lengthy demonstration of The Last of Us 2. Bright new footage of Kingdom Hearts III followed a little later.
I respect video games as a storytelling medium. I understand some games contain graphic violence, even torture and extreme gore. I understand not everyone gets light-headed and lowkey nauseous—even panicky—when they see calculated acts of brutality performed on another human being in a game. That's fine! I don't have to play games that contain disturbingly bloody content.
I do, however, need to cover E3. I need to pay close attention to what Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, and other developers unveil for us. Naughty Dog, my friend—how necessary was it to show me that poor dangling bastard getting his kishke cut out while his legs twitch and pump futilely in the air?
I get it. The Last of Us 2's violence is supposed to be brutal. It's supposed to highlight the struggle of surviving in a grim post-apocalyptic world where humans remain the greatest threat (which is a theme that's unnecessarily pessimistic about humanity, but anyway). According to creative director Neil Druckmann The Last of Us 2 is supposed to make you think about your role in feeding the cycle of violence.
Again, fine— but Naughty Dog also showed us a close-up of a woman getting her arm broken in a trailer that premiered last fall. The trailer was a highlight of Sony's Paris Games Week, another public show covered by games writers and journalists with varying degrees of tolerance for on-screen brutality.
All right, Naughty Dog. I concede you have something important to say about the human condition. You've convinced me The Last of Us 2 is 2 legit 2 quit. Now kindly just…give the publicized on-screen torture a rest? Eh? Maybe save some bone-breakage for the good people with iron stomachs who buy The Last of Us 2 with a full understanding of what the game's about?
I hate to be a bother about all this, but the struggling image of the hanging man imprinted itself behind my eyelids and took the fun out of being baffled by Death Stranding's new trailer. Thanks. Bless.
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