E3 2019 is officially a wrap. All of the major publishers have put their cards on the table. So let's talk about how the holiday season is shaping up.
In some ways we came out of this show with more questions than when we went in. Jedi: Fallen Order will probably be good, but its presentation was uninspiring, and there was a distinct sense that Respawn left out many of its best bits, like its non-linear exploration. Pokemon Sword and Shield impressed with its new Wild Area, but sparked a major backlash with the revelation that only part of the Pokedex would be available for transfer.
Many of the most hyped games won't be out until next year. Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Cyberpunk 2077, and Animal Crossing New Horizon are all slated for spring, as are the big next-gen reveals. In some ways this year's E3 left us feeling like we were just marking time until 2020.
So where does that leave us? Looking ahead to the rest of the year, it seems that Jedi: Fallen Order, Borderlands 3, and Pokemon Sword and Shield will be some of this fall's biggest games. Destiny 2 likewise received a fresh burst of momentum recently, climbing back to more than one million daily users in the wake of the Shadowkeep expansion announcement. Iceborne, Monster Hunter: World's expansion, will likewise be a boon for the burgeoning North American Monster Hunter community, even if it won't immediately be on PC.
The usual suspects will be out in force. Call of Duty and FIFA will both be a big part of the holiday whether you want them to be or not. Gears of War also returns this winter, which will undoubtedly thrill the tens of people who are still into that series.
Of all the games coming out this fall though, one definitely stands above the rest: Dragon Quest 11 S. Just kidding (though I'm excited to give Dragon Quest 11 another shot now that the soundtrack has been fixed). Actually, in terms of hype, it's looking like Death Stranding will own this holiday season, which must have Sony chortling given that it didn't even bother to appear at E3 this year.
The Death Stranding trailer released a few weeks back managed to almost effortlessly dominate the news cycle. It seems that fans are fully onboard for Kojima's wacky outlook on American politics, whatever that entails. I'll just come out and say it: I'm in. I'm totally ready for Kojima's new strand genre.
Beyond that this fall doesn't look tremendously inspiring. Its excitement level will be partly dependent on whether sleepers like Outer Worlds break out; whether Jedi: Fallen Order is better than it looks in the demo (so far so good), and whether some unexpected indies are able to gain traction. Unlike 2017 and 2018, it's hard to pick a true juggernaut. Even Death Stranding has a question mark attached to it in that regard. Sure, Kojima has Sony's marketing behind him, but for reference, Metal Gear Solid 5 "only" sold about six million units in its first few months, which is a relatively small number by triple-A standards. It might be a critical hit, but its odd subject matter (babies in jars?) could hold it back with mainstream consumers.
Anyway, this holiday season might be a little weaker than 2017 or 2018, but there are still some intriguing prospects out there. Hopefully they all land and make for a happy holiday. Otherwise it looks like the real holiday will start when Cyberpunk and Final Fantasy 7 Remake land in March and April.
Major Game Releases: June 17 to June 21
Here are the major releases for the week of June 17 to June 21. Want to see the complete list? Check out our full list of video game release dates for 2019.
- Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night [June 18, PC, PS4, Xbox One]: After four years of development, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is finally here. A lot has changed since work commenced back in 2015. The Wii U and Vita are dead; the neverending flood of indie games has saturated the market, and crowdfunding has changed dramatically. We've also played many, many high-quality Metroidvanias in that time, to which Bloodstained will surely be compared. Hopefully Bloodstained will succeed, but it looks like it's facing an uphill climb after a long development cycle.
- 198X [June 20, PC, PS4]: This new indie game is described as a "over-the-top arcade action meets coming-of-age drama, blurring the lines between game and reality." All I know is that its sprite art looks fantastic. I'm buying it day and date.
- Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueld [June 21, Switch, PS4, Xbox One]: I'm not entirely sure why this Mario Kart knockoff has the following that it does, but people really seem to love it. I suppose I'll go back and read our feature on how Crash Team Racing challenged Mario Kart and made Naughty Dog what it is today.
This Week's News and Notes
- Cyberpunk 2077 is another one of those games that had a bit of a weird E3. Heavily hyped going in, it managed to dominate news coverage, but not all of the commentary was positive. Anyway we talked to its quest director about Witcher 3 comparisons, and Keanu, and more.
- One of the big talking points in the Monster Hunter community is that Monster Hunter: World needs to be harder. Will Iceborne do the trick? We talked to the developers.
- Today is a great day.
- Okay, I went a little crazy over the news that Pokemon Sword and Shield would have a limited Pokedex. I talk a little bit about why I'm so unhappy in the article linked, but suffice it to say that it's a big blow to the community, which is a major reason why it's such a talking point in the wake of E3. Should Game Freak find a way to patch in the rest of the Pokemon? At this point, yes. Battle balance and improved animations are all well and good, but not at the expense of undermining one of the core aspects of Pokemon's appeal.
- Animal Crossing won't use cloud saves in order to avoid time manipulation. This will be an interesting problem as cloud gaming continues to grow in the next few years.
- Tales of Arise didn't get a huge amount of attention during E3, but Bandai Namco's update is looking pretty interesting. We took a closer look and talked to its developers here.
- And finally, here's our Best of E3 2019 Awards, including our Game of the Show. Final Fantasy 7 Remake took it in a runaway this year, earning universal praise for its updates to its battle system and more. There were a few more interesting little gems in our Top 10 though, so it wasn't all big games.
- Axe of the Blood God: E3 2019 is over at last, and Caty is ready with her report from the field. She joins Nadia and Kat to talk about her impressions after playing Final Fantasy 7 Remake; share her thoughts on the Year of Keanu, and discuss all the rest of the RPGs at E3. Plus, Kat vents over the news that the latest Pokemon generation won't feature the entire Pokedex. Subscription info here!
I'm retroactively making Nier: Automata the USG Game of the Year for 2017. https://t.co/2E45knw7vz— Kat Bailey (@The_Katbot) June 17, 2019