We're at E3 2017 covering the year's biggest gaming event. Be sure to check out all our coverage on our E3 2017 hub!
A friend recently told me that E3 was his "Super Bowl." What he meant by that was that the event made him excited—all the press conferences, flashy cinematics, lengthy gameplay demos, all the announcements and hype. The Super Bowl, for nearly 112 million people, is an event centered around excitement for sports teams, and in an odd turn, the expensive commercials that air.
E3 is like the Super Bowl, if you took out the sports part and only left the commercials. E3 is the epitome of hearing your relative say, "I only watch the Super Bowl for the commercials," because that's all we're getting excited about: elaborate advertisements for games that aren't releasing yet. And in some cases, haven't even really entered development yet.
Like the Super Bowl, E3 has winners and losers. Often they're relegated to "Best in Show" or "Best Reveal." Hey, we even have our own awards on the horizon—and a community post for you all to select your personal choices as well. (Please vote.) But who were the winners and losers of E3? Outside of killer fashion? Was it Microsoft revealing their new premium console, the Xbox One X? Ubisoft nearly taunting their fans with a probably-too-early announcement? We cherry picked all the winners and losers right here.
Ubisoft announcing a game that's basically in Day 0 of development
Ubisoft did something ballsy this E3—and has effectively tricked everyone in the process. At the tail end of their E3 2017 press conference, Ubisoft showed a shining, impressive cinematic trailer for the long-awaited Beyond Good & Evil 2. The game that has been in development for well over a decade, except not really. What Ubisoft did, instead of holding off until gameplay or more info was available, was create an expensive short film, a tech demo, alongside promises with what's coming for the future. A whole lotta ado about nothing, basically.
Beyond Good & Evil 2 is a winner for its sheer ridiculousness. We won't see this game again for at least two years, or longer, and we likely won't be playing it for even longer. Our own Mike went to an event to see the game "in action," or rather, what little action there is today. He even told our editor-in-chief Kat that it was the earliest he's ever seen Ubisoft unveil a game. Because honestly, there's hardly a game there. Just a proof of concept.
Good job in duping eager fans everywhere, Ubisoft. They'll be really angry for every press briefing from here on out that's quiet about it. Even with this pre-pre-pre, way-too-early announcement, I have a feeling we'll see this game on store shelves well before the Final Fantasy VII remake and Kingdom Hearts 3, because at least Square Enix isn't dragging their feet behind the whole thing.
I tuned into most of E3 Coliseum's panels this past E3, Geoff Keighley's new thing this year. On one panel, a group of independent developers came together. Most there were known for their minimalistic, intellectually-profound games. And then there was PlayerUnknown. "I feel really bad because I kill people," he said, after some earnest reasons for making games spoken by other panelists. PlayerUnknown's reason? He wanted to make a game he wanted to play. Simple enough.
PlayerUnknown, a.k.a. Brendan Greene, is the purveyor of Battle Royale modes and creative director of the uber-successful Early Access smash PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds. He put his own name in the title, slotting himself up high alongside the Tom Clancy's, Sid Meier's, Hideo Kojima's, and other names residing against games of our generation.
Predictably, Battlegrounds had a decent E3. As I predicted, Microsoft paraded the game on its large stage. They essentially said, "The Xbox One X can run this extremely popular 100 player PvP game, isn't that crazy?" And everyone cheered. We can play a game not on PC now. Battlegrounds will be exclusively coming to the console later this year. In the meantime, PlayerUnknown announced across E3 that they are working on new maps, a zombie mode, more weather, and even dynamic vaulting. Battlegrounds shows no signs of slowing down, nor going away anytime soon. That makes it a winner of E3, the little indie dev team who could murder.
Mario is too powerful for his own good in Super Mario Odyssey
There was something thrilling about seeing my dude Mario throwing his hat and possessing actual people at the end of Nintendo's E3 presentation. It made me realize that this is the first Mario game I've been actively excited for since Galaxy 2. Unfortunately, Kat didn't love it though. I hope I can get my hands on it before release too, to see for myself.
Final Fishing XV blowing me away
I wouldn't be surprised if that other Final Fantasy XV VR thing was dead, but I am all on board with its fishing venture. Final Fishing XV, as I like to call it (the actual name is Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV, hinting at a scary monster of sorts at the bottom of the sea), is a VR experience about fishing. And, according to its trailer, cracking open a Coleman-branded cold one with the boys. Contrary to my colleagues, I strongly dislike Final Fantasy XV because it's a mess of a game that betrays the Final Fantasy stature, but the idea of a spin-off focusing primarily fishing tickles my interest. I will play this on my virtual hell headset, and probably enjoy it.
It was the only thing that gave me any sort of emotion during Sony's press conference. Even if it was just laughter.
The most exciting reveal was a PS2 game
Okay, there was one other announcement that emitted feeling. And it was a confused "okay."
It's 2017, but this year's eyebrow-raising unveiling of a Shadow of the Colossus remake might make you think otherwise. For me, the Shadow of the Colossus remake (or as initially thought, HD port), was the highlight of Sony's E3 press conference. That's 90 percent because I didn't expect it; about 10 percent because I wanted to play it.
Shadow of the Colossus is one of those rare games I've returned to time and time again over the years. I've probably played through the entirety of it—both in its original form on PlayStation 2 and later on the PlayStation 3 in HD—five or more times. It's beautiful as it is: with its film-like grain, clunkiness, blemishes. There's beauty in its simplistic goals and unpolished gameplay. Shadow of the Colossus is often regarded as one of the greatest games of all-time for good reason. Team ICO's original vision of it remains unmatched.
I'm worried about this remake though. The teaser trailer looked gorgeous, for sure, but it was also missing the haunted, slightly-obscured dread the original had. With grain and not-superb textures, there was a roughness to the game. By polishing that, all we're left with is immense colossi and a shining sword.
I don't know how I feel about that. I'll still play it, as I often do, but it was further proof of the games industry's constant thirst for nostalgia. Consider all the biggest games of E3 this year: mostly sequels, nearly all beckoning towards an obsolete golden era of games. Battlefront 2 wants to be more like old Battlefront. Wolfenstein: The New Colossus is more Wolfenstein. Beyond Good & Evil 2 sounds like it's only like its predecessor in name alone. We're trapped in a cycle of only being self-referential, and I can only hope that we're surprised by more things soon.
Microsoft unveils a bunch of games that I can just play on my PC
Microsoft had arguably the most game-filled showing of E3, but it was a lot of third-party games and a lot of "exclusives." "Exclusives" that are available also on PC. I have a PC, so I guess I'll continue not having an Xbox One until the end of time. I'm sure a lot feel the same. I don't think the Xbox One X is as bad of an idea as most people have been insisting though. It has an audience as a premium console. Although the Xbox One X is expensive too, people with 4K televisions will be stoked off it.
Do we need E3 anymore?
We ask this question every year nowadays. Like clockwork. "Do we need E3?"
I feel like this year, more than ever, it's relevant again. E3 used to be an industry and press-only show. The type where the biggest companies paraded their sales numbers, upcoming games, upcoming hardware, and more in the blandest of ways. Then things shifted to the general audience: and now we're serviced a bunch of trailers and hardly any demos or statistics at all.
In recent years, E3's been waning in relevance. Publishers and developers are more likely to deliver their Triple-A game news on their own terms: like Destiny 2's massive reveal event just weeks ago. As a result, Destiny 2's presence at the conferences—despite being one of the biggest games of the year—was negligible. Because they already said all they need to say about it.
Independent games have had the most to gain from E3 in recent years too, because of this. The big games can show off their work elsewhere, whereas for independent games, getting that large audience is a lot harder. This year was a disappointment on that front, with Microsoft and the PC Gaming Show being the only places that shined spotlight on the smaller developers on their respective platforms. Sony ignored that front, contrary to past years. Same with Nintendo.
E3 probably won't ever die. Though with its shift to being a public event, I can see it changing immensely in the next few years. We'll always be back, covering it, writing about it, as the games press does. There will always be surprise announcements, though I wonder what we have next after Beyond Good & Evil 2 (somehow, somewhere Valve is clinging to a Half-Life 3 that will never happen—and even then, would never be at an E3). E3's proving itself to be like the stale zombie genre. Dead, but not really.