Hey fellow N4G-ers. It has been a while since my last blog, so what better chance to jump in than with an E3 impression blog. Incredibly original, I know.
This E3 was a let-down for me. Perhaps we're still in the first-year-of-the-new-gen-dold rums, but it was the first time in a while where I found it hard to get excited, especially after last year's E3 with the skyrocketing hype and drama. Instead of giving you vague platitudes, I'll simply outline what I thought of each conference out of The Big Three. No scores or decimal-point grades here, folks. Just opinions.
Microsoft goes first because their show was first. They certainly were more humble and more on-point than they've been since E3 2009 when Project Natal was shown off. Dang, it's been THAT long since a solid Microsoft conference? Anyway, they promised "games, games, games" and they did deliver. In a bubble, you could say that Microsoft hit it out of the park.
But Microsoft's conference - while objectively lean, jam-packed with games, and concise - was still a failure in my eyes. Why? Because Xbox One is getting the stuffing kicked out of it by the PS4. THIS was the year, the first E3 since launch, to hopefully shift momentum and convince gamers that Xbox One was worth a purchase. It was an opportunity for Microsoft to re-connect with gamers, to prove their dedication, and to really get Sony back for last year's embarrassing defeat. Microsoft's message should've been "Gamers! Xbox is the #1 place to play games! If you're considering PS4, you're making a mistake".
Instead, Microsoft's message was "hey, we're not so bad, see? If you have an Xbox One already, here are a few games to make you feel good about your decision". NOTHING was done to shift momentum, and this is where Microsoft failed. It didn't help it that Microsoft spent no time addressing the Xbox One's multiplatform inferiority, and yet half of their show was devoted to multiplatform games that will certainly look better on the competition's machine. Microsoft did show off three brand-new games...but all three were CGI trailers. Kinda hard to get hyped about something if you can't even see how it plays. I wanted a good reason to consider an Xbox One, but as someone with limited time, I saw no reason to add the system to my collection.
Sony comes next. Their show started off fine, but I fear we're seeing a return to the arrogant Sony from 2005-2006. Okay, maybe it's not THAT bad, but their show was pretty lazy. They showed off some good games, sure, but gone was the fire that drove them to victory since last E3. The passion and excitement seems to have been replaced by smug complacency.
Granted, PS4 is selling the best and is aimed to be the runaway leader this gen. But early last gen, even when the Xbox 360 was ahead, Microsoft was still fighting tooth-and-nail to grab every exclusive and gain every advantage against the PS3. With the PS4 already ahead, it feels like Sony is just shrugging and saying "welp, you'll buy all these multiplats on PS4 anyway. Here's a few neat exclusives...I guess". The almost-complete-lack of attention spent on the Vita (which needs all the help it can get) and Project Morpheus (which should've gotten a better demonstration) in favor of highlighting TV shows and upcoming movies seems wasteful. Sure, PS Now and PS TV were both showcased, which is pretty cool, but in regards to Morpheus specifically, Sony had a chance to really prove they're committed to pushing gaming forward. At this point, it seems like they're only interested in pushing marketshare forward.
I wouldn't say Sony's conference was a failure. They are, after all, still on top of the sales charts. But it was very disappointing to see them rest on their laurels instead of knocking it out of the park two years in a row. I didn't see anything that made me want to get a PS4 any earlier than I'd planned on getting one.
Nintendo, whose show was a day after the others, was the show that impressed me most. Their presentation was genuinely funny and self-referential. A lot of games were shown off, and it was nice and short. Splatoon - if Nintendo decides to advertise for once - could actually take off as a fun, fast-paced, kid-friendly Team Fortress sort of game, and we all know Nintendo needs more shooters. Kirby Rainbow Curse was a legit surprise. Yarn Yoshi looks far better than I expected. Xenoblade X looks amazing, and of course there's the new Zelda. I also like their Treehouse format. It allows a more in-depth look at the games where people are actually sitting down and playing. I'd prefer to see gameplay for myself and make a decision instead of seeing a carefully-crafted trailer, even if the trailer uses in-engine graphics. The Xenoblade X trailer in the Direct Event was kinda lame, but the Treehouse demonstration of the title really blew me away. Same goes for Splatoon, which I really hope does well.
On the other hand, if anyone had doubt that Nintendo was going to do whatever they wanted for better or worse, this E3 made it clear: Nintendo don't give a darn. They'll do whatever they want no matter what the fans say, and you just have to like it. Amiibo is a total waste of money and I'm disappointed that Nintendo is investing money into it when they simply need game support for their console. It'd be one thing if the whole "microchip in a toy" was new, but we all know it isn't. It feels like Nintendo desperately trying to play catch-up...except they're not even playing catch-up with something that's very popular. They couldn't have, you know, announced Minecraft or something? At least jump on THAT bandwagon. Miyamoto's two new games (Project Giant Robot and Project Guard) looked like bad tech demos that should've been showcased at the E3 prior to the Wii-U's launch.
To further illustrate: we have Kirby Rainbow Curse, Yoshi Yarn, and the new Zelda. All of these have a very colorful "alternative" art style. While I appreciate this every once in a while, I really wish Nintendo would stop obsessing over "alternate art styles" and just make some darn games. I suppose this frustrates me most with the new Legend of Zelda title. We were shown off a realistic Zelda when the Wii-U was first announced, but now Nintendo has decided to do their own thing. Screw you if you liked the realistic style! Nintendo is making Legend of Cel-da for the fourth time now, and I guess you just have to accept it.
As an aside, Nintendo completely ignored the 3DS and that was very frustrating. It's their best-selling system this gen. I understand they need Wii-U to sell better, but they can't ignore the larger portion of their fanbase in favor of the Wii-U. I already own a Wii-U, so it's not like Nintendo's conference swayed me either direction, but I imagine with the reveal of Zelda plus DK: Tropical Freeze, MK8, and Smash Bros all being available this year, the Wii-U will pick up in sales for a while.
Summary time: with this being the first E3 since two brand-new consoles have launched, I am completely dumbfounded at how boring it all was. Maybe the industry is finally starting to feel the financial pinch and this is a sign of things to come. I don't know. I certainly hope that next year, each company tries to bring their big guns.
Reply in the comments below. Am I just a jaded ol' gamer who needs to cheer up? Were you blown away by E3 this year? What conference impressed you the most? Which games?