E3 2017 Thoughts and Reactions

Quick post today for my final E3 2017 thoughts. Firstly, Happy Father’s Day to the dads out there. I’ll be resuming a regular schedule now that E3 is over. Starting tomorrow I’ll give an update on the Makers from the last two weeks, and we’ll get back to Read From Memory: FFVII and some long plays, among other things.

If you need a refresher, I listed all of the games that got some time during the pressers:

“Winner” of E3 2017

Anway, my E3 2017 thoughts: Overall I found the pressers underwhelming this year. I know the game journos get obsessed with who “won” E3. In my view, as the media gets more democratized every year, the trade show has become less important. Can anybody actually “win” an event that’s becoming irrelevant? But we should respect tradition, right? And we have our pet companies or products we like to root for and see do well. So if I had to choose, I would give “Winner of E3 2017” to Ubisoft. They had a strong presentation: they didn’t pander with social media stars like EA and didn’t show off a collection of trailers for games we already knew about (Bethesda). They also get points for showing off original IP. Skull & Bones looked spectacular.

And come on, they announced Beyond Good & Evil 2. It may not be on the same tier as say Half-Life 3 as far as legendary whales still out there, but it was getting close. I have some reservations about Ancel’s opus, as do others, particularly about the tone and feel of the game.  But for now, let’s bask in the glow of the fact that the sleeper hit of 2003 is finally getting its long overdue sequel.

Console Makers at E3

I wasn’t particularly enthused by the Microsoft presser, though I admit they did much better this year overall in their presentation. The XBox One X (X.B.O.X.), formerly Project Scorpio, feels pricey at $500. This appears to be a new precedent with this generation: initial release of the platform; a slim-line revision of the hardware and price drop; a “1.5” hardware update half way through the cycle; followed by an ultra souped-up version to round it out. But something tells me that you whiffed when the most buzz you produce is from backward compatibility with your very old games and a controversy over an indie developer’s 3-year-old tweets.

Sony coasted this year, despite their very impressive stage theatrics. Ending the conference with a lengthy Spider-man demo says it all. But they may have earned it. Four years into this generation of consoles, it’s pretty safe to say that Sony has “won” the battle this round. I wonder about their commitment to VR. There are some impressive looking games, but the jury’s still out if it remains a fad. Practically speaking a $800+ buy-in for the tech is still a bit too rich for my blood for novelty. As for the rest, I just want to play the games at this point: God of War 4, a new Uncharted, etc.

As for Nintendo, well, they’ve cut down on their press conferences, which I still think was a wise move on their part. Metroid Prime 4 got a pretty announcement trailer and generated the associated buzz, though I’m still a little mystified that they chose not to give the Samus Returns remake any time during the presentation. Mario Odyssey looks fantastic, and the news about the core Pokemon RPG was somewhat exciting for a quite a few. Nintendo remains a unique creature. I would like to see more for the Switch regarding third party support, though with Rocket League, Minecraft cross platform with Xbox, and their own version of Skyrim, FIFA, etc., I grudgingly admit that they’ve got most of the bases covered.

Panels

I only managed to catch one panel with Hideo Kojima. It was what you would expect: a softball session mainly about the movies he enjoys and some of his philosophy on making games that we’ve all heard him talk about before. As promised, there was no news about Death Stranding at all. I wonder if the lingering conflict with Konami is having any effect on the game’s delivery? The best place to find out about the influence movies had on Kojima as a designer remains a series of essays he wrote over ten years ago for PlayStation UK magazine. They appear (in Japanese…) in the promotional book Metal Gear Solid Naked, but some translations are floating around on the net if you dig.

In closing, E3 2017 wasn’t a great show, and it reflects the declining importance of the big gala on the West Coast. The fact that it was open to the public this year speaks to that. Let’s look forward to GamesCon this summer and the Tokyo Game Show in September.