The Fallout From E3: Microsoft
Microsoft may not have won the show, nor indeed did they manage to claw their way out of third place, yet it must certainly be said that they would be a worthy recipient of any potential ‘most improved E3 showing’ award that anyone cared to bestow. Leading up to E3 Phil Spencer repeatedly stated that Microsoft’s conference would be all about games, and he was not kidding. Microsoft used their time to showcase games; both indy [mostly newly announced], and AAA [mostly previously announced]. This mix handily bests their TV, sports, and DRM mantra that they were trying to sell at last year’s E3, so on the whole Microsoft probably did what they needed to this year [while not drastically changing the game].
The only really serious faux pas made by team Xbone was in essentially shitting all over longtime Rare fans by telling them to make their own damn Conker game during the Project Spark showing. That being said, it seems kind of doubtful whether legacy Rare fans would be natural Xbone customers anyway, so this minor affront likely caused Microsoft little-to-no harm. Indy, timed DLC, and Kinect exclusives not withstanding, Microsoft announced two third party exclusives for the Xbone: Scalebound [a dragon slaying game from the ever-successful Platinum Games], and a third entry in the Crackdown series. The Crackdown project allegedly began life as an Xbone cloud demo, and will require an internet connection capable of uploading and downloading dozens of large-scale explosion calculations every second, so look forward to that!
The Fallout From E3: Sony
After last year’s E3 Sony was the company with everything to lose this year, and all the more so for the delay of Ready at Dawn’s The Order:1886. Sony’s challenge for this E3 was to nominate an exclusive title to take the place of The Order, else move into the crucial holiday period with the PS4’s only exclusive for the second half of the year being an untested racing IP. Sony failed this challenge. Sony’s conference featured [more or less] the same consistency as Microsoft’s, with perhaps just a little more unexciting and irrelevant nonsense like exclusive TV series and a Ratchet and Clank film. This year Sony looks to have joined Microsoft hand-in-hand in their race to the bottom in terms of wasting money on timed exclusive third party content, with Sony even managing to snag an exclusive game mode in Far Cry 3, whereby Playstation owners will be able to play four-player online co-op with their friends using just one copy of the game. Beyond this, Sony, like Microsoft, elected to show footage from a bunch of previously announced titles, with the Uncharted 4 trailer being the seeming standout of the show – a fact that one finds quite perplexing given that it shows not one skerrick of gameplay.
The PS4 also matches the Xbone’s two third party exclusives with two of its own: Grasshopper Manufacture’s free to play title Let It Die, and From Software’s pseudo sequel to their Souls series, Bloodborne. Killer7 was an amazingly unique experience, yet every Goichi Suda game that one has played subsequently has disappointed by ever greater degrees, so one does not expect an awful lot from Let It Die, especially since the free to play model only ever seems to produce awful dreck. Bloodborne on the other hand is a solid announcement, and easily outpaces either of Microsoft’s announcements in terms of impact – it is just a pity that this is yet another title promised for 2015. On a personal note, one’s pick of the show was the brief announcement that Grim Fandango is being remastered for PS4 and Vita, yet this snippet of news likely only proved to be a megaton for those who have already played the game. On the whole, Sony’s showing certainly managed to pip Microsoft’s efforts, yet it abjectly failed to hold up the remainder of 2014, which is a little disappointing.
The Fallout From E3: Nintendo
If both Microsoft and Sony turned in a par performance then Nintendo’s beleaguered Wii U really stole the show. Not a single megaton was fired on Nintendo’s virtual stage, yet they managed to bring the show home with lots of moderately sized quality announcements. In light of the arse falling out of AAA development, this was an unfaltering solid performance which finally sees Nintendo coming to grips with HD development, if not originality. Capping off Nintendo’s show was the 2015 trifecta of sequels and Spin-offs: Yoshi’s Woolly World, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. Yoshi’s Woolly World looks to be a platformer loosely related to the Kirby’s Epic Yarn series, while Kirby and the Rainbow Curse is the sequel to Kirby: Canvas Curse, and Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker is a puzzle spin-off of Mario 3D World. It is a derivative line-up to be sure, but each game mentioned looks solid and enjoyable.
That is not to say that all of the Nintendo internal development on show was so lacking in originality, as Splatoon, a four-player third-person shooter developed by Nintendo EAD, looks to be a refreshing change for the company. Looking further beyond 2015, Miyamoto also looks to have plenty of original content in the pipeline, showing off three demos, including a follow-up to Nintendo’s much cherished [and long dormant] Star Fox series. Also on show was the first fleeting gameplay reveal of Zelda U, which looks phenomenally gorgeous and is set to be Nintendo’s first open world Zelda game this century [if one does not count the recent direct sequel to A Link to the Past]. Some time Zelda director Eiji Aonuma managed to cause a minor controversy while at E3, by joking that the character in the Zelda reveal may not have been Link, seemingly in direct response to all the sad cases who have been demanding that Link be gender-swapped into a woman because feminism – these people became very salty once it was clear that Nintendo did not intend to bend knee to their demented persistence. On the subject of salty reactions, Nintendo’s market position meant that there obviously was not going to be a surfeit of third party content to show off for the Wii U, yet they did manage to pull the proverbial rabbit out of a hat in the form of an announcement that Tomonobu Itagaki’s Devil’s Third would now be a Wii U exclusive – it may surprise nobody to find that Microsoft and Sony fanboys were not the very paragons of grace upon hearing these tidings. Nintendo really belted it home on the whole; the only potential downer for them is that technically they were not actually at E3, so the mileage that their strong showing has in reaching the mainstream still does remain to be seen.