At the risk or sounding like a broken record, this year’s E3 was one of the worst ones ever!
Fist up was Microsoft’s conference, and the big news here was that at long last we finally have release details on the Xbox One Scorpio, or rather the Xbox One X. There is some major branding confusion in the works here, as the regular Xbox One has now been rebadged as the Xbox One S, so one expects that Gamestop employees will have a rather interesting holiday period, as people turn out in droves to return mistaken purchases. Anyway, the Xbox One X will launch on November 7 at the price of $499! This pretty much confirms that Microsoft’s target audience here is comprised of people who already own an Xbox One. $499 is the pricetag that the Xbox One originally launched at, and it is a price that saw that console consigned to a distant second place. Do not expect this to transform the fortunes of Xbox.
When Microsoft’s Dave McCarthy was asked about how he hoped to compete with the PS4 Pro given that the Xbox One X is $100 more expensive, he replied that the PC was a better point of comparison for the Xbox One X. OK, one is willing to play this game. So can the xxXbox OneXxx operate productivity software? Are its games open to modding? Will its online multiplayer be free to access? Can it edit and render videos? No? Then shut the fuck up, you ridiculous corporate thrall. The Xbox One X is a 4k-targetting home console just like the PS4 Pro. It does a better job of hitting 4k than the PS4 Pro, but it is $100 more expensive, making it a hard sell to the casual consumer. No PC enthusiast will be swapping their rig for an Xbox console capable of 4k@30.
4A Games made use of Microsoft’s conference in order to reveal Metro Exodus, which was pretty damn cool. Other than that Microsoft announced a few new games, none of which were terribly interesting. Announcements included the console exclusive Forza 7, Bioware’s Destiny clone Anthem, Assassin’s Creed Origins, and a new season of Life Is Tumblr.
One final note is that Microsoft will be making OG Xbox games backwardly compatible with the Xbox One. This is likely going to be a whole lot easier than the engineering miracle that was 360 backwards compatibility on Xbox One, since the OG Xbox, like Xbox One, was based on X86 architecture rather than the Power PC architecture of the 360. This is not an earth-shattering announcement, but it is nice for owners of the OG Xbox.
Next up was Sony. This was a fantastic conference to watch, assuming that one was in the mood for an insipid reheat of last year’s Sony conference. Last year Sony blew off the doors with a slickly produced showing replete with a live orchestra, and this year they retained these impressive production values – it is just a shame that they retained all the same games too. Literally the only new title that Sony showcased was Capcom’s Monster Hunter World for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Other than that it was all just a bunch of new footage for previously announced games, and a bit of shilling for VR. Oh, and Shadow of the Colossus is getting another HD port, because we needed that!
Last week Lusipurr.com reported on the claim made by Sony’s Shawn Layden that the company had multiple big announcements concerning Japanese games to be made at E3. It is arguably the case that he was not actually lying, but that the company instead decided at the last minute to shelve these announcements until TGS or Playstation Experience 2017. Shuhei Yoshida’s comments this week support this interpretation:
“There are things we have held [back], we chose not to show those at E3 2017, but there will be some more news coming out from our teams later this year. No question.”
And that was all that Sony had to show for themselves at E3. It may very well turn out that it made excellent sense for them to hold off their big Japanese announcements until TGS, but that does very little to improve their E3 showing which, to be frank, blew chunks.
In past years Nintendo’s E3 2017 showing might have been ripe for ridicule, yet in the wasteland that is 2017 Nintendo managed to handily stand head and shoulders above their console competitors. First up Nintendo rendered last week’s pre-E3 rumour section as wholly fake news. Super Mario Odyssey is set to release on October 27 and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is still penciled in to release in Q4 of this year. That being said, Super Mario Odyssey did look really rough when Treehouse later showed off some gameplay. Do not be surprised to see the game receive an emergency delay in a few months time, assuming that Nintendo feels that they can even afford to do so. If Nintendo feels that they have to hit their holiday 2017 release window by any means necessary then it could turn into a complete horror show. That said, this author is not a developer, and the only people to really know the game’s state of development are Nintendo’s own employees.
Next up we have a game that did not have much of a presence in Nintendo’s E3 direct since it had already been unveiled by Ubisoft – and that game was of course Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. We have long known that Ubisoft was working on a Mario RPG featuring Rabbids, but it came as a complete surprise that the game actually takes its design cues from the tactics-focused Xcom series rather than Squaresoft’s Super Mario RPG, which has been what most Mario & Luigi and Paper Mario games have been based on until now. Speaking of Mario & Luigi, following the direct we also learned that Nintendo is currently working on a remake of Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga for release on the 3DS this October. It sure does make a whole lot of sense to entirely remake a game that is capable of running natively on the 3DS! Maybe the Mario & Luigi team just wanted to get one more use out of their 3DS engine before moving on to the Switch, or maybe they have simply run out of ideas. Whatever the case, it is funny to see a portable remake of a portable game which still looks great and is already capable of running on the hardware in its original form.
Following this we got two new solid looking game announcements, and two kind of weak game announcements. First up there is a new Yoshi game titled simply Yoshi and a new Kirby game that has not as yet received a title. Both games look reasonably far along in development, and both are set to be released in 2018. Both are obviously second-tier projects, yet both look quite attractive for all that – especially the Kirby game. Yoshi looks very nice too, but one feels that the ‘paper craft’ aesthetic is getting a bit old.
Next up Metroid Prime 4 and an unnamed ‘core RPG’ Pokemon game were announced, without even the smallest shred of footage. We were told then and there that the Pokemon game was more than a year away, and Metroid Prime 4 is likely to be even further off than that. It would be nice if Nintendo could put together a Metroid Prime Trilogy remaster before that game hits, as it has already been ten years since the release of Metroid Prime 3, and fifteen years since the original Metroid Prime hit GameCubes. Also, one wonders whether this Pokemon announcement means that Pokemon Stars was only ever a fever dream of the internet? Then again, perhaps Nintendo does not wish to canibalise the 3DS sales of Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, which are due out later this year.
Finally, during Nintendo’s subsequent Treehouse livestreaming they unveiled the existnece of Metroid: Samus Returns, which is a remake of Metroid II: Return of Samus. It is possible that the reception of this game was ever so slightly muted by the existence of the highly regarded fan-project AM2R, which was able to modernise Metroid II in a far more graceful way. In fact since the announcement of Samus Returns the internet has seen an obnoxious new trend of cretins with Mario/Link avatars smearing AM2R as a bad game in internet forums. These disgusting fanboys are obviously terrified that AM2R will remain the superior of the two products.
All this being said, nobody should be rooting for Samus Returns to be a bad game. The game’s level designs have been remixed to the point where it would be worth owning Samus Returns alongside AM2R, as they both do different things, and AM2R cannot be played portably [for the most part]. This is of course assuming that the game will be good. Heaven help Nintendo if the game is not good, because then AM2R will make for a very unfavourable point of comparison. Also, this game is being made by MercurySteam, the developers behind the mediocre attempt at a 2D Castlevania on the 3DS – Mirror of Fate. So it is not like the fears of the game’s naysayers are wholly unfounded. This studio has form when it comes to releasing bad 2.5D games, and the internet remembers these things.