The Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3 has come to a conclusion and what an event it was. Full of game reveals, gameplay and a peek at the future of the industry, this particular event had quite a bit to showcase. We’re going to break down some highlights of the expo, showcase our favourite moments and talk about what streaming gaming can mean for the industry and the consumer.
There was so much to digest at this year’s expo that it’s hard to pinpoint the very best. But we’ve narrowed down a list of highlights just for you.
After being announced six years ago, consumers got their first real look at a trailer for Cyberpunk 2077, a game that I’m personally extremely excited for. This game comes from CD Project Red, the developer behind The Witcher 3. They promise no microtransactions, free DLC, no DRM and an RPG game that will live up to their reputable standards. Witcher 3 was an excellent game that set the bar for me, so I have high hopes for this dystopian cyberpunk game. No release date yet, but here’s hoping the marketing campaign has started and we’ll be getting some gameplay in the months to come. Press got to witness around an hour of gameplay footage behind closed doors (and I’m extremely jealous of them) and from what they’ve reported, this game sounds great and sets itself apart from The Witcher. It’s a first-person game and you can navigate an open world, Blade Runner inspired city at your leisure, including walking and driving. You play as V (the letter) who is a customizable character and either a male or female, depending on your preference. It’s also heavy in its tabletop game basis, with stats and skills playing an integral role, with levelling up playing a key role. There are no classes, instead, players level up their preferred class through playing the game. No need to level up hacking if you’re not going to do it-it’ll level up the more you use that specific skill. Since V is a cyberpunk, he/she can be upgraded mechanically by using augmentations and implants to aid in combat and exploration. Choice bears consequence and V can go about his or her way to finishing the quest, which may affect stories down the line. Basically, if this game ends up being Witcher in tone (read, layered and very mature) with gameplay not unlike Deus Ex, then we have a winner here.
Ubisoft pulled the curtain back on their latest Assassin’s Creed game too. Created by a different team than last year’s Origins, Odyssey brings the action to 431 BC in Ancient Greece. This is well before the Origin of the Brotherhood took place, meaning there are no Assassins or Templars in this game. Instead, players get a true open-world RPG to play around with as the descendant of King Leonidas himself. It’s unclear if the gameplay experience changes if you chose Alexios or Kassandra, but it’s a nice change to have the option to commit to a character for the whole game. The game is clearly using assets from Origins, but the game world is set to be even bigger than Ptolemaic Egypt and be even more of an RPG, down to the new dialogue tree which allows characters to flirt, lie and deceive within their conversations. The game also brings back naval combat in full and introduces massive battles, where hundreds of Greeks fight each other in the battlefield as this game takes place during the Peloponnesian War. Naval combat also returns and the game seems to be embracing the systems and mechanics of a traditional RPG. Sure, there’s no assassins and no clear connection to the franchise, but as a fan, I’m still very excited.
A highly anticipated game for a lot of fans was getting more information on The Last of Us Part 2. Developer Naughty Dog confirmed that we’ll be playing as Ellie this time around. The action takes place many years after the first game and sees Ellie as a young adult. Joel is nowhere to be seen in this gameplay reel, begging the questions “where is he” and “why isn’t he with Ellie?”. The gameplay showcased how seamless gameplay and cinematics will be integrated, with a plethora of unique character animations to make every situation feel dynamic and driven by the actions. It also showcased that this is the kind of game that is using character, plot and narrative to drive its story. It feels cinematic, which is something Naughty Dog have proven to be masters at. Mark your calendars for this one, which will no doubt be a contestant for Game of the Year once it comes out.
Insomniac Games showcased some more gameplay for their upcoming Spider-Man game. Not set in the MCU or any current comic book arc, this story sees an adult Peter Parker takes on Mr. Negative and other villains in the Rogues Gallery. In this demo, Spidey is in a more confined space which lets the devs show off more of the combat rather than the exploration. Combat looks quick, stylish and really fun! He also crossed paths with Scorpion, Rhino, Electro, Vulture and Negative himself-who all proceed to beat the living snot out of Parker before a mysterious leader approaches Spider-Man; someone Parker clearly knows. The devs also showcased an open world demo with commentary, showcasing Spider-Man’s web-swinging and combat capabilities. New York City looks alive-with Spidey saying hi to pedestrians and swinging in an incredibly dense looking city. Colour me excited!
NEWS, REVEALS AND MORE
There was a ton to showcase at this year’s E3. The first day saw an expo from EA Games, who showcased their portfolio under the banner “EA Play”. The developer has a lot to prove right now, after the misfire that was Star Wars: Battlefront II last November. They promised to do better in the future and revealed that a Clone Wars era DLC season will be releasing in the near future. This update will include General Grievous and Anakin Skywalker among more and feature new modes, including a “battle royale” styled mode on the biggest map in the game’s history. Respawn Games further teased a new Star Wars game, which will be a single-player title called Fallen Jedi Order. This game will let you play as a Jedi Padawan during the Dark Times, which is the period between Episodes III and IV. Here’s hoping you get to play as young Kanan from Rebels.
But EA’s big moment came when they showcased Anthem. From developer Bioware, who has worked on the Mass Effect series comes a new game that promises to be like their old RPGs mixed in with the online community/shared world friendly gameplay that Destiny made so popular. Shared World seems to be a popular trend right now, so it’ll be interesting to see how Anthem competes.
The big shooters for Xbox got revealed, with Gears of War 5 getting a reveal and 343 Industries pulling the curtain back on Halo Infinite, which is essentially Halo 6 as the series shifts the focus back to the Master Chief’s arc after the events of Halo 5: Guardians.
Devil May Cry 5 also got revealed. It was great to see Capcom just casually ignore Ninja Theory’s DMC: Devil May Cry reboot and cut straight back to their original arc, with the return of original Dante and Nero. Both characters have since aged a bit, but that snarky attitude and flashy combat system are still kicking.
Fallout: 76 was revealed to be an online-only game set in West Virginia not long after the “Fallout” has settled. You can play with friends or alone, but you must be online to interact with the world, which sees you raiding nuclear asylums, base building and exploring the wasteland. While Bethesda was there to promote Fallout 76, they also showcased Rage 2, which looks bigger, better and more chaotic than it’s predecessor. Think Mad Max meets Borderlands and Twisted Metal. The gameplay looks fast and frenetic. Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI were also teased with a super brief, one-shot teaser each telling us nothing other than these games are happening.
Beyond Good and Evil 2 was given a cinematic trailer and it was revealed that Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s HitRecord will be playing a role in shaping the game. Forza Horizon 4 was also announced and showcased a demo, which illustrated dynamic seasons in it’s U.K. setting. So when you’re racing around, you can expect lakes to freeze over as the season’s shift.
Ubisoft had a busy show, revealing multiple games at the expo. a good chunk of them being sequels. These included The Division 2, a sequel to the MMO inspired shooter with the Tom Clancy universe, where special op soldiers run missions in the U.S.A. after a viral outbreak. The Crew 2 was also unveiled, which was the car, boat and plane arcade racer.
Kingdom Hearts 3 revealed a connection to both Frozen and Pirates of the Caribbean as Elsa, Anna, Olaf and Captain Jack were confirmed to be in the game, along with Wreck-it Ralph and Rapunzel from Tangled.
Sony showcased a gameplay demo of Ghost of Tsushima, an open-world samurai game set against historical fact, specifically the Mongol invasion. The gameplay feels very inspired by Witcher 3, in terms of character movements, animations and mechanics. On paper, it sounds quite interesting, with a camera angle for a boss fight that’s quite similar to that of a traditional fighting game. The combat looks elegant yet brutal, very Kurosawa. But I wasn’t wowed-mainly due to the lack of context as to what’s going on and what else you can do in the game. I’m very curious to see what else comes of this game though, which is made by Sucker Punch. While we’re talking about samurai and ninjas, Nioh 2 was also announced. The well-received Nioh was essentially Asian Dark Souls, but it did well enough to garner a sequel.
Kojima also showcased some gameplay for Death Stranding, his latest mystery game starring the Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus. This game looks weird as hell, but that’s to be expected from Hideo Kojima, the creative weirdo who created Metal Gear Solid. The visuals are stunning, and the suspense and the mystery are real. This game looks like it’s more of a piece of art than a traditional game.
Capcom surprised fans at the expo and online by pulling the curtain back on a ground-up remake of Resident Evil 2. Most remakes are just ports of older games, but this is built from the ground up with new textures and animations along with an updated game engine, cutscenes and gameplay. The remake is due in January 2019.
Things were a bit quieter with Nintendo I found this year, with a new Smash Bros. getting announced under the banner Ultimate which boasts a huge roster of characters Nintendo’s catalogue. Fire Emblem: Three Houses were also revealed for the Switch, which was a big win for fans of the series. Ubisoft revealed they’re making a game titled Starlink, which features Starfox himself as a character. It seems like Nintendo has all but abandoned the 3DS though, which is a bit of a bummer. The Switch’s portability and power make it a natural successor to both the Wii U and the 3DS.
There were a ton of other games that were revealed and showcased but if I were to cover them all, we’d be here all day. This is just a select highlight of what I found interesting and am excited for!
STREAM THE FUTURE (Brief Editorial)
A brief editorial here, but on the first day of E3 Microsoft and EA teased that game streaming is the way of the future. All the games you could ever want will be stored on a cloud and you just have to stream these games from them for a fee. Think Netflix, but for games. While this sounds GREAT in theory-as it allows for minimal disk space to be used, cheaper hardware etc, I’m not okay with this direction. What if I want to play a specific game, but after a certain amount of time, that game isn’t on the cloud anymore, much like how movies vanish from Netflix’s servers. There’s a tangibility to physical or digital purchases. You keep them forever, or as long as your platform/disc is operational. But to sacrifice the possibility of playing older games to make room for newer one’s kind of bums me out.
These streaming services will also rely on a stronger internet connection, as you’re streaming a modern video game (likely in 4K by this point in time), which means not everyone will be able to have access to this service. I want to know that my old PS2 copy of San Andreas is always there for me should I wish to pop it in. It’s an option for me, even if I chose not to use it. I enjoy older games as much as the new ones, so the idea of stashing most games on the cloud but not all is a bit alarming. Furthermore, how much will this premium cost? If a game retails at $59.99 today in the states and you buy 8 games a year (hypothetically), then how much will these proposed services cost? Does it benefit those who buy a lot of those who seldom purchase, or those who wait for the prices to drop? Call me old school, but I like my physical media and the tangibility of knowing it’ll last as long as I take care of it and the device that runs it. Time will see who this ultimately benefits, I see it working great for a certain kind of gamer-those who play current games and move to the next new game-but those who venture back may find it harder.
Let us know who won E3 in your opinion and be sure to check our work on the Easter Eggs in the latest Halloween trailer and our in-depth look at who Miles Morales is in Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse.