E3 2018 – Review
Well, the dust has finally settled and E3 has officially concluded this year. So let’s look back at what was a ‘sort of’ stellar year. Like every E3 ever, some of the things this year landed, some fell flat, a few things blew us away and a few opportunities were missed.
Companies knowing their role
This year’s E3 displayed what was perhaps the most obvious behavior from the respective companies’ press conferences based on their current stance in the industry. While ranking the conferences from worst to best is a topic for another day, we do need to acknowledge that each press conference was the way it was because it needed to be that way.
Nintendo displayed 47 minutes premade E3 showcase with the intent of adding some fuel to the Switch’s momentum and nearly pulled a Sony 2016 in the process. It was packed with announcements after announcements for the first 20 minutes before switching focus to Smash Bros for the rest of the show as it originally announced. The show definitely had a lasting impression despite the absence of big guns like a Zelda or standalone Mario title. And that is exactly what Nintendo wanted this year.
EA was as indifferent to its fans as ever in its approach, including showcases on sports and mobile games, while tagging a few indie titles along for goodwill. Oh! And they ‘kind of’ acknowledged their mistakes. But that too was done in typical EA fashion.
Bethesda wanted to keep its momentum ongoing and fleshed out a conference with a couple marquee games, but nothing to blow us away in the way of big surprises. To their credit though, the leak of Rage 2 did not help. So a lot was riding on Fallout 76, opinions on which will naturally differ.
Ubisoft too wanted to feel relevant for the end of the current console generation and in the process, it pretty much Ubisofted its conference and felt like a clone of last years despite having a wide range of games to show. In my opinion, this was due to most of the games that featured were the ones that featured last year like Beyond Good and Evil 2 and Skull and Bones or the ones that already leaked liked the Division 2 and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. I bet Ubisoft was well aware of this going in, but they needed this conference to show themselves as the top players in the industry. Surprisingly enough the much-rumored Splinter Cell was missing which I believe was a missed opportunity.
Also guilty of mostly showing previously announced games was Sony, who took a toned down approach and let the games make the noise. Sony needed this approach presumably to pounce back next year with announcement for its next console when the next-gen hype is in high gear – which we will get to in a bit.
Square Enix did what was right and took the Nintendo route by not having a traditional E3 stage show. The lack of hard-hitting titles was still glaring though and it did not do any favors for them. Perhaps square was aware of this but could not pass on an event like E3. Although I am sure that they would have had a traditional conference if their Avengers project was ready to be shown.
And then there was Microsoft, who had to win all and lose nothing this year. And they spared no expense. 50 tiles showcased, 15 world premieres, and titles ‘with exclusivity’ did indeed do a good job of masking the lack of exclusive titles. That said, Microsoft also did a good job of reassuring people that it is on the right path by announcing the multiple investments made on acquiring game studios aptly named “The Initiative”. It also cleverly sent the message that all of these studios are pretty much working on games for their next console.
Next Gen in motion
So it was Microsoft who uttered the Holy words “Next Xbox” to set things in motion on an E3 stage. While Sony took the clever approach of starting the conversation before E3, it was nice to see Microsoft throw in their chips at the grand stage. Bethesda went one step further to announce two new games for next gen already. What was surprising, however, was Sony being tight-lipped about this during the conference. Sony had a quiet year this time as all the teams within worldwide studios that have released a game this generation are probably working on titles for its next console. And them having not mentioned this may indicate that they are watching Microsoft closely and are aware of them gaining momentum. All of this seems to be paving the way for a memorable E3 next year when the next generation of consoles are hopefully announced.
A Showcase of Quality games
Although the execution of the press conferences ranged from Epic to Weird to downright Abysmal, one thing just stood out. And that is the quality and complexity of the games shown. We are in a time when games are taking advantage of the current generation of consoles in their prime. And this resulted in some truly great games showcased across all the major press conferences. From The Last Of Us 2, to Gears of War 5, to Shadow of the Tomb Raider, to even Indies like Unravel 2, we could see quality ooze out of these games. And that has me excited for the months to come when these games are released. And even more excited for what we have not seen that are in the works.
This year’s E3 may not have been the best, but one that the companies needed in order to convey their message loud and clear. And while they succeeded at this in varying degrees, the message that gamers received seemed to be more profound. That games are getting better than ever, and ofcourse, it is a great time to be a gamer. This year made me drop my jaw on multiple occasions, and that was not due to the epic-ness of the stage or what was shown on them. But to the little and more important things like when the words “No Lootboxes or boost packs” were uttered on an EA Show. Like Microsoft announcing that Ninja Theory is part of their family of studios and will work “with full creative freedom”. Like when the crowd response was strongest during the announcement of the Resident Evil 2 remake. All of this shows that the industry is evolving. So E3 2018 may look dull in comparison to the last couple of years, but read between the lines and you are sure to smile at what you can interpret.