By Patrick Taylor
The Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, was rather interesting this year. From the Xbox showing off the overly technical Scorpio, which is officially called the Xbox One X, to the hellscape of Devolver Digital and to the shit show that was Bethesda’s press conference, E3 seemed like it was going to be a fun event that, for the first time, would be open to the public (who bought one of 15,000 tickets). But even before the doors to the main floor opened, the public seemed noticeably annoyed by the fact that the expo opened at noon, the queues to the main floor were around the corners by 9 AM, and these cute Mega Man tote bags were all but gone.
But was all lost, even before the public gets in? No, the best and worst had yet to come.
There had been some good moments to E3 so far and only time would tell how prepared the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is for the additional fifteen thousand attendees (TL;DR it wasn’t) who will voraciously mob the booths in the hopes of getting a nibble of those sweet sweet video games. It would either be a typical convention, or it would be like the end of a grenades-only match of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Before we get to the floor, let’s recap some of the best moments from the press conferences:
- Literally all of Devolver Digital’s fifteen minute press conference.
- Bioware’s Anthem (what Andromeda should have looked like)
- Shadow of Colossus (New Game+ version)
- Beyond Good and Evil 2 (that trailer was a bait and switch)
- Mario XCOM…..sorry Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
- Assassin’s Creed prequel to the prequel (Origins)
- Xbox One X and the missed opportunity to call it anything better but at least it wasn’t the WOW
I honestly thought that the sheer attempt to find good moments in the press conferences would take more time, but it literally took seven minutes to come up with that list. I had hoped I would kill at least twenty minutes while I waited two more hours for the floor to open,
On my first day at E3, I only had one goal: to fucking play Destiny 2 (spoiler: didn’t happen, more on that later). All other places I want to stop at were bonuses that I could flaunt to my friends. Roughly about 30 minutes until the floor opens, the building staff removed these thick curtains from over the door, teasing every rabid fan within eyeshot. When it got near to the ten minute mark, everyone began to surge forward at the whooping of some people in the lobby. It was chaos, and it was expected. Unless you are an actual dev, press, or VIP, good luck playing anything by the Big Four (that is Activision, Xbox, Ubisoft, and Bethesda). The lines for Destiny 2 were incomprehensible and convoluted, and got even worse when Call of Duty WWII neared its show time. Oh yeah, a lot of the big names had show times in which they would either start to let people play or have a certain number of people from one queue join another queue. I was nearly an hour in and the place was mobbed.
Dissida Final Fantasy NT – Much Wow/Doge
I did not know what to expect out of this 3v3 Final Fantasy brawler. Honestly, it was a good game. It is really confusing for a player who has never tried a Dissida game, but it was fun for the brief time I played. The Bravery and HP system of damage is clear and useful. Each point of Bravery can be dealt as Damage and it was satisfying to juggle someone in a corner to build up that Bravery before unleashing hell on them (happened to me and I did it someone else). It felt like FFXV and Kingdom Hearts, which made it amazingly familiar control wise when I jumped in. The targeting was lacking and could jump from one target to the next with a single misstep.
Agents of MAYHEM – 1 Dope, 3 Okays, and a Meh / WWJGD (What Would Johnny Gat Do?)
I am ecstatic to go back to the beloved Saints’ Row universe. The first three games are close to my heart, so this game has a high bar to surmount. This the Dope. The three Okays are: Gameplay, Character Design, and Look. AoM is a fun shooter game that looks like it has a wide variety of customization that has numbers close to 500,000 unique variations. Of course, as is evidence of most games that have customization, that doesn’t mean shit.
The playable Characters in the demo were limited to four: the shotgun toting Red Bazooka, SMG wielding Kingpin, assassin and doctor(?) Rama, and Roller Derby minigun-wielding Daisy. The game looks good but it felt like it had frames in the low double digits (and it was on Alienware tech of all things). It has the cartoonish aspect you would envision from a Saints Row game and had this outlandish vibe to it. So, now to the Meh. It lacks the soul of a Saints Row game or even of the extended universe. It didn’t make you chuckle or even crack a smile. I’ll say that it felt that way because it is a demo and not the full game, but come on, where is the silliness?
The Crew 2 – Wow / Low Expectations
The Crew never really interested me when it came out or even when it was free. The Crew 2 makes me rethink about playing it before this one is launched. A solid racing game with some fun little twists thrown in. The game takes place in New York City as a plague of ravers…sorry RACERS, turn their city into an octane fueled racing series sponsored by the fictitious organizers, Live Xtream. The E3 demo throws you into the fray right off the bat. You take control of a Porsche 911R mid-race with three other AI racers. As you near the infamous Brooklyn Bridge, shit goes vertical. I mean, literally, vertical as the Borough across the bridge flips upwards Inception style before you take start some boat racing.
The boat racing was probably the most infuriating as your boat would actually skip across the wake of the boat in front of you, making overtaking rather a boring task of going forwards. At the end, the world doesn’t go all sideways on you, thankfully. Instead you jump a ramp and take control of a plane midair. This is the only time I noticed any frame dropping as you stuttered a bit in the cut scenes before taking control. It was smooth after that, thankfully. The aircraft flying was THE most satisfying aspect of The Crew 2 demo. It felt like most games with flying in them, but there was something satisfying about it.
Strange Brigade – 19/30s
I had never heard of this game (because I play console, not PC. I’m no Newb), so when I stumbled across the Nvidia area while waiting to sign up for some PlayStation stuff, I decided to give it a try. A very interesting game that acts as if it a 1930s Newsreel or Radio Drama. It is all over the-shoulder gameplay that feels solid and well balanced in its Alpha build. You’ll be quickly overran if you don’t keep moving but being mobile can trap you if you aren’t careful. It’s a decent game that possibly has a fun story reminiscent of Indiana Jones.
Rainbow Six Siege: Operation Velvet Shell – 6/9
Before I continue, I actually went home and bought this game for the PS4. It felt that good to play. It was satisfying and annoying as any 5v5 shooter can be. The multiplayer is either basically Call of Duty’s Search and Destroy on crack or a tradition Horde-style cooperative shooter. Lacking chill, playing it at E3 had one of two outcomes: You lost because you have never played the game or you won because you have played this game. Aside from how much fun it was, the game and the DLC were already out. This was just Ubisoft not having enough games to fill their booth, so they brought a solid game that’ll attract people to play.
Honestly, E3 got slammed and the discontent and love for it was all justified. It was cool to watch and be a part of, but E3 dropped the ball. Lines quickly became five hour wait times with temporary closures of line. Confusion of what lines for were what games was rampant. People blocked the pathways to film for blogs or take pictures of the props and booths (guilty on that one). Despite all the shortcomings and fails, there was some intensely cool aspects.
E3 – Electronic, Entertainment, and Expo/ Electronic Entertainment Expo
I’m going to be blunt. The worst parts about the expo was the sheer amount of people and the lines. Both days I was there, the lines immediately reached 3 hour wait times and only got worse, capping out at 5 hours. The worst offenders of the lines was Activision on both days and Ubisoft day one. Ubisoft had a rough start on day one as they made it seem as if you needed a bracelet to play the games. You could have pre-registered for the bracelet, but trying to find the line for the help desk where you would pick up a bracelet was damn near impossible to find. They did much better on day two when they started informing people that you did not need one all along (or at least for day two and three).
Activision however were not clear with where the line started, and they wrapped around the booth so much that it was hard to decipher where it began or even where it snaked through. PlayStation and Nintendo had the easiest lines to navigate (if you didn’t mind a several hour wait for Nintendo only). Nintendo was clearly marked and organized. PlayStation, however, had a phone app where you had to RSVP for a slot and a time frame. Needless to say they filled up fast, but it kept the aisles clear for people to stop and watch some gameplay.
On the bright side, the place looked awesome! The props and builds put on by all of the developers and publishers were well made, exquisitely detailed, and beautiful. The gigantic dragon from Monster Hunter Worlds was one of the coolest. The Lord of the Rings area had a rideable dragon. The Xbox booth was in the literal shape of an Xbox One. Bethesda had a freakin’ diner from Wolfenstein 2 and these glass boxes of shame for VR flailing (which has to be part of the fun). I didn’t go inside the Evil Within 2 area but it was reportedly bonkers (much like the plot line from the original).
The Ubisoft booth had professional dancers and random members of the public play Just Dance 3 together. Nintendo’s booth had huge screens showing off their games at one end of the room, an Amiibo case with the unreleased figurines on display, and look as if it were a street of an urban setting in Mario (specifically Mario Odyssey, which has human-looking humans and a cityscape area).Square Enix was all about the Final Fantasy (how could there be so many Finals in one area?).
I enjoyed going to E3 and I would recommend that, if given the chance, all fans of gaming should go. I know that I have kind of given E3 a lot of flak but it was an extremely cool adventure. I met cool people, both fans and industry members alike, and got to play on some of the newest gaming tech (Strange Brigade was played on a soon-to-be released gaming PC). I do have some sort personal opinions of the allowance of the public into the expo. What they should have done was start small and move up the scale. Hindsight is 20/20, but common sense would dictate that fans, while decent people, are fervent and pushy.