My E3 Impressions (2019)

Everyone knows that E3 is the time of year where tons of games get announced and hype begins to build. Publishers hold a conference to announce what they will be releasing in the upcoming months, often times revealing new games. E3 can be an exciting time: interesting new games get announced, dead franchises get revived, indie games get a chance to be on the big stage, and highly anticipated titles get definitive release dates. I have decided to give my impressions of E3, going through what I was intrigued by at each conference. I am not going to go through every game shown, but just the ones that I am interested in. Obviously E3 is run by the publishers, so games are often misrepresented to build excitement and boost sales. I try not to buy into the hype too much, and I am aware that many games shown are going to over-promise and under-deliver. With that being said, it’s still fun to talk about the grandiose trailers and teasers. At the very least, this time next year I can look back at my list and laugh if these titles flop.

I will split the games into 4 categories: Heavy hitters, looks good, piqued my interest, and uncharted territory. Heavy hitters are games made by well-respected studios and that look to be phenomenal, generally I will buy these games as soon as they are released. The looks good category is for games that have impressed me for whatever reason, but they are not quite as hype-garnering as the heavy hitters. Piqued my interest is for games that seem to be interesting, but there is not enough info about them to make a proper judgement yet. Lastly, uncharted territory is for games that are part of series that I have not played yet. Games in this category could easily be heavy hitters for many people, but since I have not played their respective series, I am not overwhelmingly excited for them. Any game not mentioned just did not impress me or wasn’t my kind of game. That being said, let’s get into the conferences.

EA

Heavy hitters: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

Looks good: N/A.

Piqued my interest: N/A.

Uncharted territory: N/A.

Not much can be said for EA, they showed very little and most of what was shown were just updates for already existing games. The only thing saving their conference was Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. People have been clamoring for a single-player, story-driven, Star Wars experience for decades. This game looks to deliver on satisfying lightsaber combat, create a unique new Star Wars story, and tap into the magnificent world building of Star Wars.

Microsoft

Heavy hitters: Cyberpunk 2077, Elden Ring, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Borderlands 3.

Looks good: The Outer Worlds, Spiritfarer, Way to the Woods.

Piqued my interest: Twelve Minutes, Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Uncharted territory: Halo Infinite, Gears 5, Tales of Arise, Psychonauts 2.

If you ask me, Microsoft knocked it out of the park with their presentation. Rapid-fire trailers for both big games and indie games alike. The obvious elephant in the room is Cyberpunk 2077, holy moly. This game looks insane and it nails the cyberpunk aesthetic, CD Projekt Red have my full trust since I played The Witcher series. And it has Keanu Reeves in it! Elden Ring is the next game by FromSoftware, directed by Hidetaka Miyazaki and consulted on by George R.R. Martin. Miyazaki and his team have continuously blown me away with Soulsborne, and one of my favorite authors is world building for this game, sign me up. In the world of indie games, Ori and the Will of the Wisps looks to capture the feeling and bliss that made Ori and the Blind Forest so magical. While Borderlands 3 has been announced and has had a release date set for a while, it was cool to see some more info for the next installment in my favorite looter-shooter series.

I am cautiously optimistic for The Outer Worlds, it looks solid. Obsidian did a phenomenal job with the legendary RPG Fallout: New Vegas, and if this game is anywhere close to that level, I will be immensely pleased.  Spiritfarer looks gorgeous, and looks to be the perfect kind of game for developer Thunder Lotus Games. It looks to be a cozy management game with beautifully hand-drawn characters, gorgeous locales, and emotionally charged moments. While it may not be as high profile as other games, Way to the Woods looks enchanting. I am getting some serious Journey and ABZÛ vibes from this game. Exploring the world as a deer sounds like a remarkably comfy and calming experience.

As for games that piqued my interest, Twelve Minutes is at the top of that list. This Groundhog Day inspired game seems to be ripe with mystery and intrigue. While I have never played a flight simulator, Microsoft Flight Simulator captivated me. Something about being able to fly around a fully detailed Earth is just enticing. I’m not sure if this genre will appeal to me, but it piqued my interest nonetheless.

The Microsoft conference also included a ton of familiar series that I am sure many people will be excited for. Again, I have not played the respective series yet, but I would be remiss to not mention these games. Halo Infinite carries the torch for one of the most famous series of all time, and now that Halo is coming to PC, I might actually be able to play it. The Gears 5 trailer didn’t really get me hyped, but I am sure long-time fans will be thrilled. While I am not a JRPG lover, Tales of Arise looks to modernize the series and maybe I will give it a try. Lastly, Psychonauts 2 is a sequel to the renowned platformer, hopefully it will live up to the 14-year-long wait.

Bethesda

Heavy hitters: DOOM Eternal.

Looks good: Wolfenstein: Youngblood, Deathloop.

Piqued my interest: GhostWire: Tokyo.

Uncharted territory: N/A.

I am immensely disappointed that we did not get any info on Starfield, and that the majority of the conference was filled with expansions of already existing games. Luckily, DOOM Eternal looks phenomenal. The 2016 reboot of DOOM was a bombastically fun demon killing-spree, and DOOM Eternal looks to expand upon the unparalleled FPS action. Taking the battle to Earth looks to mix up the environments and color palettes of the game which is a much-appreciated change. As much as I love the brutal red hellscapes of Mars and the Underworld, I think some varied environments would be nice.

While Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus was fairly underwhelming, Wolfenstein: Youngblood looks to be a promising spin-off of the main series. With a focus on two-player coop, with any luck this game will rekindle my confidence in the series. With help from one of my favorite developers, Arkane Studios, I am hopeful that level design takes a big leap forward in this game. Speaking of Arkane Studios, I am also excited for their upcoming game, Deathloop. Not much was revealed about this game other than it has some sort of ambitious idea where the two protagonists attempt to murder each other to break the never-ending time loop. I consider Arkane Studios to be geniuses of modern level design and their previous games such as Dishonored and Prey were fantastic, so I am looking forward to Deathloop.

The game that piqued my interest the most was GhostWire: Tokyo. While I am not super familiar with the developer and no gameplay was shown, the trailer itself was magnificent. I legitimately thought it was a real-life video, but it was insanely detailed prerendered CGI. Seriously, go check it out. The game looks to be a spooky action-adventure with an air of mystery. The atmosphere and aesthetic of the game look to be top-notch, so I am looking forward to seeing some more details about this game in the future.

Devolver Digital

Heavy hitters: N/A.

Looks good: Fall Guys, Carrion.

Piqued my interest: My Friend Pedro, Devolver Bootleg.

Uncharted territory: N/A.

Devolver did not bring any heavy hitters, but a couple of neat indie games looked impressive. Fall Guys is a 100-man death run where players compete to make it to the end of an obstacle course. It looks like a ton of goofy fun. Carrion on the flip side is a “reverse horror” in which the player is a monster reminiscent of John Carpenter’s The Thing. A 2D side-scroller where you play as the monster? Sounds good to me.

While I’m sure My Friend Pedro appeals to many people, it looks almost too much like one of those old internet flash games for me to really get invested. I’m going to wait for reviews before I pick this one up, as flash games can be dumb fun for 15-30 minutes, but a full game is a stretch. Similarly, the Devolver Bootleg is a silly idea that seems like it could be a fun novelty, but I’m not sure if I see myself playing it for very long. A five-dollar collection of bootlegs of Devolver’s own games sounds neat, but I’ll wait to see if it is more than just a one-time novelty.

PC Gaming Show

Heavy hitters: Baldur’s Gate III.

Looks good: Starmancer.

Piqued my interest: Unexplored 2, Remnant: From the Ashes, Per Aspera, Valfaris, Genesis Noir.

Uncharted territory: Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2.

Larian Studios have the monumental task of reviving the legendary Baldur’s Gate franchise. This beloved Dungeons & Dragons inspired series has been dead for 20 years, and modernizing it will not be easy. That being said, Larian did a great job with Divinity: Original Sin 2, hopefully they can bring a similar level of creativity and world building to Baldur’s Gate III.

Starmancer is a space station management game in which you design and customize your colony. Trade with other colonies and defend against space pirates to enhance your space station. This seems to be similar to RimWorld and Dwarf Fortress, but in a more contained environment. Hopefully Starmancer nails the space colony management aspect.

The PC Gaming Show included many titles that looked interesting, but I’m not quite sure if I’m going to get them yet. Unexplored 2 looks like a fun exploration roguelike. Remnant: From the Ashes is a coop shooter with some horrifying bosses and an oppressive atmosphere. Per Aspera seems to be a management game about colonizing Mars, but it’s tough to tell exactly what the player will be doing. Valfaris is a brutal 2D action-adventure infused with heavy metal. I’m not quite sure what Genesis Noir entails, but the noir and jazz stylization are interesting.

For a kind of obscure RPG, Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines has built a substantial fanbase. I haven’t had a chance to play the original game yet, but I’m sure fans will be pleased with the reveal of the sequel. The trailer encapsulated the grim style that I hope a vampire RPG would demand.

Ubisoft

Heavy hitters: N/A.

Looks good: Watch Dogs Legion.

Piqued my interest: Ghost Recon Breakpoint, Gods and Monsters.

Uncharted territory: N/A.

Ubisoft games are known for being generally repetitive and derivate of each other, but Watch Dogs Legion looks to be one of the most ambitious games of all time. Set in a future surveillance state, the player can recruit characters to join their resistance group. Every single character in the game supposedly can be recruited, has special abilities, and their own backstory. The trailer seemed to insinuate that every character has unique voice lines and their own story, but I am skeptical. The city of London would need at least thousands of people to seem semi-believable, so it is an incredibly ambitious undertaking. Being able to recruit and play as anybody is incredibly unique and attractive, I just hope they can pull it off.

For less ambitious games, Ghost Recon Breakpoint looks like it could be some coop fun similar to its successor Ghost Recon Wildlands. It’s fun to feel like an expert operative tasked with infiltrating and taking down dangerous organization. Gods and Monsters is a cartoony action-adventure game set in ancient Greece. Not much was shown, but I’m always down for large-scale boss fights and ancient mythology.

Square Enix

Heavy hitters: N/A.

Looks good: N/A.

Piqued my interest: Marvel’s Avengers: A-Day, Outriders.

Uncharted territory: Final Fantasy VII Remake.

Square Enix is known for their JRPGs, which I admit are not for me. Most of the conference was saturated with JRPGs, so unfortunately, I did not get much out of this presentation. Marvel’s Avengers: A-Day was not really clear on what type of game it would even be. An on-rails story focused game? A linear beat ‘em up? Or an open world action-adventure like the recent Marvel’s Spiderman? Playing as Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, Hulk, or Ironman is certainly a great hook to sell games, but I hope we get some more substance. Outriders is another game which looks like it could be fun, but really very little details were shown. We know it’s a shooter in a dark setting, that’s about it.

I have never really played a Final Fantasy game. They just never really appealed to me. I have to say; the Final Fantasy VII Remake looks to change my mind. I’m sure dedicated fans of the series are enormously hyped for what is touted as the best game in the series getting a full-scale remake. If a JRPG seems cool to me, it must be doing something right.

Nintendo

Heavy hitters: Animal Crossing: New Horizons, Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Sequel.

Looks good: Luigi’s Mansion 3, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening.

Piqued my interest: Astral ChainDaemon X Machina.

Uncharted territory: N/A.

Despite Nintendo showing a bunch of exciting upcoming games, I have to say I was a little disappointed overall with their presentation. Most of the games shown have already been revealed. The only big true reveal with the sequel to Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It seems like the next Legend of Zelda game is a direct sequel and will reuse many characters, areas, and assets. I am extremely excited as I adored Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild so the beautiful style and world of that game is exactly what I wanted. Unfortunately, I think this game is a long way away, as Nintendo didn’t even give a release window. I anticipate 2021 will be when we will get our hands on this game. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is getting released next year and it looks amazing. I have never played any Animal Crossing title, but this one looks to be right up my alley. Building up your island and town from scratch is extremely appealing to me. I don’t know why, but the cozy feeling of building a town and having NPCs come and inhabit is what I am looking for.

For some games that aren’t as high profile, Luigi’s Mansion 3 seems to introduce a bunch of new mechanics to the series. I like the original goofy ghost hunt of the original Luigi’s Mansion, hopefully this game captures the same essence. While I am a huge fan of the tactical Fire Emblem series, Fire Emblem: Three Houses still seems iffy to me. Developers have been shifting away from tactics and deeper into fanservice and JRPGs tropes. Hopefully Fire Emblem: Three Houses can deliver on a quality gameplay experience. The remake of Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening also is looking solid. A faithful recreation of the original with some modernizations. I’m not sold on the overly cutesy art style yet, but I’m sure the game will be great.

As for some games I’m unsure about, Astral Chain looks like it has some potential. Platinum Games titles are always top-tier action thrillers, and hopefully this game can easily fit right in. Daemon X Machina is a giant robot action game, which is something that everybody wants. Both Astral Chain and Daemon X Machina seem like they could be great hidden gems, or complete jank-storms. Both seem a little too “anime-y” for my tastes, but maybe the action will be worth.

Who Won?

For me, Microsoft takes the E3 crown. They had plenty of big-name games to show alongside a slew of indie games. I wish they showed a little more gameplay, but otherwise their conference was phenomenal. Next up is Nintendo, while they didn’t have many new games to show, they gave plenty of details for games I’ve been waiting for. PC Gaming Show also had a good presentation, hopefully all of the indie games they show turn out to be memorable.

On the underwhelming side, Bethesda was fairly disappointing. Arkane Studios and DOOM was really all they had going for them. Ubisoft mostly was pushing their live service games like For Honor and Rainbow Six Siege, and since I don’t care for those games I was bored by their presentation. I’m sure plenty of people love Square Enix and their expansive JRPGs, but it’s just not a genre that I enjoy. Lastly, EA was terrible as per usual. EA’s conference hinged on the fact that they have Star Wars.

All in all, it was a decent E3. I would have liked to see more gameplay instead of cinematic trailers, but I understand why developers choose to save gameplay for later dates. E3 is about rapid-fire trailers, and the best way to catch someone’s eye in 1 to 2 minutes is through intriguing cinematics. Gameplay is better served in 15 or 30-minute demos to show off key features. Regardless, I am hyped for some of the big releases on their way. It should be a phenomenal year for video games.

 

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