In a stunning turn of events, E3 2017 wasn’t that great.
I’ll be honest, I had already pretty much planned this blog post out to be about how bad E3 2017 was. With the exception of a few bright spots and Ubisoft’s press conference, everything up until today wasn’t particularly great. Then Nintendo decided they weren’t going to let that happen. So let’s take a brief look at how each conference did and I’ll make my picks for what I thought were the best games showcased at each conference. I’ll also provide a link to the /r/Games subreddit threads consisting of all of the information, discussion and trailers from each conference.
EA opened the show on Saturday and they were very not good. The concerns heading into EA’s press conference were that we were only going to see Star Wars Battlefront II and sports games… and that’s pretty much exactly what we got. A Way Out was a pleasant surprise and Battlefront II looks really damn good but outside of that, there was really nothing else to take away from this press conference. We got a tease for BioWare’s new IP Anthem, but that was pushed off until Microsoft’s press conference and there was no new information about any of the other Star Wars games in development (more on these later this week). Way too much time was dedicated to sports games and it didn’t really feel like there was enough there.
Best Game: Star Wars Battlefront II
Microsoft was good… ish. And by that I mean not really. The centerpiece of Microsoft’s press conference was the Xbox One X and I find it hard to say it impressed. I’ll have more on this later this week, but I don’t trust anything Microsoft said about the Xbox One X. On top of not believing in the console, Microsoft really offered nothing to support it. I mean, they showed off some cool titles like Assassin’s Creed Origins, Sea of Thieves, Super Lucky’s Tale, Crackdown 3 and Ori and the Will of the Wisps but none of those are a draw for Xbox. Again, this is more of a console issue that I’ll get to later in the week.
Best Game: Sea of Thieves
I’m literally only throwing this in here so that I can say Bethesda needs to stop having its own press conference. It adds absolutely nothing of value and Bethesda is not as good as people think they are. You can do Bethesda on your own time. I also have some thoughts on what might be the most insufferable game of all time, Skyrim, for later in the week.
PC Gaming Show
The PC Gaming Show is a nice little spot for PC gamers. It’s not a huge event but it does give us some insight on upcoming hardware and shows off some new games. We got a look at the upcoming XCOM 2 expansion, Mount and Blade II Bannerlord, Age of Empires: Definitive Edition and some other titles. It’s never going to be the biggest event at E3, but the PC Gaming Show has done well in its own corner of the event the last couple years.
For the first time since ever, Ubisoft could actually be considered the winner of E3. While there was still an awkward dance routine thrown in the middle of the presentation, there was no Aisha Taylor and there were quality games. Those are pluses in my book. Mario x Rabbids: Kingdom Battle was a neat surprise, Skull & Bones looks like a really damn cool pirate game, both South Park games (Fractured But Whole & Phone Destroyer) looked exactly as what you would have expected and Far Cry 5 looks like the franchise may finally do something new. Hell, we even saw a Beyond Good & Evil 2 announcement that came out of nowhere. I wish Ubisoft would have put a little more focus on Assassin’s Creed: Origins’ gameplay at their presentation but it wasn’t a huge deal. Overall, Ubisoft was really good.
Best Game: Skull & Bones
Playstation came in with the biggest disappointment of E3 by far. With Playstation’s recent history of press conferences, they’re held to a much higher standard. Playstation has blown everyone’s doors off recently with these things and their presentation at E3 2017 was a complete dud.
For starters, not all of their trailers even aired during their press conference. The trailers for Crash Bandicoot: N. Sane Trilogy, Knack 2 and Kingdom Hearts 3 (maybe more?) were all released outside of the presentation. Playstation’s conference ran shorter than usual, which made the absence of these trailers all the more unusual. Games like Call of Duty: World War 2, Destiny 2 and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy were all just brushed over as we raced through the conference with no time for any discussion about games. The announcement of Horizon Zero Dawn’s first DLC, The Frozen Wilds, was pretty cool, a full remake of Shadow of the Colossus was unexpected and we another look at God of War 4 but that was really it. As much as I’m looking forward to Spider-Man and as good as it looked, it’s a pretty weak game to use as your closer and it was flooded with quick time events. Overall, the conference just wasn’t impressive.
I think a big problem here is last year’s Playstation Experience event in December. For as good as that event was, I think it probably took a pretty big chunk of the firepower out of this year’s E3 press conference. This conference would have automatically jumped up to the top tier of press conferences if it included the completely unexpected announcements of Uncharted: The Lost Legacy and The Last of Us Part 2. This year’s event was really lacking a major title or two to really cap off the conference and there’s no doubt that Playstation Experience is at fault for that. For the most part, it was generic and not particularly exciting showcase.
Oh, and between the sound issues at the start and the absurd amounts of lag/buffering; the live stream for the conference was terrible.
Best Game: Spider-Man
I almost treat Nintendo like its own separate faction of the gaming industry at this point because they’re so different than everyone else but I was pleasantly surprised to see them come in so strong at E3. I didn’t even liveblog this conference because I legitimately didn’t think we were going to get much of substance and they certainly proved me wrong. In a brief 25 minute showcase, we got a new Kirby, a new Yoshi, the announcement of Metroid Prime 4, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild DLC, gameplay for Super Mario Odyssey and the surprise announcement of the development of an untitled Pokemon RPG for the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo also announced that Rocket League would be making its way to the Switch and another Metroid game, Metroid Samus Returns, would be releasing on the Nintendo 3DS later this year. That’s a lot of really good game news in a pretty short span of time. A strongly desired Metroid Prime game and a heavily demanded Pokemon console game were two totally unexpected surprises. All around, it was a really good job by Nintendo and I would probably make the case that they won E3 this year.
Best Game: Super Mario Odyssey
Overall, E3 2017 was disappointing. I think a lot of people had high expectations and this year’s event came in way under the bar. There were really only two good press conferences and the rest was mediocre at best. I think what we may be seeing here is the down side of mass announcing major titles in recent years. There were a lot of previously announced games at this year’s event that we have known about for years now. Rather than holding off an extra year on a game like God of War 4, the impact on its release year is sort of diminished since we already know it’s coming. I would have to really look into it to see if it’s actually that big of an issue, but I definitely think it’s a factor here. If you had told me coming into E3 that Ubisoft and Nintendo were going to be the two best shows I’d have laughed in your face. But here we are.
I’ll have more on some specific topics coming up in the following days, but that’s it for E3 2017.