Tag Archives: E3

My Thoughts on E3 2017

Critics and online personalities have been saying 2017 is shaping up to be the best year for video games in decades.  E3, the biggest event in gaming, had a lot riding on it.  I went in with few expectations.  E3 is often hit-or-miss, and commentators will usually talk about it in terms of who “wins.”

I’ve fallen victim to this mindset in the past couple years, but I don’t really think it’s healthy.  I wrote posts for Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo separately.  But I’ve realized that E3 is an expo, not a competition.  Sure, one company or one game might generate more hype than others.  But the real winners are us, the video game community.  We’re the ones who get to play the great games.  So instead of breaking this E3 down by company, I’m just gonna talk about everything I’m excited for!  And there is a lot of exciting stuff happening.

METROID

Let me kick off with the return of Metroid.  I went convinced that Nintendo could rock the E3 boat in two ways: porting Super Smash Bros. to Nintendo Switch, or bringing back Metroid.  Smash is going to wait, but Metroid is back in full force.  And although I’m not a huge series fan, I’m now a believer.  Metroid Prime is now in development for Nintendo Switch, and Metroid: Samus Returns is coming to 3DS on SEPTEMBER 15th.  Now that this series is back, I’m gonna do all I can to support it.

MARIO ODYSSEY and MARIO x RABBIDS: KINGDOM BATTLE

Although Mario games are consistently good, I usually don’t get excited about the franchise.  I was burnt out when Odyssey was announced, and Mario x Rabbids sounded too weird to be real.  Come E3 though, both games really impressed me.  Mario x Rabbids is a fun spin on the XCOM style, and it has the great Grant Kirkhope coming through as composer.

Meanwhile, Mario Odyssey looks expansive, innovative, and fun.  It’s the ultimate Mario playground, and a return to the best 3D Mario formula.   I’m definitely going to give it a play at launch.  All in all, a great showing for the franchise.

YOSHI AND KIRBY IN 2018

Like with Mario, I tend to sleep on the Yoshi and Kirby games, but their planned releases in 2018 are promising.  Kirby on Switch promises to bring back cool franchise mechanics and Yoshi looks clever as ever.  Now I just hope for a revival of Kirby’s Air Ride.

POKEMON

We didn’t see much from the Pokemon Company at E3, but what was announced is the development of a main-series Pokemon game for Nintendo Switch.  This is a huge development.  We got no further details, but Pokemon for Switch is a win in itself.

I also rally enjoyed watching the Pokken Tournament DX Invitational.  I know virtually everyone hates Pokken, but I have something of an affection for it.  I’ll probably be picking it up on Switch.

SPIDER-MAN by INSOMNIAC

I’ve always been a massive fan of Spider-Man games.  I played both PS1 games, all three Sam Raimi movie games, and spinoffs like Friend or Foe and Ultimate Spider-Man.  With the recent movie reboot, we got a couple of incredibly lazy games along with them.  Thankfully, at E3 2017, Insomniac Games showed off their new palate-cleansing Spider-Man game.

This game looks incredible.  Despite my distaste for quick-time events, it includes them gracefully and cinematically.  Combat looks complex and engaging.  The world of Manhattan looks vast and varied.  Most of all, navigating the world by swinging looks like an homage to Spider-Man 2 on PS2, the best of the bunch.  I can’t wait for this game to come out.

STAR WARS BATTLEFRONT II

The first Star Wars Battlefront by DICE and published by EA was one of my worst disappointments.  Battlefront was one of my favorite games as a kid, and I always wanted a revival.  Sadly, although the revival was aesthetically beautiful, it turned out to be a bore.  And a money scam.

BUT, if the new sequel turns out like it looks so far, it will be a huge turnaround.  It has a story mode, an improved class system, more heroes, and generally more content.  Furthermore, DLC will be free so as not to divide the player base.  This game has my attention, so hopefully it doesn’t disappoint.

MIDDLE-EARTH: SHADOW OF WAR

This sequel to Shadow of Mordor has actually been around for a few months, but I’ve been on the hype train since the beginning.  I wrote a post about this hype train a few weeks ago.  For E3, we’re getting new story content, new characters, and a look at some of the new mechanics.

Combat looks more intense and brutal.  Cinematic scenarios and conquest missions are coming through in full force.  And the plotline of Talion is coming to a head as he confronts the Dark Lord Sauron.  I honestly can’t remember wanting a game this much.

MISCELLANEOUS COOL STUFF

There was a lot of other stuff at E3 that looked neat to me, so I want to mention it.  Fire Emblem Warriors is an idea I had years ago, and to see it in action is thrilling.  I like that it has character switch and strategic mechanics.  Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is a big point of love for me, and what I saw at E3 looks like a beautiful successor to the first game.

Days Gone looks like it’ll be the most interesting zombie game since The Last of Us.  Uncharted: Lost Legacy will be an interesting game, especially thanks to its two female main characters.  God of War is finally on deck, and it looks much less over-the-top than its predecessors, which I enjoy.  Bethesda’s VR shenanigans, like Fallout 4 in full VR, looks like an exciting step forward.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus seems like a ridiculous, Nazi-killing extravaganza and I can’t wait.  Anthem looks like a fun, huge multiplayer experience that will hopefully deliver. The Artful Escape of Francis Vendetti, Super Lucky’s Tale, and Cuphead are bringing back fun, quirky platforming adventures.  Assassin’s Creed: Origins actually has me really pumped because I’m a fan of the franchise and I like the new mechanics.  Although I’ve sadly never played the first game, Ori and the Will of the Wisps looks like a great sequel and it’s stunning in 4K.  Sonic Forces didn’t get a lot of new info, but we saw a team-up of four legendary villains, which should be cool.  Lastly, Crackdown 3, The Darwin Experiment, Dragon Ball Fighter Z are games I know nothing about, but they look sick.

So that’s where I stand on E3 2017.  Reactions are all over the map, but I’m honestly coming away from it feeling excited.  A major plus is the fact that most of these games are coming out this year, so 2017 should be a great year for games after all.

What I’d Like to See in Smash Bros. for Switch

Boy, it’s been a while since I’ve gotten to talk about Smash Bros.  It’s just like coming home again.

The last patch to Super Smash Bros. for Wii U / 3DS was released about two years ago now.  Since then, there’s been no new developments to the series.  But with E3 2017 approaching rapidly, the rumor mill has been grinding out speculation about a port of Smash 4 to the Nintendo Switch.

I’d actually say this rumor is pretty likely.  Ignoring the supposed “leaks,” I think it would be a shrewd decision by Nintendo to port Smash Bros. to Switch.  Mario Kart 8 DX was a huge success, after all.  It might even be a way for them to address complaints that fans had about the original game before development ceased.

Now here we have a prime environment for people to sound off on what they think a possible port will or should have as an expansion.  I’m enjoying seeing people’s ideas so I’m going to put in my two cents.  Not all of these ideas are realistic, but I want to talk about them as a Smash fan.

FIRST, I’ll start with little things.  These are small, easy changes that I would like to see.  For example, I’d like to be able to toggle hazards on and off.  This would make stages like Lylat Cruise competitively viable and would provide more options for people who want a fair fight.  Hazards can be fun, but having them turned off would be nice and would add a lot of variety.

I also think some balancing tweaks are necessary.  I’m sure this is a tired message by now, but Bayonetta needs to be toned down in strength.  We’ve seen Bayonetta banned from certain tournaments because of her overwhelming array of tools.  Fixing this issue would help appease players.

Adding in more music would also be ideal, and this isn’t particularly hard to do.  In modding, I’ve added in tons of tracks by injecting .nus3bank files.  If I had to make an unrealistic music request, though, I’d like a revamped music system.  I’d like to see a pool of music tracks that you can add to any stage.  I wanna be able to play the Delfino Plaza theme on Smashville, for example.  I’m big on custom music in games, so this is a personal want.

MOVING ON, I want to talk about more complicated but still realistic changes.  If there were a port, I would expect 3DS stages remastered in HD.  We might even see a couple new stages as well.  I certainly think we might see Smash Run from 3DS brought into HD alongside Smash Tour.

New characters are a possibility.  If we get any, it will be very few.  One or two maybe.  Creating new characters with full movesets is a big task, but it would also pay big dividends for Nintendo.  Only time will tell.  But since I’m here, I’ll pick a pool of ideal characters.  I’d like to see Spring Man/Ribbon Girl from Arms, Inklings from Splatoon, or Simon Belmont from Castlevania.  Also, you might remember an article I wrote in my awkward phase about why Shovel Knight might get into Smash.  So he’s at the top of my list by default.

What I think would be more doable is additional character skin packs as DLC.  For example, Nintendo could take the Injustice route and add new character skins to characters with established movesets, but with different voice packs.  For example, Shadow over Sonic or Young Link over Toon Link.  This might be a fun way to represent more characters.

Lastly, for my competitive Smash fans, I hope the game comes along with some kind of controller adapter so that people can use GameCube controllers or whatever controller they prefer.

The Wii U and 3DS versions of Smash Bros. sitting next to a GameCube Controller.
(Photo: FaruSantos via Flickr)

FINALLY, we get to the fun part.  Time for my completely unrealistic asks.  If any of these were to happen, they would likely be the only additions to the port.  First, any kind of narrative-driven Adventure Mode comparable to Subspace Emissary from Brawl.  That would be incredible.  Considering the caliber of character trailers we’ve seen and all the awesome newcomers, this would be a system seller for sure.  The problem is, Subspace Emissary was such a huge task that it was like developing a game within a game.  Anything of that magnitude might kill Sakurai.  Still, I’d love it as a fan.

Something else that will never happen is, if Nintendo wants to please everyone at once, they could incorporate some kind of mod support. So that fans can make whatever changes they want to Smash.  As I said, Nintendo likes to keep this kind of thing in their own hands so this is just a dream.

At this point I should reiterate that this rumor is still just that: a rumor.  A port of Smash Bros. might not happen soon, or at all.  But my favorite part about the Smash community is speculation.  It’s been a year or two since I’ve had that, and with so many possibilities on the horizon for Nintendo, that fun community aspect is coming back.  So we’ll see what happens.  If we’re lucky, we’ll get to switch into HD Smash in the near future.

My Thoughts on E3 2016, Part 3: Nintendo

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Nintendo’s E3 presentation was in good hands with Reggie Fils-Aime at the helm!

I had no idea what to expect from Nintendo going into E3 2016.  Although a few interesting titles like Paper Mario: Color Splash or Ever Oasis spiced up Nintendo’s showing, a whole lot was riding on Pokemon Sun and Moon and Zelda for Wii U/NX to make allow the Big N to keep up with the frankly stellar performances of its competitors.  And yet somehow, they managed to deliver despite having only two games, a true example of what JonTron termed the “Nintendo hadoken.”

Let me lead with the one I’m less excited about, and that is Pokemon Sun and Moon.  There are a lot of steps forward being taken in this game that I love.  For one thing, I love the enhanced 3D models and the fact that you can see 3D models of whatever trainers you’re fighting.  The fact that Zygarde is coming back into play with different levels of power has me stoked – finally this guy is getting the attention he deserves.  The Battle Royal mode is also fascinating, and adds an interesting new dimension to a battle system that’s been normally trainer vs. trainer until now.  The new Alola region is also gorgeous, home to some pretty cool looking new Pokemon, and the legendaries are amazing, although I’m most excited about Magearna for its Steel/Fairy typing.

But the big money is coming from the true reveal of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.  I’m going to just say it, this game looks lit.  I genuinely think BotW is going to set the standard for Zelda in the years to come.  I’ve never seen an installment take this many risks since Wind Waker, and in my view, it trumps even that game pretty cleanly in terms of innovation and variety.  We see a level of freedom that hasn’t been seen since the first ever Zelda, tempered by many inspirations in between like Elder Scrolls and Shadow of the Colossus.

This game gives you the bare minimum story context before letting you loose on the overworld, an overworld TWELVE times larger than the one seen in Twilight Princess, one of the largest the series has seen to date.  You can climb, hunt, forage, cook, fight, ride, pick up weapons and armor to suit the environment…this game allows the player to do leagues more than Zelda has ever allowed before.  Top that with improved physics, gorgeous art style, and a dynamic story wherein the player can complete the game without learning much of anything about the world, or get the full experience by exploring.  Throw in some amiibo compatibility, including using the Wolf Link amiibo to make the wolf your temporary companion, and you have a nostalgia arrow that’ll go directly to my heart.

All I’m really left hoping for is that this game has a rich offering of sidequests.  Previous entries like Majora’s Mask had excellent sidequests that were extremely rewarding for how they gave unique, unpredictable items that proved useful in different situations.  Other games, like Twilight Princess especially, had sidequests that were entertaining in large part because of interesting characters and missions that took you all across the overworld.  In an overworld as large as Breath of the Wild’s, I hope to see sidequests taken to a new level – I want to see mysteries and interesting questlines, huge battles and cool gear.  Also, as a last mention, I hope the classic green hat and tunic are at least possible to find somewhere in the game.  But if this game is able to fill its shoes, it will redefine one of the most iconic series of all time, maybe even beating out Twilight Princess as my favorite in the series.  It was unquestionably the game of the show for me, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

My Thoughts on E3 2016, Part 2: Sony

Sony's press conference was full of surprises and promise.
Sony’s press conference was full of surprises and promise.

Sony’s press conference leads me to believe that the PS4 is about to become the leading platform for cinematic, poignant, and hard-hitting video games.  From the next installment in the God of War franchise, to Hideo Kojima’s undeniable collaboration with The Walking Dead actor Norman Reedus, to a series of VR experiences of all kinds, it looks like Sony is aiming to evolve in the position it’s always had, pushing the boundaries of the stories video games tell.

So what really got me going at the press conference?  Well, just about every other thing.  God of War looks like it’s about to go in an interesting and hopefully more narrative-driven direction compared to its old third installment.  The Crash Bandicoot remakes hopefully signal a re-emergence of that franchise that so many of us grew up with.  Horizon: Zero Dawn looks like it will be an incredible combination of themes and deliver on some thrilling gameplay, and I have to admit, the very idea of Insomniac Games creating a new Spider-Man game gets me cautiously giddy.  As for all the promised VR spinoffs shown, all I can really say is I like the idea of them – given the current expense and relative novelty of VR, it’s something I can’t honestly say is going to be amazing or not – I may take an in-depth look at VR in another post, another day.

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But now onto the real hype machines.  First off, Detroit: Become Human looks like it’s going to set a new standard for interactive story building, exploring insanely interesting themes of real humanity vs. artificial humanity through engaging, investigative gameplay.  The multiple endings also make me thinking this is going to be an incredibly deep, well-crafted narrative experience and I can’t wait to see it take off.  Death Stranding and Resident Evil VII: Biohazard also excited me almost to the point of tears, not necessarily because they represent the kinds of games I play a lot, but because they are sure to shake the industry to its core.  The ingenious minds at Kojima Productions are most definitely going to make Death Stranding an intensely creepy and profound work of art, and RE7 not only looks like a return to the series’s survival horror roots, but the continuation of the kind of immersive, disturbing gameplay we were promised in Silent Hills before it was canceled.

Lastly (pun intended), we have The Last Guardian, the long awaited third entry in the series of extraordinary games that started way back when with Shadow of the Colossus.  It’s looking better than ever on this generation of consoles, and I think it’s sure to move us like few other games can.  Truly, Sony wowed us with the variety and promise of their whole presentation, and I hope their final products are as good as they look.

My Thoughts on E3 2016, Part 1: Microsoft

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E3 2016 was an incredible showing from every major company!

Going into E3 2016, I had no idea what to expect.  So little information had come out prior to Day 1 on June 13 from any major company.  But the expo was absolutely incredible this year – from advances in community and technology to reveals of extremely impressive new games, a lot has come to the surface.  Just about every company has brought interesting stuff to bear, so let’s break it down by presentation, starting with Microsoft!

Microsoft @ E3 2016 saw some huge announcements in tech and games from Xbox!
Microsoft @ E3 2016 saw some huge announcements in tech and games from Xbox!

A lot of what Microsoft turned heads with was the information it gave about its future plans during its press conference.

For one thing, it announced the implementation of Xbox Play Anywhere, which promises seamless integration of saves and data, not to mention  more cross-play, between Xbox One and Windows 10 PC.  Paying for an Xbox One digital game gives access to the PC platform.  This feels like a massive step forward for Microsoft in a market where more people are tending toward PC play than ever before, and it should put games in the hands of fans more often for no extra cost.  This is an idea I completely approve of, provided it doesn’t get bogged down to be more complicated than it has to be.

But Xbox also came out swinging in terms of hardware – it announced a new design program for custom controller color palettes as well as the Xbox One Slim.  But the big news was the first official announcement of Project Scorpio, the next console generation for Microsoft, which promises no-compromise 60 frames-per-second gameplay in 4K resolution.  How they will deliver on that promise without making the thing the size of a portable generator I don’t know, but we’ll see!

As far as games go, the press conference felt to me like most other Microsoft conferences: there was a lot of stuff that got me excited and a lot I don’t care about one bit, like Forza Horizon 3 and Dead Rising 4.  Other games like State of Decay 2, ReCore, and Tekken 7 all have me really intrigued – they look like they could be bringing a lot of beauty, innovation, and variety to a console that, for a long time now, hasn’t sparked my interest that much.

If I had to pick my favorite games on display at the conference, they would have to be Sea of Thieves, Inside, and Scalebound.  As someone who loves a good pirate battle in a video game, Sea of Thieves for me carries the promise of creating a unique online experience, and I hope it becomes the game to bring my boys at Rare back into the light.  Inside, the spiritual successor to Limbo, promises to do what its predecessor did – use the interactive medium to pose interesting questions and offer interesting yet simplistic gameplay.  Scalebound, meanwhile, just looks like PlatinumGames (the team behind Bayonetta, Wonderful 101, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, and Star Fox Zero) is doing what it does best: creating some over-the-top, intense, awe-inspiring boss fight carnage.  It looks like it has a ton of personality and I hope to get some time with it soon enough.

In all, I think Microsoft put on a great presentation and looks to be offering a lot of variety and opportunity to its fans that we haven’t seen in previous years.  Now feels like a better time than ever to keep an eye on these guys, especially if the Scorpio breaks the current bounds of gaming technology.