E3 2014 – A Review

E3 is still technically happening, but the big 3 (Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo) have given their main event performances. After watching for the past two days, and having ample time to contemplate how each company did without getting caught up in any hype or hate, I figure it is time to review each company’s performance. Because Microsoft began the conference, let’s start with them.

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Microsoft – I was looking forward to this presentation; with the recent drop of the Kinect and many games being pushed back to 2015, I was very curious to see what MS would bring to the table. MS promised to focus on games coming to the Xbox One, and on that promise, they delivered. There were plenty of games coming to the new system (whether gamers were excited for them or not), including a new Dead Island, Sunset Overdrive, The Crew, The Division, Assassins Creed Unity, Evolve, Phantom Dust, and some others – you can see the presentation here. Microsoft also did a fairly decent job at keeping the pace brisk, with not much awkward silence to fill space. However, MS really dropped the ball: most of the games they showed were either slated for a late 2015 release, or didn’t show any gameplay to get excited about (the few games that promoted gameplay, like Sunset Overdrive, looked great). At the end of the presentation, I felt like I hadn’t really learned anything new about the system or games that wasn’t already known. MS didn’t do a terrible job, but they also didn’t do a very good job either. I give them 5/10

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Sony – Next up was Sony. There were many eyes on the PS4 and what software would be announced for the popular system. Thankfully, for the most part, the presentation wasn’t a disappointment. The big win for the Sony presentation was the software; Sony effectively solidified that I will be getting a PS4 as my second console, though it won’t be until 2015. Many games stood out, like Abzu and No Man’s Sky, while other games we were already familiar with made an appearance (Destiny). There were plenty of games announced, and much more actual gameplay than from the MS presentation, such as the epic gameplay video of Far Cry 4. You can watch Sony’s full E3 presentation here, though I would recommend going over the various summaries you will find scattered across the internet, as the presentation went on way too long. The show was about 2 hours long when it should’ve been only an hour. No one wanted to hear about PlayStation TV (or the bundle)(EDIT: The indie side of this is really cool for those who don’t want to buy a PS4 for indie games, which is good. Just didn’t appeal to me), or the Ratchet and Clank movie that was already announced a while back. We didn’t want to see more CGI, since we already had our fill at the MS presentation. And I was severely disappointed at the lack of info regarding PSNow. I know as much about it now as I did last November. I wanted to see some confirmed games from the launch of it, perhaps release dates of other games, and more info on it. Something else that plagued the show were terrible jokes that took up too much time, as well as gimmicky promos like the “Letter Intro.” Luckily, Sony ended the presentation on a high note, with the PSNow beta coming in July, a Metal Gear Solid 5 trailer (excited for this game, though there was no gameplay), and Uncharted 4 (also, very excited!) A great start, terribly boring middle, and great ending rounded out this presentation; be sure to check out the highlights of the presentation, as they are worth watching. I give this presentation a solid 8/10

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Nintendo – There was a lot riding on this E3 for Nintendo. The other two companies have been riding easy since November, with little criticism and massive sales, while Nintendo, though really picking themselves back up and making great decisions since November, had been ridiculed and criticized beyond belief. Could Nintendo do it? Could they get to the top of E3 again? I had a good feeling about it, and I’m glad to announce, Nintendo killed it at E3. First came the Digital Event, which Nintendo took a lot of heat about. This was a pioneering step in the RIGHT direction (last year was terrible, but a start to what they accomplished this year), and it was fantastic. Nintendo made fun of themselves, via the creators of Robot Chicken, yet showed a confidence in their Wii U we hadn’t seen yet. There was something very satisfying about Reggie and Iwata-San duking it out Dragonball Z-style, as well. The pre-recorded presentation, which was broadcast all over the internet, was very lean and poignant, in all the good ways. This was where Nintendo touched on the big games: Hyrule Warriors, (arguably) Toad’s Treasure Tracker, Yoshi Wooly World, Bayonetta 2 (and Bayonetta 1!), Smash Bros, NFC program, Kirby, Zelda, Xenoblade Chronicles X, and a lovely new game titled Splatoon. There was plenty to get hyped about. In the post show, they also snuck in Mario Party 10 and an exclusive game titled Devil’s Third. Up next was the Treehouse live event, and I have to say, this format (Digital Event followed by the Treehouse at E3) was surprisingly ahead of its time; I much preferred it to the traditional presentations. At the Treehouse, they talked with various key figures at Nintendo (Aonuma, Miyamoto), as well as showcased GAMEPLAY for 4 hours. We got to see Splatoon in action (looked great), Hyrule Warriors (also great), 40 minutes of Xenoblade Chronicles X (superb), Mario Maker (interesting), Toad’s Treasure Tracker (eh), and two new IPs Miyamoto is working on that utilize the GamePad (both have incredible potential, but I won’t make any judgments until I see the final products). Whether you were interested in the game being played or not, you got to see what the other two presentations were very short on: gameplay. To top off the day, Nintendo hosted the Smash Bros Invitational, featuring 16 of the best Smash fighters in the gaming world. The place was completely packed, and the entire event was very entertaining. One more very important reveal, though it was leaked before the Digital Event (I think it was planned, personally), was a new Star Fox game coming to Wii U by this time next year. Myself, and many on the internet, were giddy with excitement at the announcement. However great Nintendo was, though, they still had some disappointments, just like the others. Zelda, Xenoblade, and Yoshi’s Wooly World being released in 2015 isn’t desirable. Devil’s Third will hopefully look much better than what was shown. Though I loved Treehouse, there were some really awkward moments/silence, and there were some mistakes along the way (though this can be argued the other way as well, that it humanized Nintendo and made them more personable – they make mistakes just like every other person does). And did we really need that new Toad game? No, no we didn’t. Overall, I would give Nintendo a stellar 9/10

So, there you have it. Of the Big Three, Nintendo was back on top at E3. Sony established that I will be getting a PS4 next year, while MS didn’t really show me anything. Hopefully Nintendo can keep this hype going through the rest of the year, and can deliver even more today with the rest of their Treehouse event.

 

~Mike

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