Let me start off by being real with all of you: I don’t like E3. The issues I have with the AAA gaming industry are vast, and they are all gathered together and lauded annually at the event, using consumer mentality and manufactured hype to continue abusing their supporters and sucking off their investors. So overall, nah, I’m not a big fan of E3, which is why I didn’t follow any of it in real time. However, as a gamer, I do value the announcements that come out of E3 every year, and as a human being I obviously have opinions about the medium I’m passionate about. Thus, here’s a special edition of Midday Snark where I’ll give a brief overview of each major E3 conference and offer some opinions about what gamers have to look forward to and dread in the coming years. I will try my utmost to not make these summaries a series of me taking the piss out of each publisher for cheap laughs, but you know they’ll come out anyway. This first installment covers EA and Bethesda, two conferences that while not terrific did offer solid showings of games and offers for their fanbases. It may seem like I rail EA in this segment, but their conference was fine in many ways and really doesn’t warrant a spot on my–ahem–lower quality conference segment.
Note: I will not be hitting every little thing; just the more major stuff to give a feel of each company’s showing.
EA offered up a surprisingly fair showing, not giving off any insidious or incompetent vibes that most gamers have come to expect from it. However, much of its showing was more of the same from past years. We got looks at FIFA and Madden games which sure enough look exactly the same as the other entries from 7 years ago. We also got some dubious news about Battlefield 1 and the source of my first real swing at E3 news with EA saying that “No player will ever experience the same match twice.” Great! I’m sure Ubisoft will announce Beyond Good and Evil 2 as well!
My biggest problem with this kind of announcement is twofold: for one, it’s a cheap advertising gimmick that will always be technically true. Of course no two matches will be exactly the same, just as no two matches from Halo or Call of Duty or Gears of War were exactly the same. Players run out of ammo at different points, different players are involved in a lobby, your neighbors screaming for volume consideration at different points in the match distracting you. Is that announcement true? Technically, yes. Does it really mean anything that it implies? Absolutely not. You will eventually experience matches similar to each other, for you only have so many different maps, objectives, classes, etc. to go around. This kind of thing bothers me because it’s totally unnecessary; I don’t care about having an entirely novel experience every time I power up the game; I care about having quality experiences. All these announcements do is fuel the hype train with empty promises that EA gets away with due to technicalities.
The next big thing EA announced was the new Titanfall, the sequel to that game everyone played for 2 weeks and then forgot about. This one will be available on PS4, which was a surprising announcement, and will also feature a single player campaign, and boy did they laud that like it was Gabe Newell’s gift to the number 3. Congratulations, EA, you’re selling a game for full price that actually has the content expectations for a full price release. That’s a big step for you, isn’t it? People have to wonder, though, if by single player campaign they mean you’ll be alone in the servers again 20 days after launch.
The last two things from EA were a weird behind-the-scenes trailer of the new Mass Effect: Andromeda (gameplay-free, of course) and the announcement of their new indie game publishing platform, EA Originals. Quite generous of EA to introduce indie gaming the wonderful world of microtransactions and superfluous season passes. Thanks for taking care of the little guy, EA.
After last year’s trump card of a conference, Bethesda was somewhat set up for an underwhelming showing. However, despite not having the firepower of a Fallout 4 reveal, Bethesda did really well. I’ll have to reach for some jokes on this one. Following DOOM in its reboot steps, Quake was revealed to have a new installment that no one really saw coming. It looks like its gameplay will look a lot like Overwatch, featuring a champion class for the player to choose. It will apparently be PC-only at release, so our Master Race overlords will have to let us know how it is in between updating graphic cards and deriding consoles for things consoles never professed to have in the first place. Bethesda is also jumping on the VR bandwagon with news about adapting Fallout and DOOM for the HTC Vive. Ya know, if you’re tired of just spending hundreds of dollars on consoles and want to start actually burning your money on hardware yet to be truly tested in quality or adaptability. Pesky disposable income.
The rebooted Wolfenstein is receiving a new installment, an announcement that literally no one cared about as soon as new Dishonored 2 gameplay was revealed. Yes, actual gameplay at E3. Bethesda, you crazy radicals. Bethesda also announced a current-gen remaster of Skyrim with updated graphics and mod-capability. “We thought about releasing an Oblivion remaster too,” said a nameless Bethesda exec, “but we figured making people repurchase two old RPGs would just be showing off.” This announcement effectively softened the blow of Elder Scrolls VI being years off. You know, in case some kind of delusional fan actually thought that game was anywhere near release.
The rest of Bethesda’s conference was mostly taken up by Fallout 4 DLC, proving true the old adage “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t sell a game as a finished product without stringing your fanbase along with other installments that you probably could have included with the base game if you had delayed a few months.”