E3 2015 Features Opinion

The Calm After the Storm

The Calm After the Storm – A look back at E3 2015

So it is over, E3 2015 is done and dusted. Crowds were wowed, bombs were dropped, tears were shed. I guess I am not quite sure what to do now. I wrapped myself completely in the insanity that is E3 for a glorious 4 days and came out the other end emotionally and physically drained but with a big old smile on my face. What a year! What a glorious, VR demoing, Hololense wowing, Final Fantasy announcing, backwards compatible year. After the last two rather depressing years this year was a megaton of wow. For once I actually believed most of the hooting and hollering that goes on in the conferences because there was plenty to hoot and holler about. So in this, the calm after the storm, I thought I would have a look back at the conferences and go over what caused a fuss, what caused a gasp and what caused a shake of the head.

Microsoft and Sony

I am putting the two big guns together for two reasons. Firstly they both had amazing conferences and for mine I couldn’t separate them in terms of what was on offer and secondly to avoid any perception of favouritism (We love all games here at Player2 no matter the console). These two industry heavy weights came out with all guns blazing but both had quite different approaches. Microsoft’s clear focus was games coming in 2015 and early 2016 (with Gears 4 being the exception). They wanted the world to see what is coming their way this year and used that focus to great effect. The big bombshell of course was the announcement of backwards compatibility. I see this as a smart move by a company that is doing everything it can to regain lost trust after a botched launch. Oh don’t forget that Hololense demo. It might not work like that in the real world but at the moment label me wowed.

Recore was an exciting announcement
Recore was an exciting announcement

Sony on the other hand looked to the future. Their sparse 2015 line up was glossed over with a firm eye planted on 2016 and beyond.  But let me tell you that future looks amazingly bright. It seems Sony went to google and typed “Long time gamer’s most wanted games” because that is basically what they delivered. FF7 remake, Shenmue 3 (I have my issues with the Shenmue 3 announcement but that is for another day) and finally The Last Guardian. But for mine the most impressive game on display was Horizon: Zero Dawn. A new game from Guerilla Games, the company known for making the good-but-not-great Killzone series, Horizon looks to be possibly the most intriguing game of the show.

As much as I loved both the conferences they did have their problems. Microsoft not showing Quantum Break, Scalebound and Crackdown was disappointing. These three are games that break the mould for Microsoft so it would have been good to see more of them. Oh well I guess I have to wait till Gamescon to check those. As for Sony the biggest worry I have is that there were very few specific release dates mentioned. I am worried because there is every chance that we will be seeing these games at E3 2016 and possibly 2017. Sony seems to be in a spot where they have a glut of great games coming but they are unwilling or unable to say when they are going to drop. Hopefully we get some hard dates in the near future.

Horizon looked stunning
Horizon looked stunning

Bethesda

The Bethesda conference was an interesting one. Doom looked like it could be a bit of over the top fun but nothing special, Dishonered 2 was announced but with only a cinematic trailer on show it is a probably a long way off and there were a few interesting nuggets on The Elder Scrolls: Online and Battlecry. If the conference was to end there it would be hard not to think of it as a failure. But of course it didn’t end there. One game can make or break one of these conferences and that is exactly what happened with Fallout 4. This upcoming trip to post apocalypse Boston was the reason to watch the Bethesda conference and after such a spectacular showing I couldn’t help but have a smile on my dial.

Doom look fun but not amazing
Doom look fun but not amazing

EA, Ubisoft and Square Enix

All three of these conferences were slight disappointments in my eyes. Not because of the games on show but because of the way the event was organised. EA spent way too much time on sports and as great as an athlete as Pele is, that sort of interview belongs on a sports show and not on the main stage at E3. Spending so much time on games that come out every year was a huge misstep. If EA had dedicated that time to more info on Mass Effect, Mirrors Edge or Battlefront I am sure everyone would have been a lot more positive about the whole affair.

Ubisoft did what Ubisoft always does. Aisha Tyler told bad jokes while still managing to remain likeable. There was Tom Clancy stuff, Assassin’s Creed stuff and a couple of surprises. A new South Park game is certainly welcome but the biggest surprise was Ghost Recon: Wildlands. I don’t know about you but that looks pretty darn cool to me. It was a solid show but nothing out of the ordinary. Like their games, Ubisoft have a formula for E3 conferences and they stuck to it closely for 2015.

Mirrors Edge needed more time in the spotlight
Mirrors Edge needed more time in the spotlight

Finally Square Enix, if ever there was the time to use the expression “ a diamond covered in crap” this is it. The games on show were great. Deus Ex, Star Ocean, A new Neir, Hitman and let us not forget the explosive Just Cause 3. In fact of all of the publisher conferences I would probably say that Square had the strongest lineup. The only problem was the conference was about as exciting as a shareholders meeting for a paperclip company. The presenters droned on and on and on and I have no doubt that around the world Insomniacs had suddenly found a cure.

Nintendo

Oh Nintendo how I love you and hate you at the same time. I love your games, I love your slightly off skew view on things and to be honest I kind of loved those puppets. But boy to I hate how you fail to listen fans and you fail to even try and play the hype game. The Nintendo presentation was decidedly average. We got a chunk of Star Fox which was nice, a large slab of Yoshii which is ok except the game is out here next week and a whole bunch of Amiibo. We didn’t get Mario and we didn’t get Zelda Wii U both of which we know are in development. The whole presentation just felt like Nintendo going through the motions when they had a real chance to generate some excitement for the Wii U. I constantly feel that Nintendo run with the philosophy of “This is how we do things” and are completely inflexible to any other options. It is fine to be a unique company Nintendo and that is why we like you but when your fans are screaming for some attention it would be nice, if not essential, if you were to listen.

Star Fox Zero was probably the best game in the Nintendo show.
Star Fox Zero was probably the best game in the Nintendo show.

PC Gaming Show.

This was a unique experiment that I wouldn’t say was a success but it wasn’t a failure either. The show brought some great games on stage that would never get this sort of publicity otherwise. Killing Floor, Day Z, ARMA 3 and many more all got to share some of the E3 limelight. The show itself however was much too long and there was too much product placement from sponsors AMD. I hope the PC Gaming show continues but the formula is refined for 2016 to enable a much more entertaining presentation.

ArmA 3's next expansion was highlighted at the PC Gaming Show
ArmA 3’s next expansion was highlighted at the PC Gaming Show

Despite the gripes I had with some of the conferences I feel safe in saying this was the best E3 in years. Some great announcements, shocking surprises and exciting technical innovations were on show. Because of this my anticipation for the next 12 months of gaming is at an all-time high and after all isn’t that what E3 is really all about?

Matt Hewson

The Calm After the Storm
The Calm After the Storm

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