E3 2019 – The Good, The Bad and The Surprising
The big show is over and everyone has packed up their free t-shirts and gone home. That’s right, E3 is done for another year. It was a year of some big surprises, some great games and more than a few disappointments. With that in mind, the P2 crew decided to get together and talk about their personal highlights and lowlights from the big show.
Best Game – Final Fantasy VII Remake
What could I possibly say that isn’t echoing what millions of people worldwide have been saying this week. The Final Fantasy VII Remake is doing what most of us thought would be impossible, it’s remaining faithful to the source material, whilst also bringing it into the modern era. The way Square-Enix has managed to integrate core turn-based systems and materia into a fast-paced, action-based take on Final Fantasy VII is phenomenal, and it has me salivating a bit ahead of a March 3rd, 2020 release. Other notable games were Luigi’s Mansion 3, DOOM Eternal, and Watch Dogs legion that all also presented fantastic gameplay and Cyberpunk 2077 whose gameplay is apparently phenomenal from those who went BCD to see it, but that Keanu Reeves fuelled trailer alone was enough to get it in my good books.
Biggest Surprise – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild 2
Nintendo saved the biggest E3 bomb until the last two minutes of the very last conference. Breath of the Wild is the best critically received game of this generation and while it’s no surprise that Nintendo is looking to capitalise on its monstrous success with the Link’s Awakening remake and a new franchise entry, what is a surprise is that the new game will be a direct sequel – a rare thing for this franchise. There was enough shown in this trailer to shed tease the narrative to come, one that seems to feature a revived Ganondorf, and tease the prominent presence of Zelda herself. Consider my money yours Nintendo. The runner up in this category is my shock at the lack of gameplay shown by most publishers in their conferences. WHAT THE HELL GUYS?!
Biggest Disappointment – Gears 5
E3 2019 should’ve been the big coming out for Gears 5. The September 10th release date was an excellent start, the new Escape mode was an interesting inclusion that will certainly get the attention of many an established fan as well… but where was the campaign! There’s no bigger stage than the one Xbox had at E3 2019, and so this should’ve been the time where fans, existing and prospective, should have had the chance to see the campaign, the primary reason why anyone buys a Gears of War game, and yet there was no trace, not on the stage, nor on the show floor. A big miss by Xbox here to get the hype going for their tentpole title of the 2019 holiday season. Other disappointments involved the absence of gameplay for the likes of Gods & Monsters, Rainbow 6: Quarantine and many other games that debuted, were given 2020, even early 2020 release dates and then didn’t show us what they actually looked like to play.
Best Game – Final Fantasy 7
Look, you know I’m going to say FF7. You knew this, why did you ask me? Finding out just how huge this game is going to be, seeing the sweet combat and the updated graphics and hearing these characters from my childhood get actual, lovely voices- it’s almost too much. Bring on March 3 2020, I cannot actually wait.
Biggest Surprise – Keanu Reeves
Can I say Keanu? Because…. It’s Keanu. In this day and age, modelling characters on real people is by no means a new fad, but it still throws me seeing such photorealistic likenesses of people we usually only see in movies and TV shows in a video game.
Also, although I LOVE It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia more than a fat kid loves cake, seeing Rob McElhinney’s new project pop up in an E3 stream was…well, surprising.
Biggest Disappointment – Final Fantasy XIV Online
This isn’t going to make sense to anybody who doesn’t play FFXIV but… my biggest disappointment was the Shadowbringers trailer. I am hyped for this expansion, don’t get me wrong. I love FFXIV a tonne, but they put together this amazing visual trailer and left their whole new race out of it. Sure there are some glimpses of the Viera and that’s awesome, but one of the selling points of this new xpac was “TWO” new races and now it’s like Squeenix has recognised that they’ve cocked up their second race so much that they’re just trying to brush it under the rug. THE HROTHGAR WILL FIT UNDER NO RUG, SQUEENIX. OWN YOUR MISTAKES.
Best Game – Watch Dogs Legion
There is no doubt that the Ubisoft conference was a bit dull when compared to previous years, but thankfully the very first game they showed was anything but. When rumours stated that the new Watch Dogs was going to allow for players to take control of any character in London, I was a sceptic. How in the hell was it ever going to work? Well, thanks to a smashing gameplay trailer I am 100% sold. I still worry about how the story will be handled but the ability to play in my own Guy Ritchie X 1984 adventure has me chomping at the bit to get into the game. March 2020 can’t come soon enough.
Biggest Surprise – Microsoft buys Double Fine
It really shouldn’t have been a surprise. Microsoft’s studio purchasing strategy has been an exciting one. Buy amazingly talented studios that have always had to fight for every single dollar to get their games to market. With this in mind Double Fine should have been an easy guess. Well, it still shocked the hell out of me. I can’t wait to see what Tim and co can do without the worry of wondering where their next lot of money is coming from. A win-win for both Microsoft and Double Fine.
Biggest Disappointment – No Splinter Cell
God damn it Ubisoft. You have been teasing Sam’s return for years. He keeps popping up in things like Ghost Recon and there have been tonnes of little easter eggs in games like Assassin’s Creed, yet still no word on when the world’s greatest spy is going to return. It is crazy! I feel like, at this point, a new Splinter Cell may be a launch title for the next gen of PS and Xbox systems so we have a long time to wait. Just let us know Ubi, reassure us that you are working on Sam and we will leave you alone, I promise.
Best Game – Cyberpunk 2077
Quite easily, the best game of E3 2019 is Cyberpunk 2077. Not just for Keanu Reeves (though I am a Keanu superfan and definitely appreciate him being in the game), but because this is a game that hasn’t been rushed. It’s exciting to see a game that isn’t just another notch in a long-in-the-tooth franchise – one that is an RPG in a slick cyberpunk setting, seemingly teeming with action, player choice and all the gorgeous cybernetic enhancement a player can handle.
Biggest Surprise – Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2
The biggest surprise of E3 for me was that Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2 actually looks great! It’s gorgeous, dark, and there’s a huge vampire society for us to explore. Brian Mitsoda (designer and writer on Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines) has assured us that there will be “reactive storytelling” present, meaning that the game will unfold in a number of ways and there will be genuine consequences for players actions. Sounds promising.
Biggest Disappointment – More Walking Dead
The biggest disappointment of the show had to be that there is yet another Walking Dead game in development. Do we really need another one? Are you that into Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon? If you need a Reedus fix, please divert your eyes to the absurdly beautiful Death Stranding, which hit players with a trailer so hard the internet collectively didn’t know how to process it. The Walking Dead trailer didn’t even reveal what the game actually is – it was merely a fly-through of the inside of a room, littered with a couple of dead zeds as well as well-known weapons from the show. Ironically, much like the characters in the TV show having a hard time trusting new survivors they encounter I am having a hard time trusting a new video game tie-in to this series that has well and truly outstayed its welcome.
Best Game – Jedi: Fallen Order
Finally getting a good look at Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and seeing that it does not look like a total dumpster fire. While we have not seen much and won’t truly know if it is good or not until release, Respawn Entertainment showed they know how to make a great story mode in Titanfall 2. Luckily we don’t have too long to wait until I can wave a lightsaber around and feel like a badass Jedi.
Biggest Surprise – NPCs in Fallout 76
Well, what do you know? In my Bethesda predictions, I thought that adding NPC’s and a better story was wishful thinking, and then they go and do it. Yes, they are also adding a battle royale mode that absolutely no one was asking for, but they have confirmed that they are adding in all the things that make a Fallout game a Fallout game. If only they had done this from the start, maybe then we would have got some more info about Starfield.
Biggest Disappointment – No ES6/Starfield Info
Knowing that the sixth instalment in the Elder Scrolls series is still a very very very long way off, I was hoping that we would get both a solid look at and more information on Bethesda’s new IP Starfield. Alas, it was not to be, with not much info given and no real look at the game. So we know it is in space and it still in development.
Stephen Del Prado
Best Game – Ghostwire: Tokyo
Having absolutely loved The Evil Within 2, I’m even more excited to see a follow-up which looks to mix modern-day Tokyo with Japanese horror elements. I’m hoping Tango builds upon some of the elements they introduce in TEW2 such as larger open areas and side quests which, within some of the locations shown in this trailer, would really shine.
Biggest Surprise – Final Fantasy VIII Remastered
Something I honestly never saw coming was the Triple Triad HD…I mean Final Fantasy VIII Remastered announcement, given how much talk has gone around about Square losing the source code. Never underestimate the amount of bank you can bring in selling old games to people again though, eh?
Biggest Disappointment – Tight-lips around Final Fantasy VII Remake
Look, I don’t want to seem ungrateful; Final Fantasy VII was my introduction to the JRPG genre and will always hold a special place in my gaming memories (Thanks for never releasing the good SNES stuff to PAL audiences, publishers!). But given Square’s track record lately following Kingdom Hearts 3 and FFXV, I’m concerned they’ve bitten off more than they can chew on this one. Given the scope of what we’ve seen in terms of just the Midgar section releasing next year, I shudder to think how much work is required to bring the rest of FFVII up to scratch with modern audience expectations of a AAA Action RPG. The fact that Square can’t give a definitive answer as to how many parts they have planned is both disappointing and a bit worrying.
Best Game – Deathloop
Geez, I was one of the folks who really enjoyed this year’s E3, so picking a favourite is difficult.
I’m going to go with a game first announced at this E3, purely to narrow down my options. Which is why I’m billing Bethesda’s Deathloop as my favourite game of E3 2019. Although it typified one of the major frustrations the general public had with this year’s conference – CG trailers with little to no gameplay to speak of – I’m more than happy to be drawn into interesting concepts and check out gameplay later down the track. With a fascinating assassin time-looping caper on the cards, count me intrigued.
Biggest surprise – Breath of the Wild 2
Nintendo showing a teaser trailer and subsequently announcing a sequel to Breath of the Wild absolutely floored me.
Very few Zelda games are direct sequels, instead set in different timelines or many years later. To see something set so adjacent to arguably one of the greatest video games of all time is exciting, to say the least. Especially considering Nintendo has yet to show any footage of Metroid Prime 4 – development setbacks notwithstanding – to actually show something tangible for Breath of the Wild’s sequel was a genuine surprise, and showed they have a clear vision of what’s to come.
It better include being able to play as Zelda, dammit!
Biggest disappointment – Town No Show
Very little disappointed me this year, in fact, it’s what wasn’t shown that disappointed me the most.
Game Freak’s experimental RPG, Town, was announced last year for a 2019 release, but radio silence has since followed. I was hoping to see more information and a release date, but Town was conspicuously absent. Perhaps we will see more of it in a Nintendo Direct later in the year?