I’ll Review Anything: EA, Bethesda, Devolver Digital, Ubisoft and the PC Gaming Show E3 Presentations for 2017

Long ago, it was just the guys that made the gaming consoles that held these fancy E3 Press Conferences. It was just Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo that did these massively glitzy shows. But things have changed, haven’t they. Soon, even game publishers got into the act. Well, some of them tried, anyway. I mean, Konami’s first (and only?) E3 Press Conference will definitely live in infamy because of how cringeworthy it was.

This year, there were four “other” Press Conference this year: Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Bethesda and, possibly the biggest mishmash of them all, the entire PC gaming community. Let’s go see how these guys fared this year, shall we?


Electronic Arts

Whether or not you think Electronic Arts, or EA, is an “evil” company or not, there’s not escaping that they’re one of the biggest players in the gaming world today. It actually feels kind of apt that they have their own E3 Press Conference because of all the games they release year in and year out. But how well did they did in actually shilling their games this year?

Well, it wouldn’t be an EA Press Conference if they didn’t feature a plethora of sports games and this year was no different. Once again, Madden, NBA and FIFA was focused on pretty extensively. Actually, EA shined a huge spotlight on FIFA this year as this was the game they were pushing for the biggest buzzwords in gaming today: esports. EA is sponsoring an official tournament for the game. If you love sports game, then, yeah. EA’s got you covered. Too bad I don’t really care about sports games so I was bored out of my mind whenever these games were pimped out!

There were are few duds from the show, though. I have no problems with the new Battlefield game but I just didn’t like the entire “dudebro” vibe. I honestly got a glimpse of why some people hate the idea of esports. To be fair, I’m not invested heavily in the game like some others out there but I just didn’t like how it came off. The Men in Blazers segment was funny… but in an awkward way. EA didn’t show any footage from their new IP, Anthem. I know now that they were saving it for the Microsoft show. But some taste would’ve been appreciated.

There were some impressive games shown during the Press Conference. The new Need For Speed, subtitled Payback, seems to be aping the absurdness of The Fast and The Furious films as this time around, you control three highly skilled racers to take down a shadowy group known as The House. There are going to be some races, for sure, but expect some Hollywood action setpieces while your at it. Think Grand Theft Auto with more focus on the racing and cars. A Way Out also looked really good but I am concerned that it’s only going to be split screen co-op play. Being someone who likes the solo gaming experience myself, I sure hope there is some kind of single player mechanic or, at least a way to switch between characters to make pertinent choices.

EA closed the show big, showing off a massive live game between the Seperatists and the Clone Troopers in Star Wars Battlefront II. I’m not much of a online gamers (as I mentioned just above) but this thing looked real good and the promise of a fleshed out story campaign did make me want to get it. But I’ll want more details first before I actually tell EA to shut up and take my money.

Overall, EA’s show was decent. The overabundance of sports games didn’t exactly thrill me but there were some games that I liked. This year’s EA Press conference was good but could’ve been much better. Stupid sports games.


Bethesda

When Bethesda announced they were going to start holding E3 Press Conferences in 2015, I was shocked. I didn’t think they were big enough to do so but they proved me wrong when they showed us Fallout 4 and Fallout Shelter, two games that I really enjoyed. Last year’s showing was pretty good as well, as they gave us a preview of Dishonored 2 and Skyrim Remastered. This year, however, Bethesda did something they haven’t done: disappoint me.

The way the presented the entire show was slick as hell. Showing off the developers and their kids made them look like a good company to work for. All of the trailers were presented with a slick Hollywood styled pacing which showed a good mix of story and gameplay. I also liked the idea of Bethesdaland, a theme park featuring all of their IPs. However, it was the games themselves that were disappointing.

Look, Bethesda, I know that The Elder Scrolls is your biggest property. But that doesn’t mean you have the right to rehash and go to that well over and over again! There’s the card game, the Nintendo Switch version and the online version of the game! That’s three games based on the same property. Even I think that’s a little too much. The VR version of Fallout 4 and Doom didn’t trigger any feelings for me because, well, VR is just too expensive! Oh, and Bethesda had to have their own entry to the esports thing. At least they’re adding the OG of competitive shooters, Quake, into the mix. But, once again, did they have to make everyone look like a “dudebro” again?

Then there’s the Creator Club and I’m totally fearful that Bethesda will mess this up like Valve did. Essentially, Bethesda will be partnering with some modders in some kind of symbiotic relationship as the modders will get paid for their work while Bethesda will also help with testing and support. Details are still slim but, as far as I know, Bethesda will not be claiming older (ie. free) mods or anything like that. Everything must first go through the Creator Club. Hopefully, this doesn’t turn out to be a disaster.

That’s not to say that every game shown during Bethesda’s E3 Press Conference was a disaster. Thankfully, the last two games were good. The Evil Within II looked good. Not scary. But it looked good and polished. But the best thing was Wolfenstien II: The New Colossus. Once again, you’re plunged into an alternate world where Germany won World War II. But this time, you’re not in lovely ol’ Germany this time. This time, you’re in the good old USA. Well, what the USA would look like under Nazi control anyway. The thing that made Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus look interesting is the setting. Sure, they’re Nazi enjoying strawberry milkshakes and the KKK are free to walk the streets in their sheets with no problem. I love the rather retro Fallout 4 vibe the game has.

Still, the majority of the games failed to make an impact despite the slick production values and the promise of a fun time at Bethesdaland. There just wasn’t enough content to make Bethesda’s presentation anything special. Better luck next time. Oh, and maybe you guys wanna start working on a new Elder Scrolls games instead of rehashing the old ones? Just saying.


Devolver Digital

Well, this was a surprise. An E3 Press Conference that pokes fun at other E3 Press Conferences. And it was rather refreshing and amazing! You can watch the whole thing below. It’s only 15 minutes long, after all!

There was no way indie publisher Devolver Digital was ever going to produce a big show with all the bells and whistles the other companies like EA, Ubisoft and Bethesda can. But they certainly made do with what they had. The show was mostly comedy sketches with some of their game footage spliced in. However, I really loved the irreverence of it all. It was like every one was a Kevin Butler. It’s hard to take seriously but there are some decent games in the mix. Well, the only prominently featured, like, two games, actually. The games were, well, very indie looking. They looked okay but nothing special.

I will say that the humor was hilarious for the most part. Devolver Digital fantastically parodied a lot of E3 tropes, the idiocy of the gaming community and even developer faux pas rather effectively with their crass humor. I didn’t like the random shots of the “audience members” though as they did take me out of the moment a bit. Still, this was one of the best things I’ve seen in a long time. And on E3, no less!


The PC Gaming Show

You would think the biggest problem I would have with the PC Gaming Show was the fact that I’m not much of a PC gamer. I would love to join the PC Master Race but the entry fee to get in is pretty damn high! So, for now, I’m going to remain a console peasant. But the problem I had with the entire PC Gaming Show E3 presentation wasn’t that I don’t have a massive PC gaming rig so I can play all the best PC games out there. No, the biggest issue I had with it was it was just so long and boring!

I can appreciate why the show was so long, though. I mean, this is the show that just dedicated to PC games and that’s a huge platform. I mean, if there’s a console release for a certain game, it’ll probably be released on PC some time in the future. There were some games that I actually found interesting throughout the almost 2-hour slog of a show. I loved the new Battletech strategy game. And Sean “Day[9]” Plott was a really good host. I actually found him very entertaining.

However, the show definitely was amateur hour. You can tell that most of the segments were done on the fly with not much rehearsal. Gameplay clips and trailers were really short and the developers had difficulty actually explaining what was happening on the screen on their own games. Segues were abrupt and sudden.There was no connective tissue linking the games together. There were even instances where the audio would overlap each other. Suffice to say, The PC Gaming Show was a mess.

Of course, it wouldn’t have been so bad if the show were at least bombastic and captivating. Most of them were not. Maybe joining the PC Master Race isn’t all that it’s hyped up to be after all.


Ubisoft

Ubisoft has become really big and it has the ability to rival companies like EA now. They do have a number of excellent IPs but they also has a shoddy track record like EA does when it comes to business practices and some of their games have been rather disappointing. Well, E3 is supposed to reinvigorate interest in their games and their show this year succeeded in mostly doing just that. I mean, starting off the show with Nintendo’s very own Shigeru Miyamoto certainly caught my attention!

I will say I was intrigued by the Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle looked like all kinds of fun with it’s cute visuals and smart strategic battles. And it’s great that South Park: The Fractured But Whole finally got a release date on October! The VR only game Transference looked like a cool idea and will probably use the technology in a different way than just dropping us in a 3D world. While I haven’t played a game from the series in a while, I may be willing to try out Assassin’s Creed: Origins if I think Ubisoft did a good job with the story in telling how the Assassins actually formed. Far Cry 5 looked impressive… but what Far Cry game didn’t. And Beyond Good and Evil 2 looked absolutely stunning! I just hope this game sells much better than its predecessor!

There were some games that I just didn’t really care for, though. Skull and Bones’ visuals were brilliant but based on what I’ve seen, I don’t think I would like it all that much seeing that it’s poised to be one of those “online only” affairs. Starlink: Battle for Atlas is Ubisoft trying to jump on the Skylanders/amiibo bandwagon in the hopes of selling toys and I think that market is already saturated enough as it is. The Crew 2 didn’t really interest me in the least.

And Just Dance 2018… well, just no.


So, who had the best show among the developers?

I will say that Ubisoft was the best of the “serious” E3 shows among the developers. It was just the most polished of them all and their presentation had a nice balance of cool looking trailers and gameplay footage. And having enthusiastic developers come out to hawk the game didn’t hurt (I’m looking at you, Sony!). However, it may sound like I’m joking but I honestly think the best show among the developers was Devolver Digital’s parody E3 Press Conference. It was short and sweet but left you wanting just a little bit more.

Who had the best show among the devs at this year’s E3 in your opinion? Let me know in the comments section below!

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