For the past few days, E3 has been running along with the video game world’s biggest players putting their best foot forward in the attempt to sway gamers all over the world that they will have the biggest and best games for you to play. Well, most of everyone anyway. Sony decided not to RSVP for this year’s E3 party so they didn’t have a show. I was really bummed out by this but this did allow a glimmer of hope that others will step their game up to fill in the void Sony was leaving behind. In fact, it seemed like a golden opportunity for Microsoft and Nintendo to really strut their stuff. Heck, I wanted to see the PC Show give us some neat stuff!
That doesn’t mean that I wasn’t looking forward to the publisher shows. After all, E3 isn’t just relegated to the console makers. It’s actually a week for the developers to show their wares and whet the appetites of gamers all over the world. While we did cover Microsoft, Square Enix and Nintendo‘s E3 shows, I didn’t want to leave the other keynotes out. So let’s go check out the other E3 keynotes!
Electronic Arts (EA)
How can the biggest game publisher, a company that publishes a myriad of games each and every year, mess up E3? EA finds a way… each and every year. 2019 is no exception.
I do appreciate what EA tried to do with their E3 show. The show’s entire schedule was laid out from the start. I’m not even going to knock EA for just focusing of six games because they did delve into each and every one in a lot of detail. So what made EA’s E3 show bad? Oddly enough, it was for the reasons above!
Since the entire show was scheduled and ran like clockwork, there was no room for any big surprises. No reveal for the next Dragon Age game. No new Lord of the Rings game. They did sneak in an Anthem segment, stating that “we’ll make it better! Promise!” It wasn’t convincing.
And while they covered the games and features extensively, it was presented in a really dry way as you can tell that everything, including the questions, were scripted. It wasn’t natural in the least and it was just a bunch of talking heads blathering on about why it’s cool without really showing why we should care. The only thing that was really worth watching was at the start of the show as they gave us a good, long glimpse at Star Wars: Fallen Order. It looked good but unimaginative. It looked like they mixed Star Wars with Uncharted and called it a day.
Also, sports games. This isn’t the reason why I watch E3. Personal opinion but, when two of the featured six games are sports games, I just mentally check out.
With no Starfield or Elder Scrolls VI, what did Bethesda show off this year? Quite a bit, actually.
Bethesda generally had a good showing this year. It only had one big heavy hitter, Doom Eternal, but they did have a chock-full of stuff during their show. Sadly, most of them were updates to existing games. Todd Howard gave a brief acknowledgement of how Fallout 76 sucked at launch but they’re trying to make it better now… really. Rage 2 is getting new stuff as well. Elder Scrolls Blades is moving to the Nintendo Switch as well. If you’re a fan for any of these games, those announcements would’ve made you happy. Me? I didn’t get those games so I didn’t care. I enjoyed the spectacle of it all, though. They did feature a couple of new games, like Shinji Mikami’s new IP, Ghostwire: Tokyo as well as a funky looking timeloop game called Deathloop. We also got an updated trailer for the upcoming Wolfenstein: Youngblood which did look good. But it didn’t look good enough that I’d want to buy the game.
But probably the worst thing about the Bethesda E3 show doesn’t have anything to do with the actual show. The worst thing was the fan interaction and the live audience. During the show, they spliced in “gamers” who love Bethesda games. I didn’t care one bit about these total strangers and you can tell they were cherry picked because not one of them said a single solitary bad thing about the games! Yeah, you listen to the gamers… when they have only nice things to say about your games. That’s how it came across to me. Also, I really wanted to punch that one, loud guy who kept screaming whenever anyone on stage said something so he would just shut up! Either he’s related to everyone in the Bethesda team or he’s a paid shill. That’s the only reason I can think of why he would get so hyped about everything that was mentioned.
I would’ve enjoyed Bethesda’s E3 show a whole lot more if it felt authentic. There were some things for gamers to get hyped for real but, thanks to the pandering video montage of gamers and the “allegedly” paid off live crowd, Bethesda’s show came off as disingenuous and fake. It was like they were trying to pull the wool over my eyes for some nefarious reason.
The PC Gaming Show
I’m not much of a PC gamer but I watched the entire thing. And… it was fine.
One thing that I was legitimately liked were the two hosts of the PC Gaming Show, Sean “Day” Plott and Frankie Ward. They gave the show a good energy throughout and they came off as likable without trying to pander to the audience. There were also a few games that was intrigued by. Telling Lies is made from the same guys who made Her Story, a game I have been meaning to play because of it’s unique premise. Basically, you watch a video of a person being interviewed and you try to use what they say as clues to unlock the next video. Telling Lies will do the same thing but with four people. Sounds lame on paper but fascinating in execution.
However, the hosts weren’t charming enough for me not to notice the PC Gaming Show’s greatest weakness: lack of actual gameplay. The keynote was either the hosts interviewing the developers while clips play in the background or trailers of the upcoming game. It also didn’t help that they spent around two to five minutes per game. That’s not a lot of time to build up excitement for an upcoming product. Not the worst show of the evening but a weak show, nonetheless.
You can just call this the Tom Clancy Gun Shooting Show next year, Ubisoft. Or just not show up at all next year. The latter option seems better.
To be fair, there were a couple of highlights from Ubisoft’s E3 keynote. Watchdog Legion was revealed with a clever mechanic wherein you can supposedly recruit any NPC into your cause and play as them. While I don’t really see that happening since they’ll program a lot of useless people with no skills into the game, I do see the potential for this to make an interesting game. The annual Just Dance segment was really brief… yes, that was a highlight as the cringe didn’t last all that long. Look, I’m sorry for the dancers since they do put in a lot of hard work into the performances each and every year… but we just don’t care.
After that, Ubisoft just revealed disappointment after disappointment. They gave us Tom Clancy games one after the other. Ghost Recon. The Division 2. Rainbow 6. And all the variants. I couldn’t keep up and they just all congealed into one huge Tom Clancy mess in my mind! Honestly, I couldn’t for the life of me differenciate any of the games to the point I wasn’t sure if they moved on to a new game!
But probably the worst thing was the two non-gaming stuff Ubisoft revealed during their E3 show. They opened the show with Assassin’s Creed Symphony to promote the orchestral tour. First of all, can anyone really say that the music from Assassin’s Creed is memorable? I don’t remember a single song from the games! They also revealed a new television show called Mythic Quest. Why?
This is E3! I don’t care if the show is game related! It has no business being in a keynote! Maybe the show will be funny and be a breakout hit! But E3 isn’t the time to announce a new sitcom! Save that crap for Comic-con or something!
Oddly enough, Devolver Digital has one of the most anticipated shows in E3, in my opinion. And they once again hit a home run here!
Devolver Digital isn’t really a “real” keynote. It’s more of a parody of the E3 machine. It pokes fun at the glitz and grandeur of E3. It’s also self aware of the icky business practices of the video game world. But it does all of this while showing the few games that they actually produce. It’s also wonderfully violent, filled with swearing and over the top joy.
Oh, and the games actually look cool in a retro sort of way. Thumbs up to Devolver Digital for being the best palette cleanser for all the seriousness of the other E3 shows and reminding us to just let loose and have fun!
What did you think of this year’s batch of E3 keynotes? Let me know in the comments section below!