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Will’s Honest Opinion – E3 2018 SUCKED – 6-13-18

Let’s be honest. This E3 sucked, and you know it. Although the once frowned upon cringy presentations (looking at you Ubisoft) seemed to be completely removed, this year’s conference did little in exciting or even finding a pulse in today’s gaming industry. There have been stinkers in the past, but the blasé game offerings, and the complete disregard for hardware is indicative of a shift. Xbox has announced it’s project “Scarlet” for a 2020 launch, and if this year’s E3 is a barometer of that timetable by any measure, we’re in the middle of a slow down. This wouldn’t be such an issue if this generation’s software wasn’t a collection of uneventful titles to begin with, but as it is… gaming is in a rut, and this didn’t happen over night. This year’s E3 sucked because it didn’t really show me anything new, and instead presented me with a bunch of regurgitated garbage…with a bow on it.

I rarely write or talk about gaming, but I’ve been a semi casual gamer since ’85 with every other late stage millennial. Currently I own a PsP, Ps2, Ps3, Ps4, Xbox 360, Wii, Wii-U, and a 3DS. And I play all of them regularly… (well except maybe the Wii…) I didn’t get the Switch for reasons I’ll mention later. And “no”, ‘Mario-GTA’ wasn’t enough of a reason. However, every year in June I set my day schedule (like so many others) around catching the E3 conference on a 2nd monitor as I work. There have been years where so much had happened, it was difficult to complete whatever task I was currently doing. This was not one of those years.

So what happened? I had mentioned before that there was an announcement for a new system by Microsoft 2 years from now, but that doesn’t explain the stupendous amount of sequels to games I don’t care about or the announcements and live play-throughs for games I already knew were coming. I realize too, that my own lack of interest in a game doesn’t make it a “bad conference”, and that my opinion is biased in that regard; however, continuing to tell me about something that you told me about years ago is literally a waste of my time. The new Spider-man game really didn’t need ANOTHER play-through. I will give ‘Death Stranding’ a pass if only because it’s such a niche title, and deserves to have actual game play showcased.

Square Enix dropped the ball by not presenting even a still for the upcoming ‘Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 3′ game. This wouldn’t be a major offense if ‘Avengers 3’ didn’t just hit $2 billion worldwide. In fact their entire presence was a bizarre choice seeing as Square Enix hadn’t been to an E3 since 2015. If you’re going to release your trailers ahead of the conference,  why even go? I did find it interesting though that the “reddit list” of Sony’s conference actually was 50% correct in “predicting” the show’s timeline. It was even in order too to some effect; so that was odd….

Moving forward, most publishers announced their staples. We received news of another ‘Assassin’s Creed’ (Ancient Rome… FINALLY), ‘The Last of Us Part 2′, and ‘Fallout 76′, (not part 76, but it might as well be…) to name a few.  Nintendo came to the game with the typical rerelease line-up that they’ve been churning out since the Switch came to market in 2017. The system has been out for a solid year and is continuing to reissue ports and remasters of Wii-U titles. Eventually, I’d like to see a completely new type of game by them. Where’s Nintendo’s multiple IP open world “Battle Royale” or their cross-world RPG akin to ‘Kingdom Hearts’? A ‘Zelda-Maker’ would be cool. I’m getting fatigued by their self imposed sequelitis.

But they’re not alone. This entire generation of games, since the induction of the Xbox1 and Ps4, have been, by and large, port machines. If you go to the wall of any game store and check out the selection for these systems, you will find that more then 50% of them are ports or HD remasters/collections of last gen titles. 25% of them are side-scrolling retro plat-formers (which although is nice, is a complete waste of resources for the hardware.) Many of the new games are sequels for known IP’s or deluxe editions of games that came out a year or two prior. All of this may sound like the result of a thriving industry, but let me tell you what is missing…

Franchise tie-in games are all but gone. And don’t tell me it’s because they’re all terrible. They’re not. Some movie tie-ins are terrible, but basic corresponding action games with known characters are basically extinct. These were occasionally great gems for the Ps2-Ps3 era and have completely been abandoned. If you want a franchise game, you need to play Lego games, or Telltale games, which is kind of ridiculous. Gone too are basic couch co-op action games. There’s a few, but this used to be a mainstay in gaming that has somehow been dropped for online only connectivity. And finally, I find there to be a huge lack of genre specific games. There’s very little espionage type games except for the few Ubisoft offerings. There used to be a heap of GoW clones, or good Star Wars titles. Those too are hard to find. Non Triple A 3rd person action titles, that don’t require 40+ hours of grinding, never seem to litter aisles anymore. FPS titles with gimmick based mechanics unique to the game are never released. In fact, the idea of the “weekend shooter” is pretty much gone.

So what does this have to do with this year’s E3? The majority of the games were either sequels or fell into the category of 3rd person RPG action titles. Which… is fine, but it’s missing out on the massive amount of styles of gameplay that used to make this an exciting event. ‘Ghost of Tsushima’ may be original in that sense, but it’s not enough when compared to the onslaught of remakes and reissues. It was also one of three samurai titles being promoted. Three! FUCKING THREE! Where is this generation’s ‘Bulletstorm’, ‘Halo’ or ‘Dragon’s Dogma’? Where are the original/modern versions of ‘InFamous’ or ‘DeadSpace’, or ‘Guitar Hero’? VR games were all but dead at this year’s E3. There were a few, but it was far from a focus; suggesting to me that the device was a massive waste of money to anyone who decided to plop down $800, inadvertently taking on the role as the industry’s R&D guinea pig.

I’ve heard the argument that this generation’s games take longer to make; which is obviously true. But if that’s the case, Triple A titles from major developers need to take a backseat to their own hype machine if they’re not willing to act sooner instead of later. I don’t need to know about a game 3 or 4 years from now. It’s a disservice to the customer, and delays gratification to the point of being borderline ineffective once it’s released if the game can’t deliver on it’s promises. ‘The Last Guardian’ is a classic example of a game that was lauded for seven years until it his shelves. It’s only been 18 months since it’s 2017 release and how many people still talk about that game? Imagine if you saw a trailer for a movie three years ahead of time? That’s going to be a ton of hype and marketing poised at keeping that project relevant. Bethesda understood this when they released ‘Fallout 4’ only months after theiir announcement. I think eventually this will be a practiced strategy.

These publisher’s need to launch close to immediately if they want to stay relevant and continue to impress. Don’t have some rando tell me about the new Star Wars game when being interviewed in a crowd of people. The best announcement this entire conference was through a tweet about “New Game + mode” in ‘GoW4’. What does that tell you about how irrelevant this conference was? The tweet was important because it’s happening now. The future of marketing is going to be “lack of hype”, because you can’t live up to standards that are actively being passed by every day. With all of that said, ‘Jump Force’ looked badass.

-Will Valle

June 13, 2018
Double Toasted

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