E32016: Who Won the Conference Battle this Year?
Wow... what an incredible few days for the gaming industry. Between every showcase, conference, game announcement, bad joke made, and awesome kimono wearing game developer on stage, it is needless to say that E32016 will be one to remember. That goes for all consoles, developers, and publishers involved: from us at The Gamer HUD, we say well done on another exceptional year.
Now down to business. Let me begin by saying, that this is solely my opinion and those that write for The Gamer HUD could have differing opinions. In other words, direct the hatred directly at me *Wink*. Since I think most can say that the argument will come down to either Microsoft or Sony, let's address the others. To note: I have bolded each conference if you waned to skip sections.
EA kicked off the entire thing Sunday, with a one hour presentation showing us what CEO Andrew Wilson prefaced as "a quick glimpse into what we have in development", truer words have never been spoken. In their 60 minutes, they managed to cover all known titles in development such as Battlefield1 and Madden NFL 2017. But the thing that made me a little frustrated with the conference, as I am sure it did to many of you reading this as well, they glossed over Mass Effect: Andromeda. Yes they showed someone drawing concept art of characters with small glimpses into the universe, with a short trailer at the end, but I can't wrap my head around why they wouldn't start the whole thing with a 5 minute gameplay demo; or something of that nature. Anything more on that front would have been welcomed. Instead they kept it high level and gave us a solid 10 minute "Making Of" look at Fifa 17 powered by the beloved Frostbite engine... Needless to say, there was some sadness in that conference for me.
Bethesda had a solid conference, even though a good amount of it had been leaked before the show. Still managing to surprise and impress, they showed revivals like Prey, the highly anticipated Dishonored 2, and even managed to throw in an easter egg or two with the Wolfenstein: New Colossus image. I am glad that Bethesda decided to keep their conference this year at E3, even though many thought that it would be unlikely. But announcements such as Skyrim Remasters and Quake Champions, made for a solid showing. Well done Bethesda
Ubisoft... if there is one thing that you cannot say about this conference, is that it was too short. Clocking in at almost 2 hours long, I can't possibly imagine how anxious the audience was to get the hell out of there by the time Aisha Tyler closed out the show with some closing thoughts. On that note, we saw plenty. From promising games such as Ghost Recon Wildlands, to the highly anticipated South Park: Fractured But Whole, they had more than enough to keep us entertained. In a way I felt like Ubisoft suffered the exact opposite of what EA did, way too much content over a long (seriously, can't hit this one home hard enough) period of time. If Ubisoft had packed that down into 1 hour, with no on stage interviews, dance performances, developer personalities, VR Exercises, and movie documentaries (did I mention that this conference was long?), this could have been an excellent show. They had all the right games there, just went overboard with it. Next year, just trim the fat and you will be set.
Nintendo held their (now) annual Treehouse Live Event, headlining Zelda: Breath of the Wild. With the exception of a 45 minute Pokemon: Sun & Moon demo, Zelda was the only game that Nintendo felt the need to show off. Trust me, if you have been living under a rock for the last 48 hour hours, they made the right choice. Extensive play throughs from the beginning of the game, closer looks at the new game mechanics, a new beautiful world to explore (seriously, stop reading this and go watch a video of this- it's that damn good), and the reveal of Voice Acting for the first time in the franchise, made for a solid showing. Although we didn't receive any info on the upcoming Nintendo NX, this was expected since they had prefaced that the console would be revealed and detailed in a separate event. All around, Nintendo handled the situation well. They doubled down on Zelda and man did it payoff... Several Game of the Show awards will be going to that one.
Microsoft had once again, another phenomenal show. Ever since Phil Spencer took over the Xbox division, the companies dedication to serving the "Player" with games and community desired console features, never fails to amaze me. Coming out swinging for the fences with the announcement of the XboxOneS model, then immediately following up with games like Gears of War 4 taking the stage for a live gameplay demo, it was clear in just the first 15 minutes of the conference that Microsoft was not messing around. Announcements like Xbox Music Playlist feature, customizable controllers, and Looking For Group made it clear that they had been listening to player and community feedback. In the game lineup area, revealing Dead Rising 4, showing us more of Sea of Thieves, and giving us the reveal date for Inside (June 29th), Microsoft gave us 90 minutes of entertainment. You would be hard pressed to not see at least 3 announcements that make you excited for the future of this platform. And of course, ending the conference with the long rumored Project Scorpio announcement, would help make sure that everyone would be buzzing about next years official reveal. Although they didn't go too far into detail of the console specs, they gave us a solid 2 minute video reiterating that the current iteration would not be replaced by this one and would actually boast to be the most powerful gaming console on the market. That is a huge promise to make, but one that I know that this Phil Spencer lead Xbox can fulfill.
Sony... What a conference. To say that this conference was great, would be underselling it. Instead of leading the whole Horse and Pony Show out on stage and gave us buzz phrases like "Greatness Awaits" and all that jazz, they decided to let their games do the talking. And that made all the difference. With a short introduction from Shawn Layden and tribute the victims over the past weekend, we were greeted with a live orchestra and the reveal of God of War. A game that has been rumored for a while now, they walked us through a 10 minute gameplay demo of a different style of Kratos, leading many in the auditorium to applause. What followed was several more exclusive titles to the PlayStation Platform. Titles like The Last Guardian and its release date, a full gameplay demo of Horizon: Zero Dawn, a choice filled trailer for Detroit: Become Human, and Sony Bend's Days Gone reveal. Nor did it stop there, Resident Evil VII, Spiderman from Insomniac, a Crash Bandicoot Remaster announcement, and of course walking Hideo Kojima on stage to show off the teaser trailer for the Sony exclusive Death Stranding. Yep, Sony delivered one punch after another, with no signs of slowing. Instead of overstaying their welcome (at this point in the show, I don't think a single person would have minded another hour worth of content at this rate), they finished off with a final look at the gameplay for Days Gone, and filled that The Last of Us 2 post apocalyptic void in our hearts. PlayStation 4 has sold over 40 mill units to date, and Sony just gave a whole lot more people reason(s) to invest in the system. Well Done.
Conclusion... You still with me? Good. Like I said before, this was a summary of my thoughts and opinions on the conference. Now before anyone goes calling me a fan boy of this or that, let me challenge you to keep one thing in mind. Every show gave us something to be excited for. Every single one. With the competition between industry giants like Xbox & Sony being as heated as it is right now- WE are the ones that win. So tonight as I boot up any one of my consoles, whether it be the Xbox One, the PS4, or have to wipe piles of dust off of my WiiU (Sorry, I had to), I will be smiling with anticipation for the things to come.