Ok, as promised - reviews time! I'm going to keep with my format from last year again as I think that works really well! Also note that a few games I plan to buy appeared in multiple conferences, so I've tried to include these only once on to buy lists where possible, with the owning publisher. Hope you all enjoy reading
#1 MICROSOFT - 9/10
It's been a long time coming, but for the first time since the Xbox One reveal Microsoft has finally put on a conference worthy of topping this list. This was their best showing in an awfully long time. From a presentational standpoint, great job - we didn't lose presenters entirely, but they were kept to a minimum and used quite well. From a content standpoint, great job - they brought 50 games, which is more than Square Enix, Ubisoft and Sony put together!
They showed way too much for me to go through everything individually, but suffice to say there was a lot of good stuff. To highlight particularly, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice looked great, as did Ori, Devil May Cry 5, Jump Force and Kingdom Hearts 3. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit made me jump for joy as a Life is Strange fan, and of course Cyberpunk 2077 blew everything away at the end. An extremely solid lineup.
Also, I have to say that it was awesome to hear them talk about investing in more first party studios, and building up their indie credentials. They have a long way to go to catch up to Sony, but finally they seem to have got the message. In fact, that was really the theme of this conference. They finally understand their issues and are fixing them. It's too late for this generation, but the next may not be far off...next year's E3 will be very interesting! For now though, a superb year!
TO BUY LIST:
- Cyberpunk 2077. Do I need to say more? Even despite the terrible FPS news that came out the next day, this looked outstanding.
- First Party Investment. This is great news for all gamers. MS finally starting to pump money into more devs is something long overdue.
- The reveal of The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit made me mark out, given this was the first time we saw it.
- MS trolling their audience by showcasing Gears POP before Gears 5 was absolutely hilarious.
- Cyberpunk 2077
- Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
- Devil May Cry 5 probably
- SESSION (possibly, if it's like Tony Hawk. Need to see more first)
Discord wrote:[10:36 PM] BlackDove: Great conference.
[10:36 PM] BlackDove: This is what it should be like
[10:36 PM] BlackDove: Talking kept to minimum
[10:36 PM] BlackDove: trailers back to back
[10:37 PM] BlackDove: No mobile, no indie, no garbage
[10:37 PM] BlackDove: Great job
#2 SQUARE ENIX - 8/10
Returning to the world of conferences for the first time in a while, Square came close to hitting a home run, but fell just short. Deciding between second and third place was tough, but ultimately the strength of Square's lineup overall won out. They only brought 10 titles, but all looked very good, and this was the conference that had me writing down most names to either buy or keep an eye on. Their presentation also can't be faulted, with back to back content. Great job.
Game wise, with Dragon Quest 11, Kingdom Hearts 3, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Final Fantasy XIV, and Just Cause 4 there was pretty much something for everyone, and even the stuff that wasn't for me personally was presented well. They even brought some obscure titles such as The Quiet Man and Babylon's Fall, which did not look at all out of place with the bigger names. Square have an impressive catalogue of franchises, and that was used to good effect here.
Ultimately, I think that with a really big hitter Square could have won this year - they certainly weren't far off Microsoft, and I think if they'd brought something from Final Fantasy VII Remake that would have been enough to put them over the top. That's pretty incredible for a company that has been out of the game in recent years. I hope they are back to stay now, because if they can keep up this standard they'll likely be one of my most anticipated conferences going forward.
TO BUY LIST:
- The Shadow of the Tomb Raider footage. The mention of Trinity in the Microsoft conference had thrown me, but this put it back on my definite list.
- Just Cause 4 looked awesome, with the weather physics particularly looking great. Shame that without a story I'll never play it.
- The Final Fantasy XIV Patch trailer was typically great and reminded me that I need to go back to that game at some point.
- The Quiet Man, Babylon's Fall and Octopath Traveller all looked extremely interesting and worth following further.
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider, even if the involvement of Trinity again makes me wary
- The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit
- Kingdom Hearts 3
- The Quiet Man maybe...need to see more
Discord wrote:[6:29 PM] BlackDove: Love it
[6:29 PM] BlackDove: 10/10 presentation
[6:30 PM] BlackDove: No cringeworthy presenter
[6:30 PM] BlackDove: No on the message garbage
[6:30 PM] BlackDove: No singing
[6:30 PM] BlackDove: No dancing
[6:30 PM] BlackDove: Awesome
#3 UBISOFT - 8/10
Another year, another solid conference from Ubisoft. As I seem to say every year, they're really good at these now. As noted above, it was a tough call as to whether this ended up second or third, but this is a strong third, not a weak one. I'm not going to talk too much about the things they always do well, but I will just say that their ability to create a conference with something for everyone each and every year is second to none. They are the best marketeers at E3, in my view.
Of the stuff shown in the conferences Ubisoft probably had the best three individual demos of the show this year. I'm obviously talking about Beyond Good & Evil 2, Skull & Bones, and Assassins Creed Odyssey. All of them were utterly out of this world good. BG&E2 absolutely blew my mind it looked that amazing - on what the public actually saw it looked better than Cyberpunk 2077, which is ridiculously high praise. I can't stress enough how amazing those three games looked.
At the end of the day though, it was depth that cost them. They have the blockbusters to blow all else away, but a their midcard wasn't quite as good or consistent as Square's. Games like Just Dance and The Crew are ok games that are VERY niche. This means that whilst the conference covers all bases, it peaks and troughs my interest. Square presented games I wouldn't play in ways that kept my interest, Ubisoft didn't always manage that - which is why Square win out.
TO BUY LIST:
- The Beyond Good & Evil 2 trailer looked absolutely out of this world, and was easily the best trailer coming out of E3 this year. Stunning!
- Skull & Bones built on a solid reveal last year with an awesome showing here. Totally sold, they don't need to say another word.
- Assassins Creed Odyssey looked pretty great, and that's coming from someone who has been worn out on AC games.
- Beyond Good & Evil 2
- Skull & Bones
- Assassins Creed Origins (yes, that's right, Origins. Odyssey looked so good it convinced me to try Origins and see whether I like the new direction)
Discord wrote:[10:33 PM] Anubis: that Ubi conference wasn't bad. A bunch of stuff, some great, some good, some meh
[10:33 PM] Anubis: can't complain all too much I guess
[10:34 PM] M.Steiner: Very heavy on the CGI trailers but they showed a nice amount of gameplay too
#4 SONY - 7/10
Sony continues its slide down these rankings this year, primarily due to a lineup lacking big surprises and a self-inflicted hammerblow by messing with, and ruining, the conference format. Getting the audience to move to another room 10 minutes in, and leaving the stream to buy time for 15 minutes via an "intermission" while it happens, is a terrible idea that should not be repeated. Luckily though the content was good enough to largely repair the damage.
Numerically with only around 15 games this conference was quite light, but given several big names just released that's not too surprising. They maintained their usual graphical standard and brought some hugely impressive gameplay demos in The Last of Us 2, Spider Man, Death Stranding, and most particularly Ghost of Tsushima. Not all of them will be for everyone, but it's hard to deny the quality - all were up there as best in show presentations this year.
Despite how good those 4 games were though, even if you put aside the intermission, I felt the conferences above Sony in this list had more solid overall shows this year. I think this is likely because the PS5 will be revealed next year, so this is something of a quieter transition year for Sony. Time will tell if that's true. For now though, fourth place - but this was still quite a solid, impressive showing.
TO BUY LIST:
- The Ghost of Tsushima footage blew me away, and took it from something barely on my radar to one of my most anticipated games for the next year.
- Kingdom Hearts 3 - We saw most of the footage in other conferences, but here they revealed that PotC is going to be in it! Yes!!!
- Spider Man yet again looked awesome, very similar to Arkham which is high praise from me. Must buy.
- The Resident Evil 2 reveal. No game could be less for me, but it got a monstrous reaction and looks amazing for fans of the series.
- Ghost of Tsushima
- Spider Man
Discord wrote:[3:11 AM] Anubis: the format was awful
[3:11 AM] Anubis: content was broadly good
[3:11 AM] Anubis: I would say maaaaybe where I expected them to fall
[3:13 AM] M.Steiner: Had the format been the same as last year I'd have rated that on-par with MS but they lose some marks for that with the intermission especially. The content was exactly what I wanted to see though and they had some big surprises which I had no idea about
#5 PC GAMING SHOW - 5/10
This conference has pretty rapidly grown into a solid show. For the third year running the format noticeably improved, with the hardware section being MUCH better this year. The games lineup was also relatively solid, without anything spectacular. SEGA gave them a big coup by announcing a couple of major franchises for PC in Yakuza and Shenmue, but other than the excellent Two Point Hospital and ANNO 1800 I didn't feel there was much else shown that was standout.
So now they've fixed the time-slot and the format, the next step is to really try and ramp up that lineup. It's solid now, but lacking the big hitter or two that could really push the conference to the next level. I think they've progressed as far as they can now without bigger name titles, so hopefully they will look to try and address that for next year, but good job all round as usual.
TO BUY LIST:
- The format. They again made incremental improvements, and it's become one of the better presented conferences now.
- The SEGA announcements Yakuza 0 and Kiwami and Shenmue 1 and 2. These were pretty big coups for the show and for PC gaming in general.
- Two Point Hospital looked great and I am totally sold on it from this showing.
- The Sinking City sounded like a very interesting detective game concept and merits closer attention.
- Shenmue 1 & 2
- Two Point Hospital
Discord wrote:[12:48 AM] Anubis: well I think that was about what I've come to expect
[12:48 AM] Anubis: average showing, relatively solid now, but nothing overly special
[12:48 AM] Anubis: the SEGA announcements were a big coup
[12:50 AM] M.Steiner: Highlights for me: Two Point Hospital, Sable, Night Call, The Sinking City & Anno 1800
#6 NINTENDO - 5/10
An ok showing for Nintendo this year, but a conference of two halves. The first half was pretty good with a decent lineup - even I, not being a Nintendo fan, liked the look of some of the stuff they showed. Daemon x Machina, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and Fire Emblem Three Houses looked decent, though all had their flaws and stuff like Fortnite brought broader appeal. I counted 34 games in total which is extremely good for Nintendo, so kudos there.
However, they then proceeded to spend 22 minutes showing off every single character in the new Super Smash Bros... I know it's a very popular game but come on...this is not the time or the place to do that. It was way, WAY too long and it killed the conference for me. A very poor directorial decision which damaged what was an otherwise decent show, even without most of the usual big hitters like Zelda, Mario (mostly), etc. Hopefully they learn from this for next year.
TO BUY LIST:
- I thought Daemon x Machina actually looked kinda fun if you're into mechs - very Gundam-esque. As a bit of mindless action I give it a thumbs up.
- Xenoblade Chronicles 2 looked great as an action RPG. I would almost certainly buy this if it were a turn based JRPG instead, and also on PC.
Discord wrote:[5:38 PM] M.Steiner: Legit getting drowsy here. No one will want to play this <censored> game when it comes out as they'll have already seen everything
[5:38 PM] M.Steiner: Jesus Christ
[5:43 PM] BlackDove: You don't like the super smash brothers?
[5:43 PM] BlackDove: My favorite game
[5:44 PM] BlackDove: Just kidding, haven't played a nintendo game in 20 years.
#7 BETHESDA - 3/10
"Appalling", "Torture", "Garbage". These are the adjectives that we in Discord collectively felt best represented this horrendous offering. The wider internet has been up in arms praising it as the greatest press conference of all time, because it announced Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6, but given these "announcements" were 10 second long videos that showed nothing but the titles...there was just zero substance to them, and that was really the story of the whole conference.
The lineup might sound good on paper with the likes of Rage 2, Elder Scrolls Online, and Doom Eternal, but there was just so little gameplay for anything. They did show quite a bit of Fallout 76, and the graphics look great, but I don't think they will quell the unrest in the fanbase - the gameplay details they offered were very unconvincing. The emphasis on "make your own story, decide who is good and bad" in particular feels like Bethesda's worst tendencies at work.
On the plus side, at least we didn't get "Bethesdaland" back this year, so that's good I guess. Beyond that though it's difficult to put a positive shine on what was another torrid showing.
TO BUY LIST:
- Rage 2. I actually liked this, minus the band's intro (which sucked). Graphics looked great, and the gameplay makes it look a lot of fun as a crazy shooter.
- Skyrim for Alexa. This was a fun joke, but perhaps poorly placed given how bad this conference was and how little actual content there was.
Discord wrote:[3:04 AM] Whizbang: This is human rights abuse type torture right now
[3:55 AM] Anubis: that was a garbage tier conference
[3:55 AM] Anubis: why bother mentioning stuff if you have nothing to show
[3:59 AM] Kon: TES6 and Starfield namedrops were just them confirming rumors and telling fans, "stay loyal to us please, and wait until ESO and Fallout 76 stop being profitable"
[4:00 AM] Kon: They had to throw up some titles there or else their core fans would be absolutely alienated
[4:00 AM] Kon: The problem is, in a few of the Bethesda-oriented servers, it looks like a decent number of people realize that and aren't entirely pleased
[4:03 AM] M.Steiner: To say I was annoyed at the 1min 45sec trailer for BFV MP at EA's conference, compared to Beth's, I suppose I was lucky lol
#8 EA - 2/10
After a meagre step forward last year, EA stepped backwards again this time round with a press conference that was even more short on content than usual. When the game you spend most time focusing on is a mobile game, you know that you're hitting a new low. Then when you announce said mobile game is actually a ruination of Command & Conquer... Ugh. Spending 10 minutes on a live-casted full game of this during the press conference was beyond belief.
Thank god they brought Unravel 2 so the conference had at least one saving grace! It looked great, with the co-op element looking like a smart new mechanic. That aside, we saw the usual suspects (FIFA, Madden), they ruined Battlefield V with a BR mode, and showed footage of Anthem that made it look like an inferior Destiny. Oh, and they named Star Wars Fallen Order - just the name, no footage. This was such a poor showing even by EA's usual standards.
TO BUY LIST:
- Unravel 2. Looked great, and it's cool that they're building on the original game with the co-op mechanic too rather than just trying to do more of the same.
- Maybe Sea of Solitude? Looked like a slightly above average indie. I'm scraping the barrel though.
Discord wrote:[7:51 PM] BlackDove: Is this shit really being shown
[7:51 PM] BlackDove: At E3
[7:51 PM] BlackDove: On the main stage for the company
[7:51 PM] BlackDove: This long
[7:51 PM] Anubis: yeah I can't believe they're playing a full mobile game at an E3 press conference
[7:51 PM] BlackDove: I guess EA has nothing game wise
[7:51 PM] Anubis: this may be the stupidest thing I've ever seen
#9 LIMITED RUN GAMES - 2/10
It blows my mind to think that someone watched last year's Devolver Digital conference and thought "my god that's amazing, we need to do our own version". But apparently Limited Run Games did, because the presentation of this conference was AWFUL - based on the appalling Devolver show, but they couldn't be even be bothered getting a proper setup to do it - it sounded like they filmed it in a warehouse (that echo...). The absolute most unprofessional conference I've ever seen.
But the worst part was, they didn't need to grab for attention like that! Their lineup wasn't terrible, and deserved a higher rating than this - why not just show it instead of making me hate both it and you with this hateful presentation?! Please, either be professional or just don't come back next year. I can't handle any more conferences like this.
TO BUY LIST:
- Learning what the company is about. Producing physical editions of games that would otherwise never get one is a cool concept I can get behind.
- Seeing cool games I know about like Observer and Golf Story getting physical copies is nice, also Yooka-Laylee looked a VERY pretty, fun platformer.
Discord wrote:[8:25 PM] Anubis: this has actually revealed a lot of games and done ok on that front but the presentation has been atrocious
[8:28 PM] M.Steiner: Can agree on that lol. Presentation needs a lot of work and they need to fix their audio for those sections too (unless it's just me, but it's incredibly low and echoey when they're talking on this end. Don't know if it's intended but it sounds bad). Their games footage has been surprising good though
[8:28 PM] Anubis: yeah the audio is dreadful
[8:28 PM] Anubis: they've filmed it in a warehouse
[8:39 PM] Anubis: they're losing a lot of marks for the presentation but solid lineup
#10 DEVOLVER DIGITAL - 1/10
That only leaves one conference, the one which last year claimed the honour of worst press conference in E3 history. That's right - Devolver Digital is back again, and it sucked again. It was not QUITE as bad as last year, but that was only really because one of their three games (3 games...it just baffles me as to why you'd bother showing up) actually looked good this time. The presentation/parody was just as horrific as last time, and I just don't see how people find it funny.
Narrowly avoiding being as bad as you were last year isn't an achievement, it's not a good thing, but I guess they must think it is somehow. I don't want to see them back again next year, or ever, I just don't.
TO BUY LIST:
- It was again short, so at least I didn't need to waste hours on this.
- My Friend Pedro actually did look like a decent modern side-scroller, with a really cool ricochet gimmick.
Discord wrote:[7:02 PM] M.Steiner: Also Devolver was great lol. Stuck it on before SE
[7:02 PM] M.Steiner: Knowing what to expect from it this time helped heh.
[7:05 PM] M.Steiner: No wrestling this time but it was still a good laugh and they announced a couple more games this time
[2:46 PM] Anubis: that was godawful
[2:46 PM] Anubis: I'm not sure whether I hate that or Limited Run Games more
[2:47 PM] Anubis: presentation was better, games were worse
[2:47 PM] Anubis: and I say "better" loosely in that there was no echo
PICKS OF THE SHOW
My top five from E3 this year are as follows:
#1. Cyberpunk 2077 (CD Projekt Red)
#2. Ghost of Tsushima (Sony)
#3. Beyond Good & Evil 2 (Ubisoft)
#4. Skull and Bones (Ubisoft)
#5. Spider Man (Sony)