Opinion: Sony won E3 2016 simply because they brought more to the table0 Comments
Every single year, I watch the E3 press conferences to see which company shows the most promise for the next twelve months, and often times beyond. For this, the Electronic Entertainment Expo in the year of our Lord two thousand and sixteen, that hallowed ritual was no different. I dig into publisher presentations, major hardware manufacturer conferences, I take it all in and process it, analyze it and judge it every single year.
This year, one company out of the big three brought fire, while everyone else seemed to bring a whole ton of coal.
Microsoft showed off games we knew were coming. They showed off Gears Of War 4, they showed off a new Forza, they showed off Dead Rising 4, they showed Halo Wars 2, they showed Scalebound, but they didn't drop any real hammers. They failed to show anything that was flat-out amazing, nor did they show off anything fresh and new in the way of software. They did take the time to announce not one, but TWO new consoles merely three years into the Xbox One's lifespan — the Xbox One S, a scaled-down version of their current hardware, and the mysterious Project Scorpio, which is supposedly the most powerful gaming console ever created. Supposedly. Numbers sound nice, but demos are better.
Problem is, I don't really care about how awesome your platform is if it doesn't have the games to make it a compelling purchase, and that's an issue I've had with the current system they're on. No amount of Halo will make me spend a ludicrous amount of money...at least not anymore. Microsoft will have to do something incredible next year, and I'm sure they will deliver, especially with the Scorpio and Hololens on the horizon. Still, this year's performance was lacking, and while they were able to tout new features and new hardware, they couldn't bring anything tasty to the table in terms of must-have software. Which is super-weird, condsidering they had a lot to show in years past.
Nintendo had a hard road to climb this year, since 2015's E3 showing was universally panned (except for yours truly, because I still love Starfox). This time around, they led off with what might be the hardest-hitting punch the company could muster — when the Zelda trailer fired up, you could feel the fanboy hivemind around the world silently singing in perfect, childlike unison. Nintendo has the honor of having the Final Fantasy VII Remake moment of this year's conference, and every single video of Breath of the Wild serves to cement its status as a must-own title, and thus has given not only reason to keep the Wii U around, but to wait for the inevitable NX version at that system's Spring 2017 launch.
Their problem was everything after that magical moment, as Nintendo proceeded to capitalize on that immense, world-shattering hype by forcing the viewers of the Treehouse stream to watch people play Pokémon Sun / Moon for the next hour. While I'm sure that was great for Pokémon diehards, everyone else wanted to see more games, and slowing that fever pitch down to a crawl was a massive misstep. Imagine watching someone in the kitchen cooking steak, whipping up heavenly mashed potatoes and cooking broccoli smothered in melted cheese, only to switch it out for a giant bowl of Funyun dust. That's the mood whiplash they signed off on, and that caused me to not even care about the announcements of Yo-Kai Watch 2, Monster Hunter Generations or Ever Oasis. I have no idea who thought that was smart, but it wasn't. They're lucky they had Zelda as a leadoff.
Notice the lack of meat in these descriptions? Well, here's the buffet line. Get ready.
Last, and in no way least, we have Sony. Good God, Sony. First of all, they brought an orchestra. At first, I was kind of annoyed by it, because it seemed to go on forever with nothing else happening, leaving me with a "this sounds like God of War, but not God of War" feeling. Then, they showed off the new God of War (surprise, surprise) — and it was f'ing unreal. They took everything about the franchise and made it better by giving what seemed to be a little more agency to player action, and it made all the difference. After that, we went into Days Gone, which was solid, but not awe-inspiring. We were then shown a new trailer for The Last Guardian — my personal hype game of the forever, long live Fumito Ueda — and were given a solid release date of October 25. This made me incredibly happy, as my birthday is but weeks before that. Also, I'm man enough to admit that I shed tears during that trailer, because I've been waiting nine years to play this damn thing, and Shadow of the Colossus is very near and dear to my heart.
Sony then rolled right into Horizon: Zero Dawn, which looks pretty awesome, stiff and stilted conversation moments aside. Detroit: Becoming Human also looked interesting, as it's a short-form story with multiple options and outcomes, which is a far better outlet for Davd Cage's brand of "auteur" status. From there, we saw Resident Evil VII, and this looks like Capcom took a look at the crowd they originally created and how much they adored / lamented P.T. / Silent Hills...which was a smart move, not only for the company, but the franchise itself. It needed a revolution, and this first-person, back-to-psychological-terror-basics approach will serve the game quite well, especially for PlayStation VR.
Speaking of PSVR, they announced a price point of $399, making it the cheapest VR headset on the current market, which is a quality move by Sony. They then showed off Farpoint, which was short and pretty, but not entirely compelling. After that, they showed off Star Wars Battlefront's X-Wing VR Mission, but only for like, ten seconds. Which was kind of bulls****y, in my opinion. Then, doubling down on said BS, Rocksteady's Batman VR announcement was a slo-mo closeup of the iconic suit and cowl with a Mark Hamill Joken voiceover, instead of anything resembling gameplay. Then, Final Fantasy doing goofy VR crap. It wasn't a high point.
After that, Sony satisfied the dudebro population with Call of Duty IN SPAAAAACE, then we got to hear about remasters of the original Crash Bandicoot games, as well as the character's inclusion in Skylanders. Then, Lego Star Wars. At this point, I was ready to just shut the stream off, until things went ABSOLUTELY ROCK AND ROLL SUPERSTAR on us.
Hideo Kojima walked on lighted pathways like he alone was living in the Billie Jean video, then showed us a trailer where Norman Reedus was naked, holding a hallucination baby, surrounded by dead sea life while being watched from afar by five floating things in the distance. If you can decipher what Death Stranding is supposed to be about, I'll pay you cash money if you're right. Either way, one thing is certain, and it's that the kid is not Hideo's son.
Then, we saw Insomniac be a company that understands how make a decent Spider-Man game, and that made me quite happy. Then, they closed the show with a live demo of Days Gone, which was an obvious early build, but relentlessly terrifying, and cemented my suspicions that the game might not be just another zzzzzzzzzzzombiefest.
While Sony hit the competition with The People's Elbow this year, I think all the companies held back a little bit, and the previous weekend's tragic events in Orlando, Florida may have had a lot to do with it. Still, not seeing things like Red Dead Redemption 2 (I'm still salty over this) or Crackdown 3 hurt the overall show, which was simply unable to match the hype of last year's megaton hits from all sides of the field. I'm thinking that 2016 is set to be a year of transition, and a strange place to be in, what with releasing new and upgraded hardware models and new VR platforms, all while the industry feels in a state of half-chaotic flux.
When all was said and done, E3 2016 was not the best E3 ever...but it wasn't bad. Here's hoping that the year ahead still has surprises in store for us.