Last week was E3 2018. I’ve been highly opposed to E3 for the past several years. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while or follow me on Twitter then you probably know this already. I’ve had a great distaste for the event in recent years because there are just so many things wrong with the concept and format in the modern world. My largest complaint has always been that it’s not open to the public and serves as an unnecessary and expensive event that could easily be conducted digitally with current technology that serves no purpose other than to help washed out media entities gain undeserved hits for their ad revenue. It’s like Twitch streaming at the corporate level. This is the reason that I was very happy when Nintendo changed their E3 format a few years back. Their pre-recorded videos that focus on presenting games is exactly what gamers actually want, costs less money to produce, doesn’t help media get undeserved hits, and isn’t live so gamers from all over the world can experience it when it works best for them. Nintendo realized that E3 should be for consumers and that the format should be shaped to help us. I honestly don’t even watch the conferences outside of Nintendo’s E3 Direct anymore and haven’t for some time. I just check the highlights/recaps after the fact because I just need the info about new games and I refuse to support this wasteful media circle jerk.
I’m happy to say that after many years of voicing my complaints, some progress has finally been made. For the first time ever, E3 tickets were made available to the public. These were of course limited access and had a number of caveats to them, but they allowed normal people to purchase tickets directly from E3’s website and enter the event to see and experience new games at booths. This is how it should be. Like Computex and many other tech industry events, the focus should be on businesses and end users, not media. E3 is finally moving in that direction. And so this year I praise E3 for finally evolving the format. There’s still a ways to go but at least real progress has finally been made.
In celebration of this year’s E3 moving towards tolerable, I will take the time to quickly recap my highlights from the show. I have to say that this year was quite good for announcements and new footage shown. Much better than I remember from past years. I certainly have a lot of saving to do and need to really work on clearing some of my backlog to make room for new games.
In no particular order, my highlights/recap of E3 2018:
- Kingdom Hearts III Release Date
Finally! I’ve waited since the original tease in 2006 for this game. Like with The Last Guardian, there were many times where I genuinely gave up hope that it would ever be released. They kept teasing it and showing images and footage over the years but they just didn’t give us anything substantial. I’m happy that we finally got a hard release date of January 29, 2019. I will be preordering it through the PS4 All-In-One bundle because I need a refresher course on the storyline and haven’t played most of the spin off titles anyway. At $100 I think it’s a bit more than I should have to pay after my years of loyalty but it’s certainly not an unfair price for the amount of content.
We’ve seen this game before and didn’t get anything substantial as far as news during E3, but they did release more gameplay and this game looks great. I won’t be buying it day one, but it’s certainly on my must buy list.
- Roy Battle Royale aka Smash Bros. Ultimate
Let me be very clear about something. No intelligent person that’s been following Nintendo since the N64 was surprised by the announcement of a new Smash Bros. It was time for the latest Nintendo console to get an installment of this franchise. This is not the important part of the announcement. What’s important is that they brought back Roy. OK I clearly have a bias. All past characters will be returning and that’s great. For once, every single Smash Bros. player from any gen can main their actual main and we can truly have battles where, assuming the balancing is done properly, the true kings can be decided. I main Roy and Mr. Game & Watch in that order. I haven’t had my true main since Melee. Finally the king can retake his crown. Day one purchase and/or preorder.
- Super Mario Party
I haven’t played Mario Party since probably 3. I didn’t have the ability to meet up with friends and play past the N64 era because most people wanted to play Smash Bros. or shooters in my college days and I haven’t had the people in my life since then to do so in later versions. I loved playing this franchise as a kid and I’m glad to see a return to the original format. As long as it has online play I’ll certainly be buying it, but probably not day one. If it doesn’t have online play then it’s a useless game for me because I simply don’t have the people to play with in real life.
- Fist of the North Star (PS4) NA Version
Really happy to see this being localized. I played it at the most recent Taipei Game Show and was really impressed by it. Loved the original Ken’s Rage on PS3 but never got the chance to play Ken’s Rage 2. Really happy they’re finally doing an English version of the latest game to be released in October. Gonna wait for a price drop but this is certainly a must play for fans of the games and anime/manga series.
- Cyberpunk 2077
We’ve all been waiting for this game since the first announcement after The Witcher 3 changed RPG expectations forever. The idea of getting an even bigger RPG set in the future by CDPR was mouthwatering. But then they announced it would be an FPS gameplay system. This was very disappointing to me and many others, if Twitter is any indication. There are people on both sides of the issue and that’s fine because everyone has the right to their opinion. My hope is that the game ultimately has both third and first person options so players can play the game the way they want but ultimately it is up to CDPR to present what they believe to be the best, most enjoyable game possible for their established consumer base. I’ll continue to watch this game with curiosity but can’t say if I’ll buy it or not with the current information available.
- Shadow of the Tomb Raider
They don’t really have to sell me this game. The first two games in the current Tomb Raider franchise were/are excellent. The fact that they’re making another game with the same studio is enough for me to purchase it. I’ve done very little research on this project because I trust the established team to continue to deliver a great gaming experience. Not a day one but absolute must play.
- The Last of Us Part 2
Pretending like this game isn’t already a must buy for anyone who played the first one is just naïve. It was sold as soon as it was announced. I was very impressed by the gameplay footage shown and Naughty Dog is a studio that really doesn’t disappoint. I am unhappy that Joel hasn’t been announced as a playable character in the game because I really wasn’t done with him at the end of the first one. But I have no issue with Ellie being a playable main character because that’s the logical progression in the franchise. Really I wish they had done another game with Joel as the lead and then moved on to Ellie about half way through or in a third installment. But suffice it to say this is a must buy.
- Nioh 2
I still haven’t given Nioh its proper time, but finally started it for real last week. I purchased it a while ago and loved both the alpha and the beta. I know it’s a good game and I’m happy it’s getting a sequel. As long as it’s at least as solid as Dark Souls 2, the weakest in the Souls series according to most people, I think Nioh 2 will be just fine and even end up spawning a third game. Glad this franchise took off.
- Jump Force
This game really came out of nowhere. I don’t normally buy the Shonen Jump games but this project looks amazing and I’ll probably end up picking it up after a price drop. The gameplay I’ve seen so far is awesome and really it kicks the crap out of the other anime fighters I’ve seen including the past Jump games, none of which I was interested in enough to buy.
- Ghost of Tsushima
I can’t recall the last time I saw a gameplay trailer that was so visually stunning that it nearly brought me to tears. This game is art in motion. It’s just visual perfection down to the individual blades of grass. I’d like to try the gameplay first hand so I hope they do a demo but from what I’ve seen I’m fairly certain I’m buying this game. And Sucker Punch has always done solid enough work, in my opinion, so I don’t really have many or even any doubts about this one.
- Death Stranding
I still don’t know what the hell this game is about. The gameplay footage shown didn’t make me want to play the game. It was just lots of walking. Beautiful landscapes and solid acting, but from what I saw it’s just a glorified delivery boy game with some freaky floating ghost type monsters and babies for some Kojima related reason. I’m not saying I’m not going to buy this game, but I’m not saying I am either.
- Beyond Good & Evil 2
This game is all hype at this point. They’ve shown no gameplay. They’ve shown no establishing story. Pretty much the only thing we know at this point is Jade and Pey’j are coming back, the graphics are beautiful, and the cast of characters is pretty diverse. Other than that it’s all speculation and Ubisoft is leveraging the cult following the first game has hoping that’s enough to guarantee sales because currently there’s no justifiable reason to consider purchasing or even really talking about this game in its current public form.
- Unravel 2
Really happy to see Unravel get a sequel. Really impressed that they released it with the E3 announcement. The coop looks great. It looks like everything I would want in a sequel. Definitely picking this one up after a price drop.
I still just don’t know how I feel about Anthem. It looks amazing. It sounds great, but it reminds me of both Destiny and The Division way too much. My biggest concern is end game. Anthem looks like it plays well. Looks like the coop is quite good. Doesn’t seem to focus on PVP, which is a good thing. Won’t have gameplay affecting microtransactions. Amen. It sounds glorious. But they’ve not confirmed whether or not I’m gonna get a properly functioning narrative with a conclusive ending. I don’t need or want this game, or any game I play, to last forever. I just want it to last 60 or more hours without me having to replay missions or do PVP matches and have a story with a clear ending. That’s all I want. If they can guarantee me that there’s a conclusive ending to an overarching narrative where I can choose to stop playing and feel that I did everything the game has to offer, then I’ll buy it. That’s literally all I need to choose to buy this game. I’m happy with everything else I’ve seen and heard about it.
- Daemon X Machina
This game looks interesting. I don’t know much about it but I was sort of impressed by the Nintendo Direct footage. I’m not in love with the graphics, but I do love mech games and fighting giant bosses. I’ll definitely have to follow up on this more before I can make a final decision.
- Pokémon Let’s Go
I don’t really need to say much about these games. Either you want to play a Yellow remake with better graphics or you don’t. What I am not happy about though is that you are required to buy a Pokeball Plus to get Mew. That kind of bullshit isn’t right. That’s a $40 controller that can only be used for 1 (or 2 if you prefer) game. Completing the Pokedex should never be about microtransactions or additional purchases. I was actually considering picking the Eevee version up but after that announcement I decided I just didn’t feel comfortable supporting that type of shady business conduct. The ironic part being that I actually was considering buying the Pokeball Plus before they announced that Mew pay wall.
Those are my highlights for this year’s E3. I want to make it clear that these are not the only games that were shown at E3 by any stretch of the imagination. These are simply the ones that stood out to me personally enough to warrant discussing them here. There are other games that were shown that I will be buying such as Just Dance 2019, like I do every year. And there were other games shown that I have little interest in but are very newsworthy such as Devil May Cry 5.
All in all, this was a great E3. Quite possibly the best I’ve seen in many years. I look forward to a great year of gaming. What are you most interested in from this year’s show?