So, E3 2015’s come and gone, and we’re left with a slew of announcements, demos, and wishful thinking for future titles. Now that the swell of hype has somewhat passed, we have some ever-valuable hindsight. As such, I’d like to go over my impressions on what the Big Three had to offer for this E3.
Sony’s press conference felt like it had the most impact of the Big Three. Massive titles and compeling games littered the showcase, even though Sony had less first-party to offer. Its third-party was clearly superior (they even had Call of Duty this year). Unfortunately, the theme of trailers over gameplay permeated this showcase the worst of all. It started out strong with two extended gameplay sequences, but was plagued by hype-driven announcements with no substance and a somewhat-awkward crowdfunding moment I’ll touch on here.
To avoid ending on the negatives in these impressions, I’d like to go over those first. Some press conferences had more negatives/positives than others, so I’ll just be going over the aspects I most liked/disliked from what was at the show.
Shenmue III Kickstarter
Okay, let’s get this out of the way. Do I like Shenmue? No. Do I think that Shenmue III deserves to be made? Yes, there’s clearly a fan base that wants the game. Do I think that announcing a Kickstarter for a SEGA-published game on Sony’s conference stage is a bit absurd? Definitely. Don’t get me wrong, this was clearly the best way to get Shenmue III some attention. Still, it took at least 2 more weeks to finally figure out the kinks. Will Sony help with funding the project? It’s confirmed that Sony is helping with publishing. How is $2 million enough when the original Shenmue cost $50 million to make? It’s not, as is evidenced by Yu Suzuki admitting that the Kickstarter needs $10 million for his vision to be fully realized. At this point, the game will get funded unless backers pull out over $1.5 million, but I don’t like the idea of huge companies potentially holding properties ransom unless it gets funded on Kickstarter. At this point, I remain cautiously pessimistic.
I didn’t quite agree with Sony’s Andrew House on the idea that the Vita is a “legacy platform” back a couple weeks ago, but I think it’s pretty evident that Sony views it this way according to the their E3 conference. How much of the Vita did we see on stage? It showed up during a montage of upcoming PlayStation games, as if to say “Hey, don’t worry! I’m still here!” and an announcement that World of Final Fantasy is coming to the Vita as well. Even in the montage, the only game we got a good look at was Persona 4: Dancing All Night (on that note, no new Persona 5 footage sucked as well). Some indie titles were shown briefly, but the ones I caught have seen releases elsewhere. There’s still games being announced for it from other studios, but I guess Sony truly believes that the Vita is a legacy platform. I could consider myself as part of the problem, since I rag on about Vita/PSTV support but own neither.
Want to take a crack at what phrase was said the most during Sony’s press conference? Were you thinking “exclusive content”, “exclusive beta”, or “coming first”? Congratulations, you’re right on the money! People may rag on about the anti-consumer idea of console-exclusives and I agree. However, exclusives are necessary to grow an installed user base, because where else could you play Nintendo games but on Nintendo devices? At least in that regard, they are as complete as can be in this world of pre-order bonuses and DLC. Sony’s method is the absolute worst version of this. Want to play some cool mystery detective missions in Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate on your Xbox One? Too bad, only on PlayStation 4. Do you want to play the Scarecrow Nightmare missions in Batman: Arkham Knight on PC? Too bad, only on PlayStation 4. System-exclusive content for multiplatform games is the absolute worst, and while many companies are guilty of this, Sony is the worst by far. Almost makes me want to get an Xbox One out of spite.
I’ll admit, in the race of virtual reality, I didn’t expect Project Morpheus to be a potential contender. Considering how much horsepower the Oculus needs, I was concerned that the PS4 wouldn’t be able to handle VR as well as a high-end PC. From what those on the showfloor have seen, however, it looks like Project Morpheus is shaping up to be a major player in the VR space. The only part that appears misleading is that Project Morpheus is planned to be a wired headset, running contrary to marketing imagery showing a sleek, wireless headset. Really though, all it needs is a price point set to a consumer level, but that announcement will have to wait until later like its release window.
Out of all of the new IPs showcased this E3, Horizon: Zero Dawn seems the most interesting to me (despite the semi-generic name). The conference showcased the post-apocalyptic setting where modern civilization has become extinct, the remaining human population is tribal, and robotic creatures roam the wilderness for seemingly no reason. Later, Guerilla Games elaborated more on the game’s design as an action-RPG, as well on its use of their engine previously used in Killzone: Shadow Fall. All this makes me super-excited to see what’s on the horizon for this game.
It may seem like a bad thing for one of the biggest gameplay reveals of E3 2015 to crash on-stage (I’m pretty sure Naughty Dog was tugging at their shirt collars), but for skeptics like me it’s wonderful. Even if the gameplay was heavily scripted, it was still being controlled by a human and that was refreshing to see in a sea of pre-rendered trailers. Technical issues aside, Uncharted 4 is looking like what you’d expect from Naughty Dog, so I’ll be keeping a lookout for this one.