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In which I present a few remarks about the “press briefings” of the 2017 E3, a snooze-fest of game trailers, most of which we have already seen.

EA

Does EA actually need to hold a media event? Don’t their games just sell themselves (new FIFA, new Madden, new NBA, new Need for Speed)? I tuned in specifically to see the new game from BioWare and got 10 seconds of nothing.

Please.

Microsoft

Sea of Thieves, a new pirate-y adventure from Rare, looked rather bad, and looks even worse after Ubisoft showed Skull & Bones. SoT wasn’t the only dud, Super Lucky’s Tale and a few others weren’t especially exciting, but Microsoft’s game lineup was mostly solid. I finally got to see Anthem from BioWare and…color me unimpressed. What has happened to BW? They made a name creating narrative-rich RPGs and now they’re making Destiny rip-offs. I want a new Dragon Age or, yes, even a new Mass Effect, or something in that vein.

The big takeaway from MS is the Xbox One X. (Horrible name. Won’t spend time on it.) What is the point of this console?

Is it just a graphical improvement? If so, existing XB1 owners have no real reason to upgrade and non-XB1 owners have no reason to plunk down $500 large for this console when they can get an XB1S for under $300. Two-hundred plus is a lot to spend on a fancier graphics card.

But, is the XB1X more than just better graphics? Will we start to see games that won’t run on an original XB1? If so, MS just declared the XB1 to be dead, in which case they just told ~25 million people, “Sucks to be you.”

There’s also the nagging issue that all “exclusive” games to the XB1 are also available for Windows. Instead of putting down $500 on a console, you can spend $750 on a gaming PC and play the same games and keep your rig updated to run all the latest games.

I’m not feeling you Microsoft. I don’t understand your strategy.

Bethesda

Sorry Fallout and Elder Scrolls fans. Bethesda has decided it can make more money making cheap mobile games and selling mods for Fallout 4 and Skyrim. That’s pretty much the sum total of Bethesda’s 30-minute video sizzle reel.

And we’re getting a new Wolfenstein. I like the alternate-history aesthetic, but not my cup o’ tea.

Ubisoft

I’m not the target market for most of what Ubisoft is selling, but they might have been the best show at the show. They had one big hit after another, all of which look great if that’s your type of game. The only one that I’ll be likely to look seriously at is Skull & Bones, though I may dip my toe in the waters of Assassin’s Creed again for Origins. Mario + Rabbids game looks pretty bad to me, but I know a lot of people are definitely picking that up. Beyond Good & Evil 2 was a solid closer.

Sony

Sony just did a victory lap by showing us all the games they showed us last year. True, almost everything they showed is on my watchlist. (Days Gone is a notable exception. Can we all agree zombie games jumped the shark with Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2?) Also, a lot of what they showed still has no firm release date. “2018” is code for “maybe next year, but probably not until 2019.”

Their most interesting information was in the pre-show, of which I saw about half. I liked Knack and will get Knack 2. Undertale is coming to PS4 and Vita. (Yes. Someone actually mentioned the Vita in a Sony presentation.) What really got me was PlayLink, a platform for making games that use smartphones as controllers. I think PlayLink has a lot of potential, and I’m surprised they didn’t include it in their official press briefing.

Or, maybe not so surprised. This was an hour-long video sizzle reel, not a press briefing. I enjoyed it, but it just didn’t have to punch of previous E3s.

That Spider-Man gameplay footage was LIT, though.’

Nintendo

To a certain extent, Nintendo is just doing a victory lap as well. The Switch is a smashing success, and Nintendo has figured out they just need to make Nintendo games using Nintendo IP and they will sell consoles and games. There wasn’t much new in the Spotlight, just solid Nintendo games. I find myself wanting a Switch to supplement my PS4. I really want Metroid Prime 4.

What was most interesting was the complete lack of anything related to the 3DS. I suspect Nintendo is going to phase out the “handheld” hardware and put everything on the Switch, which is both a home console and a handheld. The announcement of a “core Pokemon RPG” coming for the Switch seems to confirm my suspicion.

Summary

BioWare is deteriorating. (Sob) Microsoft is confused. (Hehehehehe) Bethesda is…I don’t know. Resting on their laurels, I think. (Sigh) Ubisoft, Sony, and Nintendo are still making great games. (Yay!) If all the games announced for 2018 actually release, it will be a great year for games. Fall 2017 doesn’t look that bad either.