E3 was underwhelming this year. There were few real surprises, besides Ubisoft's Watch_Dogs, and maybe The Last of Us and Pikmin 3. Now, two weeks later, there’s very little of the typical post-E3 energy left.
By or at next year's convention, Sony's Orbis, and Microsoft's Durango will be unveiled. New consoles mean new dev kits, new engines, new assets, and new opportunities for old franchises to shine once more, plus a chance for new IP to establish itself. As such, this year was laid back, with developers and publishers afraid to get too ahead of themselves. They focused on the retailer, stockholder, and investor angle of the show. As a core gamer, I feel like I’ve nothing to be excited about.
I've provided some light commentary from the perspective of a gamer who wants real games — not pandering, not investment advice. Let us hear about the games that struck you most.
Microsoft has shown us once again that it sees its console as an "all around" entertainment center, instead of a mere “gaming console”. Is this productive or hurtful? It sure hurts my feelings, I love video games!
They opened this year with their most important exclusive franchise game, Halo 4. A show-stopper. At the beginning of the show. I don’t even remember or care if any other games were actually shown after that. Xbox's recent focus has been on "non-game" media like sports (fitness games and deals with the MLB and NHL) and movies/TV (Paramount and Nickelodeon). They’re doing a solid job at building up ways for non-gamers to use their Xboxes.
Smartglass? Kind of irrelevant.
Sony had one thing to do to impress me in their conference. But, they fell flat on their Vita support by announcing only a few new games — notably Assassin's Creed: Liberation (thanks Ubisoft!) Notably absent from their conference was Sound Shapes. It seems unusual that they spent so little time on the Vita, with it struggling to gain a foothold domestically.
The Last of Us looks like a must-own. This game has been one of the few that manages to generate the excitement I expect from E3.
Their newest invention "Wonderbook" took up what felt like half of the conference. I nodded off during this section. I like Harry Potter, but this was another product that wasn't aimed at the attending audience. With only a few in-depth looks at a small handful of games, Sony was nice, but kind of a bore.
Sony has always been a great place to find unique indie games, yet somehow they missed out on the spotlight of year's past this time.
Nintendo's next gen contender Wii U had a lot to prove, and a lot that could be announced. They showed off the console and some of its abilities, including Nintendo's attempt at real online gaming with the Mii Universe. Nintendoland proved little about the capabilities of the new GamePad hardware, not like Wii Sports did in the past. Nintendo needed to prove that the Wii U had a lot of potential, and it didn't really do that. ZombiU seems to have the only unique gameplay usage of the GamePad in any upcoming game thus far.
The games were graphically impressive, sure, but aside from the delightful Pikmin 3 there weren't any show-stoppers like Metroid or Zelda. The 3DS was removed from their primary convention, though mention of Luigi's Mansion's sequel was great.
And where was Retro? Miyamoto just revealed they were too busy to work on a Zelda, so they must be up to something.
Ubisoft did really well this year, at least in terms of getting people excited about games we already want. The reveal of Watch_Dogs was a very nice surprise.
EA's most original was the reboot of a classic franchise - Sim City. But Sim City doesn't really have the kind of legs to carry buzz.
If E3 is a reflection of the industry, maybe we are seeing that the industry isn't doing well. There has been a history of these companies branching out to new audiences, and perhaps that comes at the expense of exciting moments.