So.. Who Won E3 2015?

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It’s E3 week, starting just before Ramadhan. Deemed as Christmas for gamers, where game companies gather in LA for a few days to release new game related announcements, and let some lucky few try out upcoming blockbusters coming this holiday- actual Christmas, early next year or beyond.

This year it’s all about the press conferences. This highly-staged event showcases what the company has to offer, either it’s new big games, new sequels, surprising new IPs (Intellectual property), new tech, or maybe, just maybe, what fans always wanted in a super ideal-case study.

There are the three big three- Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. Then there’s the big publishers EA and Ubisoft, along with old veteran Square Enix, and Bethesda, who’s made its first E3 press conference debut this year. And not to forget, the PC gaming show.

So let’s go one by one, in order who presented first, and my personal reaction to each of them, starting with… Oculus.

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Oculus?

Despite not lumped into the E3 press confrence schedule, they made one a few days earlier. Oculus had made some good announcements as they ready themselves to finally brace the consumer market with Virtual Reality.

For one, we get to see the final build of the Oculus Rift in its retail form, the ones the common people (read: early adopters who are more likely enthusiasts with money to burn rather than the average Joe) would buy one.

What surprised me is the announcement of a few exclusive games made for the Rift, and them teaming up with Microsoft to include Xbox One gamepads for each Rift purchase.

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 14: Game Director and Executive Producer at Bethesda Game Studios, Todd Howard speaks about 'Fallout 4' during the Bethesda E3 2015 press conference at the Dolby Theatre on June 14, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The Bethesda press conference is held in conjunction with the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) which focuses on gaming systems and interactive entertainment, featuring introductions to new products and technologies. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Bethesda

Bethesda isn’t known to have a huge library of franchises, but has strong core games under its belt, which was shown. The fact they have less games to cover makes me feel they did well because they can dump more info on the games people are really excited about.

Fallout 4 got a huge amount of details shown- no wonder they can afford to announce it before E3 starts- now they can drop more info AND squash most of the silly rumours with concrete detail, a smart move.

Other games announcement such as Dishonored 2 and Doom was okay, but them going deep into services like the Bethesda.net initiative and Doom Snapmap, as well as mobile titles like Fallout Shelter (which released almost immedeatly for iOS.  Cool!) and an Elder Scrolls collectible card game signifies Bethesda’s plan to be a big player and broaden thier portfolio. EA, Ubi and the rest, take note.

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Microsoft

I like Microsoft’s conference due to their tech announcements rather than the games lineup. Not saying it isn’t strong, it’s just no title that grabbed me.

The bomb really has to go with the support of backwards compatibility for selected Xbox 360 games (via an emulator). Hopefully these can catch on so we that “HD remaster” of 360 titles for the X1 needs to do more than slight graphical improvements to justify its existence. Less half-arsed re-releases, more remakes please.

The announcement of the elite controller should make aftermarket controller sellers worry and grateful. Worry that Microsoft is competing against them, grateful that they get a bit of publicity and maybe win out over time since those elite controllers are ridiculously expensive. It’s expensive, but then again all ‘gamer’ branded accessories and gear are always priced at a premium.

The new games are OK, the new project by the team behind the Metroid Prime Series and Keiji Inafune sounds good like a good team on paper, but not putting bets on that anytime son. Beyond Eyes is a good indie game concept. Rare finally able to create somethng not related to Kinect for once sounds hopeful. A pirate game? Sure, pirates are cool. Look at Assasin’s Creed.

The Hololens demo looks phenomenal. Would it be fun to play Augmented Reality Minecraft? Not too sure, I’m just impressed with the tech.

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EA

The hype for Star Wars Battlefront continues. I personally think it’s bittersweet that the original Battlefront was actually made by Pandemic Studios, the studio which then bought by EA only for it to be shut down not long after. But DICE shows  they listened to the skepticism the Internet has to the game, and showed a lot to shut the non-believers, me included, up. In-game footage with HUDs, third-person/first-person camera, controllable vehicles and many more.

Despite that build-up, EA didn’t wowed me. The new Need for Speed was shown briefly, and I don’t like demo or concept shown (they’re taking all the things fans like in NFS, including story, customization, cops, and online into one game), but the game is running OK.

Mirror’s Edge reboot, subtitled Catalyst, gives a bit more detail about the game, nothing too headline grabbing, maybe the complete removal of weapon usage is something, but that’s it.

The EA Sports segment was a bit awkward, having someone called ‘the hoop gawd’ coming up stage to scan a face using a phone app to be transferred to NBA Live 16 was awkward. Having Football (the not American variant) legend Pelé talk about the beautiful game in general felt awkward- since the talk can be done without the association of FIFA 16. Having the mobile division talking about Minions Paradise, did me nothing.

To their credit, some details of the announced games have been made available before E3, and some are playable on the E3 showfloor, which is cool.

Unraveled was a decent surprise. Even the presenter was genuinely nervous. Again, it’s good to have some indies or indie-like titles having some time to shine.

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Ubisoft

To me, Ubi made me feel “meh” the most, but it’s not without its highlights. New IP, For Honor, a medieval Knights VS Vikings VS Samurai combat game. Although the concept may not be original, there are a few PC titles that do focus on melee combat of the medieval variant, but Ubi’s take seems solid, though not a fan of the “live multiplayer demo”.

Tom Clancy’s name appears a lot, but does not remind me of what Tom Clancy stands for. Rainbow Six Siege is now not just a multiplayer shooter with the moniker slap on it hesitantly. There’s a reveal of a plot. The bomb drop at the end, a new game that looks like Just Cause, Watch Dogs, The Division and Metal Gear Solid V turn out to be a Ghost Recon game. Concept is interesting enough, but seems to have nothing unique, for now. Wonder if can differentiate enough with The Division though, which is slated for release early next year. That’s a game I will definitely avoid. The new trailer (with grating “in-game chat”) gives me a DayZ kind of vibe, which I am not interested in playing. Thank GTA Online for that.

The banter from the host didn’t make me enjoy following through the conference, the music number in association with the new Just Dance also made me tuned out. They tried to be cool, but I just find it meh.

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Sony

Oh boy. Sony may not have any tech or hardware announcements, except the reassurance of Project Morpheus- multiplayer VR?- and the TV service Playstation Vue, it’s all about the games.

Starting with The Last Guardian. What people jokingly (and some,really, really hopeful of) seeing it this year was shown. Immediately after that, Guerilla announced they’re not making a Killzone game for once. Horizon: Zero Dawn is something I expected in a new IP: you can explain it in one sentence and still feels unique and cool. It’s post-apocalyptic tribal woman VS mech animals and dinosaurs with EMP bows and arrows!

Last year the Internet lamented  the announcement of Final Fantasy VII coming to PS4. This year the Internet screamed of joy from the hype-inducing announcement of Final Fantasy VII coming to PS4. This time a remake, not a port of the PC version, which is a port of the PS1 version.

Another fanboy-squealing moment: Shenmue III. Although announced as a Kickstarter project, and broke the records for the quickest to reach 2 millions worth of funding, it’s still a way off though. Sony is reportedly helping, and remember: the first two Shenmues costs millions to make, one of the most expensive games at the time. But my question is: So will you go to New York City, sets up a game of Lucky Hit and meet Tony Soprano?

Console exclusive content were there too. Not much of a fan of that, but getting major franchises like Call of Duty, Destiny and Batman to have PS-exclusives and first to PS is certainly a huge win for Sony.

Oh and Uncharted 4. Despite having it not working for a bit, the game is looking fantastic.

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Nintendo

The weirdest (in a good way) of the bunch, they continue with their tradition of pre-recording it for live stream, a practice they always do monthly. The puppet show is an offbeat way of ding it. In terms of announcements, nothing super exciting, but then again, I’m no fan of Nintendo.

The Nintendo World Championships held earlier that week however, was surprisingly entertaining.

square-enix

Square Enix

I like Square Enix. Despite some technical mishaps here and there, these people showed heart- or very fancy PR, depending on who you asked. The minutes just after Just Cause 3 was revealed, the CEO takes time to iterate they are listening to fan feedback, citing final fantasy XIV and XV, and at the end, where all presenters lined up, bowed and thanked the attendees. I like that gesture.

The most excited part on this conference would be new Kingdom Hearts III footage- with leading man Sora sporting new gear and new abilities demonstrated- after announcing a Kingdom Hearts mobile game. More info of the new Hitman and World of Final Fantasy, announced earlier at Sony’s conference, was interesting. Would have hope for more info of Deus Ex though, but that’s just me. (Eventually, more info did drop, with a gameplay demo trailer as well.)

One thing to not like would be all that is shown is not immediately in our horizon. Some are way too early in development (a new Nier, a new IP of for an RPG). Compared to other press conferences before this, which most of the games highlighted are close to release, Squeenix wants us in for the long haul.

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PC Gaming Show

For the first time ever, PC is getting its own section! With a host and interview format, many indie creators were given a spotlight, as well as established PC developers like Blizzard. Some say its too much of an AMD advertisement, disguised under those interviews, but then again, wouldn’t all these press conferences advertisements for their own company? It just goes that AMD is paying most for the PC show, and I wouldn’t mind if it becomes an AMD show altogether later on.

Two major gripes though.Two and half hours is just too long. Some speakers didn’t drop any relevant or interesting info (looking at you, Cliffy B).

Of course, lots of things need to be worked out, but it’s an interesting start for an upcoming staple to come.

So who won?

Actually, we gamers are all winners. Yes, I’m going to cop out from declaring any. But think about it, we have lots of new games announced, more details for upcoming games to be excited about, and nothing we can complain much this year. Sure, the presentations may not all be the best from my eyes, but still, there are great games that are on display!

And it’s no fair to declare a winner by press conferences alone. The main battle is actually the show floor, which is not covered in the post.

Personally, I am looking forward for Fallout 4, XCOM 2, Just Cause 3 and Persona 5 by the end of the year.

Hopefully a great end of the year, filled with awesome games is upon us, and an interesting future lies ahead.

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