E3 reaction: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

By: Ashley Rivas

E3 exists in its own weird alternate hype universe. Each year, it is born into the world, blissful and baby soft, representing all of our greatest hopes and wildest dreams.  It grows, and disappoints us, and inspires us, then drifts off into slumber. And then it dies.  Perhaps it took your dream with it; maybe it just gave you a new one to wait for.

E3 is spectacle, and it’s entire goal is to give us a lot of things to talk about. 

Just Dance
Ubisoft dancing to its own rhythm. Photo credit: ESA

…or maybe that’s what E3 wants you to think.

It was not the best show this year, and I am not happy about this.  I was overwhelmed, or enraged, more often than I was squealing, and as a natural oozer of squees, that is insulting.  Don’t get me wrong—there were a couple squees.  BUT NOT ENOUGH, DAMN IT. 

To start off this series, we’re going to cover all things E3, including:

  • All the disappointingly meh news itself, specifically news for surprising releases and releases we don’t care about (hi, Skyrim. I still love you, but now I also loathe you).
  • Individual developer conferences.
  • The culture of E3, and how it ferments hype to the nth degree.

Once we’ve made our foray into this gaming conference world with E3, we’ll look at a couple more coming up this year: PAX Dev 2017, PAX West 2017, and the Seattle Indie Expos.  Different venues, places, stages and even audiences will all be put under my anal-retentive little eyeball, and we’ll poke around the remains and see what interesting kinds of guts we find. 

We’re going to use those entrails to answer some pretty big questions: What do they have in common?  What’s shockingly different?  Where do these conferences put gamers in terms of gaming news: on the leash of developers, or on the forefront?   How active are the devs with their fans at these kinds of things? And, most importantly, do any of these actually give the gamer any kind of indication of what game they’re actually going to get?

So, let’s kick it off with E3 2017.  This was a weird year, and I’ve broken this up into four parts: Big News, No News, and Bad News for the announcements, and the Vibe of the conference itself.  Because this year, they added the mere mortals to the mix.  Simple mindless pleebs finally got to mix with the almighty devs (apparently, those devs weren’t thrilled). 

Let me preface the news sections by saying that omission from any of these categories does not mean the game does not merit talking about.  I’ll be going over more these guys in the individual conference articles.  You are not forgotten!  Subjectivity is also a thing that exists; I’m the author so I get to pick. If you’re freaking out over CoD: World War II, I’m happy for you, but it’s not big news for this article.



Big news (or: The stretchiest title ever titled because there wasn’t much news)

  1. The Xbox One X gets a name and a price

    Regardless of where you stand in the console wars (full disclosure: Xbox here), the long wait for the finalization of Project Scorpio is over.  The name: The Xbox One X.  Yes, it’s stupid.  It’s the stupidest name I’ve ever heard.  The specs: glorious, and in full comparison detail here thanks to Kotaku.  The hard part is stomaching that rather substantial $500 price tag, but it’s definitely packing quite a punch.  Launch titles will determine the success of this bad boy, but the reception to the announcement was incredible.  Cheers, please, to the almighty Phil Spencer and his team, because they stole the show.

  2. Xbox One/One X are backwards compatible to original Xbox

    As if Phil Spencer couldn’t butter you up enough at this conference, he announced that the Xbox One and the X will now have backwards compatibility back to the original Xbox.  Did you throw your drink in excitement yet?  NOW IS THE TIME, FRIENDS.  The library will likely start small and eventually grow, like the Xbox 360 library has, but it’s a big nod to fans.  I hear you rolling your eyes, and I have my rebuttal: maybe I already do own those old games on an Xbox, and why indeed would I want to play the mess that is now Jade Empire when I have big new games?  Because I paid for it, and I loved it, and knowing that a company cares about those things and wants me to have it still to this day is commendable (and rare—here’s a drink for you, Sony, but this one is for your face).  Having 4K updates for some existing titles is also a big help; who wants to have to deal with shit images on their 4K TV with the most powerful console ever made?

  3. Mario X Rabbids

    This was a weird crossover on multiple levels.  Mario X Rabbids.  Ubisoft X Nintendo.  I was not sold when I saw it.  It felt like fanfiction gone wild, and I wanted to scorch my eyes out.  But the gameplay knocked me on my ass.  Shigeru Miyamoto ran onstage to announce the game, and throw some love to the very emotional and proud developer in the audience, and then tossed us into a turn based strategy game that makes use of the environment and the other players as actual objects.  It’s bonkers, and despite the Minion-esque qualities of the stupid Rabbids, it’s adorable and strange.

  4. Pokémon core RPG for Switch

    This seemed to gloss over some heads, so let me put it in perspective.  This is world changing.  This is the biggest thing of all big things.  A core Pokémon game is one of the main entries to the series, i.e. Red, Gold, Sapphire, Pearl, Black, X, Sun, and their paired titles.  They’ve always been on Nintendo’s handheld consoles, and having one exist on the Switch is insane.  It’s terrifying for what it means for the 3DS, and beyond exciting for what it means for the Pokémon series and how it’ll get amped up in all aspects.  I cried for this one.  No shame.  The only downside: no images, dates, nothing.  I can’t wait for long; I might literally die.

  5. Beyond Good and Evil 2 is happening

    I don’t think anyone, especially not the developer, was ready for this.  Despite me thinking it might be a hardcore remake of an Ape Escape game and being kind of sad that it’s not, this game was so surprising and so rooted in heart and soul that it stole the show. 

  6. Wolfenstein 2 is happening

    This isn’t as shocking as BGE 2, but it was still a very pleasant surprise.  Wolfenstein has a devoted fan following for the Nazi dominated alt-future games, and this one is complete with a pregnant woman beating a man to death while an acid tripping man hallucinates a Disney style lizard nearby.  

    MechaHitler
    MECHA-HITLER SHALL RETURN! Photo credit: pzed‘s disturbed childhood.

    Plus, it’s pissing off Internet Nazis, so that’s cool.


No news

  1. Bethesda overall doesn’t give us much

    Despite the initial excitement over the Bethesda Land gimmick, there wasn’t actually much to show for the dev.  Perhaps they felt pressured to do a conference since they’ve been doing them since 2015 now, but they didn’t have enough to really warrant a show here.  All of this info could’ve come out in statements online.  It felt like hype for nothing, and there’s nothing that pisses gamers off more than hyping nothing (::cough:: No Man’s Sky).

    To address the biggest fan complaint against The Elder Scrolls 6, we all knew it wasn’t going to be here yet.  Bethesda has a pattern of releases, and it’s not time for ES 6.  It’ll come, but probably not until the next gen of consoles is launched or announced.  Bethesda doesn’t talk about games until they’re releasing that year, so for now, we have to wait.  That’s not news; expecting anything else was a beautiful, but doomed dream.

  2. Kojima confirms no Death Stranding

    This was a letdown, since we still barely know anything about this game.  He tweeted that they were hard at work on it, so it wouldn’t be there, but it’s still a bummer to not get anything.  Kojima focused on the film adaptation of Metal Gear instead, which is cool, but not what we’re looking for.  I mean, yeah, Solid Snake, yeah, sure, movie, okay, cool.  Shut up about it.  It’s not Death Stranding.

  3. Square Enix opts out of FFVII remake and Kingdom Hearts 3

    There’s been dubious news about these two games for some time, and by dubious, I mean non-existent.  KH3 got a new trailer the night before E3 (for some reason) at the KH orchestra world tour, but the gameplay looked like standard KH gameplay.  Something was a little off about the models, but most importantly, this wasn’t at E3.  We got news in May that neither game would be ready on time and both would be released within the next three years.  That’s it.  Not even a word given to either at E3.  And when Square gives us a friggin’ FFXV fishing VR game as a main stage thing during the Sony conference, I feel that I have a right to be disappointed.  It’s my honest estimate that they just have nothing to show, and would be laughed offstage of an already laughable E3.  And that’s a death sentence indeed.

  4. Not a lot of gameplay overall

    Lots of panels didn’t give a ton of gameplay footage, which is always a letdown.  It’s great to see the flashy graphics and the big, beautiful frame rates, but we want to know how gameplay is going to look.  The note that the footage was taken in game is always a huge help, but not if it’s minimal.  Why do I care if it’s gorgeous if I don’t get to see what I’ll actually be doing?  I’m not a damn cow, developers; you can’t trick me with a wad of tasty grass while leading me to the slaughterhouse.  But that’s all this conference was; pomp and circumstance, with no meaty substance.

  5. 3DS?

    No love for the 3DS at the main Nintendo panel, which isn’t entirely surprising, even if it’s disappointing.  The Switch took center stage, and it should.  They did mention the other 3DS games during Treehouse, and are still firm on their stance that the 3DS will remain the primary handheld while the Switch will take the place of a console while also acting as a hybrid.  So no 3DS love to make room for the new baby makes sense, but is still sad.


Bad News

  1. Bethesda is bringing you more versions of…Skyrim

    Skyrim VR
    Unncessary. Photo credit: Bethesda

    This is hard for me to deal with.  I have Skyrim for the Xbox 360, the PC, and the Xbox One.  I want it for the Switch, very badly, but it makes me grumpy to buy a 6-year-old game that I already have 3 versions of.  So when they showed the VR version, I got grumpier, as did fans.  Please stop milking the cash cow at some point, and give a little more love to other existing properties.  It’s hard for me to defend you guys when you do stupid shit like this, and then pump an hour long press conference into the air when you have nothing to back it up.  I just so love wasting my time.

  2. Bethesda is bringing you paid mods for Skyrim

    This is a controversial move at best, and a match on a powder keg at worst.  The Bethesda community is renowned for their freaking awesome (and usually free) mods that they receive donations for, and they’re usually on par with the game or better in some instances.  Having the actual Bethesda devs make more content is cool, and I am in complete agreement for charging money for content you make (people have to get paid for their work), but if these mods are on par with mods that gamers are already creating, it’s an attempt to milk that sore, bulging, raw teat and bring in more desperate money. 

  3. Despite coolness, Xbox One X exclusives are minimal

    Phil Spencer boasted 22 exclusives, which is great, but some of those are actually timed exclusives that will actually go to all platforms after a bit.  This, combined with the currently minimal launch library, makes the $499 selling price steep for launch.  Also, 4K.  Now I need a damn 4K TV.  So Phil Spencer can just have a check for my savings account, apparently.


The people, their vibes, and the show overall

E3 was a little different this year, and I’m not the only one who noticed how that seemed.  I’ll get into specific reactions for the individual panels in their articles, but let’s talk about a couple of the unique things that happened.

By unique, I mean stupid

This is the first year that E3 opened up tickets to the masses, and boy, it seems like they turned out in droves.  This boded ill for line wait times, and seemed to, according to one attendee, create the “us vs. them” mentality between regular attendees and industry professionals.  It’s important to note this, because that article writer specifically noted that one attendee said it wasn’t like that at PAX.  Part of that might be that PAX is a lot more focused on attendees as the guests, not the industry.  PAX Dev is a different beast, however, and is focused exclusively on the industry.  SIX is a lovely little blend of both.  Let’s see how this E3 attitude stacks up against those later this year, because I have no freaking idea.  I’ve felt an outsider mentality at PAX before because I’m one of those nasty girls, but it’s gotten better ever year, so here’s hoping that attitudes just get shoved up butts and we all have a good time.

The panels were full of gimmicks.  Sony had a shtick for every new game, from simulated waterfall to snow, to hanging zombies.  Why?  Why did you do this?  Is this what I signed up for?  Or, did I, wait for it, TURN ON THE DAMN TV TO WATCH YOU TALK ABOUT VIDEO GAMES?!

Other panels kept cutting to actual gamers (which was said a lot—as opposed to fake ones?) playing the game being shown on screen.  Perhaps the biggest gimmick of all was Microsoft revealing the new Porsche.  It was clearly a contract stipulation Porsche required in order to use it in the new Forza, but still.  The spectacle abounded, and while fun, it was strange.  It added to the feeling of a show, of an event, as opposed to a conference.  I’m still undecided on whether or not this is good or bad.  Leaning towards bad, because it’s freaking dumb to show me other stupid crap when I’m only really going to get excited for the game.  But it’s all about the tease, and we’ll get to that in another article.

You Tubers, Twitchers, and content creators were all over the place.  There were mixed feelings about this, and honestly, it felt more than a little weird at times.  I personally enjoyed seeing the Twitch footage at first, because it was cute; I like seeing Twitch integrated into more mainstream things like this.  But after it showed up for so many games, it started to feel a little forced.  I disagree heartily with the tweets that these Twitch streamers are “selling out”; people have to make a living, god damn it, and if they get sponsored for their content, let them make that choice (as long as it’s honest content, not smiles and giggles just because).  That said, it got old fast, as did the announcers that were You Tubers or Twitch streamers.  They were usually uncomfortable, and awkward, likely because this is a huge, live audience.  I get that, but sometimes I’d rather hear from the developer, not hear more commentary from someone who’s just speculating on a game they haven’t played that.  I got enough of that from IGN.


What’s next?

Next is the breakdown of each conference, going into the games they showed and the mood they generated.  It’s a good way to gauge the receptions to the news we got, and it’s interesting to see because the following cons we look at aren’t build on this kind of press conference model.  They’re more convention style, with smaller panels, waiting in lines, and more face time.  E3 is simultaneously the anomaly and the biggest one of the bunch, which is why it’s getting a fair amount of time dedicated to it upfront.

Here’s when the next events are:

  • PAX Dev: August 29 to 30th
  • PAX West: September 1 to 4th
  • Seattle Indie Expo: September 3rd

I’ve got tickets for all of these events, so unlike E3, those bad boys will be hands on.  It’s going to make a difference, and is something worth noting.  It’s also my first time at Dev and SIX, which is deeply exciting. 

We have lots of big questions to answer that I mentioned up above, and we’ll get to them all in good time.  This may have been the shitstorm all over E3’s glowing parade, but believe me, there are a couple of crusty gems in there to look forward to.  They’re just overshadowed by idiotic decisions, bad ideas, and overall nothingness. 

About The Author

I'm a big ol' nerd, and I want to effuse that nerdiness for the rest of my life. I spend as much time as I can drawing and playing video games, and I've taken that to the career level now since I'm back in school to be a game designer. I'm the mom to three puppies and a fat kitty, and the wife to a fellow nerd.

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