E3 2016: The Good, The Bad and The Bright Side
Supporters and detractors alike exist but this year’s expo still generated excitement for the future.
Each year at E3, a pattern always emerges among the announcements presented. Sometimes, it’s all about exclusives. Other times it’s about the next generation of consoles. There have been years where E3 could be remembered for a single bizarre show taking place – see Konami’s press conference in 2010 – or for mistakes that would cause major damage to a brand or console launch – like Sony’s E3 2006 show or Microsoft’s E3 2013 show.
"For perhaps the first time in a while, it’s hard to look at something as just being objectively better than everything else."
This year’s E3 was weird but not in the “Oh lord this is an unmitigated disaster” sense. EA didn’t really deviate from its sports-game mindset and yes, the cringe was real with Zac Efron and Jamie Foxx afterwards but it still showcased Battlefield 1 and Titanfall 2, not to mention teasing Mass Effect: Andromeda.and that maybe Watch Dogs 2 would be worth looking into. It also pushed for new ideas like Star Trek: Bridge Crew, Steep and Trials of the Blood Dragon (which flopped with critics but that’s a different story).
Microsoft had one major hardware reveal and a major hardware tease with the Xbox One S and Project Scorpio respectively. Sure, the Xbox One S isn’t all that big a deal in the grand scheme of things, especially if you already own an Xbox One (Microsoft itself outright admitted that it’s not going to provide a huge boost to current games) but it’s still a significantly cool announcement to entice new players. Sony fired back by unveiling great footage for a number of exclusives including God of War, Detroit: Become Human, Days Gone, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Spiderman and so on. It also continued its campaign to make VR look appealing with Here They Lie, Batman Arkham VR and How We Soar.
Finding a common theme this year, aside from too much talking during some key games (I’m looking at you, Ghost Recon: Wildlands), is difficult. For perhaps the first time in a while, it’s hard to look at something as just being objectively better than everything else. As much as I loved The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, it didn’t feel like it towered above the rest of the show. It was more like something amazing in its own right, especially if you were a fan of the series.
"Perhaps that was this year’s “good” aspect – that there something for everyone. Even if you weren’t a particular fan of something, there wasn’t anything that looked outright terrible."
In my opinion, Sony had better looking exclusives than Microsoft but I still loved Gears of War 4 over Days Gone (and no, not by directly comparing their genres). Titanfall 2 looked fantastic enough for me as a fan of the original game but there were still plenty of die-hards complaining about the new movement options like the grappling hook. I found Dead Rising 4 and Scalebound to be alright while others loved them. Dishonored 2 was dope as hell but I could completely understand those who found it boring because it simply wasn’t to their taste. And hey, crucify me if you wish but Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare’s campaign looked much more interesting than those gameplay “teases” from Battlefield 1 (though not as good as Titanfall 2’s campaign because, again, huge fan here).
I probably wasn’t all that excited for Watch Dogs 2, Ghost Recon Wildlands or For Honor but I could see how they might appeal to consumers. The same goes for FIFA 16 – I can imagine FIFA fans wanting to enjoy a deep story to go with the usual yearly tweaks and additions. There was nothing that one could “objectively” hate this year. I could sit here and tell you why Ghost Recon Wildlands didn’t impress me all that much but that’s only from the POV of someone who watched it, not played it. Heck, at this stage, it holds enough potential to make me want to play it. The same goes for Scalebound – that boss fight looked alright, nothing compared to the likes of Bayonetta 2 but I’m not going to pretend the entire game’s potential doesn’t excite me.
Perhaps that was this year’s “good” aspect – that there something for everyone. Even if you weren’t a particular fan of something, there wasn’t anything that looked outright terrible. Not even Sea of Thieves was ruined by its terrible commentary (though my ears most definitely were). Not even the lack of release dates for a number of big exclusives – whether it’s Scalebound, Mass Effect Andromeda, Detroit: Become Human, Tekken 7 or Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War 3 – hampered the week. Maybe that’s me looking on the bright side but the future of gaming actually looks pretty bright.
"E3 felt like a proper celebration of games more than just high-profile announcements and showcases. It made some of us forget the real world for a few hours and just get excited for what was to come."
I could look at the bad side of things. Mass Effect: Andromeda needs more information at this point. Titanfall 2 probably shouldn’t be releasing so close to Battlefield 1 even though it means I get it this year. Many VR experiences like Final Fantasy 15 VR Experience don’t look like all that much more than first person VR (the same which could be said for Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope and Killing Floor: Incursion). And yeah, maybe Resident Evil 7: Biohazard doesn’t look all that much like Resident Evil though I’m very excited for its direction. Maybe Ubisoft could stand to revamp its open world mission structure a lot more heavily. There were plenty of things to not like but again, it will be completely subjective because finding something objectively terrible was much harder now than in years past.
In the end, this week’s E3 felt like a proper celebration of games more than just high-profile announcements and showcases. It made some of us forget the real world for a few hours and just get excited for what was to come. Plenty of people will hype up this new “war” between consoles that’s coming. Even more will tell you what looks objectively shit before it’s even released. But if you found something that excited you at E3 2016 and makes you look forward to its release, then it’s certainly served its purpose, regardless of how much my opinion could convince you about its quality or lack thereof.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.