Now that the dust has settled, it’s time to look at the week’s biggest winners and losers.
E3 was a little strange this year. It wasn’t great, or bad– no, the one word that can be used to describe it better than any other word is “strange”. There were in-depth gameplay reveals of games that have been announced for some time, but many of them didn’t even reveal release dates. There were some major, megaton announcements, but a large number of these were either trailers with no gameplay footage shown, or were little more than just title reveals. Some of the conferences were terrible, none of them were exceptional.
"Some of the conferences were terrible, none of them were exceptional."
In light of that, to talk about one particular company as if they “won” E3 doesn’t make much sense, because even if one of them is the winner, they’re the best of an average bunch, so their accomplishments are really nothing to write home about. It’s like calling someone the tallest dwarf. That’s not to say E3 2018 was bad or boring- overall, it was just unremarkable. However, we do have to decide on which conference was the best of the bunch- or at least which was the least unremarkable, as the case may be. So let’s take a brief look at each one of them one final time before speaking about the one that, well, “won” E3.
Let’s get the third party publishers out of the way first. E3 week kicked off with the EA press conference, and there aren’t enough words in the English language to describe just how pointless the entire thing was. They had next to no new stuff to show off, while the stuff they did show, they didn’t really… well, show. They talked about a few games, including Battlefield V, FIFA 19, and Anthem, but that is, for the most part, all they did. Sure, there was some intermittent footage of Anthem (which looked decent enough, I guess, but didn’t really blow anything out of the water), but even that was shown sparingly, with EA instead choosing to bring BioWare devs on-stage to awkwardly talk about their game in a bizarrely ambiguous manner for over ten minutes.
If they didn’t have anything major to announce, and they didn’t have any new gameplay to show, why were they even at E3? To waste everyone’s time? It sure felt that way. The only notable stuff they showed were the EA Originals games (Unravel 2 in particular looked brilliant, plus it was a shadow drop!) and the little snippets of gameplay of Anthem that we were able to catch, and even that could have easily been part of something completely unrelated to E3- like Game Informer’s cover story for the month of July, which, by the way, is exactly what Anthem is. Sure, compared to EA’s E3 conference last year, which was essentially little more than a cringe compilation, this year’s show had a much more organized feel to it- but if such are the standards EA has fallen to, then they truly are in deep trouble.
"Compared to EA’s E3 conference last year, which was essentially little more than a cringe compilation, this year’s show had a much more organized feel to it- but if such are the standards EA has fallen to, then they truly are in deep trouble."
Square Enix, for whom it was very important to at least do a passable job on their return to the E3 centerstage, fared much better than EA. They showed plenty of gameplay for two games, namely Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Just Cause 4. Shadow didn’t look remarkable, but it looked solid enough, and we know enough about the series’ core strengths by now to have judged from what we saw that it was at least shaping up to be a solid Tomb Raider game- at least that’s what it looks like. Just Cause 4, on the other hand, looked really good- again, it wasn’t like it was Game of the Show material or anything, but it looked good enough that it must have gotten a fairly large number of people pretty hyped about it, especially fans of the series. Other than that, Dragon Quest XI looked pretty good, while Square also announced two entirely new IPs- the Platinum developed Babylon’s Fall, and something called The Quiet Man, which features a deaf guy as the protagonist (I’m assuming).
And that’s all we know about those two. Disappointingly enough, these two also received no gameplay footage or any details on what they’re going to be like (or about)- begging the question why, at this rate, they even had to be revealed in the first place. No one before the Square press event even knew these games existed. No one would have been pissed at Square for not announcing these two games. I’d rather they’d held off on these reveals until they actually had something substantial to show, besides just the game’s names and weird live action trailers (which is how The Quiet Man, whatever it is, was revealed). Beyond that, some of the other stuff Square Enix brought to their show had either already been spoken of quite a lot in Microsoft’s press event (The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, a standalone episode in the Life is Strange universe, and Nier: Automata’s Xbox One release), or shown in even greater detail at the Sony event (Kingdom Hearts III). So yeah, Square Enix’s press event was decent- but nothing more. It was also a little disappointing that the duo of Square Enix’s Avengers project and Final Fantasy VII Remake was also conspicuously missing from the proceedings.
Ubisoft’s showing was much more uneven, with much higher highs and extremely lower lows. They kicked things off with a ridiculous dance number that seemed to go on forever, all to announce a new Just Dance game. I mean, I have nothing against announcing yet another Just Dance game at E3, but giving it the spotlight for a good chunk of your conference, also a chunk that is right at the beginning of the show, no less, is a little weird- to put it mildly. There was also an inordinate amount of time spent on Starlink: Battle Atlas, which was baffling, to say the least- though it did involve a pretty cool moment which saw Nintendo legend Shigeru Miyamoto come on-stage. There was also a ridiculous live on-stage musical performance during the reveal for Mario + Rabbids Donkey Kong DLC reveal- what was even more annoying, though, was the fact that the footage seemed secondary to the on-stage performance, whereas really, it should have been the other way around.
"Ubisoft’s press event was much more uneven, with much higher highs and extremely lower lows."
Beyond that, there was a pretty cool looking Beyond Good and Evil 2 trailer, followed by a brief bit of pre-alpha gameplay footage, which is all aces in my book. Gameplay footage is never a bad thing. Ubisoft also showed a new trailer for The Division 2, and as a trailer, it was pretty cool, but that’s all they showed. The game’s big gameplay reveal had already come earlier during the Microsoft press event, so Ubisoft instead took the opportunity to announce some major and excellent new details on the game, including an overhaul of endgame content, as well as the addition of raids. There were also announcements for a new Trials game, and new content for Rainbow Six: Siege and For Honor. But the best bit came right at the end, when Ubisoft officially revealed Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. What’s even better is that it was a prolonged gameplay reveal, not just a trailer or a title card, and it looked amazing. In fact, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call it one of the best showings across all of E3 2018. Odyssey truly looks like an excellent game, and the fact that its release date was announced as being just four months away – more precisely, October 5 – made things even better. Conversely, it’s a little disappointing that after weeks of intense speculation, the next Splinter Cell game was not announced by Ubisoft. So yeah, Ubisoft was a mixed bag- some bits of it were much more memorable than anything Square Enix – and, it goes without saying, EA – showed, but the bits that were bad were… pretty bad.
And then there’s Bethesda. On paper, Bethesda’s conference was excellent. If you were to tell someone post-facto about the stuff Bethesda revealed during their show, they’d probably lose their minds. They’d think it was the greatest press conference ever. Really though, it was only good. It could have been great, but Bethesda fell into the same trap EA did with a clear and distinct absence of gameplay reveals, and combined with uncharacteristically early announcements for games, their conference was actually not nearly as good as it should or could have been. A Doom sequel was revealed- but they showed no gameplay. A new Wolfenstein game was announced- but hey, it’s primarily a co-op experience, and again, there was no gameplay. The long rumoured Starfield was finally announced- but once again, with zero footage, as well as the baffling admission that it was going to be a next-gen game. Bethesda also pulled the rug from under everyone’s feet and officially announced The Elder Scrolls 6– but all they did was show a title card. The game doesn’t even have a proper name yet. Also, bizarrely, they confirmed that Elder Scrolls 6’s release was beyond even Starfield, a game which itself is at least two or three years away from launch.
Fallout 76, the centrepiece of the Bethesda conference, looked great, though. Bethesda spent a good thirty to forty minutes speaking about the game, revealing loads of new details, showing plenty of gameplay footage, and all around just selling people on their vision of Fallout 76 pretty damn well. I’m personally not a huge fan of online experiences, but even I had to admit that their showing of the game was impressive. There’s also the fact that Todd Howard oozes charisma and charm, and every second he was on stage, everyone’s eyes were glued to him raptly. They also showed quite a lot of Rage 2 – they actually kicked things off with it – and it looks amazing. Oh, and shoutout to Pete Hines for that amazing Walmart Canada jab at the beginning. Kudos, Mr. Hines. So yeah, again, Bethesda’s conference was decent enough, in that it showed lots of gameplay for Fallout 76, and announced plenty of new games.
"Bethesda spent a good thirty to forty minutes speaking about Fallout 76, revealing loads of new details, showing plenty of gameplay footage, and all around just selling people on their vision of the game pretty damn well."
But it was also a little disappointing, because they showed no footage for any of these new games, while the Starfield and Elder Scrolls 6 announcement felt less like actual planned announcements and more like insurance to appease fans in case they didn’t take to the online-centric Fallout 76 too kindly. Because let’s face it, Bethesda has made it abundantly clear on a number of occasions that The Elder Scrolls 6 is a long, long way off from launch; plus, it’s not like in the absence of this announcement there would ever have been any doubt that there simply wasn’t going to be an Elder Scrolls 6. They didn’t need to announce it. Why announce games that are literally years away from release, especially when you’re showing no gameplay or revealing nothing other than the fact that, yes, these games do indeed exist? What difference did these announcements even make? Effectively, none whatsoever.
So, now that the third party publishers are out of the way, let’s move on to the big three- the console giants. Let’s kick things off with Nintendo, which the the very last E3 press event. Nintendo had announced pretty early on – a good few weeks prior to E3, in fact – that their focus during their show would be squarely on Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo Switch (which we now know is called Super Smash Bros. Ultimate), much like what they did with Super Mario Odyssey last year, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild the year before that. So the fact that more than forty minutes of the conference were just Masahiro Sakurai talking about the game in painstaking detail was no surprise- it was actually a pretty satisfying dive into Smash, which looks excellent, to no one’s surprise.
Nintendo also finally spoke more about the Switch Fire Emblem game, which is called Fire Emblem: Three Houses. They showed a trailer that included some gameplay, as well as some narrative elements. It looks great, but disappointingly enough, it’s no longer going to be a 2018 game- it’s now slated for Spring 2019. Fornite was announced and shadow dropped for the Switch, while it was also confirmed that a second demo for Octopath Traveler is launching shortly. Also announced was an Armoured Core lookalike, called Daemon X Machina, Super Mario Party, and an expansion pack for Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Other than that, there was little else of note in the rest of the conference. So really, is it even fair to compare Nintendo to any of the other conferences? Because essentially, it wasn’t even a real conference as much as it was a nearly 50 minute long show about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, with sprinklings of a few other games in the beginning. For what it was supposed to be, which was a thorough and in-depth reveal of the next Smash game, Nintendo’s show worked very well- but honestly, that’s all that can be said about it.
"For what it was supposed to be, which was a thorough and in-depth reveal of the next Smash game, Nintendo’s show worked very well- but honestly, that’s all that can be said about it."
If I had to pick a winner among all the conferences at this year’s E3, I’d have a pretty hard time deciding between the Microsoft and Sony press events. Sony did some experimenting this year- they announced pretty early on that their E3 showing would be focusing on “deep dives” into four of their biggest upcoming exclusives, and they stuck to their schedule pretty much the way they said they would. Let’s talk about the good stuff first. Ghost of Tsushima looks good, with some of the most beautiful visuals I’ve ever seen in a game- seriously, its visual palette hits you like a ton of bricks. The Last of Us- Part II looks as ridiculously intense and technically marvellous as every single person in the world predicted it would. Spider-Man looks incredible too, and it’s a good thing that its release is just three months away, because after a showing like that, I would not have been able to wait to get my hands on the game much longer. There were also a couple of surprising announcements that pretty much no one saw coming- for one, Capcom announced Resident Evil 2 Remake, which looks beautiful and amazing, and is launching very soon, on January 25 of 2018. Also announced was Nioh 2, shockingly enough, though again, much to my disappointment, no gameplay was shown. Meanwhile, New Game + was also confirmed for God of War, which is good news, obviously.
And now moving on to the stuff that wasn’t so good. Death Stranding- that game has now officially moved past the point where it was cryptic, but in a cool way. Now it’s cryptic in a frustrating way. Up until this Sony conference, we’d seen three trailers of the game since its announcement two years ago, and now was the perfect time to finally show us properly just what the hell this game is all about. Hideo Kojima, being Hideo Kojima, instead decided it would be better to wait a little bit more. Somehow, he managed to show us several minutes of Death Stranding while actually really showing us nothing at all. After four meaty trailers, if this were any other game, you’d have a pretty good idea of what it was going to be like. Death Stranding, though? Still no fricking clue. And you know what? It’s not endearing anymore. It’s actually annoying. It’a also a pretty big bummer that Sony didn’t mention even a broad release window for Death Stranding… or Ghost of Tsushima… or The Last of Us- Part II. Not even a plain and simple “2019”. There’s also the fact that, for some reason, Sony thought it’d be a good idea to not have Days Gone, one of their biggest upcoming releases (which actually has a concrete release date) at their show.
And really, it’s because of these few but significant issues that Sony’s conference ended up being less than spectacular- solid, and engaging, but unremarkable. Much like all of E3 2018, actually. And it’s because of this, too, that I have to look at Microsoft as the winners of E3 2018- at least in my estimation. Microsoft’s E3 press event was actually one of the best they’ve had in years. And sure, that’s not saying a lot, considering that their E3 events this generation have been largely forgettable at best and downright disastrous at worst. But this year, Microsoft had a really solid showing. Not spectacular, mind you, but confident and well-structured enough that it emerges as the winner. 50 games were shown off at their press event, including but not at all limited to the likes of The Division 2, the eagerly and widely anticipated Cyberpunk 2077, the surprisingly excellent looking Dying Light 2, a standalone episode set in the Life is Strange universe called The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, an Xbox One release of Nier: Automata, From Software’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (which looks spectacular, by the way), Metro: Exodus, and most notably, the long-awaited Devil May Cry 5.
"The Last of Us- Part II looks as ridiculously intense and technically marvellous as every single person in the world predicted it would."
There was a slew of third party games at their showing, but in very uncharacteristic fashion, Microsoft also focused a fair bit on first party- and interestingly enough, most of their focus seems to be on building for the future, rather than salvaging the present. In the immediate future, we’ve got Forza Horizon 4 and Crackdown 3 coming up, but when you look at what’s to come for Microsoft beyond that, you can’t help but be impressed, and feel like they might just be learning their lessons. Gears 5, Gears: Tactics, and Halo: Infinite are all in the pipeline, and they all seem to be promising bright – and different – new futures for their respective franchises. Beyond that, Microsoft really seems to be putting all its energies into strengthening its first party lineup. They announced the acquisition of five new studios, with one of them being a brand new one made from scratch, and two, in more notable news, being Playground Games and, of all things, Ninja Theory. That really came out of nowhere, and indeed, it looks like Microsoft are looking to and building for the future.
And if this E3 was any indication, they seem to know what they’re doing.
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.