Andrew’s Top E3 Announcements

E3 remains one of my favorite guilty pleasures. In spite of all the over-hyped announcements, prolonged disappointments, and inevitable delays, I can’t help but become enamored with all the promises shared at the conferences. Plus, what other big industry so gloriously revels in the awkward and cringeworthy? At this point, the awful moments that aim to embrace dated nerd stereotypes or inspire audience marvel have become my most anticipated moments of the show each year. There are arguable more classic cringe spectacles than there are notable game announcements.

But I digress, this year’s E3 actually featured some stellar reveals. Microsoft had a plethora of (mainly mediocre) game trailers; Sony presented professionally, even if the conference was largely forgettable overall; Nintendo managed to prove that perhaps they really do have a grasp on maintaining the future of the Switch; Bethesda kept it simple which I thought was wise if not a bit, shall we say, “underdeveloped;” EA had sports and Star Wars; and Ubisoft . . . well, they tried.

“Less cringe, more reveals” seemed the motto for (most of) this year’s conferences, which given the lack of exciting titles is much of a disappointment. But it also speaks volumes as to the maturation of the industry, which continues to develop each year, alongside the culture and the mainstream embracing of artistic sophistication within the medium. Mark that as a success (at least moderately) for E3, and for AAA games in general.

For my favorite announcements, I decided to pick one from each conference. If the execution of some of these titles prove equal to their promise, I think we’re in for a number of exciting releases to look forward to in the coming months.

Microsoft:
A Way Out

Couch coop doesn’t necessarily scream “innovative,” but I am a sucker for split screen games. They’ve rather disappeared from the market over the years, so perhaps this new title from the developers behind the excellent Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (you can read my review here) will allow me to wax nostalgic with a buddy sitting next to me as we play together. I remember sleepovers at my best friend’s house growing up, playing multiplayer cooperative games together well into the morning till our eyes could take it no more — Borderlands was usually our go-to choice for marathons.

What does seem particularly interesting about A Way Out is how cinematic its split-screen presentation appears to be. Opting for more than just slicing the image on screen in two to fit two players’ HUDs at once, coop is the primary element behind its design, offering what is akin to a spy caper where one scene focuses on a character as the other is stationary. It may allow for some inventive gameplay options and functionality, something I’m sure will abound given how brilliant the control scheme behind Brothers is. Whereas Brothers revolves around the concept of (quite literally) putting two heads together as one, A Way Out seems to be aiming for the opposite, which may or may not result in a successful turn of the tides for the developers.

Honorable Mentions:
The Last Night
Metro: Exodus
Code Vein

EA:

Yeah, uh, I got nothin’.

Bethesda:
Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus

I have yet to delve into The New Order — it’s been nagging at me from its place amongst my constantly growing backlog to play it already — but I’ve heard nothing but praise for it. Proclamations of “Greatest shooter of the year,” and acclaim for its deceptively remarkable storytelling abound, notably from publications I greatly admire and trust.

After seeing the new trailer for its sequel, I am now eager to jump in as soon as possible, to be prepared for the release of this alternate history dramedy. Trailers without gameplay too often fail to impress me, mainly due to the fact that there is never a hint of what the actual game itself — the functionality, the core mechanics, the point-of-view, etc. — will entail. But while the New Colossus’s trailer describes some aspects of gameplay, briefly, what is distinctly highlighted is the intriguing narrative, which plays off as a sort of Tarantino-inspired tale of rebellion in the wake of a Nazi-dominated world.

The trailer oozes style without seeming pretentious, and perhaps finally showcases the true merits of cinematic influence for games. We’ll have to see how the actual game turns out, but for now I am indeed excited from the relatively-lengthy trailer, alone.

Honorable Mentions:
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider
Quake Champions

 

Ubisoft:
Beyond Good & Evil 2

Finally. That’s all I have to say.

I mean, it’s a bit ridiculous that all we were shown of it was yet another entirely CG-generated trailer, this time full of characters we know nothing about, the implication being it is actually a prequel despite the “2” in the title, plus the obnoxious overzealous cursing in every line of dialogue (profanity doesn’t automatically equate to “mature,” guys).

But wow, it looks like it’s finally happening after all. The teary-eyed developers came on stage, further providing some evidence to the notion that work is finally being done on this nearly-decade long project, and I could not be more excited to at least hear that a sequel(?) to one of the greatest, most underappreciated games of the 6th generation is finally in production.

Sometimes, all you need is a promise to get you excited. Which is sort of the entire point of E3 to begin with, really.

Honorable Mentions:
Transference
Assassin’s Creed: Origins

 

Sony:
Spiderman

The Batman: Arkham games are amongst my favorite action titles of all time. I’ve spent well over a hundred hours in Arkham City alone, and the first entry remains one of the most successful modern Metroidvania titles ever designed.

Spiderman, the latest from Insomniac, looks to be taking quite a lot of liberties by “borrowing” from the Arkham series. The combat and stealth mechanics all point to an undeniable Rocksteady influence. However, from what the gameplay trailer reveals, the designers seem to understand exactly what makes the Arkham games successful to begin with. Not only is the gameplay functionality and setpiece-design key to that series’s overall success, it is the characteristic tone, evident in the setting and characters, which allows the game to function properly as a truly excellent venture.

This new Spiderman game takes what works so well in the Arkham series and reconfigures it to appropriately match Spidey’s character and environment, which is all I can really ask for with what appears to be a game focused on being as Fun as possible. Less innovative and more fundamentally pleasing, I can’t help but be excited for this long-awaited title to bring back the focus of the Arkham series, which was ultimately lost by the conclusive entry, while providing the wit and charm of Spiderman’s universe. Give me a city to swing around in and plenty to do, and this could easily shape up to be amongst the greatest of superhero games — or, at the very least, one of the most purely enjoyable.

Honorable Mentions:
Monster Hunter Worlds
The Inpatient

Dishonorable Mentions:
Detroit: Become Human — Fuck David Cage

 

Nintendo:
Super Mario Odyssey

I mean, what else was I going to pick?

As much as I love to hate on Nintendo for pandering to nostalgic fanatics rather than actually aim to innovate or offer up anything new to the table — you know, the thing that got them where they are today — I cannot argue against the fact that despite the lack of true innovation, everything they do they do really well. Most of their more recent releases build off of a basic formula and provide an interesting gimmick which propels the game forward into a more unique identity of its own. But that is not creative game design, that is merely playing it just safe enough to ensure survival and sales without necessarily providing the same experience with each subsequent release.

Super Mario Odyssey looks as though Nintendo are throwing a bunch of ideas at a wall and seeing what sticks. The funny part is that it all seems to stick, as SMO certainly feels like Mario in a broad sense, but reaching aspirations not felt since Super Mario Galaxy perfected the series’ formula a decade ago (this, of course, is all speculation based on demos and trailers, but the feeling is certainly prevalent within).

Which, again, is what Nintendo have become: a company who survives by constantly aiming to perfect a familiar formula. I’m not pleased to say that a new Mario game is amongst my most anticipated reveals from E3 2017, for nearly the same reasons I’m reluctant to admit that Metroid Prime 4’s brief announcement has me more excited than most other games releasing in the next few years. Nintendo are still merely pandering to their audiences in order to sell consoles, failing to provide anything entirely “new” or “innovative” as they so effortlessly did all those decades ago.

But at the same time, I know that whatever they produce will still be one hell of a great time. And fortunately, Super Mario Odyssey seems a step in the right direction for facilitating something new for fans to fall in love with. A myriad of ideas were presented in the trailer alone, and all seem so effortlessly Fun to experience that a Switch purchase is now in my foreseeable future. All because of a familiar icon proving he still has a few — or rather, numerous — tricks hiding under his signature hat. What allows Nintendo to excel as a developer is their ability to innovate, without even necessarily innovating at all. It’s a baffling defining characteristic, but it’s so difficult to refuse their charm given how successful they are as game designers.

Screw that Mario and Rabbids crossover, though.

Honorable Mentions:
Metroid Prime 4
Metroid: Samus Returns

Andrew Gerdes

Gamer, musician, writer, film buff, 'foodie,' aspiring baker, critic, intellectual self-reliant, optimist, health-obsessed kid who only wants to explore the infinite possibilities of artistic expression. Also, people tend to think I'm an all-around awesome guy

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