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“Quick” E3 2015 thoughts before this ball gets rolling

by Ron Duwell | June 15, 2015June 15, 2015 6:00 am PDT

Servbot E3

In just a few hours the biggest gaming convention of the year will be underway, and while Joey and Eric hit the show floor, yours truly has been left in charge of coordinating and reporting on news conferences. Time differences between LA and Japan result in the live-streams running from 2AM until 8AM, and I’ll be feeding you live news from a Japanese business hotel so as not to wake my wife up with my big voice.

It’s a tough job, but I’ve got do it!

With that in mind, here are a few streaming thoughts on the show before it gets started. I’ve already touched on my most anticipated news conference, that being Square Enix’s, so I won’t say much about them beyond a small plea to acknowledge its Dragon Quest fan base.

Microsoft

I’m having a bit of a hard time getting my excitement up for Microsoft’s show. It’s not that I hate the Xbox brand, far from it, it’s just that I am not fan of the major budgeted AAA gaming scene anymore, and that’s exactly and exclusively what it appears Microsoft is prepping. More niche titles like Quantum Break, Scalebound, and Crackdown failed to make the cut in favor of what will most likely be a show dedicated to safe choices like Assassin’s Creed, Halo, a new Gears of War, Batman: Arkham Knight, Rise of the Tomb RaiderForza 6, and Call of Duty: Black Ops III.

All are games I know what to expect of before I even get the controller in my hand. If Konami brings Metal Gear Solid V to Microsoft’s stage, then maybe a little mystery will worm its way back in.

Phantom Dust, revealed last year at E3, failed to materialize into an actual game, and the indie scene continues to be dominated by PCs and Sony. It’s hard to picture the Xbox One as anything but a big budget platform in an age when the big budgeted games are losing influence to MOBAs and free-to-play titles. That list I mentioned above reads like a list of E3 games from 2008, only the cracks from those first few years of big Western development have grown too large to have the same allure anymore.

Kinect is beyond redemption at this point, Microsoft doesn’t have a VR plan yet and jumping aboard on this stage might seem a little “me too,” and I still have memories of silently wishing for shows from previous years to end a half an hour early. I’m trying to think of something Microsoft can reveal that will get my blood pumping, but I’m drawing blanks. Someone help me please.

Sony

Meanwhile, Sony has “won” E3 for the past two years now, and the pressure is building for a third year in a row. SCEI CEO Andrew House claims that Sony is in a “harvesting year,” prepping for a bigger 2016 compared to its relatively smaller lineup in 2015.

Unlike Microsoft, Sony still has the ability to crank out titles that can inspire excitement without knowing what to expect. A whole year later, I still don’t know a thing about No Man’s Sky. It might make me seem naive, but I believe The Guardian when it say The Last Guardian will finally show up. Maybe Dark Souls III will find a new way to shake up that franchise’s aging formula. Does Square Enix have any PlayStation 4 announcements to make? Does Project Morpheus work? And who knows what excellent indie titles Sony will be throwing its support behind?

Street Fighter V is a pretty safe bet of what to expect though.

And speaking of Metal Gear Solid, Sony’s show could be the first time we see Hideo Kojima publicly since the whole spat between him and Konami became public. All eyes will be on him, waiting to see if he sticks to the cue cards or goes rogue. Either way, expect Metal Gear Solid’s time slot in the show to be totally awkward. It’s going to be great!

Andrew House also misspoke big time when he mentioned that the PS Vita and PS TV were “legacy” platforms. Many didn’t buy the PR explanation either, so expect Sony to play up the Vita more so than it would have otherwise. It will be bringing along a new Tearaway, which is good news for everybody!

I’m not altogether thrilled about PlayStation Now, but I think we’ll get support for PSOne Classics and PlayStation 2 Classics on the modern console as well. Who knows? Maybe Sony will pick a long requested classic to highlight the transition as well. One can hope!

I have dozens of questions that need answering, and that just means Sony is playing a good game balancing between the safe and the unknown.

EA/Ubisoft

Again, AAA gaming is not my thing these days, and these two publishers are the face of overly budgeted products. However, I think EA is going to have a really impressive showing at E3 2015. The new Mass Effect should be turning up in some capacity, Star Wars Battlefront looks like a solid use of the brand name, and the niche appeal is there for fans of Mirror’s Edge. Maybe we’ll even get to see more on that confusing Criterion “drive everything” game.

Plus, EA got enough flak after last year’s “experimental” show to learn from its mistakes, and it will try to make up for it this year. This is the first time in a long time that EA is not the villain of the video game industry. I think it would like to keep that boat from rocking too much. It will be a safe show, but it will focus more on the kind of games that gamers want to see from EA, not so much its annualized franchises.

As for Ubisoft, we are pretty far removed from when they “won” back in 2012. Since then, it has been languishing in its new found power and influence, cranking out Assassins Creed games like clockwork and going through AAA growing pains with botched releases, PR nightmares, and what EA usually deals with on a routine weekend. Expect a lot of apologies for Assassin’s Creed Unity’s launch followed by a selection of safe games like Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Watch_Dogs 2Tom Clancy’s The Division, Rainbow Six; Siege, and maybe hints of more Far Cry.

The only way that Ubisoft can really shake up its show is surprising us all with Beyond Good & Evil 2 news, a new Rayman game, or a new indie-esque game like Child of Light of Grow Home.

Nintendo

This is probably the last year we’ll be focusing on the Wii U, so expect Nintendo to bring the big guns. Xenoblade Chronicles X, Star Fox, Yoshi’s Woolly World, Mario Maker, maybe a surprise appearance by Metroid or Diddy Kong, and of course, more on that excellent looking new Legend of Zelda game. I’m guessing that we won’t see a whole lot of original games from Nintendo on the 3DS, but it will have a few solid third-party games to throw its weight behind.

I’d be happy if a new Animal Crossing or Super Mario 3D Land hit the handheld or if Nintendo announces further collaborations with Square Enix beyond the incoming Bravely Second. (Yes, that was a Dragon Quest reference, Square Enix)

The success of amiibo can’t be overstated, so naturally Nintendo will have some announcements, not to mention apologies, regarding its little figures.

Nintendo’s big question it must address is the future, not so much the present. We will we see those mobile games it is making the DeNA? Will that “healthy life” initiative pan out this year? And will we get hints of future hardware as well?

Lots of uncertainty about the Big N’s future, but this year should be the time we see it start to adapt to the changing world around it, more so than ever.

Miscellaneous Thoughts

Mega Man Legacy Collection

I’ll mostly be focusing on reactions and editorials throughout E3 and not so much trailers and galleries in between the news conferences. That being said, if you do see a gallery or trailer pop up from me, it will be of a game that I, Ron Duwell, personally want to play and genuinely think you should know about.

Maybe it makes me seem like a member of the tin foil hat brigade, but I’m not going to be taking anything I see at the show without a spoonful of salt. Trailers have been downright dishonest over the last few years at E3, there is no other word for it, and the standards to keep advertising fair have not been given the necessary overhaul in the meantime. Trust what you see a little bit, but expect changes as development advances.

Capcom, who has been back on my good side these days, is only bringing remasters alongside its sole original title, Street Fighter V. This is the best way the company can get some revenue going while it tries to find its footing in the modern gaming world. They get a pass this year because of all the Mega Man games they’ve been releasing recently, especially with the Mega Man Legacy Collection coming up, but we need to see more in 2016. deep down would be nice too.

Expect a lot of awkward apologies on screen and on the big stage. Sony has DriveClub to answer for. Microsoft has The Master Chief Collection. Ubisoft has Assassin’s Creed Unity. Konami has the anxiety caused by its PR meltdown. Nintendo has the amiibo shortages. In a year where only EA and Square Enix have dodged bullets, gaming has proved to be more controversial than American politics but with far harsher critics.

Remember when games were supposed to be about just having fun? Keep that in mind this year. Things don’t go your way all the time, but that’s no reason to become a jerk about it. Soak up the gaming news, have fun, respect others, accept that gaming exists beyond your personal bubble, and please, above all else, please announce Dragon Quest VII on the Nintendo 3DS Square Enix!

Dragon Quest VII


Ron Duwell

Ron has been living it up in Japan for the last decade, and he has no intention of leaving this technical wonderland any time soon. When he's not...

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