By: Andrew Lister
A year ago we launched the Questionable Endeavor Network. I honestly wasn't sure where it would go (if anywhere), and in just one year we've grown so much and have you all to thank.
The first article that we posted a year ago centered around E3 2016. It's cool to go back and read my first articles on E3 (which can be found here and here) and make it to this year's E3 and start brand new articles.
I'm a huge fan of E3! As a gamer, I get so hyped spending the days before the conference watching prediction videos and making my own predictions. The week of E3 I'm glued to my phone and TV watching YouTube and Twitch to catch all the big conferences.
So far we've seen big reveals from EA, Microsoft, and Bethesda. Seeing as how I'm a huge Bethesda fan, I'm going to tackle it in a separate article and focus this one on the former two companies.
So what stood out the most for better or worse? Click the link below to read my full thoughts!
I've never been a huge fan of the real bread and butter of EA: its sports games. I don't care about the millionth version of Madden or FIFA, so if you're looking for an in-depth breakdown of those games, you're not going to see that here. That being said, I was at least impressed that Madden is including what looks like a story mode. I'm sure if I cared at all about football or the players, I would find it exciting.
EA had an interesting set-up this year, doing more than just announce games, but having actual players on hand to show off the gameplay. We saw that with Battlefield and with the new Star Wars game, and from a presentation standpoint, I enjoyed this approach.
One game that I actually was interested in seeing a bit of was the new Need For Speed Payback. Now, the introduction was hampered a bit by this Jesse Wellens guy, who if you didn't catch it the several times he mentioned it, is a "YouTube creator." I'm not sure if he was just nervous or what, but I almost would have rather just seen the game shown off without the embarrassing rambling.
Now, I'm not one that plays racing games without blue shells, but I've always been intrigued by the Need For Speed franchise. This game blew what we saw with Forza during the Microsoft presentation out of the water. It looked stunning, it felt fast and dangerous, and the slow motion crashes were really engaging.
I know that I'll probably get to try the game out when my better half decides to pick this up when it launches in November.
The thing I was most excited about was the segment on their EA Originals program, which involves their working alongside indie gaming companies to provide a platform to sell and develop their work. As a guy that loves his indie titles, I was thrilled to see them spend so much time on what looks like it could be an absolute blast to play, A Way Out.
The idea behind the game is that you're both playing inmates that are looking for "a way out." In order to do so, you and another player need to work together in a truly unique couch co-op sort of game. Need to get past a guard to get some supplies? It's up to you to figure out how to best do that by working together to accomplish the task. The key is teamwork, and that's something that we don't see enough of in gaming these days. I'm jazzed to give this one a shot when it releases on the PS4 and will probably sit down with Bill from Tooning Japanese to play it.
The last noteworthy thing from EA this year was their unveiling of Star Wars Battlefront II. Knowing that the reception to the original game was not exactly well received for a number of reasons (the Metacritic score of 73 shows this), they made clear that they were listening to the fans and were willing to make changes, going so far as to show a video package of them sitting down with a group of everyday gamers as playtesters and fixing a lot of the issues from its predecessor.
I'm not a Star Wars fan, but I know that 75% of the world is. Despite the fact that I dislike the franchise, the game still looked like a lot of fun. It seems like they've done a lot to draw in fans that want to play through an in-depth story, and who wouldn't with a game based in such an expansive universe?
That about does it for EA. Overall, the presentation was nothing too exciting to write home about. For me, aside from the reveal of A Way Out, I spent most of the conference skipping through 50% of it. It ultimately left me wanting more out of Sunday's events.
Speaking of Sunday, things kicked off yesterday with Microsoft's big showing. As one of the major three consoles, and one that's been slightly behind its top competitor of Sony's Playstation 4, they had a lot to prove and some significant ground to make up.
Thankfully for them, they had the hype of Project Scorpio looming as they neared the big stage on Sunday. Well, the conference began with said console, and it was revealed that the system would be called the XBox One X (a really stupid name if you ask me), it comes out in November, and will cost its fans just shy of $500. I'm not sure if the cost will ultimately be worth the upgrade and whether or not their naming conventions will cause confusion among consumers, but I suppose only time will tell.
So how do they show off the capabilities of the new 4K gaming that XBox One X (and all those teraflops!) claims to offer? Well, they started with Forza racing, which to me wasn't a wise choice. The game looked slow and generally unimpressive. The preview of Metro Exodus looked kind of cool, but there's no way that what we saw was actual gameplay footage. Sure, it was created "in engine," which is a bit of a sneaky use of wording, but there are a lot of tells hinting that most of that was pre-rendered smoke and mirrors.
Things finally got interesting about a half hour into the presentation with the showcase of Ubisoft's newest entry in the Assassin's Creed series. It's clear that the company realized they needed to take a year off and really develop a much deeper game experience. The Egyptian setting as well as the ability to use a hawk familiar has me pretty jazzed. From what they showed, I may actually pick Assassin's Creed Origins up when it hits Playstation 4 (sorry, Microsoft). Seriously, take a look for yourself.
There was a slew of other titles, most of which Microsoft claimed as exclusives, which isn't necessarily true for some of the ones that will be "launch exclusive," but nothing really stood out too much. We saw more of Minecraft and their push of a more realistic look for the XBox One X, which has been available as a number of mods for some time already. The Last Night was pretty cool looking stylistically, but I'm sure it will be available outside the Microsoft's console as well.
The oddest game goes to The Artful Escape, a side scrolling acid trip involving a lanky, glasses-wearing protagonist running around colorful landscapes and playing a guitar. This game screams my personality.
One of my favorite moments from the entire conference was the added information on Sea of Thieves. As I talked about in my article on last year's E3, I was pleasantly surprised by the reveal of this game. The game allows players to work together to pilot a pirate ship and take on the role of real pirates.
This year, we got an additional look at other elements of the game, specifically how questing works and some of the different environments. Watching the group work together to find an island, decipher a series of riddles, fight skeletons, and rush back to the ship with the newly found treasure made me want to get my hands on the game that very moment. Unfortunately, we'll all have to wait until 2018.
Microsoft ended their conference with two big games, truly saving the best for last. The first of the two games is Shadow of War, the sequel to Shadow of Mordor. The original game was a bit of a surprise title, and it ended up being a really solid, innovative game.
This time around we got to see some of the changes to the series, which include being able to build actual armies and send them on siege missions. The Nemesis system seems to be still the main attraction to the game, and it seems to have received several advancements and improvements. Again, this is a great game to show off, and it's a big deal for it to be on Microsoft's stage; however, it's a game that will also be released on PS4 and PC, so it's not going to do much to sell the new system.
Finally, we got a glimpse of Anthem, a brand new multiplayer cooperative game that looks like Destiny on steroids. During the gameplay trailer, we saw characters donning Ironman-like armor and flying through a massive open world. Need I say more than that? The game looks rather engaging, and it could be the next big multiplayer game with a deep story that only Bioware can provide.
All said and done, Microsoft's conference gave gamers a good look at some fun games coming up this year and next. However, they didn't do nearly enough to sell their updated console. Yes, they are expanding their backwards compatability to include some original XBox games, and sure it brings gaming to 4K, but it's simple science that the human eye cannot keenly distinguish the differences between such high resolutions. Also, a game's visual aspects are only a small aspect. A lot of games looked good, but I've already forgotten about most of the ones not mentioned in this article.
Add in the fact that the console is going to be expensive for just an upgrade to the fact that many of the games showcased can be played on the PS4 as well, and it just didn't seem to do enough to make me want to make the change from PS4 to XBox.
Check back over the next few days for more articles on E3, including a close look at Bethesda, Ubisoft, and more importantly Sony and Nintendo.
What are your thoughts on E3 thus far? Leave them in the comments below or join our Discord!
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