E3 2016 Day -1: A Rocky Start

 

While the Expo doesn’t officially start for another two days, E3 2016 started off with the EA and Bethesda press conferences. Going first is always scary, but last year Bethesda knocked it out of the park. Needless to say that the expectations were high not only for Bethesda but also for EA. After all, EA is passing on E3 entirely to have its EA Play event. When you make decisions like that, people are going to focus on what and how you do. Similar to how Nintendo started doing their Direct events instead of traditional press conferences. Personally, I was eager to see what both had to offer. As it turns out there were highs for both, and some pretty significant lows as well.

EA

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EA’s Play event press conference started things off in both LA and London, with the stream jumping between the two venues. At first, I couldn’t figure out why they had chosen London as their other location. But later on, I figured out why. To get one of the problems with EA’s press conference out of the way, it turns out like every year when I watch an EA presser that I forget that EA Sports exists. Now, that on its own isn’t an issue. I may not care for NFL or FIFA, but they’re huge franchises for the company, so it only makes sense that they focus time on it. The biggest problem was the amount of time they focused on it (along awkward celebrity cameos) and then the lack of demos for the other titles that they presented. There was a lot of talking at EA’s event and yet you could come away with not much except “We’re working on this.”

Alright, enough complaints and cynicism. We did get some cool announcements and trailers that made the event worth tuning in to. Titanfall 2 showcased two exciting trailers. As someone who missed the first game due to its platform exclusivity, Titanfall 2’s multi-platform release has me interested enough that I might pick up a copy. I’ve heard good things about the title and this one looks even better according to fans of the series.

We also got a look at a stunning montage of Mass Effect: Andromeda, and yet we still don’t have that much more knowledge of the game than we did when it was originally announced. Still, it looks gorgeous on Frostbite. Speaking of beautiful, EA has launched a program for indie titles called EA Originals, and its first title is called Fe. Presented by yet another nervous and charming Scandinavian developer (remember Yarny?), Fe’s beautiful monochromatic world and focus on exploration-based gameplay make the game look like a lot of fun, even though I have no idea what’s happening in the trailer.

Jade Raymond came on stage to give us a Star Wars update, or at least talked about it because we didn’t get much other than “We’re working on this.” More behinds the scene footage was shown, but again nothing substantial.

In the end, the event culminated with a large focus on Battlefield 1. We got a trailer… for a trailer(?) as well as some more details on gameplay and multiplayer. The shift from modern to WWI seems to be working well for Battlefield, and I’m curious to see if it can bring Battlefield back into good graces.

All in all the EA press conference wasn’t the worst E3 press conference I’ve seen, just wasn’t very exciting. A lot of stuff was talked about, but not a lot was shown. If you’re excited for the new FIFA 17 story mode called “The Journey”, then I’m sure the event was right up your alley. For myself, however, it could have gone better.

Bethesda

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To say that the bar was set high for Bethesda after last year’s event is a major understatement. After starting E3 2015 with a bang with their first ever press conference, many expected Bethesda to do the same this year. The result didn’t quite have the same impact as last year’s event did.

It started off relatively strong. After a cool intro through a command line terminal, Quake Champions was announced with a nice CGI trailer. The game’s designer then came on and talked about how we can expect more at Quake Con. Shame not to see any gameplay, but it’s still exciting to see Quake make a comeback. We got more info on Bethesda’s Hearthstone competitor, Elder Scrolls: Legends. I don’t play online card games so I can’t get excited about that, but I’m sure there are plenty who are looking forward to playing Legends on PC, Mac, and pretty much any Android or iOS mobile device.

The conference hit its stride when Todd Howard appeared on screen to show all the stuff that’s coming to Fallout 4; that is after he so wonderfully thanked us for playing his game. He’s so sweet. Three final pieces of DLC are coming to Fallout 4  over the next three months in the form of Contraptions, Vault-Tec Workshop, and Nuka-World. The Contraptions DLC is just more gadgets for your settlements, but the Vault-Tec DLC will allow you to build your own vault. The trailer even promises that the player will be able to experiment on their own vault’s denizens. I mean really would you do anything else? But of the three Nuka-World interests me the most. I’m still not done Far Harbor, but I’m always looking forward to the next big “expansion” if you will. What better way to do it than in the Fallout universe’s equivalent to Disney World? The tease was only about 20 seconds, but it still looks great.

There was a mention of new stuff coming to Fallout Shelter, but is anyone still playing that? In any case, immediately after all the Fallout announcements we got what many people thought was coming to E3 2016. As Todd Howard put it himself “Many people think we’re working on this, and yes we are.” Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition is coming this fall to Ps4, Xbox One, and PC. The great thing for PC players (like myself) is that if you have the game and all the DLC, you get the special edition for free. That’s seriously a great idea, and it would be great if MORE PEOPLE DID THE SAME.

But perhaps the coolest announcement from Bethesda this E3 came in the form of Prey. Not to be confused with the first person shooter from a decade ago, Prey follows Morgan Yu as he participates in mysterious tests that involve shadowy monsters, time manipulations, and an awful eye infection. The trailer looks awesome and as much as I like Fallout 4 and Skyrim, this was the best piece of news from the show.

After that things kind of lost steam, at least to me. Though I will admit that they seem to be doing some cool things with Elder Scrolls Online considering its rocky start. Side note, whoever the hell it was that was screaming during the ESO segment was perhaps the most hated person on the internet for about 10 minutes. There was news of Doom and Fallout VR because of course there was. Fallout VR could sway me on the VR argument if it’s worth the ridiculous investment, but I’m not jumping at the bit just yet.

But I’d have to say the lowest point for me of the conference was the Dishonored 2 segment. I know for lots of people Dishonored 2 is a huge deal, and I’ll admit that I’m interested as well, but I don’t think it’s THAT important. The demo was way too long, and nothing that was shown was particularly exciting. As I saw from commentators last night, for a piece that was supposed to get us excited for the game it did the opposite.

What started off as a solid press conference ended somewhat anti-climatically. But hey if you were there at least you got a free t-shirt?

Conclusion

Compared to the start of last year’s E3 this one has had a rocky start. There was still plenty to get excited about, but it didn’t have the same punch as last year. Still there’s one more full day of conferences and then three days of E3 goodness. I look forward to sharing my thoughts about that as well. Stay tuned!


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