E3 2014: Conference Day Diary

E3 is big and energetic, but there’s also much more to the event than just focusing on the games.  It’s every bit as much an experience as it is a showcase, with multiple events requiring multiple shuttle buses to drag hundreds of people back and forth.  There’s crowds, confusion, an overly-optimistic desire to see everything, and nowhere near enough time to write about it all.  This is what my day, at least, is like-

Monday, 7AM

5:30 is a terrible time to get up, especially when one is used to finishing up writing articles around 4AM, but thankfully the three hour time difference between Los Angeles and home takes the sting out of it a little. There’s a shuttle from the hotel to Microsoft’s press conference that leaves at 6:30 and I need to be on it. Despite what the high-flying lifestyle of the well-connected gaming writer might imply, I didn’t get an invite so am hoping there’s going to be overflow seating. It’s not outside the realm of possibility, but right now I’m sitting on a shuttle waiting to find out what the chances of it happening actually are. Hopefully worth getting up at Ungodly O’Clock for.

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So early the outside stage is still being set up.

7:05AM

In line for the conference with a rubber wristband that I’m pretty sure will light up at some point secured in place on my arm. That was much easier than expected, but probably makes sense seeing as it’s not a console launch year. Really friendly and nice people working the MS registration process, too.

7:05-9AM

Waiting, waiting, waiting, Street Pass, waiting…

9:30-11AM

Sunset Overdrive, Dead Rising 3 DLC, Ori and the Blind Forest, Inside, the ID@Xbox trailers, Phantom Dust, Scalebound, and Crackdown. Can’t say I expected much from the Microsoft conference but that was a lot of fun. Last year was about everything but games, and this year MS not only learned its lesson but delivered on all fronts. Also, the wristbands of everyone in the audience all lit up in synch a few dozen times, which was pretty fun to see.

11-1PM

Off to EA! The on-site Hardcore Gamer crew met back up again after getting split up at MS, comparing notes and nibbling on donuts while waiting in the (relatively) cozy hall for the press conference to start. While EA isn’t generally my particular cup of teak, Criterion’s FPS vehicle game looked promising despite being super-early. PGA Tour, on the other hand, has lost me entirely unless it’s not a microtransaction-fest like the last several years worth, when they still had Tiger Woods on the header. Mirror’s Edge is pure excitement, and watching Faith use her parkour moves in combat put my mind at ease about the possibility of watering the game down with unwelcome gunplay. The conference isn’t quite so content-intensive as Microsoft’s, but not bad for a single-company presentation. Still, my favorite moment was, when talking about the Battlefield demo, the presenter saying “Leak it. Leak it all you want!”

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Way high up in near the top of the world at Ubisoft

1-4PM

While EA is just a short walk from Microsoft, getting to the Ubisoft press conference involves a bus ride. Steve is the only one of us with an official entry, so we wait outside in the toasty sunshine chatting with Zoe from Lazygamer (and another woman I didn’t get the name of) while slowly baking, waiting to see if we can get inside. Except for ending up lightly sun-toasted, it made for a fun 45 minutes of hanging out and socializing. It’s a bit hard to tell from the picture but we end up in the nosebleed seats, which still beats not getting in at all. Opening with a silly Rabbids video was a nice start, but I’m still a bit bitter about the PC version of Far Cry 3 not working with my mouse so the Far Cry 4 trailer just left me wondering I’d be able to zoom in and out this time around. Valiant Hearts: The Great War also looks like it’s got a ton of potential, beautiful and sad. Overall, though, Ubisoft was a press conference designed for someone who isn’t me.

4-6pm

Sony, however, is something I’ve been anticipating all day. A major reason being that they provide food, and the last thing I had was a donut at EA. After eating from four separate food stands it was time to file into the center, and all four of us (Plus two from Lazygamer. E3 is all about meeting new people.) lined up to get seats together in the fifth row back from the stage. I’m currently sitting and waiting for the show to begin, wondering how well it will compare to Microsoft’s excellent conference.

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6-8PM

Opening with Destiny is a big crowd-pleaser, and the white PS4 is awfully pretty. Not pretty enough to buy a second PS4 for, but very nice. Entwined, on the other hand, looks utterly gorgeous, although I still need to be sold on the gameplay when I get home to my PS4 in five days. Bloodborne seems dark and interesting, but only Far Cry 4 has a TKElephant. Dead Island was a weakness of mine despite how janky it was, so Dead Island 2 and its goofy trailer got my attention. HOLY CRAP GRIM FANDANGO!!11!eleventy! Poor Devolver Ditigal, following an announcement like that. Abzu is gorgeous, and then the amazing No Man’s Sky blew my personal doors off. Project Morpheus is on the show floor tomorrow, so I’m hoping to be able to do a hands-on with it. God help me, I laughed at the Mortal Kombat X fatalities. In non-game news, the Playstation TV thingy looks interesting-ish. Finding out PS Plus users get to see Powers free is a nice bonus, and Ratchet & Clank movie and PS4 remake could be promising. GTAV would, like Last of Us before it, be far more interesting if I didn’t own the game already. And finally at the end, Uncharted 4 refused to be The Last Guardian no matter how much I wished otherwise. Still, there was a lot of great gaming packed into two hours.

8PM – End of day

And now the day is over, sixteen hours since it began. We walked a lot, saw even more, hung out with people, and spewed opinions about everything.  (General consensus-  Sony’s conference beat Microsoft, but just barely.  EA beat Ubisoft, but just barely again.) Tomorrow is the first official day of E3, but the show is already off to a phenomenal start.