Two Words to Describe E3 2017: Safe and Underwhelming

E3 is never a slouch in terms of shows. The gaming companies, rather it be publishers or developers of hardware or software, bring their A games every year. Booth presentations and after parties offer an experience that leaves much to talk about. The focus from an outside perspective, however, is on press conferences. Unfortunately, over the past few years, these conferences have broken out to major publishers hosting their own, rather than just the hardware goliaths. This has added a split to the way things have always been. Major publishes such as EA, Ubisoft and Bethesda now host their own conferences which takes away from the major unveilings. It has become predictable and that is no more apparent than E3 2017.

With Microsoft, everyone knew the Xbox Scorpio was coming. Many had predicted what the price point would be for the unit, however, just as many people were hoping for something to blow them away. Not everyone has the need for a 4K system, and even less of a need if the games aren’t there. While the system seller at launch will be Forza Motorsport 7, not everyone is a racing fan. The PS4 Pro didn’t have that go-to either, but not nearly as much marketing was pushed for that. The Xbox One X, not to be confused with the Xbox One S (which can sound the same over the phone), was underwhelming in what it had to offer. While the safety net was there and it hit on what many people expected, no one really went “this system has this, it’s a day one purchase.” There is a slim market that will demand this machine, as many multiplats can be played with 4K capabilities on the cheaper PS4 Pro.

As a whole, no new IPs were really named. During EA’s conference, everyone did bare witness to a good-looking co-op prison break game called A Way Out. At the same time, this is not even an in-house game. EA has chosen developers who brought ideas to the table to produce these new games. EA also seems to have a ridiculous fascination with the term “cinematographic gameplay.” Every game that is possible to have a narrative now will. It doesn’t matter if the sports game is supposed to be a simulation, the game has to attract everyone, including ones that don’t like the sport. While it’s important for a Star Wars game to have a story, series like Madden and Need for Speed shouldn’t. EA should just fork out for the Fast and Furious movie license already and rename the Need for Speed franchise.

Metroid: Samus Returns Title Card

Metroid: Samus Returns is proving to be one of the most talked about games of E3 2017. It was not even shown during Nintendo’s reveal video.

Ubisoft and Bethesda brought a bit more to the table. Though I missed the Bethesda conference, waking up to news that their major games will offer a VR experience was fantastic. This also proves that VR is more than just a fad, that developers can go this route rather than possibly re-mastering a game. Resident Evil 7 in VR has proven that a completely different experience is possible, and developers should be jumping on that bandwagon. Ubisoft and Bethesda both played it safe for the most part by confirming release dates and showing off expected sequels.

Microsoft’s new Xbox One X console promises 4K, but lacked the exclusives to back up its hefty price tag.

Sony played it the safest of all. The conference was literally 45 minutes of trailers for games that have already been announced. The biggest surprise, while fantastic, was the return of Monster Hunter. This sadly lost momentum after the conference, however,  as it was confirmed that it would be multi-platform. While its games looked absolutely breathtaking, everyone knew about these titles already. Sony looks to be aiming to its PlayStation Experience for true unveils in the future. This also goes to show that other conferences such as Gamescom, Tokyo Game Show and PAX are now just as important, if not more important, than E3. The fact that there was no Gran Turismo Sport information during the conference, but information for peripherals, a release date (revealed later to media) and even a new trailer, left many confused. Neil Druckmann even stated that there was no The Last of Us 2 news because the focus was on the upcoming Uncharted side story. Ironically, a thread on reddit revealed a new trailer for the game was available, but it was quickly yanked.

Nintendo quietly offered the best conference and all it had was a 25 minute video on YouTube. Offering the best surprises with Metroid Prime 4 (literally just a logo on the screen), Xenoblade Chronicles 2, and a new Fire Emblem, Reggie and friends were to the point and didn’t even need a press conference. Nintendo offered more at this E3 to invest in a Nintendo Switch than Microsoft did to invest in its Xbox One X. More news coming after the show revealed a sidescrolling Metroid for 3DS that is being developed by Mercurystream. This is the same company that did the Castlevania: Mirror of Fate sidescroller on the system a few years ago. There’s so much stuff in Super Mario Odyssey that I don’t understand it, but it’ll most likely being addicting.

Electronic Arts’ new game A Way Out was a nice surprise but still focuses on cinematography.

Recent E3s that featured the unveiling of the remake of Final Fantasy VII (no news on this, either), and the buildup to the unveiling of Resident Evil 7, all make for memorable moments. This year’s lacked that aspect and may go down as the most forgettable E3 ever. I love telling people I was there for the reveal of the remake of FFVII and being the only one realizing immediately what it was. For this E3, people will be saying “I remember sitting at work when Nintendo flashed Metroid Prime 4 on the screen.” The general consensus on the internet is that simply put, E3 2017 was underwhelming. It is not like it wasn’t a success, but it didn’t live up to its yearly expectation in terms of the press conferences. Yes, Intel did their first conference and it was cool and I’m sure the parties and the demos on the floor with the 68,000 people in attendance were on top of their game. People asked for games, and the games were delivered, but you probably already knew about them.