Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: Best and worst of E3 2019

GameCentral readers offer their thoughts on what has been one of the most controversial E3 expos in years.

With E3 having just finished for another year, this week’s Hot Topic asked what you thought was the best game or hardware (or service) reveal and why. Which was the worst and which games are you now looking forward to more – or less – than you were before E3?

Given the unusually large number of companies not in attendance there was a lot of resentment towards some publishers, especially over the overuse of CGI trailers. The most popular reveals though still got plenty of praise, especially Zelda: Breath Of The Wild 2 and Watch Dogs: Legion.


Glass half full

I’d be very surprised if anyone was going to claim E3 2019 was a classic year but I think there were still plenty of things to get excited about. Final Fantasy VII Remake looked amazing, Watch Dogs: Legion was surprisingly good, and Nintendo’s entire line-up was great. I was intrigued by the descriptions of John Wick Hex and once GC clarified what it actually was Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order sounds very promising.

The downsides are very obvious though. Microsoft wasted their chance in the limelight and the amount of pre-rendered trailers from them, and others, was very disappointing. Sony not being there just seemed petty and Ubisoft had a surprisingly lacklustre showing. Cyberpunk 2077 started showing cracks in its armour and Marvel’s Avengers didn’t quite explain itself enough.

But despite all that I’d still say it was 50/50 in terms of positive and negative. Nintendo had a great show, with both Zeldas, Luigi’s Mansion 3, and Animal Crossing all looking really good. Final Fantasy VII Remake looked fantastic, and Watch Dogs: Legion and Doom Eternal seemed very good. If you look at it is a glass half full situation I’d still say there was plenty to get excited about.


Bored, angry, and confused

I know what the worst thing about E3 was: having to sit through that moron of a host introducing Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. I have no idea who he is, some YouTuber I imagine, but I’ve never wanted anyone to spontaneously combust as much in my whole life. The whole thing was made worse because the game demo itself was pretty underwhelming and then when we read the previews it turns out because they did mention all the good bits.

I’d hate to think how many overpaid marketing execs were involved in all that but I’m sure it was something outrageous. Which is stupid, because all it needed was for some random dev to come on stage say, ‘It’s like Dark Souls but Star Wars’ and the Internet would’ve gone crazy. Instead they just got bored, angry, and confused.


Still hyped

I was very disappointed we didn’t see more of Cyberpunk 2077. Keanu is great and all (no really, he is) but the actual trailer just seemed to be a random cut scene that didn’t tell us anything new. Having to wait another three months or so for them to show off the behind closed door stuff seems really weird in this day and age. At least last year’s trailer was good, but this one was nowhere near as interesting.

I am still hyped for the game but I admit a little less so than when E3 began. An example of a game going in the opposite direction would be Final Fantasy VII Remake which looked fantastic. Like, if you’d told me that was a PlayStation 5 game I’d believe. I didn’t really see the need before but this looks like it could beat Resident Evil 2 for best ever remake.


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Successful surprise

Best thing for me at E3 was probably the Zelda: Breath Of The Wild reveal but I bet a lot of people are going to say that. Not just because it’s Zelda and it was a good trailer but because it was something unexpected and a nice surprise at the end of a good conference. Compare that to Microsoft’s limp, overlong conference or the unconvincing reveal for Marvel’s Avengers at the end of Square Enix and you see how important good showmanship is to it all.

Let’s face it, all the companies could’ve been hiding bad games behind some fancy looking smoke and mirrors but some games you just trusted and others you could sense even the publisher wasn’t confident about. Interesting how without Sony the general level of professional seemed to lower too, as if they all needed them to compete against and immediately let down their standards without them.


Unbelievable news

The Witcher 3 on Switch turned out to be real, which I still do not believe.

The highlight for me however was the Zelda: Breath Of The Wild sequel, particularly as it is darker in tone than the other games. Majora’s Mask has recently become a favourite of mine after completing it on the 3DS. This is despite not getting on with it originally (which I suspect is because of the unintuitive save system the N64 version had).

The main area I hope the sequel improves is the narrative. I understand that the structure was purposefully open to allow it to be approached in any order. The place I would like to see a change is that there were quests dotted around Breath Of The Wild but they were never as interesting as The Witcher 3 or even Majora’s Mask. Expanding on these would add a lot to the game for me.

Despite looking forward to the sequel I have yet to complete Breath Of The Wild. I want to love it as much as everyone else seems to, and I have enjoyed it, but it has never really grabbed me. I play it for 10 to 15 hours periodically, hoping it will finally click but it never does. So far I have defeated two Divine Beasts and I am at well over 100 hours played.

Breath Of The Wild is not alone either, I have played the vast majority of Zelda games but have only completed about half I have started. I always hope they will hook me like Ocarina Of Time did back when I was younger but only the 3DS remake of Majora’s Mask has come close. Hopefully this sequel will be the one.


Stupid decision

The worst thing for me by far was all the CGI trailers. I can kind of forgive Bethesda, because they obviously pulled their new games out of their ass at the last minute. But Gears 5 is out in less than six months and all they could do is show a (boring) CGI trailer? As far as I understand the single-player wasn’t playable or behind closed doors either.

Companies obviously think they’re gaining hype for these games by showing them off but I don’t think they realise how much damage they do as well when it’s no good, or when they’re obviously hiding something. We’re not that stupid!


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Two and a half

The only conferences I watched were Microsoft’s (although only about a third as I was busy), Ubisoft’s, and the Nintendo Direct.

Like everyone else, I enjoyed the Keanu part of the Xbox conference but I was surprised there was so little detail about the new machines. I know they won’t want to undermine their Christmas targets but I didn’t feel there was much of value to take away from what they said.

Also very surprised at the lack of footage for Halo Infinite (which they will be leaning on a lot going forward) and Gears 5’s campaign (which is only meant to be a few months off now). I’m not one of those who thinks an E3 performance is that indicative of how things will pan out but I did feel like they could’ve made more effort. And I’m convinced they’re trying hard to get Fable IV to work but it’s in Crackdown 3 territory (except Fable hasn’t been officially announced for that reason).

Ubisoft’s, I normally quite like because it usually feels quite celebratory but I’m not convinced by Watch Dogs: Legion at all so far. I know your preview says the gimmick seems to have a meaningful impact on the gameplay but the cheesy clichéd London dialogue (who says ‘chop, chop’, honestly?) and Ubisoft’s penchant for never knowing when to shut their characters up remain concerns.

I also don’t care much about most game characters or stories unless those are the sole point of the game, while abilities and stats often just feel like objectives to unlock rather than the main enjoyable elements of a lot of open world games for me so having them switch around frequently doesn’t feel like a game changer to me (on paper at least).

Apart from that, there was almost nothing else there that interested me. Having a feature about a TV show as one of the early items in your line-up is also a very bad idea.

Nintendo did almost everything I wanted them to, demonstrating that their line-up for the rest of 2019 looks very good and ensuring there’s substance on the more distant horizon. The only things I would’ve changed would be the delay of Animal Crossing and a commitment to release the sequel to Zelda: Breath Of The Wild in 2020. I’m in no rush for either, though, as long as the Switch’s line-up isn’t damaged by things being too spread out.

Now that the 3DS isn’t being supported, my hope is the benefit of more first party studios supporting a single platform will be clearer but I think they did a good job showing how healthy a position the Switch is in just now.

Also, the Bowser bit at the start was fun. Seeing him wander away all sad and confused in his tie mad me have a sad face.


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