Hey there folks! Mike here. If you’ve been following us here at That’s Entertainment for a few years now, you likely know how nerdy I am, and how big of a time this year is for me. It’s been said before of me that E3 is my Mecca. Are they strong words? Sure. But that’s a pretty good indicator of just how excited I get for all the spectacle and wonder of these new games that are being presented at this mega convention.
That’s Entertainment is going to give you at least three roundup coverage articles, starting with mine today, which covers what happened over the weekend with EA, Bethesda and of course Microsoft. Kev may have his own posts as he and I differ in what gets us excited sometimes. As such, this is going to be kind of a greatest hits sort of article about these three heavy hitters in the industry.
EA is one of those developers that you either really love, or you could do without. For the most part, they play things very safe. They have a lot of franchises under their belt, but they don’t take too many risks with them too often. As such, there isn’t really too much to show off from them. Their bread and butter are Battlefield and Star Wars, and they showed off pieces of both of those. While Battlefield 1 is merely getting some new DLC, Battlefront is getting a full fledged sequel.
EA is also known very well for its sports games, and they brought FIFA to the showroom floor as well, where they talked about a story mode. Need for Speed also made an appearance, with the Fast and the Furious inspired Payback on the docket.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about EA‘s conference, though, was a new game called A Way Out. It’s a game that has to be played by two people, either online or in couch co-op, and that has a lot of people talking about how “gutsy” and “risky” it is. But it looks to be remarkably intelligent, and gives players a variety of ways to interact with the world. I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens with this game.
EA‘s conference was rather small, but they did announce things at Microsoft’s conference, so you’ll see us mention them again below.
The first “big daddy” of the conference was Microsoft, which had a lot to prove since last year’s E3. It’s no surprise that a lot of people have been saying that this was a make or break for XBox creators. They’ve had a notable drought of exclusive software for some time, and they really needed to bring their A game here.
Well, they certainly brought it. This may have been Microsoft‘s best E3 conference ever, in my opinion. Sure, a selection of the games they showed were not exclusive to their consoles, but they focused on the things that mattered this year—the games (and the hardware).
First off, let’s talk about what’s arguably the biggest part of the show: the XBox One X, formerly the XBox Scorpio. Their new half-gen upgrade looks to really push the power of console gaming, with specs that made me wonder how they were going to keep it affordable. Microsoft most definitely has the system that can let games shine their brightest now, and they were able to get everything under the hood for $499. That may not seem affordable for people who would just be upgrading, but for people who were holding off for an XBox, it’s the best time to dive in. If they offer a decent trade-in deal at GameStop and Best Buy, I could see people jumping on the bandwagon and picking the system up.
They started their game showcase by showing off Forza, which is always an attractive enough series to highlight certain details. Weather and lighting effects, dynamic changes to the race track and rattling components of the cars all made this game look great in One X’s portfolio. They also highlighted a very attractive Metro game, Exodus, which looks a bit like Fallout in the way it was presented.
Assassin’s Creed got some love with the upcoming Origins, which takes the series as far back as its ever gone, where we explore ancient Egypt. I’m sure we’ll see more about this game at Ubisoft‘s conference, and I for one am very excited, since they’re adding some nice RPG elements to the series, and they’ve given the game a much needed boost to combat, so things move about a little more quickly than what we’ve grown used to.
They also highlighted PlayerUnknown‘s Battlegrounds, which is going to be console exclusive to XBox (for now at least), which is sure to excite people a bunch of people who love that kind of Battle Royale gameplay. A smaller game called Deep Rock Galactic that had me thinking of Starship Troopers. You team up with your buddies to head deep underground and get materials. Not a lot was shown, but depending on the price, it could be a decent enough game to look into. State of Decay 2 will most certainly scratch your zombie itch, while The Darwin Project checks the MOBA box for Microsoft.
One of the coolest bits of news came from Microsoft partner Mojang, known of course for Minecraft. It’s still growing after all this time, and in a lot of cool ways, it would seem. They’re getting a 4K update to coincide with the release of the One X, but that wasn’t the coolest news. They’re also going to make it cross platform, allowing XBox players to play with people on mobile, PC, and—in one of the most surprising turns—the Nintendo Switch. I did a triple take when I saw that!
The focus shifted to a couple of games that would appeal to eastern audiences, including Dragonball Z and Black Desert, a fantasy MMO. They also showed off a few other games, like an anime styled hack and slash called Code Vein, and The Artful Escape of Francis Vendetti, which looks crazy as heck… and I’m still confused as to what it really is. My guess is an eclectic platformer. The game from this portion of the conference that really resonated with me though was The Last Night, which has a beautiful blend of pixel art with 2.5D environments.
After that, Microsoft spent some considerable time on Rare‘s Sea of Thieves, which has been in the making for some time. It looks like it’s coming along very well, and this footage highlighted working together, hunting for treasure (with the help of some seaworthy riddles), and ship battles, complete with firing yourself from cannons (Guybrush Threepwood would be proud).
Another series of smaller vignettes focused on sci-fi Tacoma, 3D platformer Super Lucky’s Tale and the forthcoming Cuphead, which has old-school Disney inspired graphics.
After that, Microsoft turned the spotlight on one of their franchise mainstays with Crackdown 3. Terry Crews delivered a fun intro to it, and the game looks to be just as entertaining as previous titles in the series.
Another montage of games from indie developers flashed a handful of upcoming games. Some of the notable ones for me were Fable Fortune, Ashen and Riverbond.
Square Enix showed off the sequel to Life is Strange, and we saw more of Middle Earth: Shadow of War, which is looking to be a very impressive sequel.
My absolute favorite part of the show, and all of E3 thus far was the surprise trailer for a sequel to one of my favorite XBox Games, Ori and the Blind Forest. Ori and the Will of the Wisps looks just as haunting and beautiful as the first game, though we’ve yet to see any gameplay. I’m assuming it’s going to be another RPG-lite Metroidvania title, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Microsoft closed out their show with another EA title, Anthem, which looks like Destiny meets Titanfall in a really good way.
All told, I think Microsoft really brought it this year. They absolutely needed to in order to stay relevant, and it’s good to see they aren’t going down without a sizable fight. Now the ball is in Sony‘s court on Monday to see if they’re going to keep hold of the wide gap they’ve put between them and Microsoft. And of course there’s always Nintendo on Tuesday.
Bethesda was the last big player over the weekend to have a conference, though it wasn’t nearly as big as in years past—despite what their Bethesdaland graphics would have you believe. All told, it was kind of underwhelming, with a focus put on VR versions of Doom and Fallout 4, a paid mod community for Skyrim and Fallout, and DLC/Expansions for Elder Scrolls Online and Dishonored 2.
The first breath of fresh air came from their look at Skyrim for Nintendo Switch. It looks like the game isn’t getting mod support, but it will support Amiibos and Motion Controls, so that’s nice! Plus, the fact that you can play it anywhere it going to bring a whole new group of people onboard.
Quake Champions and The Evil Within 2 were a little more exciting, but the big draw of this conference was definitely the closing game of their presentation: Wolfenstein: The New Colossus. Following the events of The New Order, we learn that BJ Blazcowicz is alive and well, and the Nazis have invaded America. The trailer was huge, and filled with new weapons and new machines, and I’ve definitely got my eye on this one!
That was it for the presentations over the weekend, but check in with us tomorrow when we go over what we saw in Ubisoft and Sony‘s conferences! Enjoy all these lovely trailers!
Mike is the GM and host of podcast, Looking for RPG: Tellest and former co-host of the podcasts That's Entertainment and OuaT: The Unofficial Once Upon a Time Podcast
Mike also is the creator of Tellest, a world full of fantasy and super heroes!