I had a terrible weekend. How about you?
For my part, I spent almost four hours watching E3 press conferences, first EA’s, then the Xbox’s, then Bethesda’s. And after seeing presentation after presentation, and trailer after trailer, my response is this:
Utter and complete stupefied boredom. Nothing excited me at all.
I’ll admit, I’ve become jaded and cynical the past three years. (More. More jaded and cynical I mean.) I assume every gameplay demo is lying to me, I assume EA is always lying about everything, and I assume Bioware will squeeze out another piece of… uh, garbage, “new IP” or not. (In my defense: I only assume that EA is lying about everything because they always have.) And when they announced a 4K texture pack upgrade for Minecraft… well, I felt some of my brain cells commit suicide rather than admit that just happened. And then Ubisoft said that “Ancient Egypt is the birthplace of modern civilization.” and my brain did this:
Which isn’t to say that it was ALL bad. There are some things I’m kinda looking forward to.
• I like the idea of a console that can actually DO 1080p at 60FPS. Sure, it took an extra five years to get here, and the insane media corporations are pushing 4K UHD TV’s, but NO WAY am I buying one of those white elephants. Actual 1080p x 60FPS will do just fine for me.
• I’m hoping Crackdown 3 won’t suck. I’m not BETTING on it not sucking, but I’m hoping for it. (Interesting choice having President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho introduce this one.)
• A new Metro game is always a treat (assuming the studio doesn’t pull a Mass Effect 3). I enjoyed the first two, and the HD remasters actually improved both games in ways other than graphics, so I’m hopeful the studio HASN’T decided to trash its reputation with gamers yet.
• O.G. Xbox Backwards Compatibility is surprising, but in a pleasant way. So long as I can play Jade Empire, MechAssault 2, Star Wars Battlefront 2, and the KOTORs, everything else is gravy. (ESPECIALLY since I’d only buy the new “Star Wars Battlefront 2” after EA waterboarded me for a few hours, and not a minute sooner.)
• State of Decay 2. Just so long as it isn’t as buggy as the first one, and maybe a few less dysfunctional assholes, please.
And then there’s some things I was less than impressed with.
• Bethesda’s whole deal. Microsoft gave us 90 minutes of trailers, Bethesda 30 minutes of trailers for games we’ve already played. (With, alright, maybe two unreleased games, both sequels.) Plus paid mods. Urrgh.
• Microsoft gives its consoles surprisingly neat names during development, and utterly bland crappy names when released. “Xbox One X”? Are you kidding me with this right now?
• Microsoft has an obvious case of Apple-envy (like penis envy, but with ever-thinner and -lighter “aluminium” cases). “Most powerful and smallest console ever”? Just do you, Microsoft. Make a kick-ass gaming console, so I can play my games in peace without having to worry about your inferiority complex. Also maybe fix the XB1 UI, because this one SUCKS.
• Battlefield 1: In the Name of the Tsar would be FAR more interesting with a single-player campaign attached. As-is, it’s totally useless to me.
• Need for Speed Payback? Got a little Burnout in your Need for Speed, did you EA?
Here’s the bit where I try to pull all this together, so as to make some coherent point before kicking off. There is one, though it may not be obvious from the above:
AAA console gaming is in trouble.
The graphical standards of the 1080p era were so high, they drove costs and development time into the stratosphere (and the dawning 4K era will only make this worse). As a result, the XB1 / PS4 era had a dearth of games, and consoles being consoles (and clueless corp rats being clueless corp rats), both companies screwed up royally on backwards compatibility (something the Playstation had once been good at). So the consoles launched with very few games, didn’t get many more, and those they did get were mostly “HD Remakes” of titles people already bought on the last generation of consoles. (This is WHY the three pressers were so boring, and depended on franchises and sequels.) This hit both companies hard, so their strategy for the last few years has been to mitigate it. (Hence 360 Back Compat, after so long.)
• Most of the games Microsoft showed during their presser deliberately eschewed Gears of War 4-level visuals, in favor of simpler, more stylized content. (It’s like someone spilled Team Fortress 2 graphics all over the game trailers.) It’s simply cheaper to develop a Minecraft than a Forza 7.
• Why the push for back compat? So players will have SOMETHING to play on the Xbox One X while waiting for new releases.
Last is the “Play Anywhere” strategy: buy an Xbox One game, and you get a Win 10 version for free. Yes, this helps prop up the (so far) unpopular Windows 10 platform, but there’s a little bit more to it. The Scorpio may be the most powerful console to have existed in all of history, but compared to even an average gaming PC, it’s woefully underpowered. “Play Anywhere” is the beginning of the end of consoles, the first steps towards conceding that the once-underpowered PC’s have long since surpassed dedicated systems. By merging Xbox with Windows, Microsoft is prepping their exit strategy from the console arena.
Even if the pressers hadn’t already ruined my weekend, that realization definitely would have.
Jasyn Jones, better known as Daddy Warpig, is a host on the Geek Gab podcast, a regular on the Superversive SF livestreams, and blogs at Daddy Warpig’s House of Geekery. Check him out on Twitter.
Your weekend was AWESOME because you saw THE MUMMY and gabbed about it for a whole hour!
This year’s E3 has been pretty awful.
EA really outdid themselves. A conference so awful that the twitch streamer whose re-broadcast I was watching couldn’t tell when it had ended. Neither could I.
Bethesda showed games we’d already played, as you say, and also sequels to games we had played, that look exactly the same. At least the trailer to EW2 was good.
Microsoft showed a prequel to Life is Strange. I could write an essay on why LIS could have been so amazing, but was beyond awful instead. Then they showed a Bioware game, but all I saw was Destiny mixed with ME: Andromeda.
Today Ubisoft will show things that look cool, but we’ll remind ourselves who is making them and let them go. Unless they show WiLD–that would be exciting, but that is probably cancelled by now.
Then Sony will go and that is the one chance for some good stuff from the last haven of good design–Japan. Japanese PS4 games are getting close to PS2 level of good: Bloodborne, Dark Souls 3, Nioh (from what I’ve seen) Persona 5, NieR Automata…
Also, inb4 angry gamers swarm like red ants out of “fandom” to devour us.
The Paid Mods bit was the worst part so far, but at least the gaming public hasn’t become complacent about it.
Oh, and something else:
I do love the remasters and remakes of Japanese stuff. Devil May Cry 4 is still a flawed but wonderfully superversive experience, Dragon’s Dogma is coming to PS4 and I am going to platinum it again. Resident Evil 2 Remake has folks wound up, Final Fantasy VII Remake even more so. I want Dark Souls and Demon’s Souls remastered. I want NieR remade, and PS4 Drakengard 3. If Konami could put The Metal Gear collection on PS4 or a real Silent Hill 2,3,4 collection I would hate them a bit less…
“I’ll admit, I’ve become jaded and cynical the past three years.”
My ability to see the bare threads on the what once seemed to be the pure sheen on Vidya advertisement hype and press has certainly improved over that same period.
None the less it really has gotten worse.
It really is rare these days for the hype machine to earnestly tell you what the game is and then for the actual game to be just what it said it was.
Ah, I didn’t realize E3 was actually happening right now. I’ve pretty much given up on consoles. I stick to my PC, play the better indie games and the old stuff. If a good AAA game comes out, I’ll get around to it once it’s ported and hits the bundle circuit…
Ubisoft just finished. Lots of hot garbage, SJW virtue signaling telling us not to play, and other lie-to-the-audience nonsense that tells me that only one game (the Nintendo collab) is at all worth watching. Sony’s later tonight (as of this post) and I just want to see someone actually try to entertain properly.
If game companies cannot be loyal to gamers, then why should gamers be loyal to them?
Beyond Good and Evil 2 was on my anticipated list for years. Now they finally show it and its made by tumblr.
Well, no matter how shit the Pirate thing is, I’ll be playing it. I just can’t avoid my pirate fix. But when they showed Far Cry 5 I decided to buy it used.
Remember when Penny Arcade didn’t look like vomit?
I miss it. Also when PVP was drawn well. And when Kurtz wasn’t insane.
The most interesting games so far were a Wolfenstein game and a Mario spin-off.
2017 really pulling out the stops on innovation here. I can really look back on the early 90s and look down on it.
Nintendo stole the show by a pretty wide margin. This despite the fact that their UI and player account system is still stuck in 2005.
I’m pleased to see a remake of Shadow of the Colossus given how much better everything will hopefully run on modern hardware. Same with the 3DS remake of Metroid. Cuphead, God of War, and Wolfenstein more or less cover everything else that interests me in particular this time.
A very weak e3 overall.
My 20-yr old son and his friends (E3’s main targets) were live watching the E3 press conferences just for fun. They were all unimpressed and relentlessly mocked the overhyped mediocrities on display.