The winners and losers at E3
LOS ANGELES—After days of staring at countless screens, hopping in on game demos and talking with all sort of creative people in the industry, the year’s biggest videogame conference, E3, ended here on Thursday. Here are some things that look to shape the year ahead in videogames.
1. Who won?
This is always the biggest followup question, but does it matter? It felt like an excellent year — even with all the games that leaked ahead of time (thanks, Canada). It’s a great thing to feel like there are too many good games to look forward to. Of the big three companies, each had pros and cons. Microsoft held a huge conference filled with new titles, and beefed up its roster of production studios, answering complaints from gamers about a lack of exclusives, but it’s still going to be a while before we see the bulk of them. Sony went big on a few exclusives, like Spider-Man, The Last of Us 2 and Ghost of Tsushima that look amazing, and then raised the ire of Fortnite players by not allowing “crossplay” between PS4 users and new users playing on Nintendo Switch. Nintendo went big on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and continues its impressive momentum, but fans of its smaller portables — the 3DS and 2DS — are wondering how much life is left in those devices, as the company didn’t talk about new games for those at all.
2. She looks like a hero to me
Female protagonists are probably the biggest overall trend, leading the way in many of the biggest oncoming games, while some traditional titles are adding the option of a female lead, such as Battlefield 5 and Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. Predictably, this has triggered a backlash from a toxic male segment of the gamer population online, which is totally uncalled for. Any gamer who saw the breathtakingly beautiful — and violent — Last of Us 2 demo, which featured a kiss between two women, and thought they didn’t want to play as the protagonist Ellie, doesn’t deserve to enjoy what looks to be an incredible experience. It’s also unfair to the many amazing women who work in the industry. I talked to a bunch of them, and the games are lucky to have them.
3. All quiet on the VR front
E3 is a big show for console games. It really feels like virtual reality has lost of lot of momentum. With excuses (or the reality) that VR is now mostly a PC gamer thing — though the PSVR looks to have a few interesting experiences — the bigger issue is a lack of buzz, or any really big tentpole titles to point toward.
4. No new hardware yet
Microsoft says it’s starting work on the next generation Xbox. The other guys didn’t say anything at all about consoles, and tried to avoid any talk of the next generation. A few weeks prior to E3, Sony execs announced some financial forecasts that many interpreted to mean the company expects the PS4 is reaching the peak of its sales, which would mean we could expect a PS5 in 2020 or 2021. That’s fine, because at this point, it is all just speculation. For now there are enough great games to keep players distracted for the next year.
5. Next year might be even better
While there will be plenty of titles arriving by this year’s holiday season, most gamers can already look forward to 2019, if we believe the place-holder dates many games put out. February in particular looks busy, with Bioware’ Anthem, the oft delayed Crackdown 3, new zombie game Days Gone, Russia-set post-apocalyptic shooter Metro: Exodus, and Trials Rising, the very tricky bike-racing game, all slated to come out, with likely more to be announced.
Raju Mudhar’s five most anticipated games
1. Spider-Man: Perfect web-slinging, amazing combat and a story featuring a version of the Sinister Six means Sept. 7, 2108 can’t come soon enough.
2. Anthem: Consider it the Iron-man game you’ve always wanted. Flying and fighting in the Javelin mech suits is awesome.
3. Beyond Good & Evil 2: It’s incredibly ambitious looking, but it’s still early days. The final product might end up coming out during the next console generation, but whenever it does, count me in.
4. Cyberpunk 2077: The next project from The Witcher developers looks like the futuristic action-RPG some have been waiting for since we read the William Gibson book.
5. Lego DC Super Villains: Yeah, one of these games is not like the others. This is the one my 6-year-old daughter is looking most forward to. I was under orders to find out all that I could. You get to make your own villain and hang out with Lex Luthor and others. I can’t wait to bring it home and play it with her, because as much as it is about the game, who you playing it with is just as important.
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