The annual gaming extravaganza known as the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) went down this weekend, and one cursory glance at Twitter would show you that folks were generally underwhelmed by what they saw. I, on the other hand, was simply whelmed by this year’s conferences. Considering that we’re in year one of a new console generation, and the fact a whole-ass pandemic resulted in developers having to work from home like the rest of us, my expectations were already tempered going into the weekend. Aside from a banger of a Xbox conference, those expectations were more or less met.
Going into this weekend, the release of Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart had me firmly in the “fuck, I need a PS5,” camp. By the end of the Xbox/Bethesda conference, my opinion shifted to “fuck, do I need a Xbox too?” The biggest complaint against the Xbox One is that it had no exclusive games, which are the bread and butter of console gaming. Between Halo: Infinite, Forza Horizon 5, and Psychonauts 2, which are all set to release this year, the “Xbox has no exclusives” argument is looking dead.
Over the last couple years Xbox has been snatching up studios like Bethesda and Double Fine to solve its exclusives problem, and this year saw those efforts come to fruition. Bethesda revealed a teaser for Starfield, which I’m going to just assume will be Space Skyrim. We got another look at Halo: Infinite’s campaign and it was also revealed that Halo: Infinite’s multiplayer component will be a seperate, free-to-play thing. I’ve been a fan of Halo since I was literally 9-years-old, so I was very happy to be excited about the franchise again after the disappointment that was Halo 5: Guardians.
Xbox also did a great job of detailing just how valuable its Xbox Game Pass service is. As a subscriber, I’m never at a loss of things to play. Every exclusive it announced will be available at launch on the service, and they also highlighted the non-first party games coming to the services such as the entire Yakuza series, and the critically acclaimed rogue-like, Hades.
To me, the biggest standout of their E3 conference was easy: the mini fridge. Just kidding, though I am partial to stupid gaming memorabilia.
The real standout of Xbox’s conference was Redfall, a brand new franchise from Dishonored and Prey developer Arkane. I’m a huge Arkane fan, so they had me at jump. The trailer, a cinematic showing a diverse group of people using magical abilities to fuck up some vampires, had me sold.
Overall, Xbox came through with the heat, and I think that’s partially why all the other conferences felt so underwhelming.
Are slowly entering a revival of the extreme sports game? I loved games like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, SSX, and Cool Boarders growing up, but the last two console generations have more or less seen them die away. Though with last year’s incredible Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 +2 remaster, and now games like Riders Republic, and Shredders on the horizon, we might be seeing a slight, but welcome resurgence of the long dormant genre.
Ubisoft’s Rider’s Republic is a massive multiplayer online extreme sports game where you can mountain bike, snowboard, ski, and do wingsuit stuff. Honestly, this was the one thing I was excited for during Ubisoft’s otherwise meh conference.
Awful title design aside, Shredders is a snowboarding game coming to Xbox Series X this December that looks quite fun. I legit thought this was going to be an Amped reboot, and was pleasantly surprised when it was revealed to be a new IP. The trailer looks like a fun, arcadey snowboarding game and I will definitely be downloading it when it hits Xbox Game Pass later this year.
Yikes. That was all I could say by the end of Square-Enix’s conference. Like Ubisoft, Square-Enix didn’t really pull up with anything interesting. They spent an inordinate amount of time on the reveal of their Guardians of the Galaxy game that’s releasing this fall, and it only furthered my belief that maybe Square-Enix shouldn’t be in the business of Marvel games.
With this and the underwhelming Avengers game it released last year, it feels like the publisher has a fundamental misunderstanding of what people want from these games. When the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer started me and my homies all just kind of assumed that we would be able to play the game co-op. That just makes sense, right?
The game is a single-player, third-person action title where you play as what I can only describe as Cosplay Star-Lord. It also does the thing that annoyed me in the Avengers game, where they want to be like “we’re making our own take on these characters,” but at every turn it’s trying to remind you of their movie incarnations. From the ‘80s music to the characters’ line deliveries, the whole trailer essentially feels like a straight-to-DVD version of Guardians of the Galaxy.
I was hoping we’d get a gorgeous art style that feels like a comic book come to life, or a playable Pixar movie, but instead we get the boring, hyper-realistic look that looks like every other big budget game.
So this wasn’t a great E3, but historically the year after a console release is pretty light. Studios are probably still early in development on their next-gen games, and given how much time it takes to make a game, we probably won’t start seeing bangers until next year or even the year after it. Were there any games announced this weekend that you’re hype for? Let me know in the comments!