Stepping out into the mid-June sunshine, away from the hype and noise that follows any series of E3 press conferences, I couldn’t deny that some of that hype may be rubbing off on me. Before we even get to my E3 2018, let’s remember that we’re already in the middle of what people are claiming to be a new golden era of gaming – one where modern classics are being released with uncommon frequency. Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey, Nier: Automata, Persona 5, Cuphead, Sonic Mania, Celeste – the list just keeps going, and it looks like the list will grow even more if my E3 2018 was anything to go by. Rather than one platform holder emerging as a clear winner or loser (and let’s not pretend that there haven’t been clear winners and losers in the past), my E3 2018 had Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo revealing exciting and interesting new games.
Microsoft favourites from my E3 2018
The biggest reveal of Microsoft’s show was undoubtedly Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. A new IP from revered developer From Software, it promises polished third-person action with a samurai flavour. The trailer was only about two or three minutes long but showed the mechanical arm first seen in the “Shadows Die Twice” trailer, and its owner – a character who can go toe-to-toe with swordsmen, use said arm in a grappling-hook fashion to ascend to higher positions or cross chasms, and supposedly rise to his feet after being “killed”, which seems appropriate given the subtitle. Elsewhere, it was revealed that the once PS4 and PC exclusive Nier Automata would receive an Xbox port with the release of Nier Automata: Become as Gods Edition (perhaps to make up for Scalebound’s demise), so hopefully more people can enjoy the weird and wonderful combination of slick Platinum gameplay and distinct Nier quirkiness. Also of note was the first true reveal of Cyberpunk 2077 and news that Devil May Cry would be getting a new numbered sequel, but the lack of substantial gameplay footage for either game suggests that these are very early announcements.
Sony familiarity in my E3 2018
By comparison, many people criticised the lack of new reveals in Sony’s conference; there were many games we already knew about from previous shows (such as Spider-Man, The Last of Us Part 2 and Death Stranding), and with the remake of Final Fantasy VII still early in development, there was little hope of seeing anything new from that game. Despite this, we did get confirmation of an exciting new PSVR title with From Software’s Deracine, reaffirmation that Mizuguchi’s The Tetris Effect still looks superb, and more gorgeous footage of Sucker Punch‘s Ghost of Tsushima. (As an aside, it seems that samurai games were the general theme of this year’s E3, with Tsushima, Sekiro and a trailer of Nioh 2 all making appearances somewhere amongst the conferences.) Another notable surprise was Remedy’s Control, a game that seems to combine shifting geometry with conventional gunplay and creative mind control mechanics. It was a fun looking title, even if it did make me wish for a sequel to Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy…
Nintendo’s contribution to my E3 2018
As is to be expected these days, Nintendo combined the bizarre with the exciting, from making me question the need for a Pokéball peripheral used in conjuction with Pokémon Go (which will transfer Pokémon data from the mobile game to a new console game) when you already have wireless communication technology in your primary gaming devices… to the surprise reveal of Daemon X Machina, an exciting action game from Marvelous Entertainment that boasts bright and colourful visuals and shows off the kind of gameplay that brings to mind games such as Omega Boost and Transformers Devastation. Elsewhere in the show, the unveiling of a new Mario Party was hardly a massive surprise – at the same time, the immediacy and social nature of the series is an obvious fit for the Switch hardware – and the new Super Smash Bros seemed hell-bent on including every character from previous games in its roster, to the delight of series fans. It was also revealed that these characters will all be tweaked slightly, hopefully resulting in a balanced game and some exciting re-learning of old favourites.
The highlight of my E3 2018
All of the three main shows succeeded in giving fans something to look forward to, but the reveal that interested me the most was Babylon’s Fall. This was one of the new announcements from a very short Square Enix showcase scheduled separately from the three main conferences – a new IP being developed by Platinum Games, Babylon’s Fall only revealed a glimpse of CG at the end of its trailer, but was introduced with text-heavy stills that promised a tale of clashing ideologies, of gods striking down against mankind, and of huge armoured characters and electric (or perhaps arcane) powers. It was perhaps the only trailer I went through frame by frame as I tried to make sense of what I was seeing, and it’s definitely something I intend to keep an eye on between now and its 2019 release.
Obviously, I saw some criticism levelled at the three main conferences as people collected their own thoughts on discussion boards and in social media – people claimed that Sony’s show repeated the same announcements as last year and didn’t have enough new reveals, or that Nintendo’s show needed to give fans more details about known games in development (precious little was seen of Metroid Prime 4, Yoshi, or Starfox Grand Prix)… Microsoft’s show was perhaps the most refreshing, but I noticed people claiming that their conference pushed 4K and the Xbox One X a little too much for owners of older Xbox models. Despite all of this, I’m remaining optimistic about the future of all three platform holders – there’s something for everyone to look forward to in the near future, and the absence of any big new hardware reveals (certain optimistic individuals expected the unveiling of a PlayStation 5 before the show commenced) suggests that the current generation still has some life left in it for the time being. As ever, let us know if there were any reveals that stood out for you in the comments below.