We’ve all waited for exactly a year and survived through a freaking apocalypse to get here, the end of June 10th, 2013. Arguably, the part of E3 we all give a crap about the most (let’s be honest) is over and there it’s time to try and make sense of it all. Well, not it all. Let’s concentrate on the two guys for whom today was of particular significance, the guys who will be launching their next generation hardware this very year. You know the guys…
There was a lot of pressure on Microsoft, following the disastrous May 21st reveal of a TV remote that looked like it should open to reveal a pair of Jordans. And the awful rumors that followed added some pressure, which made Microsoft angry with the gaming media for misinforming everyone… before they finally provided the details themselves, which happened to be worse than the rumors. Yes.
Well, as promised, their conference was all about games. They came out swinging, right off the bat and if it were just another Xbox 360 E3, it would have been one of the best E3 conferences ever… but was it enough to get us all forget about all the festering bullshit hiding under the hood of Xbox One?
Unfortunately, the red face mask, which appeared at the start of the Microsoft’s conference, didn’t mean Armed and Dangerous 2 (silly me), but I could hardly call what was shown a disappointment. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain looked fantastic but we all knew it would.
My excitement level remained unreasonably high when that was followed up with a reveal of another Xbox 360, though it wasn’t clear what it meant, exactly. Microsoft’s “available starting today” tradition is certainly badass but why not tell me why I would need this thing today, apart from its’ questionable aesthetics? The talk is that it will even cost the same as the existing model. Hopefully, this will drive the price of the 360 S… perhaps?
The Live features were all great. No sane person could argue Gold members getting two free games per month, PSN Plus style. I’m not sure whether “yours to keep” actually meant what it said though.
The death of Microsoft Points is always merry news and Xbox Live Gold Sharing sounds like “your Gold account will be tied to your hardware”. It’s not exactly “free multiplayer for Silver members”, which is what I wanted but it’s a small step… somewhere. Oh, and Smartglass still looks like something that nobody will ever use.
Things slowed down a bit after that but it kept huffing and puffing along. World of Tanks and a new platfotmer, Max? Sure, why not? D4? Spark? Looks alright, bring it on. Sunset Overdrive? It features the new Dante’s younger brother (guessing here) but it could be interesting.
Ryse was a rather pleasant surprise. If you haven’t heard, the latest version ditches the Kinect-only nonsense, which automatically puts it back on my radar. The action is now impressively chaotic, brutal and intense, without the all-too-cliche fancy acrobatics of most games. This was definitely a highlight, as was Killer Instinct. Yes, it finally happened, though somewhat awkwardly. Who is developing it? What features set it apart from the millions of fighters that came since the last game or even from the recent ones? I feel like they could have made a bigger, more informative deal about it, with a decent trailer.
Then, Forza 5 razzle-dazzled everyone with a new McLaren and informed us that we don’t even have to play the game.
Seriously though, Forza 5 looks and sounds great, and it’s about time racing AI’s got a make over.
Quantum Break still has me undecided but then, Microsoft pulled the big guns:
- Dead Rising 3 rises… looks plasticky but fun as hell, if I’m honest.
- Witcher 3. Didn’t have to see it to know that it’s a buy but great.
- Black Tusk game looks like Deus Ex and Cyberpunk. We’d seen what they showed in the trailer but I want to see more.
- Halo, which isn’t called Halo 5, for some reason. The trailer looks fantastic and the game will run at 60fps.
- Finale: futuristic mechatastic Call of Duty from Respawn. As someone who has only played a single Call of Duty game (Modern Warfare) and isn’t a big fan of the series, I liked what I saw. The action is hectic and fast, the mechs are awesome and the special abilities seem to be a lot of fun.
Overall, no one can fault Microsoft for sucking, for once. They didn’t talk about any TV crap but brought games and a lot of decent ones, at that (Below looked awesome, by the way!). BUT I cannot honestly say that I was blown away. I always look forward to Microsoft conferences because when they do announce a big game, they hype it up like the genie from the Aladdin. To me, it’s part of the experience and I absolutely expected that at this E3 and it didn’t come. There was nothing that made me want to look past the new limitations of Xbox and drop $500 on one at launch. And not to sound like a spoiled PC brat but nothing looked that amazing anyway, except for Battlefield 4. It’s arguable whether all this stuff could be possible on the current generation hardware but the jump just doesn’t seem as significant as it was at the beginning of this seventh generation. And where was Rare again?
I think that one of the reasons for my slight disappointment was that most trailers just weren’t well done. Ryse had a great presentation and Halo trailer was fantastic but the rest was all odd and felt unfinished. And fuck it, I’ll just say this out loud, which will sound ridiculous, considering all the complaints about video game sequelitis but there weren’t many unexpected big sequels. Kameo? Perfect Dark?
I’d argue that Sony were at a disadvantage this time. Unlike Microsoft, they pretty much had to talk about the things we didn’t want to hear about, since they had not earlier. They gave us a better PS4 reveal back in February, and their E3 conference had to pay the price, which it did.
As I feared, a good chunk of their E3 show was a snoozefest. We got the numbers, the self-strokage (it’s a word now), and plenty of talking heads, who could put Xbox One to sleep (get it? ’cause it’s always on? ah… nevermind). But it wasn’t all bad. The console reveal was certainly of significance, if disturbingly similar to Xbox One.
Unfortunately, the askew variant didn’t have as many exciting new exclusives coming for it, according to the conference. Most big AAA reveals were either multiplatform or stuff that we all knew about already, save for a pre-rendered (in-engine?) trailer for the Order and a mysterious Rain, a prequel to Heavy Rain (nah). There was some other ambiguously exclusive (or not) stuff here and there (new Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts), but overall, if I am honest, the sheer volume of surprises was rather underwhelming.
As a matter of fact, I got a very strong Microsoft vibe from this show (considering Microsoft’s usual E3’s), with all the talk about partnerships and timed DLC exclusivity.
Most of it was character skins, an extra hour of gameplay (whatever that means), an earlier release, and even an exclusive agreement with Bungie, to make continuous improvements to Destiny, which is what Bungie said they were going to do across the board anyway (i.e. an exclusive agreement that does nothing). And worst of all, The Last Guardian was not even mentioned! Again!
But, I do have to say that in terms of quality, everything looked fucking incredible! It may be the actual stream but almost every next-gen video, showed at this conference, looked crisper, sharper and more colorful, including the multiplatform stuff. Killzone, Destiny, and especially Quantic Dream’s The Dark Sorcerer looked absolutely unbelievable!
Sure, there was lag and Assassin’s Creed up and froze right on stage but I’m sure that it wasn’t indicative of the general PS4 experience. I’m actually impressed that they showed the stuff live.
You know, Sony always seem like they mean well and have the best of intentions, which ends up biting them in the ass, and so they adopt some douche-y idea from the rest, with a quiet embarrassed smile. So I’m not surprised with any of such hiccups, and remain positive that nothing of the sort will happen next year, when they start thumb-syncing 100%. Besides, not only did Microsoft too have audio issues in their trailers but I’ll take Sony’s showing, along with all the technical problems, to what I saw from Ubisoft.
Sony weren’t horrible: they showed plenty of eye candy for both PS4 and PS3, including some footage of GT6, but they didn’t deliver the same onslaught of game reveals that Microsoft did. As the second hour drew to a close, I could only hope that there would be a grand finale that could save the show. And there was. Almost. Jack Tretton got into his pimp mode, all of the sudden, and announced the following:
- PS4 will not place ANY restrictions on used games.
- PS4 will not have ANY mandatory connectivity
- PS4 will not have ANY identity check system in place
- PS4 will not be missing ANY Cloud features of Xbox One
- PS4 will cost $100 less than Xbox One, at $399!
Handsome Jack was pounding Microsoft like a crazed gorilla, who had just been force-shown Rocky, on steroids. That ending was winning E3! Until he had to slyly mention that PSN would be free for “single player games”. Yes, PSN is going the bullshit way of the Xbox. That’s that douche-y stuff I was talking about before. The horrible precedent took off and you will now be paying for multiplayer gaming on Sony’s consoles. (Since they did announce that the PSN will remain the same for both consoles, it’s probable that PS3 multiplayer might turn paid as well). So, $399 plus “under $5” per month, which usually stands for “$5 per month.”
And The Winner Is…
For the first time in the past five, six, seven (?) years, I have to give this E3 conference to Microsoft. However, personally, I will be buying a PS4 instead.
You see, Microsoft focused only on games, and mostly, on new and exclusive stuff that we had no idea existed and/or had never seen before. They kept their promise, for once, and they didn’t even show any additional footage of Call of Duty! That shit was amazing!
But PS4 will be the better console, which we all know will get its’ fantastic exclusives eventually. I mean, the sheer number of Sony’s first party studios will make it happen. Also, it’s cheaper, lacks bullshit DRM and doesn’t do a urine test before allowing you to play. This almost won it the E3, but at the end of the day, Sony fucked it up. Sure, theirs is still a better deal than Microsoft’s (hence why I’m buying it), but at this E3, as far as the step from one console generation to the next, Playstation takes a shitty step in the wrong direction just like Microsoft but without the benefits. The step is smaller and less shitty (and less expensive) but we are still getting a worse deal than we had during the seventh generation, with less games.