E3 Roundup – What made an impact at E3 2018

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Rise and shine, little gamers…

E3 may now be pixels in the wind but that doesn’t mean we have to save and turn everything off, it’s time for the Checkpoint E3 roundup!

This years E3 was full of highlights, lowlights and the downright unforgettable, unless of course you were Square Enix and then maybe you were a little forgettable.Whilst there were a lot of announcements happening before E3 officially started, both accidental and official, there were still plenty of big time reveals to be had when the main developer conferences began. From the big names in the game like, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo to the equally impressive Ubisoft and Bethesda there was plenty to see and take in on the main stages. So with so much going on it’s understandable that some of you out there might be waiting for a round up of everything from this years E3. Luckily there’s no better team to cover it for you than the team at Checkpoint. Even if they might be a bunch of sleep deprived monkeys at the moment.

Once they had gotten the appropriate power ups and health potions to continue their journey I asked Nathaniel, Jian, Kieren, Omi, Luke and Elliot to each pick a developer and round up their thoughts on the good the bad and the possibly ugly that took place at this years E3. So unlike a certain developer I mentioned above lets not waste any more of your time and get right into our Checkpoint E3 roundup!

EA is a divisive publisher to say the least. On one hand they have some of the best-selling franchises year-in, year-out. On the other, those who consider themselves true gamers (for lack of a better word) cannot see past some of the more controversial and money-grubbing decisions EA have made over the years. Regardless of your stance, though, EA have delivered a few notable games at this year’s E3 conference, as well a few head scratchers.

We loved the look at Battlefield V that EA showed. Destructible environments? Hell yeah! Battle Royale mode? A-little-less-enthusiastic hell yeah! Battlefield is a people pleaser, so this went down a treat. Unravel Two was a nice treat, and being available the same day as announcement was a finger-snapper of a surprise that definitely moved EA up in the good-books.
Freshly revealed Sea of Solitude has our interest, and the extended look at Anthem has won us over completely. The hefty gameplay demo was engaging, visually striking, and demonstrated what actually playing the game would be like. We’re a little bummed they aren’t putting in romance options, but we’re excited nonetheless.

I am flat out baffled that EA would take up stage time to exhibit a Command & Conquer mobile RTS, Command & Conquer: Rivals. What were they thinking?! I’m definitely saving my device storage for something else. A look at Star Wars Battlefront II DLC wasn’t bad per se, but felt to me like an attempt to say “hey look the game is good now”. Pass.
The following phrase would ordinarily excite me beyond words: “an original Star Wars story around a surviving Padawan set shortly after the events of Star Wars: Episode III”. However, during E3 with no trailer, no teaser, not even key art… how can I be excited? While not everyone is as heavy-handed in their scorn for EA regarding the Star Wars licence, I would have rather them save the announcement until they had something to show. There is always a chance this new game goes the way of Amy Hennig’s Star Wars game, or the ill-fated Star Wars 1313. —Nathaniel

Ahead of E3 Sony was very forward about focusing much deeper on it’s four big games, offering quality ver quantity. We saw extended gameplay of The Last of Us: Part II, Ghost of Tsushima and Spiderman, and all of them were freakin’ gorgeous, with some very slick looking combat to boot. The reveals for the Resident Evil 2 remake and Nioh 2 were also welcome surprises. My personal standout has to be Death Stranding though. What we saw looked like a super dark, messed up sci-fi  film (my favourite kind), and the fact that it likely has great gameplay to accompany the mysterious storyline (because Kojima) has made me very interested indeed. Those 10 odd minutes shown were absolutely dripping with atmosphere and made me very hungry to know more about this insane-looking world.

Sony’s conference as a whole wasn’t bad perse, it was just lacklustre and disappointing. Sony kept warning us that they were taking a different approach to E3 this year, providing a more in-depth look at their most anticipated upcoming games rather than having any big reveals. And most of the games they showcased did look insanely good (see above) – it’s just that we’ve known about them for a while now. Apart from the lack of reveals, the show was poorly paced and felt artificially padded, especially with those 2 music pieces leading into TLOU2 and Ghost of Tsushima, and that momentum-killing relocation of the crowd. The overall impression was that Sony ‘took a different direction’ this year not because they thought a new approach would work better or be more entertaining, but because they are aware that they’re dominating the console wars right now, and got lazy and complacent about E3 as a result. —Jian

What a week it has been for Nintendo gamers all over the globe this E3! So many announcements, trailers and featurettes to drool over and I can’t pick just one to highlight so instead why not mention a few of my favourites! Even though Nintendo has its own unique approach to game announcements, with Direct being more scripted and edited, I was super pleased with what was put on show.

Of the many announcements made, I really loved the first gameplay trailer featuring Daemon X Machina which felt like a mecha anime explosion of Evangelion and Gundam. The sharp graphics and rock soundtrack really got me into the trailer. Super Mario Party has always been a favourite game series of mine and with the Switch screens actually combining together to create larger battle stages, I can’t wait to end more friendships while on the go. Of course several indie games will be making the Switch their home and I am very excited to play Hollow Knight, which will contain all of its extra content upon release.

Now of course I can’t finish my highlight reel without mention of both Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee & Pikachu, and Super Smash Bros: Ultimate both of which are my MVP’s for the Expo. Not only did the gameplay videos of Pokémon Let’s Go cement my conviction to finally buy a Switch, but it left me feeling super nostalgic. The graphics were stunning and the gameplay, while slightly simplified for more of a younger audience, was everyone I was hoping for. Super Smash Bros also had me cheering with the inclusion of every single fighter who has featured in the series so far. Along the tweaking of several technical aspects in battle and the additional assist trophies there wasn’t much more I could have wanted, even if for right now we only got to see two completely new fighters.

The problem with Nintendo Direct announcements is that they do them so darn perfectly, that you can go blind looking for a fault. However if I was to mention any kind of displeasure it would be for the lack of any information concerning Pokémon’s Generation 8 instalment. The fact that we are getting Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee & Pikachu is fantastic, but there’s no getting around the fact it’s still just a stepping stone to what will be the next official title. On top of this, Super Smash Bros: Ultimate did take up a lot of time with its presentation, some time of which I’m sure could’ve been used more productively for other upcoming titles. Lastly, there was no new mentions of any 3DS titles which begs the question “are they now phasing out this system?” because I seriously hope they aren’t. —Kieren

With pretty much all of our pre-conference predictions coming true, can’t say there was anything that fell short for Bethesda this year.  A deeper look at RAGE 2 emphasises it’s Mad Max inspirations hinted by the original teaser. The upcoming post-apocalyptic shooter will take gameplay elements from Wolfenstein,  enemies and action from DOOM, and environments from Fallout. Speaking of, the new releases from all three are certainly promising. Wolfenstein: Youngblood is reminiscent of Far Cry: Blood Dragon with an 80s setting and focuses on co-operative action fun – just minus the neon.  DOOM: Eternal is bringing ‘Hell on Earth’ as DOOM Guy stands his ground firmly among millions of demons and DOOM II references in the new teaser reveal. Aussie favourite Mick Gordon later confirming his return to compose the next brutal soundtrack for the title. Finally, Fallout 76 turns out to be the Fallout 4  multiplayer mode we all were hoping for with the release a few years ago. Players can now live out their post-nuclear warfare American-dream with a small posse of friends and launch nukes onto anyone who dares cross their path. Honourable mentions to Keegan-Michael Key, Todd Howard, and Prey.

Can we talk about Andrew WK anyone? Really though, the song ‘Get Ready To Die‘ from his ‘illustrious’ album I Get Wet may suit the light-hearted, bloody chaos of RAGE 2′s tone, yet it’s still a horrible song. Performing it LIVE in front of a MASS AUDIENCE and the ENTIRE WORLD online has to be some sort of death wish. The pop-metal track features lyrics and a chorus more generic than Metallica. The faces of the conference room were clearly not ‘ready to kill… ready to run’. Although, I’m certain they felt as if  ‘this is judgement day… life is over now’.

Besides the obvious, some may see the early reveals of Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI as pandering and too early, with fair reason. The controversially premature reveal of these titles is already setting an outrageously high bar for Bethesda to jump. With both of these releasing for the ‘next-gen’ of gaming, hope is the only option.

I need to cast some uncertainty on Elder Scrolls: Blades. Following the mobile success of Fallout: Shelter, Blades looks incredible as another entry in the concentrated market. My fear lies in how it will run. With town building and management, dungeon crawling, first-person combat, and full inventory systems with an in-game economy, it seems almost too extravagant for a mobile game. How will this be easy to play on the go? How will it even run on phones that aren’t the newest models? Will the VR version and cross-play with your mobile friends work fluently? We’ll wait and see, if it works it will be an amazing time-killer on the train home. —Omi

Xbox had something to prove going into E3 this year, and they made it clear they were there to deliver from the outset. 50 games. 18 exclusives. 15 world premieres. To open the show with such a promise led to a cheer from the crowd, and rightfully so. Previous years it’s seemed like Microsoft’s priorities were out of whack, but now they’re finally focusing where they should: the video games. Their key big franchises made a bang, with a gorgeous Forza Horizon 4 set in Britain, Halo Infinite ominously looming and tripling down on Gears of War with Gears 5, Gears POP! for mobile and Gears Tactics for PC.

There were some great indies shown off too, although some got lost in a montage. It was some multi-platform giants that were the exclamation point, with the unexpected announcement of zombie parkour sequel Dying Light 2 and the expected but stunning cinematic trailer for Cyberpunk 2077, a title sure to set the world on fire and a smart way to finish off what was a strong conference.

The downside? Nothing major they showed (apart from Forza, a yearly staple) is releasing in 2018. While this is surely disappointing for some, the future of Xbox is looking brighter than ever, with Microsoft investing in acquiring 5 studios, almost doubling their in-house exclusive productions. While we won’t see the proper fruits of this labor for a while, these studios along with what looks like a strong 2019 with their core IPs sends a strong statement: Microsoft and Xbox came to play; and this can only be a huge benefit for gamers everywhere. —Luke

There were certainly some great reveals to come out of Ubisoft at this year’s conference. I think the two big winners however were Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and The Division 2. Full disclosure, I’m a huge sucker for an extended gameplay reveal. So I’m glad Ubisoft didn’t shy away from allowing a couple of their big titles to shine in the sun for a generous period of time. It also shows a lot of confidence in the product to be able to have these extended gameplay reveals because you’re not relying on cinematics, teasers, or heavy editing to sell your product. You’re just relying on good ol’ fashion gameplay. Both games looked slick and polished and both appear to be fantastic follow-ups to their predecessors.

Honorable mentions would have to go to Skull & Bones which is looking better and better with every reveal and Trials Rising which was a lovely surprise. The Trials games are always a tonne of fun and Rising looks to be no different. Those who are eagerly awaiting Beyond Good and Evil 2 also had some juicy content to consume, although with a release date still seemingly quite far in the distance we may still be some time away from any sought of in-depth look at the game.

For me I’m dissapointed in Starlink: Battle for Atlas. The game is only months away from release (October) yet we’ve only seen heavily edited trailers so far. The game has physical toy integration which already leaves me sceptical, and the gameplay trailer they released didn’t do anything to remove that scepticism.  What small snippets of gameplay we did get looked gorgeous no doubt, but it isn’t enough to stop me from fearing the worst – an empty world and potentially boring experience. I hope I’m wrong!

Just Dance 2019 basically didn’t need to be at the show. I like Dancing pandas as much as the next guy but these yearly iterative games have become so predictable and so unnecessary. Just Dance fans will already be pre-ordering the next game, leave the rest of us alone! Lastly Transference still has me… unsure. We saw it last year and we’ve seen it again and yet over the course of that year I haven’t felt like I’ve learned anything. It’s an experimental experience bridging the gap between game and film. In other words it’s barely a video game. With the “experience” releasing some time this year you’d think we would have more to go on, except Ubisoft seems to think we’d rather stay shrouded in mystery. The mystery being if this “experience” could possibly be worth our time or not. —Elliot

Its definitely been an E3 to remember with some big reveals and some highly anticipated games finally getting those solid release dates, my excitement levels have been going off the charts and it’s little surprise. With news for The Division 2, Gears 5, Spider-Man, Halo Infinite, Nintendo and so much more I’m likely to level up off pure glee alone. But E3 is more than just the amazing game reveals, alongside all the highs, lows and hype it simply wouldn’t be the same without some laughs to take away and treasure. For me this year, it was developer Bethesda that provided those with flawless victory.

Below is a video featuring none other than comedian Keegan-Michael Key playing Skyrim on Alexa. This was hilarious and my personal highlight of the conference. As an added bonus it also contained a little something I had predicted in our E3 predictions show.

But like all good things E3 2018 and our roundup feature must sadly come to an end, but fear not because whilst one conference ends another one is just about to start. We’ ll see you all again in a few months time for PAX AUS, so stay tuned and save frequently!