The highs and lows of E3 2019

Feature article

E3 2019 has come and gone. For many it was a bit of a lacklustre year overall, featuring a noticeable lack of actual gameplay, a lot of trailers for games that we already knew existed, and some disappointing leaks that spoiled some of the fun and made predictions quite easy. Although between all of the lows were some noticeable highs that involved in-depth looks at exciting upcoming games and big reveals nobody saw coming. Without further ado, check out our highs and lows from E3 2019!

EA

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Okay, I know this one wasn’t technically part of E3. But it did happen around the same time as E3 so you know, it still kind of counts. Anyway, the EA Play event was an interesting showing. Instead of a string of game announcements, we got half-hour “deep dives” into 6 major releases. I mean I didn’t think it was humanly possible for people to talk at length about the intricacies of Fifa and Madden for 60 minutes. But bless their hearts, they managed it.

Starwarsjedifallenorder

The Highs:

Starwars Jedi: Fallen Order was certainly the biggest highlight of EA’s event. After the past few years of EA criminally mishandling the franchise, we may actually get a decent star wars game, and it’s got me all excited. It’s going to be a story-driven single-player experience, with plenty of force powers and light-sabre battles. I know its too early to get hype, but I’m kind of already there.

A big shout out should also go to The Sims 4 and their partnership with the It Gets Better project. The partnership will be bringing us a range of in-game pride-themed clothing and gender-neutral bathrooms, amongst other additions. It’s good to see these kinds of partnerships happen, especially when we get cool in-game stuff out of it.

The Lows:

Where to begin. The lack of games? The hour spent on Madden and Fifa? The fact that the entire presentation was 3 hours long? Honestly, a lot of it felt like a slog. While I applaud them for trying something new, it’s clear that it didn’t work. Half-hour deep dives are fun on their own, when there’s like maybe 2 per presentation. But when there’s 6 back to back, its feels like you’re trying to ice-skate uphill. The Bethesda event was half as long, and yet twice as concise. I’m also pretty sure they showed more games too. All in all it was a strange and interesting experiment, but between the length and the hyperactive hosts, it fell flat – Hailey

 

Microsoft:

Microsoft was certainly the busiest of all E3 conferences this year. Without competition from Sony, Microsoft really had a stranglehold on the reveals for any multi-platform releases that didn’t fall under the jurisdiction of any other publisher attending E3. Add to this their own first-party releases including those coming from recently acquired development studios and their yearly montage of indie games and you have quite a showing.

The Highs:

Whilst controversy arose after E3 that probably soured this upcoming game for many individuals, at the event itself, Cyberpunk 2077 had the crowd very excited. This is one of the most anticipated games of all time, coming from a developer who have already well and truly established themselves as a powerhouse of a studio. So to see a release date announced, some more gameplay revealed, and Keanu Reeves take to the stage was pretty satisfying.

I’ve got to give a shout out to Blair Witch as well. This is a game absolutely none of us saw coming but it absolutely stood out from the crowd. Arriving at the end of August this year means we don’t have long to wait either. I would have loved a more in-depth look at this game although even just the glimpse we got was pretty exciting. A new horror game set in an already established, spooky setting with the support of Microsoft behind it? Sign me up!

The Lows: 

So I have to admit, leaks killed the Microsoft conference for me a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m super excited to see more of FromSoftware’s Elden Ring as well as Ninja Theory’s Bleeding Edge. Although both games were already revealed via leaks before E3 and neither were able to give us any new information or substantial footage to make their presence on the E3 stage noteworthy. For those who weren’t spoiled by the leaks, a new collaboration between FromSoftware and George R.R. Martin and the next game from a prolific studio who previously released Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice may well be exciting. For me, it was a bit of a low.

Another disappointment was Microsoft’s reveal of their next console, Project Scarlett. I love me a console reveal, but a reveal this was not. We got a release date which was a nice confirmation of expectations, although other than that we really didn’t see anything meaningful. We didn’t get a price, we didn’t get a lineup of launch titles, we didn’t get to see what the console will look like, and we didn’t even get a real name. Instead we got a montage of game developers talking about the future and a lot of fairly meaningless buzz-words. – Elliot

 

Bethesda:

With a relatively lack-luster E3 conference last year, Bethesda had a lot of making up to do. Somehow, they managed to somehow find an in between for this. They managed to give us a closer glimpse of some titles we already knew about, while still providing some exciting reveals. Here’s some of what that looked like.

The Highs:

While it wasn’t a new title,  we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the bombastic look at Doom Eternal. We finally got a release date of November 22nd and let me tell you, if the footage is anything to go off, it’ll be unbelievable amounts of brain-popping and demon slaying fun. It will even have a new multiplayer mode too!

Two big new game reveals came out of the conference. One titled Deathloop from Arkane studios. While it isn’t the Dishonored sequel some were hoping for, this new IP looks to be just as good. It’ll follow two assassins that are after each other and also in a timeloop. Many are comparing it to a nice blend of both Dishonored and Hitman. The other reveal came from The Evil Within developers to announce an interesting horror game called Ghost Wire: Tokyo. Ikumi Nakamura, the lead art designer, came out to present the game and stole our hearts.

Honorable mention should also go to Wolfenstein: Youngblood.  It will see players controlling BJ Blaskowicz’s daughters in optional co-op (a series first) as they go hunting for their missing father in Nazi Europe. That game’s out next month and it looks to be insane fun.

The Lows:

With Fallout 76 releasing to a lot of flack and criticism back in November, Bethesda had a lot of making up to do. With Todd Howard coming onto the stage, gracefully accepting the game’s faults and taking it on the chin, it looked to be going in that direction. Then, we get told we’re getting a Battle Royale mode for the game? More so, people went nuts over human NPC’s finally being added to the game, more than half a year after the release.

Commander Keen! A long dormant character/IP is back! This was exciting and kind of a big deal, unfortunately it was in the form of a relatively uninspired mobile game. I’m all for mobile gaming however, so I hope this title proves more than what was shown on the showcase. – Charlie

 

Ubisoft:

One thing about Ubisoft over the years is that they’ve always, for better or worse, had an E3 conference that was worth watching. 2019 proved to be no exception. They may have had one of their biggest reveals leaked before the show even began, but that might have been a blessing in disguise as it set them up for the chance to steal the whole show.

The Highs

Considering (in retrospect) what a disappointing E3 showing the original Watch Dogs turned out to be, I was pleasantly surprised with what Watch Dogs Legion had to show. Being able to potentially recruit any NPC in the entire game to fight alongside you and utilise their unique skill-set sounds quite ambitious, especially given they will all be motion captured and voiced on an individual basis. In terms of sheer scope and size, it’s impressive, so we’ll see whether or not they pull it off. Regardless,the hero we never knew we needed has arrived in Grandma Helen.

One thing with Ubi, they always bring something new to the table. Whether it’s Vikings fighting Samurai or a pirate adventure, it’s always fun to see what they unveil. This time around it was Gods & Monsters, a new game from the makers of AC: Odyssey that didn’t have any accompanying gameplay but looks to dial heavily into ancient monster mythology. Roller Champions also looks to bring a fun colourful multiplayer game to the party, and it’s free to play!

The Lows: 

The other thing Ubisoft is becoming known for at E3 is strange celebrity tie-in’s, which means we got Ice-T talking about gamer etiquette, because… reasons? Also where was Aisha Tyler? Then we have a new TV show called Mythic Quest from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia executive producers and actor *checks notes* Rob McElhenney, who is definitely someone I have vaguely heard of from a show I haven’t seen.

Jon Bernthal was there to talk Ghost Recon Breakpoint, which I’m hyped for but didn’t get anything drastically new to get excited about given the game was already revealed last month. This is partly why his dog was such a cute distraction – it distracted me from the fact that I wasn’t learning anything interesting. It also meant that I could think about the dog during the obligatory cringey Just Dance dancers segment. He really was such a good boy. – Luke

 

Square Enix:

After the montage of lackluster trailers they put out for their 2018 press show, there wasn’t a lot of excitement for Square Enix at E3 this year. At that point, there had been very little information about the Final Fantasy VII Remake in recent years, nor had any footage been released of  The Avengers Project. Also, people were pretty miffed about Final Fantasy VIII not getting a remastered version on Switch. Ultimately, Square Enix’s 2019 show was them simply ticking off each of these boxes and several more, to rapturous applause.

The Highs: 

More than the fact they gave us a substantial look at Final Fantasy VII Remake, let’s talk about how they did it: instead of a cinematic trailer, we got a detailed breakdown of how the battle system works. You could see health bars in the gameplay demo. The Senior Manager of Product Marketing said that Square is the attack button. They presented the game like an infomercial on a morning talk show,  which was the perfect way to sell it. The crowd went wild.

Marvel’s The Avengers (née The Avengers Project)showed off a far less comprehensive, but still impressive, trailer. It looks to have all the bombast and mid-battle one-liners of the movies, and because Crystal Dynamics doesn’t have to worry about potentially injuring stunt actors, the set-pieces look enormous and intense. There is a slight worry that maybe the world is getting fatigued by superhero media. But then again, I know exactly what happens at the end of Infinity War despite never having seen it, so Marvel’s vice-like grip on pop culture will most likely still be around when this game comes out next year.

The Lows:

Square Enix only announced a few original games during their conference – Oninaki, Outriders, and Circuit Superstars amongst them. Half of their announcements consisted of a remake and several remasters. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastic that they’re appealing to fans who love older titles like Romancing SaGa 3and the FF7 Remake is clearly a massive project requiring a lot of time and resources. It’s just, for a company known for creating brand new RPGs with unique worlds and characters, it feels like they spent this E3 merely playing catch-up to fan expectations.

Also, Troy Baker and Nolan North are brilliant actors, but it’s become so easy to clock their voices in big AAA games that I had to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t Nathan Drake in that Iron Man suit. – Pedro

 

Nintendo:

Nintendo has always been known to have a really strong E3 presence, and whilst they are often more focused on their own Nintendo Direct presentations throughout the year, they certainly did not shy away from announcing some solid titles and information. We had no shortage of new titles, release dates, and information shown during this presentation. So whilst my wish of some sort of Metroid Prime 4 information remains unfulfilled, we certainly have some solid moments to recap.

The Highs:

The obvious high point of Nintendo’s E3 presentation was the reveal of Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, right? Spoiler alert, it wasn’t! Us die-hard fans certainly got our fill when Nintendo announced that No More Heroes 3 is due to release in 2020, along with some gameplay for Luigi’s Mansion 3, and the long-awaited (and speculated) return of Banjo and Kazooie, albeit in the form of a new playable character for Super Smash Brothers: Ultimate.

I’m saving the best for last, but before we get there the runner up for high-point of this conference is that The Witcher 3: Complete Edition was announced, being a port exclusively for the Switch that will contain all previously released DLC and will be scaled down and optimised to run on the obviously lower spec hardware of the console.

The absolute highpoint for many of us is always going to be the closing reveal that had me gasping for air, being that a sequel to Breath of the Wild is currently in development. It looks to be adopting a much darker tone than its predecessor based on the cryptic and haunting teaser we saw.

The Lows:

Without a doubt, for many the low point of this presentation had to be the fact that Animal Crossing: New Horizons has been delayed until March 2020. And whilst this is a bummer for sure, at least we can be certain we will get a well-crafted title once it eventually releases.

Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6 are coming to the Switch in 2019, but I’m going to classify this as a low. This is what I would call a mixed bag, as whilst I love these games, the other Resident Evil entries that have already received ports on the Switch have been met with some criticism for being priced higher than other existing ports on other consoles. – Jason

Year after year, E3 will always be filled with impressive and exciting highs, as well as some pretty disappointing lows. How do you feel after this year’s conference? Do you agree with our assessment? Who won E3 for you this year overall? Let us know!