In years past, I typically reserved the recaps and reviews for the big boys or the big three as I like to call them. This year, however, I want to mix things up a bit and include some of the smaller guys.
I’m kicking things off this year by combining both EA and Bethesda, two of the smaller shows by comparison to the others, yet both had a lot to say. I do have some opinions on both and while they’re not generally the same, I felt like both companies kinda went down a similar path in the end.
So, let’s kick this thing off by taking a look at the first company to go: EA.
For EA, I expected them to bust out the pomp and circumstance in large part due to the rough year they were coming off of. I won’t rehash everything here, but I’m sure most of you remember the Star Wars Battlefront II debacle, as well as Visceral being shut down and its impressive looking Star Wars project essentially getting dismantled in favor of adding online elements.
At the end of the day, I felt like their event was more subdued than I thought it would be. For one, Battlefield V didn’t get as much time in the sun as I expected, especially after what EA pulled with Battlefield 1 two years ago. With the game out in a couple months (and going up against major competition), you’d think EA would throw down with gameplay and multiplayer. Eh, not really. We got some news, but ultimately, they mentioned that Microsoft would have more the next day. It was mainly a tell me rather than show me situation which I found odd.
From there, EA jumped head first into their sports titles as expected, announced EA Origin Access Premier, the adorable Unravel 2 and made another odd decision by dedicating stage time to Command & Conquer Rivals. Not only did this announcement rip the heart out of longtime PC strategy fans, but they brought out shoutcasters to commentate on a match. For a mobile game. Honestly, this wasn’t the time or place for that as I doubt the people in attendance and watching were the intended audience for this product. To me, it felt like unnecessary padding.
Star Wars was also represented with Battlefront II announcing a focus on the Clone Wars (Prequel movies) time period. Obi Wan, General Grievous, and Anakin Skywalker are all joining the fight. In a nice move, the team did acknowledge the “rough start” (understatement) and that they were working to fix things. Vince Zampella, co-founder of Respawn Entertainment was also interviewed int he crowd and revealed the Star Wars project they’re working on is called Jedi Fallen Order. The interview was a little odd, almost like they didn’t know what to say or couldn’t say, but I’m excited to see this game in action…even if it could have and should have been announced at a later date with more details.
The bulk of the show was given to Anthem obviously and fans were rewarded with a release date, new cinematic trailer, new gameplay, and a lengthy Q&A session right on stage. I’m more of a show me, don’t tell me type of person, but I did appreciate at the level of information we were given. The game looks gorgeous but I’m still surprised BioWare hasn’t shown off more of the RPG side of the game with loot, customization, skills, and other things. That feels like a major part of the game, so I want to see more about it.
Ultimately, I wasn’t excited by what EA showed. Don’t get me wrong, Anthem looks very fun and is gorgeous, Unravel 2 looks like a fun time especially with a friend, and I like the new direction of Battlefield V. Still, it failed to excite me and get the hype meter going. This is E3 we’re talking about, I want the fireworks, I want to be blown away. The show felt safe and a little bloated. I’d rather have a smaller, tighter show with more excitement than a longer show with (IMO) filler content to hit some imaginary time limit.
Going into E3, fans were expecting a lot of big things from Bethesda. As a big fan of the studio and the stuff they’ve been putting out, I know I did. I came out of that press conference feeling odd. Let’s try to sort this out, shall we?
Opening the show was Rage 2, a game which was initially leaked and later confirmed with two trailers. Actually, before anything was shown, we were treated to an Andrew W.K. performance of that song that was in the initial teaser trailer. I use the word “treated” sarcastically, and sorry for any of you W.K. fans, but I wasn’t a fan of this at all. In fact, I feel like it kind of dragged the audience down as I saw a lot of eye rolls and blank expressions on folks in the crowd as the camera panned out.
After a weird teleprompter hitch (I’m assuming that’s what the long and odd pause between id Software’s Tim Willits and Avalanche’s resident giant, Magnus Nedfors was), we finally got a look at the game and it featured a combat heavy section. As expected, the first person shooter will feature a lot of things to shoot, though it now features a lot more colors than its predecessor. The protagonist also appears to have new abilities like a force push and a ‘Doom Guy’ rage mode.
A lot has been made about bringing Avalanche’s signature open-world shenanigans to the Rage franchise and yet, everything that has been shown has been short combat segments which we already know is going to be good. It’s id Software after all. One of the many issues with the first Rage is the barren open world, so I’d like to see how Avalanche is fixing that and you’d think that’d be a big marketing focus. I mean, the gameplay was fine, but it certainly didn’t hype me up enough to run out and pre-order or change my opinion of the game at all.
Next up was Elder Scrolls Online, which, according to the numbers, apparently a lot of you really enjoy. The game actually just released a new expansion, so I felt like this segment was a lot of back patting for a job well done. Don’t get me wrong, Matt Firor is awesome (shout out to my Dark Age of Camelot brothers and sisters), but this segment felt a little unnecessary. Elder Scrolls Legends, a card-based game, was also announced to be coming to consoles with new updates, visuals, cards, and such.
One of the biggest surprises was DOOM Eternal, a direct sequel to the smash hit 2016 title, but not much was revealed outside of an interesting cinematic trailer. What’s kind of funny is that the trailer was actually kind of an announcement of an announcement which told the audience to expert more at QuakeCon in a few months. This one seems like a potential late 2019/early 2020 game to be honest.
After that, it was on to Quake Champions, which is a game I completely forgot existed. They introduced three new characters, but again, this felt like fluff padding. It’s information that could have easily been announced in a press release.
Surprisingly, Prey is getting new free DLC that actually launched after the show. New Game + was added along with a survival mode. Typhon Hunter is also coming which puts 1 player in a room trying to figure out five other players hiding as a mimic. It’s cool, but considering that Prey wasn’t a massive commercial success, I can’t imagine it got many people’s blood pumping. It’s actually a little surprising that Bethesda is doubling down on it. Good for them though and I appreciate the free DLC. You won’t see me complaining about additional support.
Before the main event, MachineGames revealed Wolfenstein Youngblood, a standalone expansion that is set in 1980’s Paris. In a surprise move, Youngblood is actually a co-op game featuring B.J. Blaszkowicz’ twin daughters.
Finally, the time had come. Todd Howard finally took the stage and the rest of the show was devoted to Fallout 76, a game that I’m still not sure I want. Turns out, the rumors were mostly true as 76 is entirely online where somewhere between 24-30 people are all in the same instance together. The world is 4 times bigger than Fallout 4 and players can rebuild towns, cities, structures, and anything else. Most of the gameplay shown was cut up into specific segments, so it was hard to get a sense of how this game will actually work. It’s all very cool and very Fallout looking, but I’m not convinced how an online-focused Fallout game will actually work especially when most players will probably end up bullying and griefing other players.
You know, this almost sounds like a Vault-Tec secret experiment.
In addition, Todd announced an Elder Scrolls mobile game (cool, but like I’ve said, not super exciting IMO), and then teased the long-rumored Starfield and then further teased The Elder Scrolls VI. Both games are already coined as “next-gen” games, so that means players shouldn’t expect these games any time soon, I’m talking 2020 at the earliest, likely later. Then again, Elder Scrolls VI is probably 2024 considering it’s coming after Starfield. These two teasers showed absolutely nothing either, so in a sense, they felt unnecessary. With ES6, I’m sure they literally have nothing developed at this point anyway, so that’s understandable. I guess from my perspective, I didn’t need to see anything about these games, just a simple acknowledgment from Todd would have been fine.
I mean, we’re getting game reveals for Next Gen systems that haven’t actually been announced or confirmed yet. It feels a little backward, doesn’t it?
I liked Bethesda’s presser more than EA, but still, there wasn’t much to latch on to. I still don’t have a great sense of Fallout 76 or Rage 2, and outside of that, the press conference showed games that are a long ways off (DOOM Eternal, Elder Scrolls 6, Starfield) or have already come out and have some new updates (Prey, ESO, ESL, Quake Champions, etc, etc). I wasn’t super hyped for anything shown, and I felt like some of the content added to the conference was to kind of pad out the show.
So the real reason I linked these two companies together? Their press conferences had a lot of similar problem elements including a need to perhaps use a bit more restraint in what is shown. To me, they could have trimmed some of the content out and still have been fine. In my opinion, less is more.
That’s me though. What did you guys think of EA and Bethesda? DId they scratch your itch, or leave you wanting? Let me know in the comments and make sure to stay tuned for plenty more E3 content over the next couple of weeks.