Your E3 Wishes Granted

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“It’s a hearts and minds game.”

It’s a phrase that I heard uttered after Sony’s E3 2013 press conference and suspect after this year’s E3 conferences from all publishers, we’re going to hear more and more of it.

It began with Bethesda’s late Sunday evening presentation where they showed off lengthy demos of Doom and Fallout 4; Pete Hines kept the pace brisk but slowed it down when it mattered. Todd Howard was brought on stage to speak to those who were forgoing Game of Thrones and other Sunday night programming to watch a streaming presentation. They knew who they were talking to. He dropped F-bombs when appropriate and tried his best to pitch Fallout: Shelter as a mobile game for those who scoff at F2P trappings.

It was an impressive showing for a publisher who never put on a show before. But was that a one off? Of course not.

Monday began with Microsoft and the announcement of Xbox One backwards compatibility. They followed up with Xbox One Elite controller targeted at the hardcore audience with its swappable components. They would mention its exorbitant price tag away from the cameras but the message was clear: “We’re catering to you, the gamer.”

Electronic Arts gave us more Mirror’s Edge and intentionally reminded us that we’re not going to see Faith pick up a firearm in this game. They tried their best to make their sports and other properties appealing but they knew why we’re here and why we would stick around after Pele and the Hoop God made their appearances. It was no coincidence that Star Wars: Battlefront was played on a PlayStation 4. A PC would have brought skepticism about the console version’s quality. They made sure that we saw those PlayStation prompts.

Ubisoft made us laugh and continued the trend of “one more thing” with the reveal of Ghost Recon: Wildlands at the end. Alicia Tyler continued to win fans over with her enthusiasm and energy. Her debut on Ubisoft’s stage may have been awkward at first but I felt she won everyone over. The annual Ubisoft message isn’t always palpable but she livens it up considerably.

And then there was Sony who transformed themselves into the genie of E3 by granting three wishes. Final Fantasy VII Remake, Shenmue III and The Last Guardian all made appearances on their stage. Not all three were exclusive to them but it was damn obvious that they wanted the PlayStation 4 attached to all of these. There was no lengthy TV show pitch and while it would have been nice to see VR on the big stage, I felt it could have been another Move situation if they demonstrated it on-stage; fine for those who already bought in but a tough sell to those who’re peering from the outside.

Nintendo’s digital event was marred by the fact that it didn’t have much to say this year. Nintendo reminded us that NX is a 2016 thing and we should be content with the likes of another 3D FPS Metroid game on the Nintendo 3DS. They pushed more Amiibos and celebrated Mario but it was evident that Nintendo’s 2015 was considerably weaker.

Square  Enix showed the people what they clamored for with Kingdom Hearts 3 and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided footage, they flexed their quality mobile offerings by leveraging a known quantity like Hitman Go and they promised Rise of Tomb Raider would have tombs. They even brought in PlatinumGames to work on a new Nier title while promising JRPG fans that they are committed to JRPGs with the creation of the Tokyo RPG Factory studio.

Square Enix served as a nice summation of everyone else’s E3 presentation. They focused on what worked and showed their audience that they’re understanding what their fans want — or at the very least — starting to listen. Who knows? Maybe we’ll get that Final Fantasy XII HD Remake that I wanted or Half Life 3.

Nearly Everyone Did Well

I have some marks to give out to the E3 press conferences. I’m rating pace, content and the delivery of said content.

  • Bethesda: A-
  • Microsoft: A
  • Electronic Arts: C+
  • Ubisoft: B-
  • Sony: A
  • Nintendo: D+
  • Square Enix: B+

Some personal notables:

  • ReCore and Horizon: Zero Dawn were the two new intellectual properties that immediately grabbed me.
  • A new Nier? Yes, please. The first one was unique but flawed. I’m glad Square Enix are bringing in action experts to help
  • Star Wars: Battlefront surprised me with how well it performed on consoles and if I’m not mistaken, DICE are targeting 60FPS.
  • I hope Tomb Raider Go lives up to Hitman Go’s lofty heights.

What’s going on with Square Enix & Nomura?

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First he was unceremoniously removed as the director of Final Fantasy Versus XIII XV. Then there was his worrying open letter about “harnessing burning anger into Kingdom Hearts 3″ and now we learn that Kingdom Hearts 3 will ditch Square Enix’s internally developed Luminous Engine for Unreal Engine 4.

What’s going on with Square Enix? Is Luminous Engine that difficult to work with that it was actually more cost effective to go out an license Epic Games’ latest release? Or is this Nomura sticking it to Square Enix and refusing to use their internally developed engine?

The early Agni’s Philosophy tech demo was impressive if not a little far reaching for the current generation of consoles but Final Fantasy XV’s most recent trailer showcased the engine in a very positive light. The gameplay demonstrated could have featured Sora and his Disney friends and I wouldn’t have been none the wiser.

Unless Nomura has another PR meltdown, I’m guessing we’ll never know why they switched engines. And if Final Fantasy XV launches with a impressive visuals featuring both breadth and depth, we’ll be in a better position to infer.

Birth By Sleep & Peace Walker Coming Summer-ish

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kojima_productions_logo.pngBoth come from Japanese companies.
Both are destined for the PSP.
Both are slotted for the summer time frame.
Both are prequels.
Both are reasons for me to pick up my PSP again.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker was pushed back to June 8th, 2010 and will serve as the fifth installment of the Metal Gear Solid franchise despite the subtitle. There’s also a green PSP bundle with it, but I don’t think anyone cares about that. Those of you who are interested in the title should check out the latest walkthrough though.

As for Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep, its release window was narrowed down to simply “summer“. I don’t know much about it, just that it is the fifth installment for its own franchise as well.

Checkpoint: Calm Before The Storm 2009 Edition

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checkpoint-calm-before-the-storm-2009-edition

There was no Checkpoint last week because I was busy earning bonus cash. Bonus cash which I could then use for the next two months’ worth of games. It’s Labour Day weekend which means its the calm before the 2009 holiday gaming storm.

So let’s take a look what September and October has to offer. Note that I’ll be cherry picking the ones that I may be interested in (including the preferred platform). For the full list, I suggest you waltz on over to Gamespot.

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