Editor’s Note: Check out all of our E3 Expo 2019 Coverage!
Wow. That was pretty uneventful, wasn’t it? As I write this, today is the last day of E3, and needless to say it was not at the same level of previous years. Don’t get me wrong, there was still a lot to enjoy and get out of it, but unfortunately it was drowning under a sea of mediocrity.
So this year, I’m going to do something different with my annual E3 report. Instead of giving each conference a letter grade, I’m going to go over the moments I thought were worth a second look, what disappointed me to no end, and one huge moment that might ruin many a fanboy’s dreams. But let’s not get into that just yet. Let’s start with what I was happy with.
Without a shadow of a doubt, my most anticipated game from the show was, and is, Cyberpunk 2077. CD Projekt Red completely won me over with The Witcher 3, and their belief that no games should be locked behind DRM and all DLC short of expansion packs should be free. The gameplay footage shown last fall also had a lot of promise. But it was during Microsoft’s conference that they unveiled a new addition to the game: Keanu Reeves! The moment was made even better when a fan yelled out “you’re breathtaking,” and Keanu responded in kind. You can tell the fans were excited about this, and even Keanu was happy with their reaction.
Not only that, but CD Projekt Red was also very happy with the results, replying to the fan via their Cyberpunk Twitter page that he will be getting a free copy of their Collector’s Edition. A lot of people say that Keanu won E3 this year, but personally, I think it was that fan who was overwhelmed by his breathtaking awesomeness!
You all knew this was coming. I’ve been waiting for the follow up to my 2016 game of the year and so far it looks like it’s not going to disappoint at all. The gameplay still looks as frantic as ever, and hopefully we’ll have more of an epic metal score compared to what Mick Gordon already gave us. I’m sure we’ll be seeing more come Quakecon, but at least it’s coming out this November, so I’m ready for it.
DOUBLE FINE JOINS XBOX GAME STUDIOS
We all knew that Xbox Game Studios was going to expand more. As if adding Ninja Theory, InXile, and Obsidian wasn’t enough, this year they added Tim Schaefer’s Double Fine Studios to their library. I will have to admit this was a surprise, considering past Double Fine remasters (such as Grim Fandango and Day of the Tentacle) were on every system but Xbox. Hopefully this means they will be added soon, as well as the upcoming Psychonauts 2. But with this complete, all I have to ask is, does this mean we will finally see a Brutal Legend 2? I ask the Metal Gods (and Tim Schaefer) to make this happen!
JEDI: FALLEN ORDER
The rumors were true, and it looks like Respawn’s Jedi: Fallen Order is a reality, and from what I’ve seen it looks pretty darn good. But then again, this is Electronic Arts we’re talking about, and after the disaster we saw with Battlefront II, I fear they are going to put their greedy touch on the game. I’m hoping not, but we still have to be careful.
GAME PASS ULTIMATE: HOW TO MAKE A GREAT DEAL EVEN BETTER
I’m going to get this out of the way now. I love Xbox Game Pass. Considering it offers nearly 200 games at $10 a month, it was a great value already. However, with the addition of Game Pass for PC I thought I was going to have to pay another $10 just to play PC games in the same way EA and Origin Access is charged separately. Wrong. With the announcement of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, it now combines both Xbox and PC Game Pass, as well as Xbox Live Gold for just $15 a month, half off what you’d pay separately! Even better, they are currently offering the first month for just $1. I updated my account to Ultimate because my Gold was supposed to renew next month (and Game Pass later this month.) However because of this I am now scheduled for my next payment in September, three months from now! Others I have spoken with bought two years of Gold and then upgraded, and don’t have to pay for their service again until 2022! Way to make your service and even better value, Microsoft!
PROJECT SCARLETT ANNOUNCED
Rumors about the Xbox One X successor have been swirling for a while, with talks of two separate consoles, codenamed Lockhart (streaming based) and Anaconda (high end.) In the end it looks like Microsoft is heading the way of Anaconda with the announcement of “Project Scarlett,” a system designed to play games at up to 8K resolution, up to 120 frames per second. It is also said to use an SSD drive that will also function as extra memory. I am concerned though about how much it will be when it comes out, but with a Holiday 2020 release date, hopefully the component prices will go down to where it could possibly be affordable.
As for Lockhart? I’m guessing that it’s not going to come out and just be part of Project Xcloud, which I will also get to later.
PHANTASY STAR ONLINE 2 COMES TO THE US AT LAST!
Now THIS one I did NOT see coming! Considering my love for the first Phantasy Star Online, and how the Xbox version made it even better with the addition of voice chat, we now see the true sequel (I don’t consider Phantasy Star Universe as a sequel) coming to the US as an Xbox console exclusive! How Microsoft was able to work this out with Sega I would love to know! And thankfully unlike Shenmue 3, this was not done by way of a Kickstarter campaign. Speaking of which, Shenmue 3, come back here. I’m not done with you yet! I’ll get back to you soon.
But before that, let’s get to the bad, or should I really say, the “meh.”
As I say every E3, there is always this one buzz word/topic/genre that everyone in the industry wants to center on. Last year it was the glut of Royale modes in games (and they are still going on with Fallout 76 adding their Nuclear Winter mode.) But this year the hot button is game streaming. Before E3 we were introduced to Google Stadia, and I could write a whole column by itself about how that will fail, but Microsoft also talked briefly about Project Xcloud (which thankfully will be part of every current console at no cost,) and even Bethesda jumped onto the bandwagon with their Project Orion.
Reports from the show floor state how well the services are running, but despite being in a crowded hall, you have to keep in mind those are running on local privatized servers. How are they going to run in the general public when other people are watching streams or downloading on the same network? Plus, don’t even get me started on those who might be tied to a data cap and will either have their services throttled or pay exorbitant overage charges. I’m sorry, but streaming is not there quite yet and it’s going to take a lot to convince me.
2020, 2020, 2020!
Look, I know games take a while to develop. I get that, but a lot of what I want to play, including Cyberpunk 2077, are slated to come out in 2020. I’m hoping there will be a lot for me at the end of the year too, but I guess I’m going to have to wait and see.
Though to be fair, the beginning of 2019 also had a lot of great games so history might be repeating itself.
VERY DULL CONFERENCES
I really hate to say it, but aside from what I posted above, most of the E3 conferences were just downright dull and didn’t offer much to wow me over. Even Ubisoft, who I always claim to be a sleeper winner, left me a bit disappointed. The PC Gaming Show was a cringefest with the female co-host they had acting like she came from one of those in-your-face 90s video game programs. (Look up Video Power to see exactly what I mean, and tell me if you’re still sane.) But at least we got some good characters such as the previously mentioned Keanu Reeves and the energetic Ikumi Nakamura when she unveiled Bethesda’s upcoming Ghostwire. If only everyone was like these two.
STILL NO F-ZERO, NINTENDO?
I beg and I plead every year for Nintendo to announce a new F-Zero for the Switch, and as always I’m left with nothing. I guess I should be used to it. But it got worse, as there was no mention of either Metroid Prime 4 or Bayonetta 3 during Nintendo’s E3 Direct. But on the bright side, we did get a new Luigi’s Mansion and a new Breath of the Wild sequel is in development. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take until 2022 to come out and the weapons can actually survive a single attack.
MICROTRANSACTIONS IN WOLFENSTEIN YOUNGBLOOD? PLEASE NO!
Wolfenstein: Youngblood is scheduled to come out next month, and I’m excited. But of course the cries of “this game has microtransactions” that never seems to end is making another run, with paid weapon upgrades. Someone even went as far as saying it was as bad a grind as Far Cry: New Dawn, which I will contradict because that was another game I beat without spending money on microtransactions. Same for Fallout 76, claiming you need to pay money to buy atoms (which I earned through hard work.)
I really hope they aren’t going to be as bad as EA and Battlefront II, but I have a gut feeling I might be doing another episode of “Didn’t Spend A Dime” again soon.
At last, but not least, the worst moment of E3, and yes Shenmue 3, I’m going to use you as my punching bag again!
SHENMUE 3 GOES EPIC STORE EXCLUSIVE, NO REFUNDS FOR STEAM USERS!
As if Sony dragging out Yu Suzuki three years ago to scam nostalgia goggle wearing fans out of $2 million just to garner interest in a Shenmue 3, it was announced during E3 that the PC version of the game, despite being promised a Steam code at launch, would now be an Epic Game Store exclusive. I wouldn’t be so upset with that part myself, but here’s what infuriates me. Those who backed the game on Kickstarter expecting a Steam code are rightfully demanding refunds, but the publisher, Deep Silver, is refusing to do that!
I’ve always said that when it comes to Kickstarter campaigns that “a fool and their money are soon parted,” and yes there were some successful campaigns such as with Elite Dangerous. But for every Elite Dangerous, there’s a Star Citizen, and a Shenmue 3.
I will not be supporting this game at all, and it just keeps digging itself further and further into an early grave. I really hope that those who expected it on Steam get their money back, but don’t get your hopes up.
Anyway, I’m done with E3 for this year and will be back in two weeks with my picks for the best and worst games for the first half of 2019. Let’s just say there was a lot of good that I hope continues on to the end of the year and on into 2020, as visions of driving through Night City go through my head.
Currently Playing: Fallout 76
Waiting For: Super Mario Maker