E3 2018 Review – From Worst to Best

This article is essentially an unbiased chronicle of the worst to best press conferences at E3 2018 throughout all of the developers, publishers and platform holders that streamed their press conferences live for the world to see and constructive feedback on how their future press conferences could be better in correlation with what their fans were hoping to see.

7.   EA Play

EA Play got off to a positive start as Battlefield V opened the show with general manager of DICE, Oskar Gabrielson and senior producer of DICE, Lars Gustavsson informing attendees and viewers globally that Battlefield V is “the deepest and most immersive Battlefield yet”. Players will be able to have greater control of their characters such as being able to dive and smash through a structure or building’s windows to surprise enemies, while also being able to re-position defensive turrets to gain strategic advantages. Destructible environments return with more of an impact than ever as tanks can drive through buildings, while soldiers, vehicles and weaponry can be fully customised. A brief glimpse at the relatable stories and characters found within war stories was followed by a point in the direction of the Xbox press conference to see more about war stories. It was also announced that there would be no loot boxes and no premium pass. A royale mode was announced featuring destructible environments, vehicles and teamwork, while the intensive action of online multiplayer mode ground operations was featured spanning multiple maps and modes.

Age old CGI trailers showing no gameplay continued the tradition since the early PS2 days for FIFA and Madden NFL, while the NBA Live trailer had some more effort explaining part of the feature set, although a second trailer was shown for FIFA with the announcement of the Champions League joining FIFA with a poetic end to the trailer as Real Madrid lift the Champions League instead of Peter Moore’s Liverpool FC. Bioware fans were looking forward to a big gameplay reveal for Anthem; yet while the graphics and performance looked pretty good, it was disappointing to see that EA was seemingly heralding always-online with the announcement of Anthem requiring the player to be online even to play the game in single player, while a streaming service was also announced.

Most probably the best reveal was the immediate release of co-operative multiplayer platformer Unravel Two that was accompanied by a live gameplay demonstration. Continued support for the EA Originals range was further provided by the announcement of a dark adventure titled Sea of Solitude developed by Jo-Mei Games that is set to release in early 2019.

A baffling segment seen a debut trailer and onstage gameplay demonstration from a very underwhelming multiplayer real-time strategy mobile game titled Command and Conquer: Rivals for Android and iOS. I am convinced that real Command and Conquer fans would want a sequel to the mainline Command and Conquer franchise and the first-person shooter spin-off Command and Conquer: Renegade complete with the latest Frostbite engine for better graphics and performance with the traditional all-star cast of allies and villains telling a backstory instead of a stripped-down mobile game.

There was a mention of Titanfall developer Respawn Entertainment’s Star Wars game titled Jedi: Fallen Order, albeit without any gameplay, although some of the story was outlined with a confirmed release window of late 2019. However, there was no mention of the Star Wars game that Visceral Games and Amy Hennig were creating before they were closed in 2017, although since EA Play 2018; Amy Hennig has stated that it was handed over to EA Vancouver to make an open-world game instead of concentrating on Amy Hennig’s linear yet focused story that Star Wars, Legacy of Kain and Uncharted fans actually wanted to see. There were two further glaring omissions as the much rumoured Skate 4 was nowhere to be seen and the success of Burnout Paradise Remastered was not even mentioned which should have surely yielded the announcement of an early in-development sequel or at least a remastered collection of earlier Burnout games, especially given how it entered the sales charts in first place.

EA Play was the same by the numbers press conference as EA’s E3 presence in recent years as there were no surprises and just expanded looks on what had already been announced. Every year, gamers tune into EA Play in the hopes of genuine surprises in a return to EA’s golden era of such incredible retro franchises including a Blade Runner remaster; a boxing game that would combine the best of Knockout Kings and Fight Night with the fun and playability of Foes of Ali; reviving the EA Big range including such classics as FIFA Street, Freekstyle, NBA Street, NFL Street, Shox, Sled Storm and SSX; Future Cop L.A.P.D.; going retro with an expanded port of EA Replay from PSP with new features and more retro games from EA’s vast back catalogue; remakes or sequels to Crusader: No Remorse and No Regret; Return Fire; Road Rash; Rumble Racing; the Strike series (Desert Strike, Jungle Strike and Soviet Strike); Syndicate; Theme Park; something TimeSplitters related such as a trilogy remake or a sequel given that EA published TimeSplitters: Future Perfect; and Wing Commander, but once again none of the desired announcements actually happened. Therefore, EA is not exactly without ideas for how to make future press conferences far more exciting and it is for that very reason that EA must do better from 2019 onwards.

6.   Square Enix

It is important to highlight that Square Enix did not have a bad show at all; it just missed some of the potential surprises that gamers would really like to have seen on top of everything that was showcased. After an introduction from President and CEO of Square Enix Yosuke Matsuda; Square Enix began with a major showcase of Shadow of the Tomb Raider in which a story trailer was followed by a massively impressive gameplay segment referred to as “Becoming one with the jungle” by Senior Game Director of Eidos Montreal Daniel Chayer-Bisson as Lara Croft can utilise trees for cover reminiscent of Rambo’s tactics, while setting a trap for enemies from an aerial vantage point before traversing from one tree to another. It was also revealed that there will be new traversal techniques such as grappling and wall running, while Shadow of the Tomb Raider also features full underwater exploration and survival, the biggest hub of any Tomb Raider including a hidden city and more tombs than ever and it was also hinted at that there will be wildlife to contend with.

It was announced that Final Fantasy XIV Online will receive a crossover with Monster Hunter World in Summer 2018. Next up was creative directors of Life is Strange at Dontnod Entertainment Michael Koch and Raoul Barbet discussing how The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit provides some foresight towards Life is Strange: Season 2 without being the opening episode as there are lots of discoveries the player can make through really exploring the environments in what is essentially a free prequel episode to Life is Strange: Season 2.

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of An Elusive Age had a new trailer that looked pretty good, while the Edition of Light pre-order incentive was detailed to include bonus DLC and reversible box art, alongside the Edition of Lost Time that was revealed to be exclusive to the Square Enix store featuring a steelbook case, art book, a map and the complete soundtrack in addition to bonus DLC from both the Edition of Light and the Edition of Lost Time. To celebrate the September 4th 2018 release date of Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of An Elusive Age; it was announced that a collaboration between Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius and Dragon Quest will take place on September 2nd 2018.

A surprise reveal was Babylon’s Fall by Bayonetta developer Platinum Games, although not much is known about it as even Platinum Games’ official website lists the genre as to be determined. However, what is known about Babylon’s Fall is the reveal trailer suggests there will be a gigantic story and a 2019 release window with what looks to be PS4 console exclusivity. Meanwhile, it was announced that Nier: Automata is heading to Xbox One accompanied by all previously released DLC. Square Enix reinforced their multi-platform exclusivity support by showing off a trailer for Nintendo Switch exclusive Octopath Traveler.

Just Cause 4 had its enhanced open-world gameplay showcased with incredible weather effects introduced including blizzards, sandstorms and lightning, while the grapple and vehicles have been improved further, alongside a new story were the antagonists have advanced A.I. and greater diversity than ever in the Just Cause franchise. Just Cause 4’s destructible environments, unparalleled draw distance and more is powered by the open-world Apex engine.

A further surprise announcement was action brawler The Quiet Man that is also set to be a PS4 console exclusive, while Square Enix concluded with an excellent trailer including numerous characters for Kingdom Hearts III.

However, one of the biggest talking points will be the lack of any mention for Square Enix’s arguably most anticipated upcoming game Final Fantasy VII Remake. Elsewhere, it would be amazing to see Square Enix rejuvenate their earlier franchise such as a remake of the Gex trilogy and a Legacy of Kain remake collection or sequel.

5.   Ubisoft

Ubisoft began with a montage of icons providing hints for what was to come in their E3 2018 press conference that was followed by a long dance routine culminating in the announcement of Just Dance 2019. While Ubisoft’s Just Dance franchise is not to everyone’s taste and perhaps it would have been preferred to have a surprise reveal at the start of the press conference; the rather excellently choreographed dance routine contained an air of triumphant spirit to it following Ubisoft’s survival after Vivendi’s attempted takeover as the song played at the end of the dance routine was I’m Still Standing.

Beyond Good and Evil 2 received a new trailer before some story details were revealed about the prequel with Jade seemingly in the role of antagonist instead of hero. The world’s first pre-alpha gameplay footage was also briefly showcased on stage with descriptions of the large scale immersive environments. The Space Monkey Program was announced in partnership with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Hit Record that provides a platform for people in music, art and much more to be able to collaborate on something new to be included within Beyond Good and Evil 2. Unfortunately, a more in-depth demo was only available behind closed doors to invited press instead of being open to the paying public. Given that it has been stated that Beyond Good and Evil fans should expect a beta at some point in 2019; one has to question if Beyond Good and Evil 2 will actually launch on PS4 and Xbox One or the next-generation.

Next up, community developer of Ubisoft Montreal Justin Kruger was on stage to celebrate that Rainbow Six Siege has reached 35 million players, outlining eSports events, alongside a Rainbow Six Siege documentary titled Another Mindset that centres around eight community members.

Creative director of Ubisoft Redlynx (Antti Ilvessuo) took to the stage to rather humorously and passionately announce Trials Rising complete with an exciting gameplay trailer. The good news for fans of Trials did not end there though as Brad Hill also took to the stage to announce that he has specifically created the tutorial content within Trials Rising to help newcomers grasp the finer gameplay elements. Trials Rising was announced to be releasing on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch in February 2019.

Julian Gerighty, creative director of Massive Entertainment arrived on stage to discuss the story of Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 ahead of its March 15th 2019 release date. Xavier Manzanares, lead producer of Ubisoft Paris to showcase Mario and Rabbids: Kingdom Battle – Donkey Kong Adventure complete with a massive gameplay trailer and music performance.

Justin Farren, creative director of Ubisoft Singapore showcased plenty of gameplay from the swashbuckling adventure on the high seas as Skull and Bones was confirmed to release in 2019 and was described as a “shared world”, seemingly quite disappointingly ruling out single player and local multiplayer.

Actor and founder and creative director of Spectre Vision, Elijah Wood and Benoit Richer, game director of Ubisoft Montreal presented an intriguing, mind-bending psychological thriller titled Transference that was confirmed for a fall 2018 release.

StarLink: Battle for Atlas had an impressive trailer followed by Laurent Malville, creative director of Ubisoft Toronto talking about how dangerous the enemies of StarLink are capable of being; therefore a character was provided support in yet another great trailer as Star Fox was announced by co-founder and CEO of Ubisoft, Yves Guillemot as a Nintendo Switch exclusive character. The surprise announcement was greeted by cheers and excitement from the crowd that was significantly increased in decibels when Yves Guillemot welcomed Shigeru Miyamoto to respectfully present him with the first prototype of Star Fox’s fantastically detailed StarLink ship before inviting Shigeru Miyamoto backstage to meet the developers that he helped to inspire through his involvement in the Star Fox franchise.

Roman Campos-Oriola, creative director of Ubisoft Montreal came to the stage to thank players for supporting For Honor including an announcement of For Honor: Marching Fire containing a new faction, 4 new fighters, visual enhancements, single player content and a new castle siege 4 vs. 4 multiplayer mode; releasing on October 16th 2018. Meanwhile, brand director of Ubisoft Ivory Tower, Delphine Dosset gave a brief reminder of open-world racer The Crew 2’s release date through an open beta announcement and a trailer.

Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey received a lot of attention at the end of Ubisoft’s press conference as Jonathan Dumont, creative director of Ubisoft Quebec explained the story, setting, gameplay elements and the ability for the player to choose a male character named Alexios or a female character named Kassandra combined with a large quantity of excellent gameplay that gamers can enjoy from October 5th 2018 that certainly shows a positive future for the Assassin’s Creed franchise.

In a nice touch; Ubisoft concluded their press conference by inviting everyone representing numerous Ubisoft studios on stage to celebrate an entertaining show that was triumphant for Ubisoft given they survived the Vivendi takeover which was once again echoed by the instrumental of I’m Still Standing that was playing in the background during Yves Guillemot’s final speech to Ubisoft’s fans and everyone attending Ubisoft’s E3 2018 press conference and booth.

4.   PlayStation

Shawn Layden presented an opening speech confirming that PlayStation’s press conference would focus on taking a deeper look at PlayStation exclusives that had yet to be released as of E3 2018. Gustavo Santaolalla was announced by Shawn Layden as he graced the stage with a skilful solo performance of instrumental music from The Last of Us: Part II before a story cutscene and gameplay totalling to almost 12 minutes were showcased for The Last of Us: Part II. It immediately became apparent that the setting for PlayStation’s E3 stage was actually a recreation of the environment depicted in the story cutscene as many characters including Ellie and her girlfriend are dancing which was a rather artistic stage presentation. While the gameplay and combat looked amazing; the unnecessary violence was at the forefront yet again as a non-playable character can be seen being hung and disembowelled by another non-playable character. For any fans of Naughty Dog or fans of gaming in general that had criticised the violence during the Paris Games Week trailer that also included a person being hung; your constructive feedback was evidently not taken onboard. The general consensus seems to be that a censored option to remove such scenes would be preferred, but there is clearly no sign of backing down from the ultra violence occurring at every occasion The Last of Us: Part II is being showcased. It is not the violence during combat that is concerning as that is a case of the player having to defend the leading character in a dark post-apocalyptic world, but that of the non-playable human characters that is risking the potential of The Last of Us: Part II being forcefully censored by the regional age rating classification boards. As a fan of Naughty Dog since the first Crash Bandicoot; this is not the tone that I would prefer for Naughty Dog to be putting into their games and I have a feeling that while some won’t mind the violence due to a differing opinion that those gamers are more than welcome to, there will be some that feel as uncomfortable as I do when watching those excessively violent scenes. If Naughty Dog put a censored mode into The Last of Us: Part II, then it would prevent any focus of media coverage from being only on the violence instead of discussing how incredible the gameplay actually looks; a censored mode would make more gamers consider purchasing it that are uncomfortable with the non-playable human character extreme violence.

Unfortunately, due to the themed creative presentation of the E3 stage; there had to be an intermission of over 12 minutes as the world’s gaming media had to move from one area to another to be greeted by a different theme, while the official live stream of PlayStation’s E3 show switched over to Sid Shuman and Ryan Clements with Shawn Layden talking about The Last of Us: Part II, Worldwide Studios and the announcement of a New Game + mode coming to God of War following social media feedback; if only my 25 page Vitalution project would have received the same positive response, then perhaps Vita would have progressed onto a better standing. Meredith Molinari and Ramone Russell joined the panel as a range of re-mastered maps from Call of Duty: Black Ops 1 and 2 were releasing for Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 on launch day and are also available for Black Ops 3 players that pre-order Black Ops 4 through the store followed by the surprise announcement of Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 being added as an extra game on Plus. A further trailer showcased Destiny 2: Forsaken that appears to depict Destiny’s favourite character rather oddly being written out of the story.

A further solo music performance from the style of feudal Japan leading into a stunning Ghost of Tsushima gameplay reveal that also shone a spotlight on the story, combat and exploration. Ghost of Tsushima looked impressive to such a quality in that it has to be asked if it will end up being a PS5 launch title as the trailer rather suspiciously did not feature a PS4 logo. Next-generation quality graphical highlights included the ally and opposing characters being indistinguishable between story cutscenes and gameplay, while foliage sways in the wind, leaves blow off trees in the wind with realistic movement before gathering on the ground and advanced particle effects emphasising the clashing of swords.

The first of many entertaining yet brief musical interludes coupled with character animations courtesy of Dreams was showcased. Thankfully, there were no further long intermissions even though it was suggested that environments had been constructed for yet another two PlayStation exclusive games. It was finally time for some multi-platform surprise reveals including the sensational looking supernatural stylised action thriller Control by Remedy set for release in 2019. A rat witnesses an argument as it searches shelves for food, but manages to find an original PlayStation. The camera pulls back to reveal the argument is in fact a struggle between a police officer and a zombie; the zombie is shot by Leon S. Kennedy with further characters and environments such as Claire Redfield and the police station being shown off to depict how much effort has been invested in completely remaking Resident Evil 2 with a confirmed release date of January 25th 2019 which was quite rightfully met with multiple loud roars of excitement from the audience. Kingdom Hearts III had many characters showcased before announcing at the end of the trailer that every Kingdom Hearts game including Kingdom Hearts III will be available in an all-in-one package on PS4; however when the crowd cheered and gasped, they probably did not think it came with the later quietly announced $99.99 price tag on the digital store.

Death Stranding remained as mysterious as it ever was as Kojima Productions revealed some more of the story and gameplay exploration that centrered around Norman Reedus’ character, while Lea Seydoux and Lindsay Wagner were introduced to the cast, although Mads Mikkelsen was not seen during the story or gameplay, but was mentioned in the trailer’s credits. Koei Tecmo had a brief story trailer revealing Nioh 2.

Spider-Man concluded the show as it was revealed that Mr. Negative is definitely nowhere near the only villain in Insomniac Games’ answer to Rocksteady Studios’ Batman Arkham franchise. Electro, Rhino, Scorpion and Vulture were revealed as Electro proceeds to release criminals that Spider-Man had apprehended over the years, then fighting Spider-Man on the roof of a building before an unnamed villain also shows up to Spider-Man’s amazement. Spider-Man looked in incredible shape during the 7 minutes of action packed story and gameplay.

Both Days Gone and Dreams were shown off during Sid Shuman’s two day post-show coverage with an extensive amount of gameplay, although it did not make sense to focus time on them during the stage presentation of PlayStation’s E3 2018 press conference. Days Gone’s fast paced gameplay looked and played better than ever having been announced during the week building up to E3 2018 to share the love in with the release date of February 22nd 2019, while Dreams’ level and audio creation tools were fully detailed to shine a spotlight on what looks to be more complex creation tools in comparison to developer Media Molecule’s Little Big Planet; yet somehow simplified to being seemingly easier and friendlier to create anything the player wants to do so as showcased by a range of levels that have been created with the level and audio creation tools.

It started off well for PlayStation VR as in the week building up to E3; there were announcements of a VR mode for Tetris Effect from Rez Infinite developer Enhanced Games, Zoink Games’ puzzle adventure titled Ghost Giant and the rhythm action of Beat Saber. Prior to the E3 build-up; announcements on the PlayStation Blog included The Playroom VR inspired puzzle platformer Astro Bot Rescue Mission, Rocky inspired boxing game Creed: Rise to Glory and a full locomotion first-person shooter named Evasion.

PlayStation VR was expected to be showcased at a very high level on the main stage, but all the PlayStation VR gamers got during PlayStation’s main show was a trailer trying to make a joke out of an animated character named Bathtub Guy briefly commentating on a short amount of gameplay on a game titled Trover Saves the Universe that can also be played on PS4 without VR before being electrocuted in a bathtub. A much better VR game was actually teased post-show by Sid Shuman and the PlayStation presenting team named Deracine by From Software exclusively for PlayStation VR with a hint of returning to their roots of such fantasy exploration as Echo Night, albeit with a different premise and setting. Why Deracine was not shown on the main stage is beyond belief as many of the gaming media that were actually at PlayStation’s E3 showcase did not know about it until some time after.

The lack of focus on PlayStation VR on the platform holder’s stage is certainly not what I and over two million PlayStation VR owners paid over £300 for the headset, PlayStation Camera, Move controllers, PlayStation Aim controller peripheral and VR games. We at least expected a sizzle reel trailer showcasing upcoming PlayStation VR games and a couple of big announcements at the scale of Fallout 4 VR. If the quality demanded by such a pricey purchase materialises at Gamescom, Paris Games Week, Tokyo Game Show or PlayStation Experience, then that would be fair enough. There were some VR games given 10 to 15 minute developer interview segments during the post-show such as the first-person shooter Evasion and adventure Vacation Simulator. However, not putting any effort in to showcase PlayStation VR on PlayStation’s E3 stage is simply unacceptable as it poses big questions over PlayStation VR’s future less than two years after it released. Could PlayStation VR be another Vita?

PlayStation’s press conference had an approach that some may see as arrogance as they refused to change their show to react to Xbox’s press conference or push the boat out on PlayStation VR. Shawn Layden stated that gamers should not expect to see massive reveals of new exclusives, but if that is not going to happen at E3 with ticket prices of up to $249 for gamers travelling from around the world to visit E3, then when is it going to happen? PlayStation’s E3 2018 press conference was a copy and paste of 2017’s press conference, albeit with new gameplay and story trailers minus God of War and Detroit: Become Human; despite 2017’s press conference being strikingly similar to E3 2016 by covering mostly the same games. That is what was most disappointing as gamers have asked for quite some time about a sequel to Ape Escape, Buzz! Quiz, KillZone 4, PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale with a greater focus on exclusive or once exclusive first-party characters, Resistance 4, Syphon Filter and more besides. There could have also been re-masters or remakes for Colony Wars trilogy, G-Police 1 and 2, KillZone trilogy, Pursuit Force 1 and 2: Extreme Justice, Resistance trilogy, Syphon Filter PS1 trilogy or PS2 collection and the PS2 expanded edition of the most enjoyable game in the Twisted Metal franchise Twisted Metal: Head-On that was only released in America, but available elsewhere albeit without the expanded content on PSP.

It was also rather odd that 7 PlayLink games that were announced on the official PlayStation blog were not showcased in a sizzle reel trailer during PlayStation’s E3 2018 press conference, while a PlayStation Hits PS4 budget range mostly comprising of first-party games was not announced on stage. PlayStation has collectively stated that “they have the right amount of first-party studios” and how so many games are in production. Shuhei Yoshida even commented that there will be more PS4 exclusives without revealing what they would be, so perhaps it could be some more PlayLink games or something that is already announced as it seems that a huge amount of developers are hinting that next-generation gaming is the priority in development duties for the latter half of 2018 onwards.

3.   Nintendo

Nintendo’s press conference got off to a fast paced and surprising start with a stylish gameplay trailer for mech combat game titled Daemon X Machina developed by Marvelous (Fate/Extella: The Umbral Star) and First Studio which is published by Nintendo as a Switch exclusive set for release in 2019. The momentum kept its pacing for the second reveal as it was announced that the successful action RPG Xenoblade Chronicles 2 was receiving a major expansion titled Torna – The Golden Country set for release exclusively for Switch on September 14th 2018. Not even 4 minutes in and there are two reveals to excite Nintendo gamers.

Reggie makes an appearance to showcase how Switch can allow families and friends to play local multiplayer anywhere in the world. Reggie continued by strongly stating how Switch is evolving local multiplayer for one of their biggest franchises with Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee which for the first time in the series actually allows two players to catch or battle Pokemon on the same console with the ability to transfer Pokemon from Pokemon Go, while Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu and Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee is fully compatible with Pokeball Plus to such a point that players can utilise Pokeball Plus as though it was a Joycon controller and has the capability of containing a Pokemon to bring with you including the exclusive to Pokeball Plus character Mew. Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu, Pokemon Let’s Go Eevee and Pokeball Plus all release at retail on November 16th 2018.

The surprises for Nintendo fans just kept on coming with outdoor and indoor gameplay footage showing how the freshly revealed Super Mario Party utilises the Switch’s configurable technology to deliver what promises to be a fun party gameplay experience for a group of friends from October 5th 2018. If that wasn’t enough, then Nintendo kicked the momentum up one notch further with the announcement of a Switch exclusive sequel in the Fire Emblem series titled Fire Emblem: Three Houses; the tactical RPG is set for release in Spring 2019. Next up was an announcement of a port of Fortnite’s Battle Royale mode releasing for the Switch on the same day as the reveal.

Reggie openly thanked the indie development community for supporting Nintendo Switch before revealing that Team 17’s Overcooked 2 will come to Switch on August 7th 2018 and Liquid Bit and Bumblebear Games’ arcade combat platformer Killer Queen Black also set to launch for the first time on home console for Switch in 2018. Both games contain local multiplayer gameplay with Killer Queen Black even featuring up to 4 vs. 4 competitive multiplayer gameplay. The indie round-up concluded with Team Cherry’s wonderful action platformer Hollow Knight bundled with all previously released downloadable content was immediately available on Nintendo’s eShop.

Previously announced Square Enix and Acquire (Akiba’s Trip, Shinobido, Tenchu and Way of the Samurai) development collaboration Octopath Traveler (published by Nintendo) had a demo announced that is available on June 14th 2018 from the Nintendo eShop ahead of the July 13th 2018 retail release for the promising looking RPG.

Nintendo dispelled the myth that the third-party developers and publishers have not provided as much support as expected via a superb sizzle reel trailer featuring games by third-party developers and publishers set for release on the Switch from June until the end of 2018. Third-party games included Arena of Valor by Tencent Games (Autumn), Ark: Survival Evolved by Studio Wildcard (Autumn), Carcassonne by Asmodee Digital (Winter), Crash Bandicoot: N-Sane Trilogy by Activision (June 29th), Dark Souls Remastered by Bandai Namco (Summer), Dragon Ball FighterZ by Bandai Namco, Fallout Shelter by Bethesda (immediate release), FIFA 18 World Cup expansion by EA (already released) and FIFA 19 (September 28th), Just Dance 2019 by Ubisoft (October 26th), Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle – Donkey Kong Adventure by Ubisoft (June 26th), Mega Man 11 by Capcom (October 2nd), Minecraft Switch Edition by Mojang AB (June 21st), Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate by Capcom (August 28th), Paladins: Champions of the Realm by Hi-Rez Studios (immediate release), Pixark by Snail Games USA (Autumn), SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy by NIS America (September 7th), StarLink: Battle for Atlas by Ubisoft (October 16th), Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut by InXile Entertainment (Autumn) and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus by Bethesda and Machine Games (June 29th). There were also 2019 releases including Ninjala by GungHo Online Entertainment (Spring). The trailer also included a few more of Nintendo’s very own Switch exclusives such as Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker (July 13th 2018), Mario Tennis Aces (June 22nd), the immediate release of Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion and The World Ends With You: Final Remix (Autumn).

Super Smash Bros Ultimate had a giant character roster reveal that would have put a smile on any Nintendo fan’s face and showed how to truly embrace the heritage of an entire platform’s range of vast iconic characters by bringing every character back from every previous Smash Bros game and expansion to produce an unparalleled quantity of fan service that made PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale look weak in comparison. Returning guest characters include Bayonetta, Cloud from Final Fantasy, Mega Man, Pac-Man, Ryu from Street Fighter, Snake of Metal Gear Solid and Sonic accompanied by all of Nintendo’s iconic characters including 16 new characters such as Inklings from Splatoon and Ridley from Metroid. Outfits and gameplay details were also confirmed such as Mario being able to wear his wedding outfit, 8 player battles returning, full compatibility with all Amiibo figures even if they are from a different series and Gamecube controller support followed by a release date announcement of December 7th 2018.

Despite how amazingly exciting and well paced Nintendo’s press conference was; there were still a few games that were highly anticipated, but did not make an appearance. Bandai Namco’s Ridge Racer 8 was reported as early as February 2018 to apparently be in development as a Nintendo Switch exclusive, while an F-Zero racing game was once again rumoured, alongside the no-show of a much requested Animal Crossing sequel, the previously announced Metroid 4 and no 3DS announcements. However, this could be classed as a positive for Nintendo as they could roll up to a European gaming convention at Gamescom or Paris Games Week and perhaps Tokyo Game Show with more than enough exciting announcements and gameplay coverage in the style of Super Smash Bros Ultimate to provide yet another high quality Nintendo Direct at major events for the rest of 2018. That makes Nintendo one to watch this generation.

2.   Bethesda

It was a close call between Nintendo in third and Bethesda in second place, but Bethesda just about edged second place as it would be surprising if a single Bethesda fan would be unhappy with Bethesda’s showing as there was something for every Bethesda fan. It was incredibly impressive from start to finish with at least one announcement per franchise. Bethesda started out by showing respect to their development talent throughout the ten Bethesda Studios situated globally before global senior vice president of Bethesda Studios, Pete Hines appeared on stage to recap the year in Bethesda gaming in 2017.

Pete Hines joked about Walmart Canada leaking Rage 2 before Bethesda had announced it, quickly followed by a performance of Rage 2’s theme song. Tim Willits, studio director of ID Software and game director of Avalanche Studios, Magnus Nedfors introduced a stunning full gameplay overview of Rage 2.

Christian Van Hoose, community manager of digital card game The Elder Scrolls Legends to announce that it is releasing on Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Xbox One in 2018 with overhauled visuals, while any progress that players make between now on PC, mobile or tablet and the home console release can be transferred over to the platforms of your choice through your Bethesda profile. The Elder Scrolls presence did not end there as Matt Firor, game director of The Elder Scrolls Online thanked the 11 million players that have played The Elder Scrolls Online before announcing a dungeon expansion titled Wolfhunter focusing on werewolves followed by a story expansion later in 2018 that delves into Argonian lore.

A sequel to the sensational Doom reboot was announced in the form of Doom: Eternal with a teaser trailer before creative director Hugo Martin and executive producer and game director Marty Stratton informed gamers that the protagonist is as powerful as ever coupled with twice as many enemies and a tonne of unexpected features that were teased to be announced at QuakeCon were players can tune in for more details on Doom Eternal.

Community manager for Quake Champions, Joshua Boyle discussed how Quake has been at the forefront of eSports since the term eSports was even coined with QuakeCon establishing more Quake Champions competitions than any other game in the franchise followed by a trailer for Quake Champions which remained a PC exclusive.

Production director Susan Kath and lead designer Ricardo Bare of Prey at Arkane Studios announced a massive free update containing three new modes including story mode, new game + and survival mode that released on the night of the reveal. However, that was not all for fans of Prey as an expansion titled Mooncrash that also immediately released during the night of Bethesda’s press conference. Typhon Hunter was announced as a further expansion to Prey with a release window of Summer 2018 as an interesting multiplayer mode in which one player has to play hide and seek with five players controlling mimics that are capable of disguising themselves as everyday objects. Pete Hines later revealed that Typhon Hunter will be playable in virtual reality, while it also includes a single player experience as employees solve puzzles onboard the space station.

Jens Matthies creative director and Jerk Gustafsson executive producer of Machine Games surprised Bethesda fans with the announcement of Wolfenstein: Young Blood; set in Paris in the 1980s with B.J.’s twin daughters as the playable heroes in an all-new co-operative experience that can also be played in single player. A story trailer revealed that Wolfenstein: Young Blood will release in 2019. Pete Hines later revealed a Wolfenstein virtual reality game titled Wolfenstein: Cyberpilot were the player controls a member of the resistance that has the capability of turning Nazi controlled robots against the Nazis.

Game director of Bethesda Game Studios, Todd Howard took to the stage with some funny jokes about the early years of E3 and a comedy trailer for Skyrim: Very Special Edition for the Alexa smart speaker.

Fallout 76 was heavily showcased with Todd Howard revealing that Fallout 76 is in fact a prequel to every previous Fallout game with an open-world that is rather incredibly four times the size of Fallout 4. For Fallout fans that do not like the sound of an always online Fallout; Todd Howard described the experience as having dozens in your world instead of hundreds or thousands as “It is the apocalypse, not an amusement park” without being tied to a particular server, never seeing a server and always being able to join your friends any time you want to with all of your individual progression carrying over for the player to continue at their convenience. Players can build anywhere they want to and move to anywhere else. Fallout 76 has a special edition titled the Fallout 76 Power Armour Edition featuring a glow in the dark world map, figures that can be positioned on the map and a wearable Fallout collectible in the form of the amazing T-51 Power Armour Helmet. A release date was confirmed for November 14th 2018.

Todd Howard continued with further announcements including a celebration of 120 million people having played Fallout Shelter within three years; Fallout Shelter received a port on PS4 and Nintendo Switch that released on the same night as the announcement and remains free-to-play. Meanwhile, The Elder Scrolls: Blades was announced as a giant first-person RPG with console quality graphics in a portable environment on mobile devices that takes place indoors and outdoors in complex environments and even features full customisation as players are able to build their own towns and visit their friend’s towns. The Elder Scrolls: Blades was promised to be ported to every possible platform from mobile all the way through to high-end PCs and even supports virtual reality compatibility with a release window of late 2018 and is rather unbelievably free-to-play.

In incredibly epic fashion; Todd Howard responded to Bethesda fans that enthusiastically wanted to know what Bethesda Game Studios were developing in the future with a brief tease of not one but two next-generation games in the form of Star Field and The Elder Scrolls VI. Despite no gameplay being shown; it was nice to see that Bethesda had listened to their fans and wanted to let them know that a new mainline Elder Scrolls game is absolutely part of their big plans for the future of The Elder Scrolls franchise. One has to question if such a huge developer and publisher revealing two next-generation games means next-generation gaming may arrive sooner than expected.

Bethesda’s press conference was amazing, although the only disappointments were no mention of Fallout 4 VR appearing on PlayStation VR and the fact that the wording of the Quake Champions segment seemed as though it was heading in the direction of a home console reveal that never materialised; therefore another year goes by in which the most recent Quake game on PlayStation platforms outside of Enemy Territory: Quake Wars was actually Quake III: Arena on PS2. Perhaps it is time for Quake 4 to finally receive a PS4 port with the same treatment that Doom 3: BFG Edition received, albeit with virtual reality compatibility instead of Doom 3: BFG Edition’s stereoscopic 3D support, while also taking another page out of the collection’s book by re-mastering Quake retro games to be included within the Quake 4 collection.

1.   Xbox

In stark contrast to PlayStation’s press conference; Xbox had an immediate surprise reveal with an early look at Halo: Infinite demonstrating an impressive enhanced game engine named SlipSpace. From the outset, a positive tone and benchmark had been set within less than three minutes. Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer took to the stage to a hero’s welcome from the audience that grew even louder as he announced that Xbox is donating 100% of proceeds from FanFest’s Xbox E3 2018 tickets to Gamers Outreach that allows children in hospitals to play videogames. A wonderful speech followed about how Phil Spencer believes gaming is a unifier of people situated globally in an art form that allows us to experience iconic characters and environments. Phil Spencer is met with a further rapturous applause as he announces 50 games will be showcased at Xbox’s E3 2018 press conference including 18 titles with exclusivity and 15 world premieres.

The second game on stage was the sensational Ori and the Will of the Wisps; an action platformer that has genuine potential to astound gamers worldwide when it releases exclusively on Xbox One in 2019. Ori and the Will of the Wisps also showcases something that PlayStation is seemingly lacking in outside of Dreams if E3 2018 is anything to go by and that is a range of tones and audiences to their games. A world premiere multi-platform announcement came in the form of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice that looks set to be a worthy successor to the Tenchu series when it releases in 2019; developed by From Software and published by Activision.

Todd Howard of Bethesda Game Studios appeared on stage to share a joke about Phil Spencer having a lot of friends as thousands of Xbox fans packed the Microsoft Centre. Todd Howard reminded everyone of Bethesda’s 16 year history with Xbox going as far back as the original Xbox with The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind that became backwards compatible on Xbox One in April 2018, bringing mods to home console games in Fallout 4 that led into the announcement of Fallout 4 joining Xbox Game Pass starting on the same day as the Xbox E3 2018 press conference followed by a look at Fallout 76.

A world premiere multi-platform announcement arrived in Dontnod Entertainment’s The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. Xbox One exclusive Crackdown 3 starring Terry Crews looks incredibly fun, entertaining and supremely impressive and should certainly be a game for all Xbox gamers to experience upon its release window of February 2019. Nier: Automata was confirmed for an Xbox One port including all previously released downloadable content released on June 26th 2018. An updated story and gameplay trailer for Metro: Exodus looked as amazing as before; complete with a February 22nd 2019 release date followed by a showcase of Kingdom Hearts III to celebrate its debut on Xbox.

A trailer revealed Rare’s two expansions for Xbox One exclusive Sea of Thieves accompanied by July and September 2018 release windows. A more expansive look at Battlefield V’s war stories was shown in comparison to EA Play. Xbox One exclusive Forza Horizon 4 had a fantastic looking trailer followed by Ralph Fulton, creative director of Playground Games arriving on stage to discuss how Forza Horizon 4 is set in Britain, featuring a shared open-world with dynamic seasons that elevate weather conditions to an entirely new level by opening up areas that were unavailable during other seasons, while Xbox One X provides a 60 frames per second mode. However, there wasn’t any word on single player or split-screen multiplayer; given the talk of what is seemingly an online multiplayer experience. It was then announced that Forza Horizon 4 will be part of the Xbox Game Pass on the date of release on October 2nd 2018, so if Xbox One players are unsure of the online multiplayer focused gameplay, then gamers with the Xbox Game Pass can try it out and see if it is to their preference.

To the delight of many Xbox gamers; Phil Spencer announced that Xbox is expanding their investment in current Xbox exclusive franchises and developers in addition to a new first-party developer based in Santa Monica named The Initiative. Existing developers acquired by Xbox include Seattle based developer Undead Labs, creators of zombie apocalypse Xbox exclusive franchise State of Decay; Forza developer Playground Games with a verbal tease of Playground Games not only continuing on developing Forza games, but also developing a new project; Heavenly Sword, Enslaved: Odyssey to the West and Hellblade developer Ninja Theory; and We Happy Few developer Compulsion Games. Phil Spencer firmly outlined, “By joining us Microsoft Studios; these five new teams will have the resources, the platform and creative independence to take bigger risks and create even boulder worlds for you” followed by an updated trailer for We Happy Few complete with an August 10th 2018 release date. There have been mixed opinions on Xbox acquiring four pre-existing developers as some gamers see it as an attempt to tie certain games and franchises to Xbox exclusivity and while those gamers are entitled to their own opinions; there is a completely different standpoint and genuine reasoning to it. For instance, Ninja Theory have came close to collapsing and having to close the doors numerous times when in fact once being a PlayStation exclusive developer for Heavenly Sword that was planned to be a franchise including a planned PSP port, at least one sequel and a film yet due to the first game not breaking even, they had to go elsewhere and relinquish their own IP to PlayStation. Xbox should be applauded for confirming that people’s livelihoods at these four development teams are reassured, because when looking in the other direction Big Big Studios, Evolution Studios, Guerrilla Cambridge, Ready at Dawn, Relentless Software, Studio Liverpool and Zipper Interactive have all been closed since early 2012; forcing the developer’s to try and make it elsewhere or to become an independent developer without owning any rights of what they have created, therefore having to entirely start over.

Up next, a trailer confirming a war mode coming to Xbox One exclusive Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds in Winter 2018. A world premiere reveal came in the form of Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition; a remaster confirmed for release in Winter 2018 of what is classed as one of the best games in the Tales of franchise featuring content and characters previously unreleased in the west. A further world premiere reveal arrived with an in-depth story and gameplay trailer of Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 lasting for almost 8 minutes.

Head of Engineering at Xbox Game Pass, Ashley Speicher took to the stage to discuss how Xbox Game Pass offers a wider selection of games than ever before that has resulted in an increase of gamers discovering being played within a greater period of time gaming. Machine learning techniques is being utilised to allow gamers to start their games faster with a feature named Fast Start that gets better over time through algorithms that are gradually refined. Fast Start is available for certain games from the June 2018 update. Ashley Speicher went onto announce that Halo: The Master Chief Collection later on in 2018, while Forza Horizon 4 and Crackdown 3 will be available from Xbox Game Pass on the date of their release. Further games available for Xbox Game Pass on the same day as their global release date includes Ashen, Warhammer Vermintide II, Afterparty and Phoenix Point. It was then announced that Tom Clancy’s The Division, The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited and Fallout 4 was available on Xbox Game Pass on the same day as the Xbox E3 2018 press conference with all three games featuring enhanced 4K resolution.

An exceptional sizzle reel trailer comprising of numerous games within the ID @ Xbox range of incredible indie games featuring Xbox One exclusive Outer Wilds, Afterparty in Xbox Game Pass, Kingdom: Two Crowns, The Golf Club 2019, Warhammer Vermintide II in Xbox Game Pass, Fringe Wars, Xbox One exclusive Below, Conqueror’s Blade, Xbox One exclusive Waking, Raji, Super Meat Boy Forever, Planet Alpha, Islands of Nyne, Sable, Harold Halibut, Bomber Crew in Xbox Game Pass, Children of Morta, The Wind Road, War Groove, Generation Zero, Dead Cells and Xbox One exclusive Ashen in Xbox Game Pass.

An interesting story trailer was showcased for Shadow of the Tomb Raider. An announcement that would have reduced the disappointment for Xbox gamers of Skate 4 being a no-show at EA Play was up next as a fresh skateboard game named Session was announced as an Xbox One exclusive. A further Xbox One exclusive was announced in the form of a monster multiplayer online role-playing game titled Black Desert with a beta confirmed for late 2018.

World premiere multi-platform announcements had been of a continuously high standard, but the next game was massively anticipated for such a long time that it was still able to take everything onto another level of momentum for Xbox’s E3 2018 press conference. Devil May Cry 5 was finally officially announced with an amazing trailer that went back and forth from story cutscenes to gameplay. Game director Hideaki Itsuno and producer Matt Walker took to the stage to make it clear that Devil May Cry 5 is a true sequel that is made for the fans and that desire has helped them to create what they feel is the best action game to date.

A charming trailer debuted for Cup Head in The Delicious Last Course featuring a brand new isle, new bosses, new weapons, new charms and more set to release in 2019. Yet another Xbox One exclusive arrived in the form of Tunic; a wonderfully creative action puzzle adventure were the player takes control of a fox, engaging in combat with enemies of all sizes and designs. Phil Spencer respectfully spoke of how Tunic has been conceived and created by a single developer.

A world premiere showcased a surprise crossover featuring Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, One Piece and more besides teaming up to save the world in Jump Force that is set to release in 2019. Yet another world premiere showcased Dying Light 2 with a story trailer followed by an in-depth look at gameplay narrated by narrative designer Chris Avellone of Techland including an improved parkour movement system and the player’s choices evolving the story such as how you want to approach a mission to protect a water supply to help the city or teaming up with the characters you were supposed to defeat and selling the water as a precious resource.

An Xbox One exclusive that will be available as part of the Xbox Game Pass on the day of release is the return of Battletoads in 2019 with three player couch co-operative multiplayer and 4K 2.5D graphics. A world premiere trailer for Just Cause 4 focusing on the story and gameplay was showcased.

Rather surprisingly, Gears Pop was announced to be releasing on mobile platforms in 2019 with a fun trailer showing allies and villains stylised as Pop action figures. If anyone thought that it was the only Gears of War announcement to take place at Xbox’s E3 2018 press conference would have been surprised to see an incredibly breathtaking trailer covering not only the story featuring a female lead as Kait Diaz portrayed by Laura Bailey, but also some gameplay that showed off stunning character models, environments, enemies and combat. While no release window was confirmed for Gears of War 5 at E3 2018; it was confirmed that Gears of War 5 would be available on the day of release from Xbox Game Pass.

Phil Spencer was natural in his presentation of the show; concluding with an impassioned look at the future of Xbox for the foreseeable future and even revealing that Xbox was actively working on where they can take gaming next including experts developing future gaming A.I., cloud engineers are constructing a game streaming network for home console quality gaming on any platform and the hardware team responsible for Xbox One X is “deep into architecting” next-generation Xbox consoles.

Well, we thought that was the conclusion, but there was time for one more surprise as an intriguing cyberpunk world was depicted in a world premiere look at CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077. Xbox delivered a stunning E3 2018 press conference that was exciting from start to finish as it featured a sensational 50 games between exclusives, worldwide premieres and updated trailers with release dates or release windows.

Overview

Overall, Square Enix and Ubisoft had a pretty good show that had more passion than EA Play, although PlayStation showed far more gameplay than what was shown for Ubisoft’s most talked about title Beyond Good and Evil 2 and Square Enix’s most talked about game Final Fantasy VII Remake was a total no-show. PlayStation’s press conference did not deliver anywhere close to a first-party studio developed exclusive, but Nintendo was announcing games for fun, while Bethesda delivered something for fans of everyone of their franchises. Xbox delivered something incredible that even topped Nintendo’s and Bethesda’s incredible showcases. Congratulations to Phil Spencer and the Xbox team for turning things around since the start of the PS4 vs. Xbox One generation.

Jason

Jason

Jason plays all genres of games and enjoys all different kinds of experiences that the games industry has to offer. Jason’s favourite PlayStation exclusive franchises throughout various eras include: Crash Bandicoot, God of War, Gran Turismo, inFamous, Killzone, Little Big Planet, MotorStorm, Resistance, Spyro the Dragon, Uncharted, Wipeout and various games that never became big name franchises. A special mention goes to Black Rock’s superb Split Second: Velocity as it is rather unbelievable that it will never receive a sequel.Jason now mainly plays modern PlayStation games on home console and portably, but occasionally returns to the old retro classics on the 3DO, PS1 and PS2 such as discovering Cool Spot Goes to Hollywood 20 years after its original release on PS1. Jason is happy to see gaming coming full circle with updates for retro classics such as Alien Breed, Superfrog and Crash Bandicoot.

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