E32016: Who Won the Conference Battle this Year?

Wow… what an incredible few days for the gaming industry. Between every showcase, conference, game announcement, bad joke made, and awesome kimono wearing game developer on stage, it is needless to say that E32016 will be one to remember. That goes for all consoles, developers, and publishers involved: from us at The Gamer HUD, we say well done on another exceptional year.

Now down to business. Let me begin by saying, that this is solely my opinion and those that write for The Gamer HUD could have differing opinions. In other words, direct the hatred directly at me *Wink*. Since I think most can say that the argument will come down to either Microsoft or Sony, let’s address the others. To note: I have bolded each conference if you waned to skip sections.

EA kicked off the entire thing Sunday, with a one hour presentation showing us what CEO Andrew Wilson prefaced as “a quick glimpse into what we have in development”, truer words have never been spoken. In their 60 minutes, they managed to cover all known titles in development such as Battlefield1 and Madden NFL 2017. But the thing that made me a little frustrated with the conference, as I am sure it did to many of you reading this as well, they glossed over Mass Effect: Andromeda. Yes they showed someone drawing concept art of characters with small glimpses into the universe, with a short trailer at the end, but I can’t wrap my head around why they wouldn’t start the whole thing with a 5 minute gameplay demo; or something of that nature. Anything more on that front would have been welcomed. Instead they kept it high level and gave us a solid 10 minute “Making Of” look at Fifa 17 powered by the beloved Frostbite engine… Needless to say, there was some sadness in that conference for me.

Grade: C+

Bethesda had a solid conference, even though a good amount of it had been leaked before the show. Still managing to surprise and impress, they showed revivals like Prey, the highly anticipated Dishonored 2, and even managed to throw in an easter egg or two with the Wolfenstein: New Colossus imageI am glad that Bethesda decided to keep their conference this year at E3, even though many thought that it would be unlikely. But announcements such as Skyrim Remasters and Quake Champions, made for a solid showing. Well done Bethesda

Grade: B+

Ubisoft… if there is one thing that you cannot say about this conference, is that it was too short. Clocking in at almost 2 hours long, I can’t possibly imagine how anxious the audience was to get the hell out of there by the time Aisha Tyler closed out the show with some closing thoughts. On that note, we saw plenty. From promising games such as Ghost Recon Wildlands, to the highly anticipated South Park: Fractured But Whole, they had more than enough to keep us entertained. In a way I felt like Ubisoft suffered the exact opposite of what EA did, way too much content over a long (seriously, can’t hit this one home hard enough) period of time. If Ubisoft had packed that down into 1 hour, with no on stage interviews, dance performances, developer personalities, VR Exercises, and movie documentaries (did I mention that this conference was long?), this could have been an excellent show. They had all the right games there, just went overboard with it. Next year, just trim the fat and you will be set.

Grade: B-

Nintendo held their (now) annual Treehouse Live Event, headlining Zelda: Breath of the Wild. With the exception of a 45 minute Pokemon: Sun & Moon demo, Zelda was the only game that Nintendo felt the need to show off. Trust me, if you have been living under a rock for the last 48 hour hours, they made the right choice. Extensive play throughs from the beginning of the game, closer looks at the new game mechanics, a new beautiful world to explore (seriously, stop reading this and go watch a video of this- it’s that damn good), and the reveal of Voice Acting for the first time in the franchise, made for a solid showing. Although we didn’t receive any info on the upcoming Nintendo NX, this was expected since they had prefaced that the console would be revealed and detailed in a separate event. All around, Nintendo handled the situation well. They doubled down on Zelda and man did it payoff… Several Game of the Show awards will be going to that one. 

Grade: A-

Microsoft had once again, another phenomenal show. Ever since Phil Spencer took over the Xbox division, the companies dedication to serving the “Player” with games and community desired console features, never fails to amaze me. Coming out swinging for the fences with the announcement of the XboxOneS model, then immediately following up with games like Gears of War 4 taking the stage for a live gameplay demo, it was clear in just the first 15 minutes of the conference that Microsoft was not messing around. Announcements like Xbox Music Playlist feature, customizable controllers, and Looking For Group made it clear that they had been listening to player and community feedback. In the game lineup area, revealing Dead Rising 4, showing us more of Sea of Thieves, and giving us the reveal date for Inside (June 29th), Microsoft gave us 90 minutes of entertainment. You would be hard pressed to not see at least 3 announcements that make you excited for the future of this platform. And of course, ending the conference with the long rumored Project Scorpio announcement, would help make sure that everyone would be buzzing about next years official reveal. Although they didn’t go too far into detail of the console specs, they gave us a solid 2 minute video reiterating that the current iteration would not be replaced by this one and would actually boast to be the most powerful gaming console on the market. That is a huge promise to make, but one that I know that this Phil Spencer lead Xbox can fulfill. 

Grade: A

Sony… What a conference. To say that this conference was great, would be underselling it. Instead of leading the whole Horse and Pony Show out on stage and gave us buzz phrases like “Greatness Awaits” and all that jazz, they decided to let their games do the talking. And that made all the difference. With a short introduction from Shawn Layden and tribute the victims over the past weekend, we were greeted with a live orchestra and the reveal of God of War. A game that has been rumored for a while now, they walked us through a 10 minute gameplay demo of a different style of Kratos, leading many in the auditorium to applause. What followed was several more exclusive titles to the PlayStation Platform. Titles like The Last Guardian and its release date, a full gameplay demo of Horizon: Zero Dawn, a choice filled trailer for Detroit: Become Human, and Sony Bend’s Days Gone reveal. Nor did it stop there, Resident Evil VII, Spiderman from Insomniac, a Crash Bandicoot Remaster announcement, and of course walking Hideo Kojima on stage to show off the teaser trailer for the Sony exclusive Death Stranding. Yep, Sony delivered one punch after another, with no signs of slowing. Instead of overstaying their welcome (at this point in the show, I don’t think a single person would have minded another hour worth of content at this rate), they finished off with a final look at the gameplay for Days Gone, and filled that The Last of Us 2 post apocalyptic void in our hearts. PlayStation 4 has sold over 40 mill units to date, and Sony just gave a whole lot more people reason(s) to invest in the system. Well Done.

Grade: A+

Conclusion… You still with me? Good. Like I said before, this was a summary of my thoughts and opinions on the conference. Now before anyone goes calling me a fan boy of this or that, let me challenge you to keep one thing in mind. Every show gave us something to be excited for. Every single one. With the competition between industry giants like Xbox & Sony being as heated as it is right now- WE are the ones that win. So tonight as I boot up any one of my consoles, whether it be the Xbox One, the PS4, or have to wipe piles of dust off of my WiiU (Sorry, I had to), I will be smiling with anticipation for the things to come.

 

 

The Xbox E3 Briefing is Complete; Your Move Sony

Well then, if you had the ability to watch the Microsoft E32016 briefing, I don’t think I need to tell you that they did very well. For those of you that missed it, or are waiting to catch the highlights later tonight then let’s just say that they made good use of all 90 minutes of their time slot. New console announcements, game beta’s, first time seen footage, exclusive 1st party lineups… the list goes on. If there is one conference that you should definitely watch from start to finish, it would be this one. Now the question that remains, and most in the gaming community is asking: How does Sony respond?

Microsoft did a solid job of keeping their showcase rolling from one game announcement or clip, to the next, with very little interruption from a random “Believe in the Product” speech. Regardless of whether you are a Sony Fanboy or find yourself in the Xbox corner, you have to admit that Xbox gave the gamer several reasons why their console is a great place to be this year, and in the year to come. So as Sony takes the stage tonight and Andrew House or Shuhei Yoshida open their conference, the thing that I want to remind them is that this is not the same Xbox that they trounced a few E3’s ago during the console announcement. I have every ounce of faith that Sony will come out and deliver a solid showcase, but do not take the 20 million gap between the xbox competitor for granted. 

Sony has already confirmed that they will not be talking about the PS4k tonight, but that doesn’t mean they can’t take a similar approach in announcing a slim version of the PS4 and foreshadow an imminent console upgrade, the same way that Microsoft did. Think about it, Microsoft made a “Console Sandwich” out of their press conference. Xbox One Slim announcement at the beginning, an hour + of games-games-games, then ended with a 2 minute video of Project Scorpio. No image of the new console was shown, vague specs, and a strong message that the current model will not be phased out by this new iteration. Sony can and should do the same; keep it vague but push the message that the PS4 is here to stay.

Last year, Sony had an excellent showcase boasting titles of Final Fantasy 7 remaster, Shenmue 3, and of course (the soon to become mythological) The Last Guardian. So I know that Sony has every opportunity this year to make another solid showing. However, I think we are going to spend a lot of time looking at these games once again… Which is not a bad thing, but we need to see what the console has coming on the back end of this year since Horizon: Zero Dawn was pushed to Q1 of 2017. Why should we be excited right now?

What are your thoughts, and what do you think Sony could announce that would dominate the press conference? A The Last of Us 2 teaser? A cheaper console price and No Mans Sky PSVR integration? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!  

XboxOneS Revealed: How will Sony Respond?

With the leak of the XboxOneS this morning, I can’t help but wonder what Sony’s response be during their E32016 Showcase be? In the previous days, Andrew House confirmed the existence of the Playstation Neo aka the PS4K, however emphasized that the new console iteration will not debut at E3. One can only assume that this means they will have a separate reveal event for the forthcoming console, but in the mean time how do they compete in their press conference when this XboxOneS news is imminent. It doesn’t matter how you swing it or what will be present at their conference, the lasting though with the community and their fanbase will be what wasn’t. 

Since Phil Spencer took the head of Xbox job some years back now, they have course corrected the landscape and focus of the current console and have only done better. Fall lineups filled with games, player feedback taken to heart, and more of what the community wanted in the first place since the dreaded console reveal of the XboxOne. It seems to me that Phil is taking advantage of the opportunity and going to try and take back some ground on the Sony Console, that is some 20 million units in the lead now. 

Since the introduction of the latest generation of consoles, the community has been voicing their concerns for 4K streaming and of course more memory storage- if the details are true ( which they most certainly are) then XboxOneS will take advantage of a 2 TB memory, 4k Streaming, and 40% smaller than the current model. Not that it could get any bigger *wink*. With the right price point, this could be the move that helps get Microsoft back in the competition. 

My question at the end of the day is this: What does Sony have up its sleeve, and will it make enough noise? Don’t get me wrong, I am begging for a release day on The Last Guardian as much as the next person; but if they think that they can use that as their big reveal and walk out having “Stolen the Show”, then they are sorely mistaken. So far this generation, it seems that Sony could do no wrong. They stole the hearts of the console community with the PS4 announcement and have delivered a great product with for a great price (I won’t dip into lack of 1st part content and game delays…We will save that for another day). To keep the momentum, Sony is going to need to come out guns blazing with no low points. In my eyes, keep it Games Centric, don’t overdo it with the VR stuff, and give the gamers a reason to believe that the console sitting on their shelf is not going to become irrelevant in a years time. 

I want to see Sony succeed, and I know they can. However Xbox is doing everything right as of now: fantastic exclusive lineups, 3rd part and Indie support, and an upcoming console that is exactly what the community has been clamoring for. So…What’s your move Sony?