I didn’t start out yesterday intending to watch all the big press conferences at E3, but Mondays could use a little pleasant diversion and joining in the snarktacular on Twitter was just too much fun to resist.
I’ll mention what I thought were some of the highlights of each of the big presentations from Xbox, EA, Ubisoft, and Sony, but there was one common thing that each presentation had and that’s tablets as a companion gaming platform. Well okay, calling themselves “next generation” repeatedly, and tablets as a companion gaming platform.
Ubisoft in particular seemed fond of the idea, and the gameplay demos for both Tom Clancy’s The Division and Watchdogs featured a tablet player showing up to help the main hero out of a bad situation. Apparently we’re all going to own gaming tablets in 2014? I’m pretty sceptical.
But enough! Here are some of my notes from the shows as they happened:
* The Forza Motorsports dude declares that the latest game is “the end of AI — now you have a learning agent in the cloud”. First, dude, that is still AI. Second, you know who else had agents in the cloud? Sim City. Pass.
* Also, apparently the game will have “driveatars”. Twitter immediately points out that “avacars” would have been pithier.
* I get bored and start doing work. (Sorry.) By the time I get back it turns out that one of the Microsoft fellows made a joke that referenced rape on-stage while playing a fighting game against another presenter.
* Some Xbox suit declares their love for indie games, and then talks about Minecraft. Even Notch is underwhelmed.
* The presentation ends off by announcing that the Xbox One will be initially priced at the vaguely ridiculous $499. I declare to Ellyndrial on IRC that consoles are dead, but he pretends to not hear me.
* One of my biggest annoyances with EA is that they’re pretty terrible and yet keep buying lovely studios like Bioware and Popcap. I’m reminded of this when their show opens with a look at Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, which is a .. wait, third person shooter? I’m not sure what to think.
(ed: Upon reflection I think this is actually a genius move. They could be making the third person shooter genre appealing to a totally different and currently untapped audience, with less emphasis on bloody violence and more on cute little plant characters.)
* First inexplicable celebrity sighting! It’s Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad and he’s here to tell us about the Need for Speed movie!
* Dragon Age 3: Inquisition has fan favorites Morrigan and Varric in the preview, and isn’t being released until Fall 2014. That gives me over a year to come up with an excuse to buy it while still boycotting EA.
* Second inexplicable celebrity sighting! Drake comes out to tell us that as someone who appreciates the fleeting nature of our time on this earth, he totally recommends playing the new FIFA. #yolo
* The Battlefield 4 dude attempts to coin “levolution” which, I’m sorry, is just not happening.
* EA closes out with the somewhat surprise announcement that Mirror’s Edge 2 is in the works. Nice, but overall the show was underwhelming.
* Aisha Tyler is back and she’s awesome!
* New game The Epic Quest for Mighty Loot is described as a “capitalism simulator in an open world” and I just about knock over my coffee trying to get to their website. Sadly, everyone else has the same idea and the site is down.
* The third racing game segment of the day is for The Crew, which while it looks like the most interesting car game so far frankly at this point if it doesn’t have driveatars or avacars I’m just not sure I’m interested.
* Holy shit Aisha Tyler is a tall lady.
* They start talking about some Rabid Rabbits “television show that you can play like a game”. Wait, isn’t that just, like, a really crappy game? Modern synergy is irritating.
* Ubisoft ends with a gameplay preview of a new title from a familiar franchise, although they don’t say which one. The game looks awesome, with a grim post-apocalyptic setting, co-op multiplayer, and good interaction with the environment. And then — whoah, it’s PvP with other roving gangs of players! And it’s open world! And it’s.. Tom Clancy’s The Division?! I have never said this before today, but I want a Tom Clancy game.
* The final presentation of the day, and I feel like Ubisoft has the unofficial Best in Show award locked down. I mean really, next gen consoles are dead, right? As if agreeing with me somehow the show starts almost 20 minutes late.
* They start out with the Vita and PS3, and I give Sony grudging respect for not totally abandoning their current living room system.
* Finally, we see the PS4 for the first time and it’s.. a box! A black box! Well that wasn’t surprising at all.
* I start to zone out as the guy on the stage talks about the PS4 as an entertainment ecosystem (ugh), where there’s movies for GAMERS and television for GAMERS and music for GAMERS. It’s entertainment — for gamers! Like games. Only not.
* Ooh, PS4 allows for self-published indie games. Hey, there are the guys who made Bastion talking about their new game Transistor. And someone from Vancouver’s own Klei Entertainment playing Don’t Starve! And Octodad. And, oh my god, OddWorld Inhabitants. (Also Outlast by Red Barrels.) Even I have to admit that PS4 is looking great for indie titles.
* Sony talks about a bunch of games that I don’t really care about but many people do, namely The Elder Scrolls Online, Final Fantasy XV, and Kingdom Hearts 3.
* This is going long, and ugh, they just brough yet another executive to come out and talk about something. Wait, what?
*BOOM* Playstation 4 will not have disc-based DRM, which means you can share your games and buy used ones.
*BOOM* There are no always-on requirements for PS4, not even, as they gleefully point out, every 24 hours.
The crowd goes crazy (which is slightly unprofessional, yes?), and Twitter explodes with glee.
*BOOM* Playstation 4 will start at $399. Drop the mic, the show is over. And with that, Sony won E3 2013 and possibly killed Microsoft’s console dreams.
I started the day thinking consoles were dead, and ended it seriously considering a PS4. Oh E3. See you next year.