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E3 Impressions 2013

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By Nelson Schneider - 06/13/13 at 03:34 PM CT

With last year’s E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo being a complete let-down, it seemed that the former extravaganza of all things videogame was flagging and all but doomed. But this year’s E3 proved that it’s not really the expo format that’s the problem, it’s what the exhibitors bring (or fail to bring) that makes or breaks the show. This year, we have not one, but two new 8th Generation consoles (actual consoles, not icky handhelds) and all of the excitement that comes with such reveals. Is it any wonder that this year’s E3 is the most memorable in recent history?

Microsoft:
Want: Microsoft to stop making consoles
Not Sure if Want: “Project Spark” (for Windows 8)
Do Not Want: Xbox One, its launch exclusives

After their introductory tease of the Xbox One, which perplexed gamers due to the fixation on sports and TV instead of videogames, Microsoft finally solidified the details of their nebulous DRM disaster… and it pretty much lived up to everyone’s worst fears. The Xbox One, in addition to being yet another ShooterBox, like the Xbox 360, needs to ‘phone home’ once every 24 hours for the sake of DRM, severely limits used games, and essentially wants to be a purely digital distribution platform despite hanging onto largely useless discs. Why keep the discs if the Xbox One is going to have even worse DRM than PC gaming? It’s not like people who have the capability of checking-in online once a day aren’t going to be able to just download the games they might license (not buy) from a server instead of copying them from a disc… With the truth about Xbox One finally revealed in all its dark and horrific glory, I can only ask again, and even more incredulously, “Xbox, why are you a thing?

As for games, Microsoft showed off a bunch of uninteresting-looking crap that should appeal to their Dudebro core audience… and Dudebros aren’t renowned for their intelligence or their ability to realize they are being screwed by a big corporation and DRM, so these games will probably sell well to those who are still foolish enough to consider buying the console that the Internet has collectively dubbed the “XBONE.”

The only thing Microsoft showed that didn’t make me feel ill was a cute sandboxy fantasy game that allows players to build their world, “LittleBigPlanet” style. This game, called “Project Spark” is coming to the XBONE, but also to Windows 8. Since I have Windows 8 on my Steambox, I’ll definitely consider buying “Project Spark.” After “LittleBigPlanet” and its sequel pretty much exhausted the custom 2D Platformer, it will be interesting to see what kind of custom RPGs or Action/Adventure games people will come up with.

Sony:
Want: “Dragon’s Crown” (still!), “Puppeteer”
Not Sure if Want: PlayStation 4
Do Not Want: PS+ required for online play, PS4 launch exclusives

The PlayStation 4 took center stage with Sony this year, after the complete debacle of the Vita last year. And by simply maintaining the status quo and not taking away gamers’ consumer rights, Sony delivered a crushing blow to Microsoft. While I was completely uninterested in the PS4 based on its initial reveal, this was mainly due to how vague Sony was about the big questions of DRM and used games that the gaming press kept badgering them about. It seems that Sony either learned from this consistent badgering, or perhaps was aghast at the reaction to Microsoft’s confirmation of our greatest fears – either way, the PS4 was revealed to be a pretty normal game console with an uninspiring launch library. Indeed, the hate generated by Microsoft was so great that Sony was able to officially ‘win’ E3 even while announcing that a $50/year PS+ membership will be required to play PS4 games online. Considering how little I use the online features of my PS3, this doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, and I still have no plans to buy a PS4… but at least now I would feel comfortable buying a PS4 if Sony were ever to amass a large enough pile of killer exclusives.

Interestingly, the PS3, while not getting much attention from the gaming press at large, had some solid games on display at E3. I’m still eagerly awaiting “Dragon’s Crown,” and “Puppeteer” looks like a stylish and entertaining 2D Platformer.

Nintendo:
Want: “Pikmin 3” (still!), “Super Mario 3D World,” “Smash Bros,” “Mario Kart”
Not Sure if Want: “X,” “Yarn Yoshi”
Do Not Want: To wait until 2014 to use my WiiU again

People love to pick on the WiiU for not having any games… and it’s TRUE! Nintendo didn’t even bother to have a press conference this year, simply because they didn’t have a whole lot to talk about. The WiiU is last year’s news, as is the 3DS. What about games? Oh, yeah, there are LOTS of great first-party Nintendo games coming down the warp pipe… we just have to wait until 2014 to play them!

Seriously, what was Nintendo thinking? Rushing to be the first 8th Gen console didn’t really accomplish anything when WiiU owners will have to wait 2 years into the hardware’s lifecycle to accumulate a critical mass of worthwhile games. This is even worse than Sony’s typically slow starts, as they at least have the excuse of relying primarily on third-parties for software. Either way, at least Nintendo showed a bunch of WiiU games I actually want to play.

Other:
Want: “Sonic: Lost World,” “Shadowrun Returns,” “Wasteland 2”
Not Sure if Want: “Destiny,” “The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot,” “The Witcher 3,” “Blackguards,” “Thief”
Do Not Want: Shooters, sandboxes, and sequels! “Final Fantasy Versus 13 15”

The third-parties showed lots of shooters, lots of fake RPGs, and lots of sequels. There weren’t very many new IPs at all, and almost everything looked pretty bland and derivative. Of course, Indies were there to save the day, with some great looking real RPGs, like “Shadowrun Returns” and “Wasteland 2,” for PC, of course (and still sequels, but what are ya gonna do?). The hateful Ubisoft showed another PC game, “The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot” that looks hilariously fun in the same vein as Indie classics like “Orcs Must Die!” and “Dungeon Defenders”… and it’s free to play! Sega showed a WiiU exclusive, “Sonic: Lost World” that can be summed up as ““Super Mario Galaxy” with Sonic in it.” I’m not sure how I feel about “The Witcher 3” yet; I’m really excited about the story and finally wrapping up the trilogy’s loose ends… but if the gameplay resembles “The Witcher 2” more than “The Witcher 1,” I will unhappily dump the game into the ‘fake RPG’ bucket with all the other action games that try to lure in D&D fans, but then crap all over the gameplay. Even among the slew of samey shooters, “Destiny,” a multi-platform console release with MMO mechanics thrown in, managed to stand apart… it looks a bit like a first-person “Defiance.” If it comes to Steam and is cheap enough, the MJ crew will probably give it a shot for our co-op sessions.

The biggest transgression by a third-party at E3, however, was committed by Square Enix. While the company has been all but dead to me for years now, the fact that they are wasting yet another slot in the main numerical ‘Final Fantasy’ series on a spin-off is nauseating. See, “Final Fantasy 15” is not actually a new game in the storied RPG franchise, but a rebranding of the game formerly known as “Final Fantasy Versus 13,” an actiony, button-mashy, post-modern disaster that was promised as a PS3 release. I was completely uninterested in “FFVS13” when it was a spin-off of the universally panned “Final Fantasy 13” franchise, but the fact that we will have to wait EVEN LONGER for Square Enix to get it together and release something that more closely resembles an actual ‘Final Fantasy’ game again is just too frustrating. Not even Japan is happy about this turd… and since “Agni’s Philosophy” (from last year’s E3) will probably end up being “Final Fantasy 16,” there is pretty much no reason for anyone to care about Square Enix for the entirety of the 8th Generation! Way to get off to a great start!

Finally, the Ouya folks setup shop across the street from E3… this kind of pluck from an Indie didn’t make the big guys happy, and the cops were called… But Ouya wasn’t doing anything wrong… except for not showing any worthwhile games available for their anemic Android-based console!

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View Jonzor's Profile

Jonzor

Wrote on06/21/13 at 10:09 PM CT

Am I? Allow me to introduce you to the context I was considering:

www.meltedjoystick.com

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Nelson Schneider

Wrote on06/21/13 at 03:59 PM CT

If by "complex palette" you mean "will pre-order anything with zombies and/or violence in it," then yeah.

I keed, I keed! Chris and I have been arguing about this a lot in person lately, so you, Mr. Snobbery Kettle, are missing out on a bunch of context.

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Jonzor

Wrote on06/18/13 at 07:34 PM CT

I think trying to reduce everyone and their opinions on video games to message board tropes you seem not to care for rings like pretentious snobbery. Especially when it's someone you actually know ISN'T said trope.

I think we can all attest to Chris having a more complex palette.

Tastes change. Maybe a guy doesn't love Final Fantasy games as much as he used to after playing some of the recent ones (and therefore doesn't look forward to them as much). It doesn't mean he has to think Final Fantasy III is less great of a game.

Just because you like something, it doesn't mean you need to partake in every chapter of it, either. Despite liking football, I have yet to watch every game ever played due to me eventually wanting to do something else.

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Nelson Schneider

Wrote on06/16/13 at 06:20 PM CT

You'll end up playing most of those WiiU games anyway, since most of them have local multi-player. And you sound like such a mainstream sell-out when you say Nintendo games don't appeal to you anymore (it is implied that it is because they don't feature shooting, brown & gray, zombies, and other mainstay "mature" themes).

If you want to bag on individual Nintendo games for being crappy (like Adventure of Link or Mario 64) that's fine, but when you say you aren't interested in the franchises that hold some many of the slots in your Top Game list, it rings hollow.

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Chris

Wrote on06/16/13 at 12:42 PM CT

Great write-up and handily agree with the assessment. While I doubt I will get a PS4 at launch, based on everything is will probably be the only next-generation console I would consider buying. WiiU exclusives just don't interest me enough and XboxOne is just a complete disaster. I'll be sticking to Steam for the most part.

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