E3 Day -1 (I Guess That’s What We’ll Call it?)

Traditionally, most E3 press conferences take place the day before the showfloor opens, a day often referred to as E3 Day 0. Last year, Bethesda held their first ever E3 press conference, and did so two days before the actual start. This year, EA did their own show, one not associated with E3 but still basically E3, and also held it two days early. Now that there’s two conferences, I’m declaring the Sunday before E3 “E3 Day -1”. We’ll see if that sticks.

We had two very different press conferences today. There was a lot of hype surrounding EA’s, and unfortunately, I don’t think it lived up to it. That’s not to say that there wasn’t anything positive to take away from it. Titanfall 2 looks great. In a lot of ways, it’s about what you’d expect from a sequel to Titanfall. It’s still a fast paced multiplayer shooter with some cool maneuverability options and giant robots. But they’ve also added a new grappling hook mechanic that looks to make scaling buildings much easier. There’s also a real single-player campaign this time around, which is something I felt was really lacking in the first game.

Unfortunately, that’s about where the positives end. One of the main things everyone was excited about for this conference was the reveal of Mass Effect: Andromeda. Unfortunately, we barely saw any of it. They showed some behind the scenes footage of developers working on the game and maybe a total of a minute of footage. And who knows how representative of the final game that footage really is. I’m okay with them keeping plot sensitive parts of the game close to their chest, but this game is supposed to be out early next year. It should be far enough along to give us a general feel of what to expect, but it really didn’t.

That was kind of the same story for their Star Wars games. They mentioned that there’s a new Battlefront in the works, and then just showed people working on it. They mentioned that Respawn is making a Star Wars game, and then showed people working on it. They mentioned that Visceral is making a game, showed people working on it, and then showed six seconds of early footage. This is not what we come to E3 for.

There was a little bit more stuff there. They showed FIFA and Madden, which I don’t really care about. They showed Battlefield 1, which does look pretty cool, but it’s kind of a known quantity already. There was an indie game shown called Fe, which is potentially interesting, but they didn’t really show enough to grasp what it was about. So yeah, I’m not too impressed by EA this year.

And then along comes Bethesda. There had been some leaks related to their lineup pretty recently. Namely, we were supposed to see a remastered Skyrim, a new Prey 2, a sequel to Wolfenstein: The New Order, and a sequel to The Evil Within. With all those leaks, I was worried that there wasn’t going to be any surprises at this show. And then immediately, they kick off the show by announcing Quake Champions. All we got was a CG trailer, but after just how good Doom turned out, I’m more than willing to give id the benefit of the doubt.

What’s kind of weird is that a couple of those leaks did come true, while the other two didn’t. We are getting a remastered Skyrim, titled The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Special Edition. It’s coming to current consoles and looks significantly better. I’m curious how well it’ll run however, as Fallout 4 isn’t exactly famous for performing well on consoles. We’re also getting a new Prey, but it’s just called Prey. The leak had stated that this wasn’t the same game as the cancelled Prey 2 from a few years ago, and that is definitely true. In fact, I’m not really clear on why they’re calling it Prey at all, as the game doesn’t seem to resemble Prey at all. But it does seem cool. It’s a sci-fi psychological thriller, and visually it looks really nice.

Bethesda also announced a couple VR projects. One is Doom, and I’m not really clear if it’s actually Doom or just a tech demo based around Doom. Hopefully that’ll get cleared up soon. The other is Fallout 4, and from what I can tell, is actually Fallout 4 in VR. I’m not 100% sold on VR just yet, I think it’s a cool technology, but I want to see interesting games that couldn’t work without it. I’m not sure that we’re getting that here, but it is nice to see one of the big publishers trying to do something with VR. I think Fallout could work particularly well.

They also showed off Dishonored 2, which was announced last year. I haven’t played the first game, but this made me want to check it out. The art direction is very striking, with a slightly exaggerated look that gives everything a cartoonish quality while still feeling realistic. The game is a first person adventure and seems to rely heavily on stealth and use of special powers, such as teleporting. It looked like it was coming together very nicely, which is good because it’s out this holiday.

And that’s Day -1. It started out as a total bummer, but ended up having some really cool stuff. Tomorrow is the big day press conference-wise. Hopefully they’ll all be closer to what Bethesda did and not so much EA.

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