E3 2014 Highs and Lows

Another year, another E3! Were there winners? Losers? Was it a party or a travesty? I’ve given ample time for the news and excitement to settle, and my own hype to dissipate. So let’s find out what announcements, trailers, and gameplay still left an impact.


The ‘Big Three’, 1st party console manufacturers, did a great job this year. All of them. Microsoft came out fighting, with a presentation that had no hardware to sell or ‘living room integration’ to shill. This was all about the games and gamers. Starting off with a nice speech from new XBox frontman, Phil Spencer, and plowing through game after game, this is a much better XBox; just what many gamers have been asking for. And while they still held up a fair number of shooters and franchise sequels, they showed off a number of new properties and around half of the games shown were not your typical XBox shooters. In fact, with Assassin’s Creed: Unity, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Fable Legends, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, MS spent some dedicated time on Action-Adventure titles, a personal favorite genre of mine. The return of Phantom Dust is also something that should be noted, but I’m completely unfamiliar with the prior game.

MS certainly made some noise with Halo news, the latest Call of Duty, more information about Tom Clancy’s The Division, and the unveiling of Crackdown 2. But for me? The show stealer was most definitely Sunset Overdrive. A third person action-shooter full of bright colors, explosive onomatopoeia, and fast-paced gameplay. The trailer was great fun, and the gameplay looks spectacular. I mean, the game has a bunch of fast-paced jumping, rail-grinding, and enemy demolishing that’s… Well, exactly what I wish we were still getting from SEGA’s Sonic franchise.

Speaking of bright colored shooters, how about that Splatoon game from Nintendo’s show? Most everyone I’ve talked to seem very excited about that game. And with good reason. Much like Sunset Overdrive it’s a brightly colored, fun, face-paced shooter. But it’s on a Nintendo console. Exclusively, even! It’s a Nintendo game. Showing that they can offer a shooter, and yet still be fun and ‘family-approachable’ is definitely a strong win for Nintendo.

Not to stop there, Nintendo showed off the still-coming Bayonetta 2, the finally-titled Xenoblade Chronicles X, and, of course, plenty of the new Smash Bros. The addition of Mii characters, and the seemingly awesome way they will work, was great. I also, personally, hope that the Amiibo figures turn out to be fun with wide-spread use. That’s the real trick, for me. I don’t want just another set of figures that work with one game or franchise, like Skylanders or Disney Infinity. I want to see the Amiibo figures function across as many WiiU games as possible (or well, where they fit). That would be the key selling point, in my opinion. Oh yeah, they also announced Pac-Man for Smash. I don’t really care for him, but I can see how it’s cool to have another ‘classic’ gaming mascot.

Being a huge Zelda fan, I was very excited for both Hyrule Warriors and the new Zelda game for the WiiU. Hyrule Warriors didn’t excite me all that much at first, to be honest. I’m not much of a fan of Dynasty Warriors games. But the inclusion of playable characters like Midna, Impa, and Queen Zelda really helped to sell me, and hype me up, on the game. As for the new, untitled, Zelda game? That trailer was great. I love the look. Of course, I also loved the look of Wind Waker (still one of my favorite Zelda games!) and Skyward Sword. Also, being someone who remember the infamous Spaceworld 2000 Zelda demo (Google it), I didn’t expect the game to have the same graphical style as the WiiU tech demo. I’m very excited to see this return to a more ‘open world’ feel, and I’m very curious about the monster and special arrow from the trailer.

As if that wasn’t enough, Nintendo also brought out Yoshi’s Woolly World, Captain Toad’s Treasure Tracker, and Mario Maker. All of which look very, very fun. I’m not sure about the new Yoshi game, as I thought Kirby’s Epic Yarn was just “okay”, but it certainly looks fun. And unlike Kirby, Yoshi doesn’t seem to be losing any gameplay elements. The Captain Toad puzzle-platformer, on the other hand, was one of my favorite parts of Super Mario 3D World. So I cannot wait to dig into a whole game of those. Mario Maker also looks very cool, you build your own Mario levels and share them with others to play. I particularly like how easy to use it looks, what with the game noting your jump arch in the builder.

Lastly, Sony didn’t really wow me like the other two. There were certainly some great moments, like the Arkham Knight and No Man’s Sky presentations. But it just didn’t, to me, feel as hype-filled. Though it didn’t need to be, as I think Sony was the only company that didn’t come to this E3 with something to prove. The aforementioned No Man’s Sky was a great highlight though. It’s great to know that those guys are still on track and doing great (their studio had flooded early this year).

Low Points

The obvious low points were EA and Ubisoft. Neither brought their “A Game” this year. EA was a particularly sorry affair. A good deal of their show was taken up by their Sports line, which is of little-to-no interest to me. Aside from that almost all their ‘games’ shown off, sans The Sims 4, were at the ‘early concept stages’. Meaning there wasn’t really much to show or talk about, outside of vague ideas and concepts. Of course, there was the Battlefield Hardline announcement, which had leaked prior to the show. But hey, they had the beta servers up and ready to go right there at the show! …Except that they almost immediately crashed. Well done EA.

Ubisoft certainly did better than that, with actual non-sports games to show off! Unfortunately that was mostly games shown off at other company’s shows. Leaving them with some dance games, a Kinect fitness game (just in time for the Kinect to no longer be universal for the XBO), and a new Rainbow Six. While I’ve never really been a fan of the Rainbow Six series, this new title, Siege, does look pretty cool. So there was that. Again, better than EA, but they still came off very weak. Also I can’t stand Aisha Tyler’s hosting, so that didn’t help.

The last big disappoint was, well, Nintendo. Woah, wait! Put the torches down! Let me explain. I loved what Nintendo showed off, the problem is what they didn’t. They had a great showing of their games, but they didn’t have any real third party titles to show off or announce. They didn’t even have a token ‘3rd Party Titles Montage’. Nintendo really needs to show that it can earn 3rd Party support for the WiiU, but that’s clearly still absent.

The Best of the Best of the Best, Sir.

So overall I though this year’s E3 was great. Who won? We did! It wasn’t a company this year, but the gamers who really walked away the winners this year. Though my personal leaning is to Microsoft, as I’m now actually considering getting an XBox One. Which prior to this E3 I would never have considered.

Lastly, I’m going to leave you with a list of what I though were the top five games at E3, which I’m looking forwards to the most. In no particular order:

  • Sunset Overdrive
  • No Man’s Sky
  • The Legend of Zelda WiiU
  • Rise of the Tomb Raider
  • Batman: Arkham Knight

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