What were your highlights of E3 2015? Pip, Graham, John and Adam have gathered below to offer their own favourite moments from last week’s big videogame blowout, from osmotic enthusiasm to the finest trailer editing. Leave your own pop picks in the comments.
My favourite thing about E3 this year was attending it rather than staring from afar. There’s a vast gulf separating the experience of watching a conference on a livestram and being there in person. It’s a similar thrill that I get from eSports events. Other people’s enthusiasm is contagious. For example, I have no emotional investment in Shenmue or in Final Fantasy VII but being in the audience as the Kickstarter and the remake were announced was really cool – a sense of human excitement. The Star Wars section of the EA conference was another moment like that. On livestream they generally cut the sound from the audience when they play a trailer. In person you get to hear the guy behind you let out a truly surprised “HOLY SHIT” when Mark Hamill’s face fills the screen or the collective intake of breath as a setpiece finds its audience.
It’s the same with the lines for the demos on the show floor – I spend them eavesdropping on enthusiastic conversations about Call of Duty and Destiny and Butt Sniffin Pugs (both for praise and shortcomings). I like watching people take pictures of Amiibo they wish they owned (although I wish that one guy would have not gotten annoyed when I politely asked him to move).
Sure, some of it is tedious (I am looking at you, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate videos) and sweaty and jostle-y and loud and not relevant despite insistence to the contrary. At its worst E3 can be like watching a series of live-action press releases with no hope of a straight answer or a go on the game. But I got to see some exciting things, speak to some really talented people AND discover that in America fries are considered an appropriate burrito filling, all on the correct timezone.
I like trailers for their own sake. I don’t mind so much if they bear little resemblance to the game they’re advertising, or even if that game turns out to be guff. I’ve long ago separated the two in my head: games offer one type of pleasure, which I’ll appreciate or not when the time comes, and trailers offer something else entirely.
This year’s E3 offered plenty of trailers that are fun to watch all on their own. They happily coincide with some of the games I’m most looking forward to, such as Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst, Metal Gear Solid: The Phantom Pain. The best of the bunch is Hitman, I think, which you can watch here.
I’m hopeful that IO have learned the lessons of Absolution and are making the Blood Money sequel we all want, but even if they’re not, check out that video. The way the soundtrack is partly constructed from looping sound effects, the sharp edits which tell the story of four assassinations in three minutes, that match cut between the roof of a car and the woman diving into the pool! I’ve watched it five times, not because I’m five times more excited about Hitman than any other game, but because it’s a tightly wound piece of cinema. (And perhaps inspired by some really good film trailers).
Otherwise, my favourite part of E3 was the same thing as always: watching the pre-show conferences and bantering with friends about each new game, presenter, awkward silence. It’s as close as games get to Eurovision.
My favourite thing is RPS having become a successful enough website for me to have employed other people to cover E3 for me. I remember years of staying up until horrible hours, watching hideously dreary presentations with crowds of whooping journalists shaming my profession, clinging to brief moments of potential excitement as a non-sequel appeared on the screen. I remember two years of walking around the monstrously loud convention center, my shoes literally falling to pieces, escaped from my hotel room infested with ants, bouncing from faked live demonstration to faked live demonstration, wondering at the extremes of this peculiar industry.
But that aside, cor, lots of stuff looks good! Firewatch, Deus Ex, Just Cause 3, Dishonored 2, No Man’s Sky, Unravel, Doom, Mass Effect 4, Tacoma, and more Pillars Of Eternity. And probably some boring-looking games that you like.
The one game I want to see more of immediately is Hitman. Blood Money is one of my favourite games and Absolution is one of the most disappointing games I’ve ever played. I have confidence that IO are capable of navigating their way back to the glorious farce and improvisation of Blood Money and the release method for the new Hitman sounds promising. Sandbox levels full of toys to play with and assassinations to perfect rather than one big stodgy story to wade through.
If Absolution had been dire from start to finish, it wouldn’t have bothered me as much as it did. The crowds were fantastic, some levels were bold and inventive, and at times the world looked fantastically grim without losing all of its colour. Too many levels felt like a slog though, where any deviation from the corridor was punished, and the story fell on the wrong side of ridiculous and took up far too much of my time.
Hitman might fix all that. It might not, of course, but I’m as excited to see what IO have been working on as I am for anything else releasing this year.
My poor tired head has rolled what it can remember of games I liked into three conglomogames. Many games looked fab this year, but I am most keen to play Dark Souls 3: The Phantom Pain, Tacoma: Superhot Mankind Dishonored 2, and Trackmania Turbo.
Thems is our picks. Let us know your own in the comments below.