E3 2015: Our Favourite Things From The Show

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.

Philippa

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.

Graham

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.

John

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.

Adam:

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.

Alice

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.

34 Comments

  1. Matthew says:

    I’m glad Graham was as happy with the Hitman trailer as I was. It was just… awesome.

    • Razumen says:

      What was great about it though? It looked nice, but there was absolutely no gameplay shown, nor even any real details on core features. It was 100% cutscene teaser, nothing more.

      • Premium User Badge

        Skabooga says:

        If I may be indulged in the boorishness of speaking for other people, I believe Graham and Matthew have at this point completely separated a trailer from the game it is previewing. So they have no expectations or desires to have the trailer be representative of the game in question. They simply appreciate the trailer on its own entertainment merits. As you say, the trailer looks nice, and they are happy to let that be enough for them.

        Of course, there is plenty of room for people who just like watching something nice and people who want trailers to be informative, although I suppose a trailer will often end up to catering to one or the other but not both.

        • Matthew says:

          You are correct when you describe it as completely separating the trailer from the actual end product. I pretty much approach all cinematic trailers this way. I just feel like the Hitman trailer was a great attention grabber. Hell, it felt like I was watching the trailer for an upcoming movie. Now I’m dying to see some actual game footage.

      • Jinarra says:

        Could have been worse. I seem to recall something about nuns?

      • manny says:

        The trailer showed a return to form. Notice there was ZERO story of any kind. Even at it’s best, the story of Hitman games has always been mediocre. The enjoyment has always been the sandbox assassinations and that should be the focus. IO signals with the trailer that they understand this now. 180 turn from Hitman Absolution.

        Trailer also points to a diverse and interesting people to assassinate, which again has always been a weakpoint of the Hitman games. You have a scientist rich enough to have his own private laboratory with large wine selection. A rich model photographer. A business man/politician. And a successful fashion designer.

        The characterization of 47 is also standout. A man of action character so hardcore speech is below him. Instead all you get is his breathing. Again this is a 180 turn from the melodrama of Absolution and the more hokey story elements of previous games.

        So apart from the trailer being artistically brilliant, it also suggests a return to greatness for the franchise. Indeed it is so spot on this game be the best hitman game yet.

        • manny says:

          Actually I’d got so far as to say that artistically the trailer is the best thing to come out of Hitman ever, and should be used as the design document for their character, the Hitman world and the game franchise overall.

          In regards to the Hitman world it’s especially innovative as it suggests a much more realistic and gray world than in the past. There are no cut and paste villains here, but instead your targets look like people loved and celebrated in the news.

        • Razumen says:

          It suggests a lot yes, but it doesn’t really MEAN anything. It’s all pre-rendered fluff and the actual game may be far different. Just look at the ridiculousness around the Dead Island trailer for hard evidence of this. There were far better trailers in E3 that actually showed what the games were like-this is just another well done, but ultimately insubstantial, piece of marketing.

          • P.Funk says:

            “It suggests a lot yes, but it doesn’t really MEAN anything.”

            That is not an absolute. Sometimes a trailer is exactly a signal of whats within. I’m not talking about even gameplay footage that confirms mechanics and controls and what not. I’m talking about what they’re talking about. The trailer is setting the tone. Tone is very important.

            I think we’re just used to Ubi lies and mainstream Blockbuster trailers that are all the same. The thing is this one is so sharp, so different, that it really is worth noticing, not to mention the fact that IO isn’t just any developer. I think they’re a bit less cynical than your average by the numbers corporate publisher.

            So no, its not meaningless. It can be deceptive if its meant to be or in the case of say the new Mass Effect basically just by the numbers and disconnected from the soul of the game with its WUB WUB WUB just like a movie trailer. However sometimes the cover of a book is very much appropriate for whats within and so can trailers be.

            This one is by far the best game trailer I can remember seeing. Sure, for empirical analysis of likely outcomes its not ideal, but we’re talking culture and not just comparative shopping min maxed to the limit.

      • KenTWOu says:

        @Razumen
        Look, if you want to know about gameplay features, you should read this reddit AMA thread. Long story short, the new Hitman will be much closer to Contracts and Blood Money.

        So let’s back to cinematic trailer. Hitman shows how to make a cinematic trailer properly. You should tell a story which is closer to your game experience using cinematic language. And Hitman trailer did it perfectly using its camera work, editing and score. For example, you could argue that music was a bit tedious and bland, but that’s the point. Its monotonous rhythm tells you about importance of time. And we know that timing is very important in Hitman games. You could argue that everything was edited too fast, so you can barely see what’s happening there. But that’s the point. That’s how 47 works, you barely notice him because of disguises. And when he uses accidents, death comes suddenly. I also like how four parallel assassinations prove that’s the focus of the new game. And new jogging record reminds us that the game will have improved contract mode, which will motivate you to kill targets faster than your friends killed them.

        • Razumen says:

          You’re reading FAR too much into it and making jumps that don’t have any logical basis. Jogging record means improved contract mode? Come on do you even read what you’re writing? Sometimes a cool trailer is just a cool trailer.

          • KenTWOu says:

            And that’s your answer? Man, you should learn how to analyse movies properly. Read something about film theory first and then try to make conclusions about the lack of any logical basis. Everything you see on the screen could convey meaning, especially editing.
            So, yeah, jogging record means that time is important. The faster you run the better. But they clearly used parallel editing to apply meaning of jogging sequence to all four assassination sequences. They even showed us a glimpse of stop-watch face before all target died. Hence the faster you kill the better.
            And I didn’t say the new record explicitly tells us that contract mode was improved. I said it reminds us about contract mode. It reminds us that your result is important and you can improve it.
            It’s not just a cool trailer, it’s a fantastic trailer.

          • Razumen says:

            I said it could mean the things you said just as well as it doesn’t. You’re interpreting things based of a pre-rendered trailer, and interpretations are often wrong. So, sre it’s a nice *trailer*, but I wouldn’t get too excited about the game before they actually start releasing ACTUAL hard information on it.

  2. Radiant says:

    In regards to the trailers and the atmosphere I know studios at comicon bake in a lot of crowd noise into the trailers themselves. I wonder if the trailers at e3 do the same thing?

    But yeah being in a crowd going nuts over something is the absolute best.

    At football matches singing with thousands and deciding that “yes Marouane Fellaini is shit and I cant believe that motherfucker is on my teeeeeam” together as one is an almighty feeling.

    Being in a riot and fucking up some cops must feel tremendous.

  3. 2lab says:

    I was thinking “Why no love for XCOM 2?” but then I thought about it and realised that firaxis fucked up, they gave all they had to give to IGN before E3, so all they had to say was old news.

    • Premium User Badge

      Ninja Dodo says:

      I totally forgot about XCOM but am definitely looking forward to this one. I was never into turn-based strategy and hadn’t played the original games but new XCOM won me over in a big way and the sequel looks great.

      Speaking of, this XCOM art direction post-mortem is quite interesting: link to youtube.com

  4. Premium User Badge

    Ninja Dodo says:

    My favourite thing about this E3 was my brother’s game Tribal & Error getting selected for the Indiecade showcase and him and his teammates getting to show their game in LA. :D

    Other things I liked:

    Mass Effect Andromeda: Hell yes. So much of the yes. I’ve enjoyed this series more with every entry in the series and everything they’ve shown so far looks promising. New world and characters should be interesting and Mako with non-aggrevating controls could be a lot of fun.

    Mirror’s Edge Catalyst looks and sounds great. No guns and more exploration: sign me up.

    Unravel looks delightful. Scandinavian forests are the best forests.

    Dishonored 2 looks great, and knowing Arkane it will be really something. Cool that you can play as Emily.

    Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Liked Human Revolution a lot. Trailer doesn’t really show much in the way of surprises but expecting good things on the basis of the last game and lessons learned re: boss battles.

    Abzu: had seen a trailer before but not gameplay. Looks stunning.

    Beyond Eyes… Lovely watercolours! I really like that this went from a promising-looking Concept page on Greenlight to being presented on stage at the Microsoft press conference.

    Also: SUPERHOT: backed this on KS, so no surprise, but continues to look great.

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      I didn’t know that Unravel was set in Scandinavian forests, but as a Swedish person I agree that they are the best. Scandinavian nature is underutilized in games. Looking at Wikipedia, it’s inspired by the landscape in Umeå and that’s cool.

      I don’t want to sound all nationalistic, but Swedish developed games were quite front and center at this years E3. From Battlefront and Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst to Minecraft with the Hololens and now this game. I only personally care about Battlefront and Mirror’s Edge, but it’s always nice to see your own country getting attention in the gaming industry.

      Otherwise, E3 might just as well have been called D3, because of Dishonored 2, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and Doom. They’re the one’s I’m most looking forward to play.

  5. Sundance Shot says:

    NEW NIER

  6. ansionnach says:

    Pretty sure E3 wouldn’t be my cup of tea or that sleep would easily out-rank it. Or just playing games that already exist that I know are good. There are far more of them. Can come back to these in ten years if anyone still remembers them…

    • Tekrunner says:

      If I were some sort of video game academic, I would be interested in rigorously comparing the hype that a game generates at E3 and its actual reception once it’s out. Like, take a panel of gaming websites, look at their articles covering E3, do some sort of text analysis to assign an “excitement score” to each game, and then compare that to the game’s metacritic score (simple), or to the gaming websites’ own reviews (more work). I really do wonder how much one correlates to the other.

      • Tekrunner says:

        For anyone wondering, I don’t know why I put my comment under ansionnach’s.

  7. sef says:

    Without question, Enter the Gungeon. Dodgeroll has done a fantastic job in making me salivate over a possible replacement for The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, not that I am looking.

  8. Jason Moyer says:

    My favorite part was when everyone felt privileged to get the chance to have corporate types spew marketing crap at them for a week.

  9. Stevostin says:

    RPS really, really needs to have someone who understand and like Bethesda’s Fallout for the WIT. It’s crazy enough to be able to speak well of Wasteland 2, a game vastly inferior by any metric (writing, gameplay, production value, duration) to Fallout 3 and not Fallout 3, but you also missed the best RPG ever (Fallout New Vegas) (provision: haven’t played TW3 yet) and now you’re not mentioning Fallout 4, which is for a lot of readers here one of the most interesting games of this E3 (if not the most)(if not the only) in any of those list. There’s a limit between peculiar tastes and covering PC gaming.

    • Philopoemen says:

      To be fair they did say it was their own favourites, not a community most wanted list

  10. Philopoemen says:

    SWTOR: Knights of the Fallen Empire, if just only for more CGI trailer goodness. The hype about “a return to Bioware’s story-based gameplay” makes me cautiously optimistic for a proper KoTOR3-esque tack-on (and to be fair, if you ignore all the MMO gubbins, SWTOR is basically a KOTOR version of DA:I gameplay-wise now)

    • Cinek says:

      Honestly: I have zero interest buying that as long as it’s running on SWTOR.

      What I’d like to see is perhaps new KOTOR on the Star Wars 1313 engine, or something in that sorts – single player + realistic graphics + immersive worlds (instead of huge empty halls with few NPCs standing here and there + players standing/running in groups around one or the other quest giver).

      • Philopoemen says:

        Its a free expansion pack, so it’ll run on the existing engine. But I get your point.

        I’m just interested in the fact its taken them three years to realise that people like Star Wars (or specifcally KOTOR) for the stories, less for the MMO content, and they’re working within the constraints to deliver a single player experience again.

        I’m sure licensing has something to do with it too.

        • Curry the Great says:

          They’re working within the constraints of an MMO to deliver a single player experience.

          Think about it! It can never be as good as the old KOTOR because of this. Seems kinda like a law of nature to me. Why would you get your hopes up?

          • Distec says:

            Beggars can’t be choosers, unfortunately. :\

            I’m not exactly sure how you gauge the success/popularity of a free expansion to a F2P game. But if it’s well received, that could hopefully provide them some impetus to make another proper KOTOR. Of course, that’s the idea I like on paper. I have mixed feelings about Bioware themselves these days.

  11. Premium User Badge

    particlese says:

    With something as huge and loud as E3, I really want be backhanded yet honest with something like, “Sweet! I get another year or three to finish the Skyrim expansion packs!” But who am I kidding?

    OMG OMG Deus Ex, EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! (three) Aaaaaaand yeah: I’m definitely gonna need a new computer.

    Runners up were ME:C, ME:A, Trackmania Cubed, No Man’s Skein, MGS:The PP, … OH MAN, and Robinson: The Journey! Hot dang, how’d I almost forget that one? That was E3, right? (VR walking simulator from Crytek, apparently with alien dinosaurs, in case anyone else needs a refresher.)

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      No Man’s Skein? Is that the game about “a quantity of yarn, thread, or the like, put up together, after it is taken from the reel” or the one about “a metallic strengthening band or thimble on the wooden arm of an axle” or could it even be about “a group of wild fowl, (e.g. geese, goslings) when they are in flight” (all quotes taken from the wiktionary page on the word skein). Those concepts definitely sound like something else than the usual stuff we get at E3.

      • Premium User Badge

        particlese says:

        Heh, sorry about that — I was entertaining myself by fiddling with some of the titles. Before I looked the word up, I could have sworn a skein was a leather powder horn or waterskin or something, but nope! I liked the yarny version anyway, but even with the dictionary action, I assumed a wrong pronounciation, thinking that “skein” sounded like “sky” with an “n” at the end, and that I was the cleverest man on the Internet, so it won out over “No Man’s Thigh”. :(