An E3 of Nothing New

So, having watched and read a fair amount of E3 coverage, here is my initial responses to it.

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  • This new trend of “upgraded consoles” seems like a farce to me. Somehow, console makers think that the user base will upgrade their consoles every 3 years in great enough number to make it worth their trouble? This thing isn’t a smartphone, a necessary device for life in first-world countries; it’s a game console, and minor upgrades in visual fidelity or framerate excite exactly no normal consumer except for the hardest of the hardcore. I’m calling this a tough sell all around, considering all the hoops that Microsoft and Sony have to clear (not to mention liquidating the old models as fast as possible).

http://mjoshua.com/blog/2016/06/13/5-reasons-sea-of-thieves-has-the-best-trailer-of-e3/

  • Furthermore, what exactly did Microsoft announce other than two new versions of the Xbox One? Other than ReCore from Comcept and Armature Studios (which looks interesting now that a trailer exists) and Scalebound (which didn’t look particularly great, all said), almost everything from Microsoft’s side emphasizes tons and tons and tons of sequels. Probably the only relatively interesting game to come from their side that’s a new IP is Sea of Thieves, and that’s more due to its trailer than whatever the game actually contains. I suppose from a practical standpoint that I appreciate the Windows 10/Xbox One connection, but beyond that, nothing to see here.

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  • Sony could never best last year’s E3 crazy town, what with Final Fantasy VII’s remake, Shenmue III, and The Last Guardian all making appearances. So, Sony didn’t really do much of anything, at least from my perspective. The new God of War looks like The Last of Us remade into a semi-slow action combat game; I have no idea how that will turn out, but I’m definitely not interested in seeing God of War becoming a riveting narrative. Other than that, everything feels the same, with a load of open world games, lots of zombies, and some gimmicky VR. The strangest thing was that the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare trailer became the clear standout by default. I don’t know what to say about that…

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  • Death Stranding deserves its own little bullet point. Confusing symbolic imagery with babies? Check. William Blake poetry? Check. Naked Norman Reedus? Sorta unexpected, but check! Much as I like Kojima, I kinda wished I knew what, exactly, this game will be other than a pre-release trailer with no actual content. I suppose this remains par for the course in the world of Metal Gear’s creator, but even he demands some clarity other than the vague promise of expectations (that’s being harsh; MGSV just came out, so I think we should be amazed pretty much anything is coming out of Kojima’s new studio right now).

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  • Nintendo only has two games from what I can tell. One does not interest me at all; I don’t need more Pokemon in my life, honestly. But The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild looks pretty great. I would call it a return to the original Legend of Zelda, with free exploration and an open world to explore. However, the constant presence of yet another annoying voice frightens me a little, as does the voice acting. It’s still 9 months away from release, but I’m hoping this game turns out substantially better than the last few entries in the series.

In sum, there’s some neat little things here and there, but nothing I would call fundamentally new. And that bothers me for an industry that supposedly needs to innovate to stay relevant in today’s fast moving technological progression. Virtual Reality, from all I could see, barely bothered to make much of an appearance! All in all, I can’t say this E3 made me very excited for the future. Things will remain relatively the same for a long time to come – whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing depends on your perspective.

As for me, I’m pretty satisfied playing all the games I already own. Neither Microsoft nor Sony seem to want my money all that bad, since every interesting game for both systems doesn’t seem to exist in retail form yet. Microsoft is worse, since any Windows 10 machine can play almost every Xbox One game, which begs the question why anyone would purchase one at this point. Maybe you really, really hate personal computers or something? Heck, I can play Killer Instinct on my PC just fine, so I can’t imagine how taxing Xbox One games will be if they’re designed around a PC architecture. Their business model continues to make no sense. And, much as I want to play Bloodborne, all the interesting PS4 games cannot be purchased and played yet, so I’m holding off for the forseeable future.

I can’t imagine much else coming out of E3, other than hype for the holiday season. The long and the short of is that E3 really isn’t for me; it’s for “hardcore” game enthusiasts, journalists, and industry investors who want reasons to buy/write/invest in said video games. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, but with so many games already released, shiny graphics and exciting trailers simply don’t do it for me any more. But maybe I’m just being cynical about anticipating THE NEXT BIG THING. Sometimes they do turn out being better than you imagine!

Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.”

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About Zachery Oliver

Zachery Oliver, MTS, is the lead writer for Theology Gaming, a blog focused on the integration of games and theological issues. He can be reached at viewtifulzfo at gmail dot com or on Theology Gaming’s Facebook Page.
  • Joshua David Ortiz

    Appreciate your thoughts on E3! I guess I’m not that surprised. After all, there is nothing new under the sun. However, about Microsoft’s strategy concerning PC and Xbox, I read a recent article in PC Gamer which illuminated a little bit of Phil Spencer’s thinking on this topic. He said this: “I think you could kind of get into scenarios where the hardware specs kind of overlap, probably at the fundamental level, or the hardware capabilities overlap enough where the differentiation kind of blurs. But the console experience is a dedicated gaming hardware device that is very appliance-like, instant on, ability to basically do one thing, which is play games, very well. PC is a multi-purpose device. I love that people play games on their PC. You see a ton of people playing games, even on Windows 10 already. But it also can do Outlook and load Photoshop and browse the web. So there are some fundamental differences about the hardware between the two that I think will always mean there are differences between console and PC gaming, and I want to embrace those differences, not try to get rid of them.” (http://www.pcgamer.com/phil-spencer-interview-on-microsofts-pc-gaming-strategy/)