A New View
E3 2014 was one of the most interesting and exciting E3's, for me personally, in a very long time! This was the first year I've ever "covered" E3, writing and editing for WeTheNerdy, I furiously scribbled down notes all day. This year especially, felt like a sensory overload with the amount of live-streaming happening all over the place. I remember last year being a bit of a "test run" for live-streaming from the big show. Well, this year was full on live-streams from everybody and their cousin and I loved every second of it. Between GameTrailers, GameSpot, IGN, Giant Bomb, and several other sources, not to mention all of the actual press conferences streaming on their respective platforms, and Twitch (dear God all of the Twitch!), one's head could easily spin from trying to keep track of it all. For me, this was a sensory overload that I couldn't have been happier with. I spent the rest of the week scouring YouTube, sifting through all of the channels I subscribe to, looking for the trailers and gameplay demos that stuck out to me the most, compiling them all into a 37 video playlist that you can enjoy above!
One of the most interesting things about this year was the amount of connectivity gamers had during all of the presentations and everything in between. Usually, for those of us not lucky enough to attend E3 in person, it's a lonely experience catching the coverage from home. Not that social networks are something new, or that people can't hang out together and watch E3 like it was the Gamer Super Bowl that it truly is. However, this year E3 was trending and felt like it was a buzz as big as a Game of Thrones Season Finale or The Grammys. It was all over Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Twitch (because, duh!), Vine, Instagram, Tumblr, and more! You couldn't get away from E3 as a gamer if you tried. The best part though, is the way this made E3 feel like it wasn't something far away, but right here in our laps and in our hands; something that was presented to us all and instead of just observing, we shared the experience together. I don't know what the difference was specifically, but this year, I felt connected to E3 and the gaming community, much more than ever before.
Not All Fun and Games
Though I fully enjoyed my time covering the press conferences, I didn't exactly enjoy all of the press conferences themselves. EA, in particular, was a major let down for many people, as they didn't really have much to show off on their stage. In fact, of the games they did show off, like Battlefield and Dragon Age, none of them really stuck with me beyond the show. I was hard pressed to think of anything that was at the EA press conference that wasn't seen anywhere else that mattered to me. Unfortunately the games people were clamoring to see were not shown, but instead, talked about in very vague and cryptic ways by developers who thought we'd love to see their office spaces more than we'd like to see gameplay. The sad state of affairs on the EA stage wasn't the only downer for the day, however. Many gamers expected a Gears of War showing, or maybe some new unknown triple-A franchise, something that get's that "Oh, and one more thing" treatment to punctuate the end of Microsoft's show. It never came. Though we were all pleasantly surprised by the presence of Crackdown, the 50% track record of that franchise, up to this point, means that this entry has more to prove than to celebrate. So where was our "This will be the next Halo for Microsoft" title? Hopefully it's getting some more polish for a Gamescom reveal in August? Meanwhile Ubisoft can continue it's time-honored tradition of having both the most exciting and cringe-inducing demonstrations of E3, each year. This year, they earned this distinction by showing, not one, but two motion-based video games on stage with dancing and exercise, replete with awkward 420 references and a slight case of jingoism. It was weird.
Meanwhile, they pretty much stole the show with the Ubisoft trademark end-of-the-show-reveal, that has become an expected gut-punch each year, with Rainbow Six Siege. How they manage to balancing act of decapitations, on-stage push up and dance contests, WWI, horribly bad jokes, and still manage to wow the entire crowd with incredible gameplay...boggles the mind really. Then, finally, we get to Sony. Last year Sony was impenetrable. This year they were riding high on insane sales success and the size of the smug, shit-eating grin that spread across the entire company's face was almost too big to fit on their massive wrap-around screen. So what do they do? Let all of the hype, momentum, and excitement fall out of the middle of the way too long hour and a half press conference by stopping everything to mention virtual reality and television programming. For what felt like an hour, the press conference ground to a halt when the inimitable Jack Tretton's replacement: President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, Shawn Layden came out and Executed a deft dive-bomb into graphs, charts, and everything not nice. This wasn't unexpected, in fact, this is exactly how Sony E3 Press Conferences always go. However, after the brisk pace of the "Games! Games! Games!" presentation from Microsoft seemed to set the pace by which each subsequent showing would be judged by, this felt like a real wet-blanket moment. Fortunately Sony finished strong, but the room still stunk of Powers.
My inner fanboy was quite satiated on Monday with more than I could have ever dreamed of being announced for the Halo Master Chief Collection, tons of gorgeous gameplay from highly anticipated titles like Assassin's Creed Unity and Far Cry 4, and great surprises like more No Man's Sky, Crackdown, and (finally) a new open world Zelda! So I have to give this year props as being, probably, my favorite E3 yet! I know next year will be the one to watch for this generation as far as seeing what will be setting the bar for things to come from the future of games, but I am very excited for the rest of 2014 after seeing what's in store for Xbox, Playstation, and yes, even Wii U owners around the world!