Our winning pick for E3 2016 was, without doubt, Nintendo’s Treehouse Experience.
Okay, jokes aside, let’s get to the real business. For years now, E3 has been the centre stage from which console conglomerates Microsoft and Sony duke it out time and time again before a worldwide audience. Every year of late in this titan-on-titan bout has felt exhilaratingly close, but this year even more so. Both Microsoft and Sony fought to the bloody end with all their might. Whoever emerged victorious this year is entirely subjective, but we can say one thing for sure: no matter whether you own an Xbox One, PC or a PS4 you’re going to have a hell of a lot of excellent content to occupy your spare time in the next 12 months. Wii U owners, you’re out of luck.
As the E3 2016 spectacle comes to its close, we here at PUG have joined together to make our individual cases for who we think dominated at this E3. Come join our discussion in the comments below!
There has to be a winner, and that winner, in my eyes, has to be Sony. Microsoft truly gave their longtime competitors a run for their money though. Every E3 I am consistently impressed by Microsoft’s commitment to consistently expanding the Xbox feature set. Whether it was the Play Anywhere initiative, Clubs support, full Cortana Integration or the new Looking for Group feature, the hits kept coming. For the expressive types out there, the Xbox Design Lab looks set to prove an incredibly satisfying new initiative. Microsoft seems to be doing everything they can to make sure that the Xbox One caters to each individual. Add to this a series of epic and ridiculously polished gameplay demos from the likes of Gears of War 4, Scalebound, ReCore, Forza 3 Horizon, Dead Rising 4, Halo Wars 2 and even more, and we have the makings of a winning conference for Microsoft. But then Sony strolled on next.
When it came to games, Sony simply could not be bested. The long-standing company was able to sling myriad properties (old and new) with relentless speed toward its unsuspecting audience. The show’s opening reveal of the long-heralded PS4 God of War title set the atmosphere for the evening. The Norse-mythology inspired epic dazzled the audience with crazy production values and surprisingly fleshed out character work (for a God of War game, of course.) And that was only the beginning. From there, Sony doled out satisfyingly meaty showings of Horizon: Zero Dawn, Detroit: Become Human, Resident Evil VII (with full VR support!) and The Last Guardian. Every single one of which has been thirsted for by fans for quite some time now. Add to that the customary showings of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Skylanders (this time with Crash Bandicoot!), and Sony’s 2016 E3 showing was thoroughly peppered with games. The company simply refused to give its audience a moment’s lull. E3 is all about surprises. And when it came to surprises, Sony absolutely stole the show this year. Speculation surrounding the latest project of Sony Bend was finally put to the end with the electrifying reveal of Days Gone. Hideo Kojima himself stormed the stage to present his latest project: Death Stranding. When it comes to fan service, it rarely gets better than that, and fan service is something Sony truly understood this year. It is why they were able to truly dominate E3 2016.
E3 is a time of year I just look forward to seeing lost of good games, but I honestly thought this year was ours. With Microsoft continuously learning from previous mistakes, they delivered a top-notch show delivering Xbox enthusiasts more gameplay and updates for Gears of War 4, ReCore, Inside, Gwent, Dead Rising 4 and a hair-raising of We Happy Few; they packed in lots of games and it was great.
When the spotlight wasn’t directly on games it was about stuff closely related to them. As Harry said, the Play Anywhere and Clubs support initiatives show promise but it’s difficult to see how useful both the Looking for Group app and the integration of Cortana will be in the future. The Xbox One S has no Kinect port so Cortana is a waste of tech on that front. How prolific will the Looking for Group app be with Xbox/Windows 10 games? Large, popular online games like Destiny and Overwatch seem like a safe bet for its use.
I was grateful for the Xbox Design Labs reveal but along with the ridiculous price of a special Gears of War Elite controller and two new consoles, it’s here that Microsoft lost me a little bit – complemented by talk of eSports and Minecraft Realms/VR.
These areas opened the door right open for Sony and they took full advantage. I’m unfamiliar with the significance and lore involved in previous God of War games, but that initial gameplay trailer even had me raising my eyebrows; it was a great way to start. What followed was trailer, demo, trailer, demo, game reveal and more trailers.
Sony’s show seemed to appeal to gamers of all ages. I’m glad that PS4 players got their ultimate wish of a release date for The Last Guardian, after being little more than a myth only 18 months beforehand. I’m betting there were some Sony youngsters and newcomers who probably had to research the game before understanding its importance. Despite its delay to 2017 (which was a surprising trend for most of E3’s entirety) the proposition of robotic dinosaurs and extended gameplay showing made Horizon: Zero Dawn an even more attractive prospect. Not only that, but I have no doubt that Sony will team up and create a new Crash Bandicoot game if this remastered compilation sells well – which I believe it will.
Microsoft showed their upcoming games and Xbox(es) quite effectively but Sony’s show was all hit and no miss; Sony won E3 hands down.
In all honesty, I think Sony edged E3 this year with their no-nonsense approach to showing game trailer after game trailer. However, not to merely echo the sentiments of my esteemed colleagues above, I’m going to talk about someone else who I felt put on a decent show; Bethesda.
Bethesda’s conference made me care about Dishonored 2. A lot of people loved the first game, but it somehow just didn’t click with me, despite having many of the ingredients that I thought I’d enjoy. I didn’t really enjoy the story or the characters, which were initially the main draw for me. I also found the stealth gameplay much more difficult than I would have liked, meaning that my preferred no-kills route quickly turned into a kill-everyone playthrough, which only made the game harder as the plague spread.
The trailer for Dishonored 2 looked fantastic. Despite having strong reservations about the game, this trailer made me pay attention, and I’ll be following the game a lot more closely in the run up to its launch. I liked the look of the time travel mechanics, which appear to add an intriguing new twist to how you can assassinate your targets. There were so many badass moments in there that I might even be persuaded to give Dishonored a second chance.
I was also pleased to see the return of Prey. Many people were disappointed when Prey 2 was cancelled, but as an advocate of the original game, I was quite happy to see that the Prey we saw at this year’s E3 is heading back to its FPS roots somewhat. It looks like it’s going for a creepy horror vibe this time as opposed to the grotesque horror of the 2006 original, but that could work well. There wasn’t any gameplay footage, but I was glad to see the game back in some form.
Quake Champions looks to be vying for space with the likes of Overwatch and Battleborn. The arena-based, fast-paced multiplayer of Quake III mixed with a character-focused shooter has potential. I just wish it was a straight up arena shooter, but we’ll have to see how it shakes out. Either way, it’s great to see Bethesda bringing back their id properties with gusto, and they have a decent track record so far.
All in all, while not as bombastic as Sony’s show, Bethesda had a solid showing that showcased their work well.