Opinion: What we thought of E3 2018

With E3 2018 is well and truly done and dusted.

This year was a mixed bag of good, bad and mediocre, as it usually is. We’ve put together our thoughts on the event, what excited us, what bored us and what we want to know more about.

E3 2018 was a great show and with some time in between then and now, the dust (and hype) has settled and we can be slightly more objective.

E3 2018 Reflections

Kizito Katawonga – Associate Editor

E3 left me with one overwhelming impression.; Xbox is NOT dying.

Microsoft stole the show with an impressive showing of 50 games, 15 exclusives and 5 new studios and Game Pass improvements. Almost everything it showed — starting with Halo Infinite and ending with Cyberpunk 2077 — made me excited for the future of Xbox.

The ID@Xbox reel requires repeat watch to see all the fantastic games in there.

Microsoft’s message was clear;

We hear you loud and clear and we’re doing everything we can about it.

Xbox head, Phil Spencer also announced what we’ve all been hoping for, more first party studios. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice developer Ninja Theory, State of Decay developer Undead Labs, We Happy Few studio Compulsion Games, and Forza Horizon series developer Playground.

Including The Initiative, Microsoft is now set to deliver some incredible exclusives in the years ahead.

In comparison, I was underwhelmed by Sony’s showing with two exceptions; The Last of Us II and Ghost Of Tsushima.

Wow! The Samurai action game set in Japan during the Mongol invasion has me watering at the mouth and I can’t wait. It’s gorgeous and I love the zero hud look that makes it incredibly cinematic.

I hope it will have a Japanese language version with English subtitles.

Spider-man impressed last year but there wasn’t much new to capture my interest. As for Death Stranding, I’m pretty sure at this point it’s the biggest troll in gaming history.

Anthem also had an underwhelming demo on hand with nothing new to change my positive expectation for the game.

Overall though, I’d say it was pretty good E3 and I’ve started saving for February 2019 when literally everything launches.

Nathanael Peacock – Associate Editor

If you ever found me somewhere outside of my gaming den, it would be at the library – face down in a book researching some strange historical point or other.

You see, one of my favourite points about modern game design is how games give developers a means to explore history in new and exciting ways, and get more people on my side of the “history can be cool” argument.

Yes, I’m a nerd. Aren’t we all?

So E3 2018 was a pretty great show for me because we’ve got some pretty great games from big-name developers that are all dripping with historical inspirations, plenty of real-world settings and enough research to keep me happy for years to come.

Here are a few highlights that have me reaching for my textbooks already.

Ghost of Tsushima immediately had me thinking of my days playing Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven on the PS2, with a good dose of The Witcher thrown in.

The demo shown throughout E3 showed the player as Jin trying to save a monk captured by the invading Mongolian armies. The game is set in the year 1274, during the first of what would be two Mongol invasions of the Japanese isles led by Kublai Khan.

It’s the attention to detail in the gameplay demo that has me most excited – the swordplay looks precise, the enemies look rightfully menacing and from the demo, we saw it feels like sound will play a huge part in combat and stealth.

Ghost of Tsushima had me wanting more, and aching to explore Sucker Punch’s new world for myself.

It probably wouldn’t surprise you to read that I’m a big Total War fan. Creative Assembly’s obsession with history nearly rivals my own. So then it’ll be no surprise that I was keen to see Total War: Three Kingdoms.

The latest entry in this long-running historical strategy is finally heading to China and using the Romance of the Three Kingdoms as a base. This chaotic time in Chinese history is probably best known as the basis for the hack ‘n’ slash Dynasty Warriors franchise.

But based on what’s been shown so far, we can expect big twists, huge personalities and of course, the massive battles Total War is known for.

Lastly, the ol’ standby historical retelling that is Assassin’s Creed. This time Ubisoft is tackling ancient Greece and the Peloponnesian war of 431 BC in Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey.

This follows on from the revamped AC: Origins from earlier this year seems to be doubling down on the RPG mechanics that made Origins such a departure from the series so far.

As either Alexios or Kyra, you’ll make your way throughout the Greek isles, swaying the war in your favour. This new title is said to be full of branching dialogue, recruitable NPCs and even romanceable characters! So it’s Assassin’s Creed by way of Mass Effect then?

I’m down with that.

Greg Newbegin – Associate Editor

Like many of you, I’m sure, I look forward to the E3 press conferences every year, and usually try to get up early and watch the three big ones (Microsoft, Sony, and PlayStation) at the very least.

This year, I watched them all, including EA, Ubisoft, and Bethesda.

I’m still tired.

Overall, there was a lot of good stuff on show . Microsoft and Nintendo were arguably the “best” of the bunch and were both stuffed to the gills with impressive-looking trailers. Although it should be noted that a lot of what Microsoft had on show will also be available on the PS4.

Sony, on the other hand, tried something new and it really didn’t work. Their show was extremely disjointed and difficult to watch. That said, the four primary first-party titles that were on display absolutely stole the show.

There was absolutely a lot to look forward to this year, but my big takeaways were Fallout 76, Nier: Automata Become as Gods Edition, Kingdom Hearts 3, The Division 2, Devil May Cry 5, Dying Light 2, Cyberpunk 2077, The Last of Us: Part 2, Ghost of Tsushima, Spider-Man, Control, Super Smash Bros Ultimate, Beyond Good & Evil 2, and Anthem.

*Breathe in*

Like I said, there was a LOT to look forward to and these are just the games I’m particularly keen on. Of course, on top of this, there’s the Destiny 2 Forsaken DLC, the Elder Scrolls 6 and Starfield announcements. Although the last two are still years away, still.

Oh – and go grab Fortnite and Paladins on Nintendo Switch – you’ll be glad you did.

James Wood – Associate Editor

E3 2018 was…weird.

Not a bad show by any means but one that was filled with strange tonal missteps and a pervasive sense of apprehension on the part of the major players.

Which isn’t to say there wasn’t still the usual catalogue of announcements and showings to fawn over; the reveal of the Resident Evil 2 remake had me downright gleeful, while the savants over at Naughty Dog continue to prove their mastery of the genre with the gritty humanity of The Last of Us: Part II.

Microsoft, head held high, continued its forward march to reclaim relevancy in a market it was pushed out of years ago and to its credit, appears to have garnered the most goodwill now that all is said and done from the show.

The Xbox briefing was helped immeasurably by the surprise appearance of Cyberpunk 2077, a game which has dominated E3 coverage with an apparently stunning, though early stages, behind closed doors demo.

That weirdness I was talking about earlier seeped into the show in two very distinct ways.

One end of the spectrum saw some blatantly bizarre choices made during presentations. Sony’s hubris causing a disjointed conference that took place over two locations, Bethesda completely misreading the room by inviting Andrew WK on stage to awkward rock out to the otherwise fantastic Rage 2 reveal and of course, there was Nintendo who dedicated an ungodly amount of time to Smash Bros. Ultimate.

On the other end is the inconvenient truth that we are entering the twilight years of this console generation, an awkward phase in which publishers and hardware manufacturers must hold cards much closer to their chests.

This will be exciting eventually, but the interim years can lead to the kind of E3 we just got; thin on surprises and bravado out of necessity rather than lack of ideas.

This transitional period will still produce some great games, the first Last of Us was itself something of a swan song for the PS3, but if you came to this E3 looking for the kind of bang we’ve had in years past you may find yourself feeling a little deflated in the afterglow.

That said, if I let my inner child loose for a second, Ghost of Tsushima looks drop dead gorgeous and Dreams had one of the most compelling gameplay demos I’ve seen in years and I highly recommend you check it out here.

Andrew Harrison – Associate Editor

My whole E3 experience this year was off to a late and a slow journey. I had to work for almost all of it and catch up as quickly as I could in my downtime.

From what I’ve seen though, next year will be very expensive for me. I’m very much looking forward to Kingdom Hearts 3 and seeing what Microsoft has in store from its new studios.

There weren’t as many battle royale games as I was expecting which is odd considering the success of Fortnite and PUBG. So, here is to another year full of great stories, epic battles, and hopefully some truly heroic couch co-op.

I did think this year was an odd showing for all the developers. I thought there’d be more info on games I’d not heard much about, but thankfully there were a few surprises.

The Elder Scrolls 6 tease was cheeky, though I wished it has been more substantial. Finally, CD Projekt Red did will no doubt drop dribs and drabs about Cyberpunk 2077 until it is and ready to blow peoples’ minds.

What did you think of E3 2018.

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