The E3 2017 press conferences have been and gone. Overall it feels like a solid yet safe year for games on all platforms – while there were a few surprises, no-one really shocked the global audiences with bold, daring software or calamitous, cringe-worthy presentations. If we had to put a score on this year’s E3 show it’d be 7/10. Good, but not something you’ll be playing in six months unless you find it in the bargain bin. That said, there are some obvious winners and losers of E3 2017 so far – the stuff that either stood out or underwhelmed. Also, this isn’t necessarily us declaring specific games and publishers as ‘winners’, it’s more about us celebrating the stuff that made us whoop and cringe during the past few days. Check back tomorrow for more impressions as the show unfolds. Now, as is tradition, let’s start with the winners…
THE WINNERS OF E3 2017 (so far)…
A few short lines after telling you that we wouldn’t be declaring a press conference winner in this feature, we can confidently and hypocritically say Ubisoft won E3. Why? The most obvious reasons are the games: Assassin’s Creed Origins is a superb reboot for the franchise, Beyond Good & Evil 2 is the sequel we’ve waited so long to enthuse over, Far Cry 5 has a dog, and Mario + Rabbids is a fresh and funny take on two beloved franchises. More than that, Yves Guillemot, who assumed comparing duties this year instead of show regular Aisha Tyler, was an earnest and enthusiastic host, which really struck a chord with the viewers and perfectly reflected the tone of Ubisoft’s line-up of games. The point when Nintendo legend Shigeru Mityamoto appeared on stage to share a moment of genuine passion for games with Guillemot was a genuinely heart-warming one, bested only by the sight of Michel Ancel coming close to tears when he finally unveiled his passion project, Beyond Good & Evil 2, at the climax. Whether you agree that Ubisoft was the arbitrary ‘winner’ of E3 2017 or not, we can all safely say that these moments of collaborative, shared joy are perfect examples of the force for good, inclusion, and commonality that games should always strive to be.
Everyone in Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus
It’s not often that everyone – literally every character – in an eight minute gameplay trailer can be described as ‘winning’. And yet, in the Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus footage all the major characters stand out in an overwhelmingly positive way. There are lovely moments on each side of the conflict, even though Wolfenstein’s master-race is comically vile. Even milkshake guy, the cheery Nazi who is clearly about to get his face caved in by a fire-extinguisher (wielded by hero, BJ Blazkowicz) manages to captivate the viewer in his own creepy way. Blazkowicz, the resistance fighters, even mech-hound Leisel… they all have neat little moments that show off exactly how much fun you’re going to have in game. The only exception here, actually, is legions of Nazis who all die rather horribly at the hand of our pal, BJ. Sorry guys. Especially to you, the one who gets the axe in the back. Ouch.
Far Cry 5’s dog
Who’s a good boy? Boomer, to be specific, is a very good boy indeed. Not only is he more than happy to enthusiastically lick your character’s face off in Far Cry 5, but the loyal mutt can attack Montana’s religious cultists on command, take on grizzly bears without flinching, and even play fetch with a semi-automatic machine gun – extremely handy if you’re looking for something to defend yourself with in the heat of a firefight. Far Cry 5’s stage demo at Ubisoft’s E3 press conference was full of new details and edge-of-your-seat action, but it was Boomer who captured everyone’s hearts and minds that day, and rightly so. There’s a good chance this four-legged bundle of fur could steal the show altogether when Far Cry 5 finally hits stores next February.
Knox, the foul-mouthed monkey in Beyond Good & Evil 2
Knox, the boisterous chimp who shows up in Beyond Good & Evil 2’s cinematic reveal trailer hails, as far as we can tell, from a small neighbourhood in Croydon, South London. At least that’s what his incredible accent suggests, the sound of which was almost as splendid to the ear drums as his creative use of expletives and all other manner of curse words from the English dictionary. If you needed any proof that Beyond Good & Evil had grown up, look no further than the opening conversation between Knox and Pey’j – the crime lord pig with a taste for dumplings – where the F bomb is dropped more frequently than an off-script Aisha Tyler gaff at a Ubisoft presser. Monkey dominates the spotlight for the entire trailer of BG&E2, and not a single word in the sentient ape’s obscenity-filled vocabulary is wasted.
Mario’s ghost hat
Mario’s ghost hat won E3. How could it not? Mario’s ghost hat can control dinosaurs and bring cars to life. Mario’s ghost hat could, if it chose to, compel you to do feral and heinous things without your consent. And you would remember them. Mario’s ghost hat makes you watch, helplessly, mouthing hollow screams, while a stranger makes snug dungarees out of your psyche and throws your body about like a smashed pancake. For some reason they didn’t cover any of this in the Nintendo Treehouse – perhaps they were worried the hat was watching – but the demo of Super Mario Odyssey looked wonderful nonetheless. It has the same relentless tumble of intuitive ideas that defined Mario’s move to the 3D, and it’s different enough to feel fresh from previous games. Best of all, it’s hard to imagine all the weird, wonderful stuff the game will let you do – a refreshing feeling in this world of brutal melee takedowns and no-scope headshots. Or maybe that’s just the ghost hat talking. Fun fact: this terrible parasite is only called ‘Cappy’ because its true name in unpronounceable in the human tongue.
90s cover bands
For some reason, known only to the gods, E3 featured a number of trailers with bizarre covers of 90s anthems as their soundtracks. Duran Duran’s ‘Ordinary World’ was the backing to the brain-bending Evil Within 2 trailer, and featured not one but three different vocal styles. While some might describe it as a horrifying auditory mess (and, if you’re being generous, you’d say that was perfectly fitting for a game as weird as EW2), there’s little doubt it’s catchy. Similarly, the downbeat cover of Seal’s ‘Kiss From A Rose’ could be heard playing behind the Skull and Bones trailer. Overall, then, 90s cover bands had a cracking E3 and should enjoy their time in the spotlight before returning to their usual lives playing your mate Gary’s wedding in Skegness Social Club.
If you’re a pint-sized critter or a monster designed to fit in a pocket (or rather, be imprisoned in a plastic ball of hellish suffering), then you’re one of E3’s winners. Congratulations – have one of those tiny bottles of Cava to celebrate. Some of this year’s hottest games, like Pokemon for Switch, Ooblets, and Ori and the Will of the Wisps all feature very small monsters. It’s not all about being cute either – the zombie hordes, who totally count, are the highlight of PS4’s Days Gone, and the LSD creature and cat-monkey monsters are two of the highlights of the new Wolfenstein trailer. Even Rabbids, animals that are anatomically foul when you really stop to think about it, are on the up now that they’ve borrowed some of the Mushroom Kingdom’s cool.
A prison break action-adventure starring two thirty-something men who punch and wise-crack their way out of maximum security? A sombre character study of a PlayStation icon who, in his old age, appears to be having a bit of a mid-life crisis? A gorgeous-looking third-person shooter replete with emergent gameplay and brutal fisticuffs combat? I’m talking about three different games of course (A Way Out, God of War, Days Gone), but these synopses could equally be used to describe Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 4. It turns out critics weren’t kidding when they called the final Uncharted a ground-breaking title when it released last year, as several games at E3 appear to be treading across this very same newly broken ground as a result. Naughty Dog told us we’d seen the last of Nathan Drake for good, but his rugged fingerprints could be found all over the show floor this year.
Here’s a sad truth: the only (non-compilation) Metroid games that have come out in the last 9 years are 2016’s Metroid Prime: Federation Force and 2010’s Metroid: Other M. The former barely has Samus Aran in it at all, and the latter trades her usual determined and independent demeanor for that of a petulant woman-child. It’s been a rough almost-decade for the futuristic bounty hunter. But at E3 2017, the acid tide finally turned. Nintendo revealed that in September we’ll return to a relatively unsung chapter of Samus’ glory days with Metroid: Samus Returns. It’s a total remake of Metroid 2: Return of Samus and it’s the new side-scrolling Metroid we’ve been waiting for since 2004’s Metroid: Zero Mission. After that? Metroid Prime 4 is coming to Nintendo Switch. We don’t know when… but it’s happening. Welcome back, Samus.
Assassin’s Creed Origins
It’s been two long years since the last Assassin’s Creed, but the series’ planned comeback could well be the return to form that fans have been so patiently waiting for. An ancient Egyptian setting is the brilliantly ambitious location of choice for a sequel that plans on reinventing Assassin’s Creed from the ground up, as Ubisoft takes more direct cues from the action-RPG genre to lend new life to the order. The mini-map is gone, crafting finally plays a valuable role, and the series’ trademark awkward combat is a thing of the past; who’d have thought that 49BC would be the year that made Assassin’s Creed feel fresher than ever?
You could practically taste the salty ocean breeze wafting through the halls of the LA Convention Centre this week, as many virtual seafarers were seen navigating the perilous waters of their fictional worlds shown at E3. I’m not just referring to the pirating antics of Sea of Thieves and Skull and Bones either, as jolly as each of those gameplay snippets were. Kratos was spotted atop a boat in God of War, as was Assassin’s Creed Origins’ Bayek, while The Crew 2 has turned the Pacific ocean into a whole new playground for aspiring sailors in its open-world sequel. ****, even Mario dove in on the action, turning into a fish to explore the deep blue sea without ever having to come up for air. Sadly, his bloated corpse was later discovered washed up on a beach in New Jersey.
Terry Crews is a winner for being Terry Crews. For roughly 30 seconds he loaned some of his shouty-mouthed winning to the Microsoft press conference, to help get people excited about habitual gaming skiver, Crackdown 3.