As you may have heard, the Electronic Entertainment Expo happened this week. This big, gaming convention is the place where video game developers and publishers get together to show off the games that they’re currently making.
It was a very loud and very long show. There’s still a lot to process, but there were quite a few demos and announcements to be seen. It was a good enough display of hype overall, but how do we judge every company’s individual output?
Which Company Stole the Show?
Let’s find out who really won this year’s E3. I’ll be tackling the third-party shows, because my colleague Andre already handled the console makers. So it’s time for a five-company brawl between all five of the shows not held by Microsoft, Nintendo, or Sony.
If we’re doing this, then we’re going to do this properly. That means judging with points. Here are a few basic metrics:
+5 points for a pre-rendered trailer that shows no gameplay
+10 points for a trailer with gameplay
+15 points for a gameplay demonstration
+30 points for a digression that enriches our viewing experience and helps us to understand more about the game and how it was made.
-50 points for ostentatious displays of WTFery.
Those are the basics. All other points will be given on a case-by-case basis.
I will be skipping over some announcements that I didn’t think were necessarily big or important enough to warrant points either way. Consider it a mercy: I don’t want to go on as long as the PC gaming show did.
So here we go with this totally-not-arbitrary and professional judgment! May the best faceless corporation win!
First Competitor: Bethesda Softworks
+15 points for the Doom gameplay demonstration. The return of everyone’s favorite demon-killing franchise started the show off with big bloody bang. This demo showed off series staples such as the chainsaw and super shotgun, and gave everyone a very close look at the brutal finishing moves. In addition, a modder called Snapmap (which sounds like Evan Spiegel’s new navigation app) will give everyone a chance to create their own levels.
+5 points for the Dishonored 2 trailer. Arkane Studios was not terribly forthcoming with details, but we do know that we will be able to play as Emily Kaldwin and Corvo Attano.
-10 points for the pre-Fallout fake show ending, otherwise known as the “Well, that’s it! What, we missed something?” There is nothing more transparently annoying at an E3 show than a host trying to be cute.
+25 points for the entirety of the Fallout 4 demo and show. To say that we saw a great deal of the game would be an understatement. From the opening segment, which takes place in Fallout‘s heretofore-unseen pre-fallout period, to the lengthy demonstration of the crafting mechanics, to the gameplay montage set to “Atom Bomb Baby;” this demo had everything a Fallout fan could want to see.
+5 points for the announcement of a real-life Pip-Boy.
-5 points for telling me that the only way I’ll get the Pip-Boy – which is just an elaborate case for your smartphone or tablet – is by buying the expensive Collector’s Edition. Don’t twist my arm, Todd Howard. The Pip-Boy is already going to give me carpal tunnel.
+5 points for the announcement of Fallout Shelter. I didn’t even really enjoy the game, but Todd Howard’s enthusiasm and the fact that the game was available that same evening is worth something.
Final score for the Bethesda show: 40 Points
Second Competitor: Electronic Arts
+10 points for the pre-rendered trailers for Mass Effect: Andromeda and Star Wars The Old Republic: Knights of the Fallen Empire (a.k.a. We Need to Hijack the KotOR Traffic on Google So We’re Including the Full Title of That Game with this Expansion). It’s good to see that Bioware is keeping busy.
+25 points for the demo footage of Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 and Need for Speed. It was originally going to be 30 points, but I docked 5 for that weird FMV segment in the Need for Speed footage.
-15 points for the long gameplay segment devoted to the Minions mobile game. I understand that a mobile game will probably net EA quite a bit of money, but it was boring and went on for far too long.
+30 points for allowing the developer of Unravel to appear on the stage and stammer out the inspiration for the game while holding protagonist Yarny in his shaking hands. E3 2015 was filled with cute things; from the robot dog in Recore, to the real dog in Fallout 4, to the whatever-it-was in The Last Guardian; but surely none were as likeable and heart-stealing as Martin Sahlin, the Creative Director behind Unravel. EA gets plenty of (deserved) criticism from every quarter, but they get credit for this. None of the other big publishers introduced their indie titles by saying “This game being made by a tiny studio really wowed us and we want to share it with you!”
-50 points for bringing soccer legend Pelé on stage. My interests clash here. I’m a huge soccer/football fan, and would ordinarily be happy to see Pelé talking about “The Beautiful Game.” But he was onstage for five solid minutes and never once even mentioned video games, much less FIFA 16, the game he was presumably intended to promote. I hesitate to call it boring, but it certainly brought the pacing of the show to a crawl.
+10 points for the gameplay trailer for Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst. Granted, the gameplay looked rudimentary and scripted at best, but it’s still nice to see this older title making a comeback.
+15 points for a gameplay demo of Star Wars: Battlefront. While it was shorter than some of the other demos, the reveal of Luke Skywalker as a playable character was a thrill for series fans, including myself.
Final Score for the EA Show: 25 Points
Third Competitor: Ubisoft
+10 points for the South Park: The Fractured But Whole trailer. I know it’s not a gameplay trailer, but I added 5 points because it made me laugh as no game has since Saints Row IV.
+15 points for the pre-rendered trailer and subsequent demo of For Honor. Knights, Vikings, samurai, eight players, an announcer with an infectious laugh, and a game that actually looks fun to play . . . this is everything I could want from an E3 show!
+10 points for the Tom Clancy’s The Division demo. The attempts at “typical gamer banter” gets points off, because that made it very difficult to tell what was actually happening and also felt forced. Still, it was nice to see actual footage of a game that had better live up to the hype, Ubisoft. None of us want another Watch_Dogs.
+5 points for the Anno: 2205 trailer. I was surprised, as I had not heard anything about this game before the show.
-10 points for Aisha Tyler’s awkward “Create a Meme” moment with a Jacob Frye cosplayer. I’m not sure what’s worse: her attempts to hit on him, or the fact that she thinks rickets is a sexually-transmitted disease.
-50 points for Jason Derulo’s mini stage show. Jason Derulo got onstage and sang for several minutes . . . without autotune. It was a non sequitur so epileptic that even Jason seemed surprised to find himself there. And his greatest offense? Neither he nor his backup dancers attempted to match the dancing in the actual Just Dance 2016 footage playing at the time.
+20 for the extended trailer and demo for Rainbow Six: Siege. The demo might have gone on a touch too long, but the players seemed to get very involved.
+5 for the Assassin’s Creed: Syndicate trailer. It was all pre-rendered and revealed no new information, but I’m still hopeful this game will be better than its predecessor. Here’s hoping Ubisoft has taken my advice.
+10 for a surprise gameplay trailer for Ghost Recon: Wildlands. Man, Ubisoft really wants to make sure you know they own the rights to the Tom Clancy games.
Final Score for the Ubisoft Show: 15 Points
Fourth Competitor: Square Enix
-5 points for opening their show with a lecture. As much as I diss the sturm und drang of the flashier shows, I appreciate their understanding of pace. Square Enix instead chose to lecture the audience for five minutes before showing their first gameplay footage.
+5 points for the gameplay trailer of Just Cause 3. It should be 10 points, but it was a five minute-long trailer and four-and-a-half of those minutes were filled with a ponderous voice-over explaining all of the things that were onscreen. You don’t need to tell me that Rico’s using a wingsuit, Trailer Guy. I obviously didn’t think he’d morphed into a bat.
+5 points for a short trailer for a new Nier game. Well that was unexpected!
-5 points for . . . whatever Yoko Taro was supposed to be. Eccentricity might get a laugh at a more energetic press event, but a show this stodgy just made the mask’s leering visage seem out-of-place at best.
-5 points for a Tomb Raider tech demo and subsequent announcement of an isometric game called Lara Croft Go. Compared with the thrilling Rise of the Tomb Raider game footage from the other day, this was just banal waffle which no one cared to see.
+10 points for the gameplay trailer for Kingdom Hearts III. After a slight fake-out involving a game called Kingdom Hearts: Unchained, the presenters finally showed the footage for III, to the delight of the audience.
+5 points for the new Hitman trailer. Agent 47 didn’t do anything in the trailer we haven’t seen him do before, but it was a breath of fresh air to be spared yet more lecturing from the people on the stage.
+5 points for the announcement of a new Star Ocean game. I’m really reaching here. This was really the only other thing shown at the conference which no one had seen before.
-5 points for a final, awkward golf clap on stage.
Final Score for the Square Enix Show: 10 points
Fifth Competitor(s): PC Gamer & AMD
+20 points for the opening sizzle reel. It was simultaneously funny and subversive. PC Gamer did a whole skit on the capabilities of their chosen product and the people who use it; showing off hardware, games, and even mods associated with PCs. And it was all set to dramatic choral music, to boot.
+10 points for the format, which had Sean “Day” Plott play the role of talk show host and bring developers out to have a back-and-forth about their game, as opposed to a pitch directly to the audience. This made the “guests” seem more relaxed and human than during the other shows.
-10 points for the whole briefcase bit. AMD wanted to show off their dual Fiji GPU card, and did so by having Plott keep a briefcase onstage for the majority of the show without showing its contents. Besides being a rip-off Neil Patrick Harris’s Oscar stunt, it was a dopey gimmick with no pay-off.
+10 points for the trailers of Planet Coaster, and Dirty Bomb. There were quite a few more trailers shown, and it might be unfair to ignore them, but the whole show was such a slog that they passed by in a blur.
+10 points for the announcements of Killer Instinct, No Man’s Sky, and American Truck Simulator. Again, there were others, but those are the only ones which managed to find purchase in my recollection.
-50 points for the final hour of this two-and-a-half hour show. You know how the final leg of a journey always seems to take the longest, merely because your mind has grown so weary that your perception is warped? If that perception had a literal embodiment, it would be the PC gaming show. To make matters worse, the talk show format, the initial source of appeal, was the reason it seemed so tedious. There’s a reason most real late-night talk shows are only, at most, one hour long.
Final score for the PC Gaming Show: 0 Points
The Incumbent Winner of E3 2015 Is…
Bethesda! Congratulations! Have your prize: The applause of one writer from MakeUseOf.com. As for everyone else who’s made it this far, let me know if you agree with my completely serious and objective judgments. Did you enjoy anything in particular from these conferences? Which games are you looking forward to playing yourselves? Tell me in the comments below!
Image Credits: Hands tighten medal via Shutterstock