Our E3 2019 Round-Up and Impressions

  Image via E3 Official Another year, another Electronic Entertainment Expo (better known as E3); and this year’s was the leakiest in recent memory. It feels like every major game announcement was spoiled for me on Twitter and other sources before the conferences even began. Not only were the leaks disappointing, but so was the showing. Xbox and Nintendo easily had the best presentations, but even most of what we saw there was lackluster. We really missed Sony at this year’s E3—it really feels much emptier with such a big presence missing. We’re going to talk about every major conference and break down for you some of our favorite games, and moments from each—as well as our impressions of E3 as a whole. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-BbW6zAjL0

Google Stadia

Does this really count as an E3 conference? Maybe not, but the first company to get their new product announced was Google with its Stadia game streaming platform. You can stream from any device with a Chrome browser—except for phones, since Stadia will only be available on the Pixel 3 at launch. I was an early proponent of streaming services when OnLive hit the market, but it was apparent then that the technology wasn’t quite there. We’re wondering if that will be the case for Google’s Stadia, too, which needs 35 Mbps bandwidth to be able to stream games at the 4K settings it’s claiming. Still, if game streaming can be brought to market, Google could be the one to pull it off. But they won’t be without competition with the recently unveiled xCloud streaming service from Microsoft. Google Stadia Founder’s Edition is limited and available for preorder now—and it's a good package. It even comes with a Chromecast Ultra, for streaming to your big screen TV. But the Stadia controller is not required, only an account, and a Chrome browser. You can choose to subscribe for a monthly fee ($9.99 for Stadia Pro), or purchase games outright. Baldur’s Gate III, developed by Divinity Original Sin 1 and 2 developer Larian Studios, was announced during the Stadia conference—as well as their showing of upcoming and current games that will be available on the platform. We’re excited for the possibilities—no loading, no expensive hardware—but we’re weary of the freedoms we’ll be giving up with services like Stadia. You’ll just have to check Third Coast Review out in November to see what our impression is when we get our hands on the service, and proprietary controller.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isvyP3Bu2rc  


The EA Play Livestream was extremely disappointing; with the only really “new” thing that was shown off being Jedi Fallen Order. Set shortly after Revenge of the Sith, Respawn Entertainment’s single player action game has you playing as a Jedi padawan who has escaped Order 66. There was a whole 15 minutes of gameplay that was shown off, but what we saw seemed a little ho-hum. Perhaps when we have a chance to get our hands on the game, we’ll feel differently. Either way, we wouldn’t turn down the chance to wield a lightsaber. Season 2 of Apex Legends was detailed for the first time, and the developers seem like they’re responding to player feedback regarding the lackluster first season. There is also going to be a tenth legend added to lineup: Wattson. In addition to this there will be some balance updates, and a new weapon. More details will be revealed shortly; season 2 starts next month. Battlefield V will be getting a bunch of new updates. There will be a whole new theater of war with the Pacific. That means new multiplayer maps, starting June 24th including a focus on close quarters maps—where fighting is fast, and brutal. Meanwhile, despite The Sims 4 being years old, this popular game is still receiving content updates and new DLC, including a whole new expansion coming July 16th called “Island Living.” This expansion comes with a whole slew of new things for your sims to do, including new careers, new animals, and an entire Polynesian-themed island called Sulani.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeYQ-kPF0iQ  


Microsoft’s Xbox E3 presentation wasn’t all about its hardware, though it did tease its new Project Scarlett console, but that won’t be in stores until next year. Excitingly, Microsoft has extended its Xbox Games Pass to PCs via a Beta app you can download now. If you want Xbox Games Pass for Your Xbox One, PC and have Xbox Live Gold functionality included, it’s only $15 dollars to get all three services—which isn’t too shabby. Microsoft also showed off its xCloud game streaming service—something that will be in direct competition to Google’s Stadia. There weren’t many details announced, though, but we expect to hear more about Microsoft’s game streaming service in the coming months. One thing that the Microsoft Xbox E3 conference had was a ton of games, including a boatload of indie titles.  Here are a few of the games that stood out to us during this year’s presentation: Obsidian’s Fallout-like Outer Worlds showed off some of its sci-fi setting, characters, and dialogue—and it looks to be shaping up to be something we’re very interested in playing. Bleeding Edge is a fighting game by the makers of the much acclaimed Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. Bleeding Edge is a melee-focused hero brawler featuring stylized characters that wouldn’t look out of place in Overwatch. Ori and the Will of the Wisps was announced at last year’s E3, but this year we got to see more footage that show how this metroidvania is shaping up—and it looks great. Minecraft Dungeon Mode was premiered, and it looks like a Minecraft­ ARPG—which is something I didn’t realize I wanted until now. The trailer revealed four player co-op, and dungeons full of creatures from Minecraft. There doesn’t appear to be any sort of building, but there are traps and puzzles aplenty. Out of the late nineties comes a Blair Witch video game that looks inspired by first person horror titles like Outlast, and it looks scary as hell.  Actually, it looks almost exactly like Outlast with the camera mechanic, but the trailer gives off a ghostly supernatural vibe that can set it apart from other titles. Of course, Keanu Reeves made a now internet famous appearance on stage to promote his role in the upcoming, and highly anticipated, Cyberpunk 2077. CD Projekt Red showcased a story trailer that shows the world that they have built in all of its complexity. There is a lot of hype to live up to , but they look like they’re on track. Also revealed was the April 16th, 2020 release date. Battletoads is making a comeback, and so is its couch co-op, though whether the co-op will be as notoriously frustrating as its predecessors is yet to be seen. Battletoads is a no-brainer: Three player co-op that tugs on our childhood nostalgia strings? Yeah, we’ll be there. Microsoft Flight Simulator is making a comeback, and is coming to consoles and PC. The flight sim fans among us were pleased to see that a more “mainstream” flight simulator is returning to the market—hopefully with something that appeases the curious and the impassioned flight sim gamers alike. 12 Minutes is a game about a couple that is stuck in a time loop. Stylized, and from a top-down perspective, the trailer managed to convey tension and drama while being little more than a tease to the larger experience. This looks like something to keep an eye on. State of Decay 2 gets DLC with Heartland that promises harder challenges, and a new type (or types) of zombies to fight while returning to the setting of the first game. State of Decay 2 wasn’t universally liked, but we enjoyed the time we had with the zombie survival game. Gears of War 5 had a new trailer and information about its beta and release date was revealed. Gears 5 comes out on September 10th,  and is having a multiplayer technical test next July 17th. Also, strangely, there is a Terminator character pack available with pre-order. Perhaps the game we’re most excited for in the conference was Dying Light 2. Announced at last year’s E3, Dying Light 2 got a brand new story trailer which showcased the voice of Troy Baker as the protagonist. Techland’s follow-up to their parkour heavy open world zombie game is looking great. The rumored (and leaked) collaboration between Dark Souls’ Hidetako Miyazaki and Game of Thrones author George RR Martin was revealed to be Elden Ring—which looks extremely Souls-like. We can’t wait to get more information, as the trailer was extremely cryptic—but promising. The upcoming quickly Borderlands 3 was unsurprisingly showcased, but what was surprising was the announcement of new Borderlands 2 DLC that is meant to bridge the gap between the second and third installments.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9B5qhzKyhg  


Todd Howard got on stage and talked about the problems with Fallout 76, and was greeted, surprisingly, with mostly light-hearted laughs, while calling the criticism of the buggy game “much deserved.”  Announced (and now available) is a 52 player battle royale mode. And NPCs will be coming to Appalachia with the upcoming Wastelanders expansion, which will be free (thankfully.) Perhaps the coolest thing that Bethesda showed off during their conference was the stylish, grindhouse-styled Deathloop, which is a sort of time travel shooter by Dishonored developer Arkane Studios. Two rivals are stuck in an endless cycle. We can’t do much other than speculate at this point since details are scarce, but what we’ve seen is lots of guns, explosions, and action. There isn’t a release date yet, but we can’t wait to play this one. The director of Evil Within 1 and 2, Shinji Mikami has a new game coming out called Ghostwire Tokyo (presented by creative director Ikumi Nakamura, whose passion warmed many people’s hearts with his obvious excitement).  There isn’t much information about Ghostwire Tokyo¸ yet, but it has a good pedigree and if Nakamura’s excitement is any indication, it’s going to be a good one. There was a surprise VR announcement with Wolfenstein Cyberpilot. You can play as a hacker that takes over various Nazi machinery to wreak havoc. If you have the gear, this sounds like it'll be a lot of fun. Doom Eternal got a release date of November 22, 2019, and showcased its demons vs. slayer battle mode as well as a story trailer. There isn’t much to be said about this game, other than it better live up to the hype—especially after Rage 2’s sad showing. the opportunity to play as different demons against a formidable slayer makes us hopeful that it'll make the grade.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riNcPrsFYM0  

Devolver Digital

Devolver’s conference is perhaps the only one that requires foreknowledge of the lore and the world it inhabits before coming into it without feeling a heavy dose of “what the fuck?” even though there are still plenty of “what the fucks” to be had. For as edgy and fun as these Devolver “conferences” are, they’re a little short on actual game presentation. My Friend Pedro is upcoming—releasing in about a week. This stylish, acrobatic shooter looks as exciting as ever. It’s also coming soon to Nintendo Switch and Steam. Carrion looks horrifyingly fun. Play as a horrible, tentacle monster as you kill your way through 2D side-scrolling levels. Frankly, it looks great—survival horror, but you’re the surviving horror.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hru6IvgRSp4  

PC Gaming Show

  The PC Gaming show was as gigantic as always, and despite its hosts, quite the showcase of upcoming PC games. There were so many, we’ve chosen a few of our favorites to take a closer look at. Evil Genius 2: World Domination by Rebellion is a management game where you are an evil, James Bond style super villain. Manage your minions, and your evil lair. 15 years later, this is a sequel fans have waited too long for. Chivalry 2 is an upcoming sequel by Torn Banner studios, its latest game after the failed Mirage. With stiff competition like Mordhau, will Chivalry 2 retake the melee multiplayer crown? We're not too sure, as early showings have the sequel looking not too upgraded from the original. Midnight Ghost Hunt has a group of four players hunting a player-controlled ghost in asymmetrical multiplayer gameplay. Originally a Garry’s Mod mod, it is a soon to be released full-fledged game. This is one we're definitely excited for, as we've had a hole in our heart where great asymmetrical co-op is concerned since the demise of Evolve. We've definitely got high hopes for this one. Sign up for the alpha at midnightghosthunt.com This Halloween if you’re tired of terrestrial horror, Moons of Madness invites you to get scared on a whole other planetary body. We absolutely love this crap, and can’t wait to see what combination of supernatural and sci-fi style horror awaits—and it’s coming to more than PC, with PlayStation and Xbox One releases also planned for Halloween. If you’ve ever run across those wind powered wooden sculptures on YouTube (popularized by artist Theo Jansen) then Last Oasis might pique your interest. Entering Early Access on Steam on July 15th, Last Oasis has characters travelling on large, wind-propelled walking machines fighting similar machines in what looks to be a breathtaking action game in a unique setting. While wildly impractical for quick battlefield repair, they're certainly stylish and a little frightening. Perhaps the biggest surprise this E3 was the announcement of Zombie Army 4. Frankly, the Zombie Army Trilogy is a great co-op zombie shooter, and somewhat of a hidden gem. Made originally as extra “zombie mode” type games for the Sniper Elite series, it has morphed into its own set of games—and they’re surprisingly great. It marries Left 4 Dead style gameplay with hordes of slower zombies in a World War 2 setting—and it hits all the notes nearly perfectly. We really can’t wait to see what Zombie Army 4 has to offer. Vermintide 2 is getting a much requested versus mode. You can finally play as Skaven against the Ubersreik Five, or test your Slayer’s axes against human opponents. This is different than the upcoming Winds of Magic expansion, so be on the lookout for this separate versus mode—and sign up for the beta  here: www.vermintide.com/versus The highly anticipated Shenmue 3 was shown off a little more during the PC Gaming show, and it looks…bad.  Early hands-on impressions aren’t too great, either, but we’re still holding out hope for the long-awaited end to this trilogy. Debuted at last year’s E3, Maneater got a new trailer that showcased the shark’s penchant for destruction, with a look at the game’s main villain. Grow as you eat things in a game with light “shark-PG” elements—that’s shark playing-game for the uninitiated. It's definitely a unique concept with more than a small dose of silly, but it remains to be seen if that'll translate into actual fun gameplay.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKbKx2JHQ8s  


Ubisoft’s conference was pretty standard, with few surprises beyond the announcement of an Assassin’s Creed symphony tour—showcasing music from that series of games. Also announced was Ubisoft’s own subscription service, UPlay+. Watch Dogs Legion is looking to be a hugely ambitious game where you can play as literally any NPC you encounter. Recruit them in Ded Sec, and they’ll be using their phones to raise bollards and mess with drones in no time. They seemed to focus on old ladies beating people up a lot in the E3 trailer, which is cool, I guess. Ghost Recon: Breakpoint was announced with actor John Berenthal taking the stage. The Division 2 is getting a content update, including new locations and new missions. This includes a new eight player raid coming this fall. Oh yeah, and there’s a Division Netflix movie in the works starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Jessica Chastain.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cq6GmnM98jQ  

Square Enix

The Final Fantasy 7 Remake is looking pretty damn good, and all early reports are that it plays as good as it looks. Kingdom Hearts III is getting a DLC this winter with Re:Mind. The trailer was at once intriguing and baffling, like most things Kingdom Hearts related, but there's now one more reason to finish Kingdom Hearts III in time for another massive lore dump with Re:Mind, and we're sure the die hard Kingdom Hearts fans are already all about it. The sci-fi, wasteland Outriders was probably the most interesting game of the bunch, if not the most generic looking. Still, we want to see what Outriders brings to the table. The most maligned and talked about game during Square Enix’s conference is their take on Marvel’s Avengers. What we’ve seen so far looking pretty unimpressive, and despite getting some big name voice actors to complete Crystal Dynamic’s and Eidos Montreal’s vision of The Avengers, everything seems generic and bland. And ugly. Let’s hope to see some improvements before this game comes to market.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zr9eAtwcYlo  


Nintendo’s presentation was, by some accounts, the best this year. There were some surprises, with The Witcher III getting a Switch port, and that Dark Crystal game seemed out of left field, but there was nothing extremely substantial that got our heart racing. Okay--Luigi’s Mansion 3’s co-op (and puzzle solving single player) avatar Gooigi is pretty damn neat. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening Switch remake is looking great, with a September 10, 2019 release date. No More Heroes III got a teaser, and a 2020 release date. And two more Resident Evil titles are making their way to switch: Resident Evils 5 and 6. Daemon Ex Machina has a release date of September 13th, and is getting Hori-manufactured and Pro Controller inspired Joy-Cons. If you're a Super Smash Bros Ultimate fan, look out for new characters, Banjo and Kazooie--the first of many amazing additions still to come, probably. Of course, the biggest news of this conference, is the Animal Crossing New Horizon delay to March 20, 2020. At least we have a solid release date, and if waiting means a better game, we’ll happily wait a little longer. Finally, though we know next to nothing about it, Nintendo showed off just enough of a Breath of the Wild sequel to make us excited to lose ourselves in a game for hundreds of hours all over again. There's no word on a release date but judging by the crowd's reaction just the tiniest tease of a followup was enough to get fans in a froth.   This was a disappointing E3. I mean, I’m hyped for a few things they announced this year: Elden Ring, Zombie Army 4--but most everything else has already been on my radar. It feels like this is when we should be getting those amazing games that really push the boundaries of the end of this console generation, but perhaps developers are already moving on to the next.    
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Antal Bokor

Antal is video game advocate, retro game collector, and video game historian. He is also a small streamer, occasional podcast guest, and writer.