Many, John Tarr included, said that Sony won because Microsoft’s biggest announcement was simply a remaster of a collection of old games. Admittedly, they are very good games, but clearly it was not enough to set the bar higher. Remember last year when Microsoft said that the One would get 15 exclusives in the first year? First of all, we’re already down at least one because of Quantum Break’s delay, but even so, I can’t see the Xbox One getting that many, let alone even list half that many from memory of recent launches. Also, I really hope Microsoft wasn't planning on counting these as four to inflate the numbers.
Like Mr. Gruber predicted last week, 343 is looking to jump in on the "Next-Gen Update" bandwagon. While this is undoubtedly a huge boon to Halo fans, I cannot help but be skeptical of 343 and Microsoft. It seem that the One still is having trouble getting people interested in Xbox Live and online play for the One. Even though Titanfall is consistently leading sales figures not only for Xbox One but also for current gen games, a lot of Titanfall's sales still come from PC and and 360 purchases (Cinemablend reported that, in the UK in April, 71% of Titanfall purchases were for the 360). With Microsoft planning to host online multiplayer for all the games of the Master Chief collection, they seem to be looking for a way to finally pump life in to Xbox One online play. Due to the economic pricing of the collection ($60) and the recent down pricing on the One, Microsoft are looking to have a huge surge in sales and Xbox Live traffic come November.
It seems almost fitting that Halo 2, the game that launched Xbox Live, is amongst the collection that Microsoft is pushing to try and build Xbox Live on its newest console. While I am certainly excited (4 games on one disk, including Halo 2's excellent multiplayer in its original form) I have to agree with Simon and wonder where the other games are. As Jackson points out, Titanfall is leading sales figures, it is doing it far more on the Xbox 360 than the One. Perhaps this Halo collection will be the spark that sees people make the changeover, but if Microsoft don't deliver with other games to play than it will all be for naught. Based on what I saw at E3, they might actually be able to do just that.
As someone who is painfully and laboriously picking his way through Dark Souls one death at a time, this is even more exciting. It's fine and all to work my way through ridiculous bosses and the same five trash mobs 10,000 times because of equally as many deaths, but it just doesn’t quite speak to me. But, just as The Order: 1886 has me excited to explore Victorian England, so too does this new IP seem to fit into that mold. Also, ranged weapons other than that dinky bow and arrow. It still promises to stay true to the style of Dark Souls, which is good. I've been plopped into the world with some sort of weird intro video about defeating the dragons and that’s... about it. Liking it so far, and I hope I can get on the train with this one from the start.
For those who don't know, Hidetaka Miyazaki was the creative director behind Demon's Souls and its successor, Dark Souls. It was Demon's Souls that put them on the gaming radar, and since then, they've exceeded everyone's expectations and defied all logic for what publishers don't want: a brutally hard game becoming a successful franchise. After Dark Souls, Miyazaki moved on to this project and has been working on it in secret for the last 3 years. It's a large departure from Souls logic, which has been the ubiquitous and classic "Block-attack-advance-block-attack-advance-repeat". Instead, it's more focused on faster, more aggressive tactics, where you evade the attack and then follow up with a counter attack. In addition, guns are now being added to the roster of weapons, but it's mostly one-bullet-before-reloading type guns like a blunderbuss or a musket.
As is always the case, Nintendo draws visceral reactions from both sides, arguably more so than Sony or Microsoft. It’s probably partially because they’ve been completely on the defensive for the better part of two years now, and also because the cavalry has now finally arrived for the Wii U in the form of… you guessed it, first-party titles. I was recently messaged by one of these… supporters who reminded me that the Wii U has now outsold the Xbox One by one million units, the year headstart notwithstanding. He also pointed out to me that the other consoles don’t matter because you can get most of their titles on the PC anyways, and that the new Zelda was basically Skyrim minus the darkness and violence. While I don’t match his boundless optimism and borderline Nintendo militancy, it is a proven fact that Nintendo has now brought in the first-party titles while their feeble and vain attempt to broaden their reach went nowhere fast, to solid effect.
E3 helped cement that the Wii U, while perhaps not in the bracket at the other current gen consoles, is nonetheless still a serious competitor in the game. While the console wars of November made out the Wii U to be a sort of dying animal, it has only been gaining steam since - estimated to have outsold the Xbox One in the week before Christmas. With the huge push from Mario Kart 8's sales, the Wii U has been skyrocketing in terms of sales. Now that Nintendo is displaying a strong variety of games - with a mix of new and classic IPs - to come, people will be much more receptive to it. With two new Zelda IPs, always the biggest cash grab of their franchises, Bayonetta 2, Xenoblade, and Smash Bros coming for the Wii U, people now have more reasons than ever to get the console. In short, Nintendo took a while to get the ball rolling, but now it is.
Nintendo certainly followed the trend of this year's E3 in that its focus was entirely on games. All games, all the time. With a plethora of new first party titles (the only kind they get since they seem to have broken with all major developers outside of their stable of in house studios) they finally have provided users with a reason to actually buy a WiiU. With the boost from Mario Kart 8 and all these new games coming, you might think that Nintendo is actually launching a serious challenge to get themselves back into the race they fell so far behind in despite the early start. My only question is: is it too late? It's certainly not too little, but the fact that it has taken two years for games worth playing to be announced and released is worrying for Nintendo.
EA did many things at E3, but these were really the only big two new showings. Of course there was Battlefront in ever-so-slightly greater detail that set our hearts racing once more, this time even with alpha footage which looks great. Beyond that, we know plenty about Battlefield: Hardline already, and of course all of the sports games get more sporty and more realistic, etc. This Mass Effect announcement served to reinforce some of the earlier hints we’ve heard, namely that the next game will not feature Shepard and will take place in a different part of the galaxy, but we now got a first look at the location, which is far more rugged and remote than the urban Citadel, taking a bit of a space Western twist to the series.
Everyone seems to view EA as this evil empire that wants to rule the world, and I can understand that heated resentment for them, especially in regards to the Mass Effect 3 scandal, but I think people should enter this one with a clean slate. After all, as Simon points out, this is the first Mass Effect without Shepard as the lead. It's a big departure from the main story, since you're no longer following in Shepard's footsteps. I'm more interested in hearing what the new guy/gal will be called, because Shepard is such a recognizable name within the games themselves. As for the new IP, why do I get the feeling that they're working on a game to compete against Destiny, in the way that Titanfall is competing against CoD?
As me, Simon and Jackie discussed on our female gamers podcast, it's becoming more acknowledged that a woman can be a gamer and enjoy it just as much as a man would love it, so it's hard to swallow this piece of news. On one hand, I can understand why they would want to avoid having female protagonists, since every industry, sadly, follows this creed—no pun intended. But, on the other hand, I find inexcusable for them to at least take the time to work on an interesting female lead, since this industry is filled with drab, boring and generic male protagonists. Given their recent track record, especially in particular with Watch Dogs, I'd be surprised if they create a game where you play as a woman protagonist, and not a game where you can chose between playing as a man or a woman.
While I cannot argue with Ubisoft's logic, that does not mean I cannot fault them. Forcing a female lead into Unity would not mean progress - just because we have a female lead, does not mean that we would have a good one. Mass Effect shows that just because we have a lead who is female, we don't necessarily have a female lead: Fem Shep is essentially no different than her male counterpart, except for a few relationship choices. If the plot of Unity is male tailored, forcing a female in at this point would cause more harm than good. However, that does not mean that Ubisoft should not have considered the possibility. Mr. Gruber pointed out to me that Assassin's Creed already had a female lead in ACIII: Liberation, AND it's set in the period that leads up to the Revolution. So why couldn't they make a female assassin during Revolutionary France, but if Ubisoft could have made a *strong* female lead character, why couldn't they? I fear that the simple explanation is that it did not even occur to them. While I also call bull on the "too much work" claim - if you planned ahead it would not be so much work - the main thing this represents is the continued discussion of the "Boys Club" of video game design and enjoyment. Hopefully Ubisoft can be more inclusive and forward thinking when designing the next AC IP.