Hits, Misses and Drama at E3 2018

The annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, had the usual hits and misses this week, and more drama than most of the games on the screens. With a strong lineup of first-party titles plus better third-party support, Nintendo has proven it is capable of more comebacks than Elvis Presley and John Travolta combined. However, the battle for hardcore gamer dollars continues to be fought between Microsoft and Sony. With no new hardware news from the companies, this was another year about the games, but for every hit there were apparently a few misses. Many of the games shown this year won’t be released by the time next year’s show kicks off.
Anyone expecting notable new titles may have been among the losers, as this was a year of sequels. Among the biggest announcements were Microsoft’s Halo Infinite, Sony’s The Last of Us Part II, Bethesda’s The Elder Scrolls VI and Fallout 76, Disney/Square Enix’s Kingdom Hearts 3, Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Without next-generation hardware to hype, this year’s E3 was about games, even if most did seem to be sequels or the latest in long-running franchises. Yet, even among the sequels there seemed to be a lack of really big or splashy announcements.
Both Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One are entering their fifth year on the market, and by video game standards that makes them middle-aged if not exactly senior citizens. However, as each company has extended the life cycle of the last generation, it seems the current cycle will be a do-over. A few really splashy new games did arrive, as incentives to goose existing hardware sales. Among them were the epic-looking open world RPG Anthem from BioWare, and the Bandai Namco fighting game Jump Force. Even these new entries drew quick comparisons to other games, though the former to Bungie/Activision’s Destiny and the latter to pretty much every anime game ever.
One of the biggest surprises on the drama front at E3 may have been the backlash that EA received for its upcoming Battlefield V, announced just prior to the show. The World War II game, according to online rumors, could include the possibility of playing from the German point of view. The next-generation hardware could still be a ways down the road, but game companies may be thinking beyond hardware.

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