July 27, 2021

E3 2018: Squenix, Ubi And Sony Thoughts


The “third day” of E3 was a bit all over the place.

Kicking off with Square-Enix, it was a short 30-minute “Direct-Style” presentation, and the spotlight was unquestionably on Kingdom Hearts 3. Frozen! Tangled! Wreck-It Ralph! Toy Story! Monsters Inc! It was a veritable who’s-who of Disney and Pixar cameos, and as ever it looks gorgeous. It’s been delayed very slightly into 2019, but January 2019, so not so far that it feels like a massive blow or anything. There was also Shadow of the Tomb Raider – a grimdark story where Lara causes an apocalypse and becomes a brutal killer. I still miss the old Lara. She knew how to have fun at the same time…

There was Just Cause 4 as well, which was nice to see, and The Quiet Man; an intriguing clip that said nothing about the game in question. It was a nice show, but yes, there were certainly big questions left – caused by the notable absence of the Final Fantasy VII Remake. I don’t think that will be happening this generation now; if the reboot of this project was as recent as has been suggested and things really were pulled right back to the beginning, it could be another four years at least before we get to taste this game again. They’ll get it done, there’s too much cash on the line to abandon it, but the hopes that we’d at least close this console generation with a big Final Fantasy comeback have, in my view, disappeared completely.

It was a short show with not much content; but it was short, unlike EA’s show, so Square-Enix get a pass on that front.

UbiSoft came a little later – and hoo boy. Shigeru Miyamoto was there again – because of course he’s there again, Yves Guillemot seems to be totally besotted with ol’ Shiggsy so expect this to be an annual running joke. At least, I think it’s a joke… oh god, did they kidnap Miyamoto? I mean, he seems happy and they’re treating him well but this is getting weird. Anyway, the toys-to-life project Starlink: Battle For Atlas is going to have a Star Fox crossover on Nintendo Switch. If you want to be able to properly fly an Arwing about, of course… which we do… oh we so do…

UbiSoft’s stuff is hit or miss with most people – the big dance opening for a new Just Dance (big shock, I know!) was… okay, it was too long, and the Panda thing from last year was back though sadly not the Sub Zero clones. Guessing WB Interactive had a few words to say about that. There’s a new Trials game, the Donkey Kong expansion for Mario+RabbidsThe CrewThe Division 2, it rattled on at a decent pace. And Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey is an honest-to-goodness RPG! They’ve been drifting that way for a while but it’s nice to see the series finally embrace the genre for an interesting setting, though timelines again, as ever in Assassin’s Creed, may be a little off.

Downside? Naked pandering with Beyond Good & Evil 2. And I mean, fully nude money shot pandering here. Pey’j is in the prequel – hooray! Actually, that’s not the issue. Pey’j is an old chap in the original game and has raised Jade so he’s clearly got backstory to tell and I’m fine with that… the problem is… Jade’s there too. Yeah, Jade hasn’t been born and Jade is there with the Dom’Z. Pey’j calls her out by name too. I have SO many issues with this; one, how does Pey’j know who Jade is at this point? Two; if she’s with the Dom’Z here, then she’s not Jade yet. She’s Shauni. So why isn’t she called Shauni? Also, we know Dom’Z Shauni wasn’t “human” so why does this version look human and like Jade? Also, I always assumed Jade was a “weapon”, considering the original games ending. Driven by an urge to protect, Jade doomed her world somewhat by infecting everyone with Dom’Z spores, so how Jade came to be born as a weapon for that purpose is worth asking and I know what Michel Ancel is trying to do here, he wants fans of the original on board but this is such naked and insulting pandering that it’s outrageous he thinks he can get away with it.

So yeah, UbiSoft loses on technical merit there. I’m a petty man.

Then at two in the morning, Sony kicked off with… a very bizarre show, which involved moving people out of the “tent” they were in to redecorate it and then give them a few minutes of music followed by a trailer for a game. I know what Sony was hoping to do here – it’s been done before, an extra-sensory experience with smells and sounds that immerse you into the trailer. It’s an ambitious idea, the problem is (1) Sony couldn’t turn-over the tent fast enough and most importantly (2) It doesn’t translate to a livestream in any way, so we were left with filler intermissions whilst Sony sorted this out.

Which was a crying shame too, because Sony had for me had the stronger game reveals; Resident Evil 2 Remake looks amazing, absolutely 100% astounding even. Nioh 2 – well, I adore Nioh and I’m thrilled it’s done well enough to warrant a sequel, though no gameplay on that front so again I presume that’s a next-gen release at this point. But these kinds of teasers and trailers were nestled in a very confused mess of a show that just didn’t do anything for the audience at home, and from the sounds of it annoyed many in the live audience as well.

I’m not going to say Sony’s show was a disaster as a result; it was terribly misjudged, a bold move that just didn’t work at all. The games look amazing – The Last of Us: Part II looks astounding, Ghosts of Tsushima looks terrific, SpiderMan… it’s not my cup of tea, but even I’ll concede it’s a damn pretty game. And Death Stranding is… actually looking really interesting, a sort-of open world horror with a dash of the empty loneliness that set off the original Shadow of the Colossus. There are still plenty of questions to be answered – particularly the baby thing – but it’s outrageously pretty, dripping in atmosphere and seems to have a control to its storytelling that frankly surprises me, since this is Hideo Kojima we’re talking about. So yeah. Colour me very interested to see where this is going.

What a shame then that Sony tried to be clever with its “extra-sensory show” and just fell on its face. But I guess that’s the way it goes… now, we wait for Nintendo.

I am very scared for what Reggie has for us this year…

I don’t think my body is ready at all anymore.


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