We’re resurrecting an old feature here at Sidequest! Every month, we’ll be discussing something as a team, teasing out our thoughts on a hot topic in the gaming industry through conversation. This time around, we’re talking about E3; our thoughts, our hopes, and our disappointments.
Which game shown at E3 this year are you most excited about? Why?
Melissa Brinks: Unsurprisingly, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit caught my attention. We all know I love the Life is Strange series, and they started the trailer with a Sufjan Stevens song. It’s like they looked into my heart and plucked out what I truly wanted.
Okay, maybe not quite. I love the idea of exploring the sense of play and imagination through a child protagonist, but Life is Strange left me with so many unanswered questions (and so many unresolved feelings about young queer women and their treatment in the narrative) that, yes, I’m a little disappointed that we have not only a new protagonist, but also that he’s a young boy. I have nothing against playing male characters, but I think DONTNOD has a lot of room to improve their treatment of young queer women, and I’d like to see them take those steps. Unfortunately, according to a recent Waypoint Radio episode, it doesn’t seem like they’re all that concerned about it.
Nola Pfau: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. I’m an unapologetic fan of the franchise—I know it’s got failings, I just don’t care. The games are fun. I can’t wait to play Wonder Woman, but with extra murder on the side. I hope it has collections, and a lot of them, because I’m that nerd who hunts every single one down.
Zainabb Hull: I am irrationally excited for Maneater, which will finally allow me to live my life-long dream of fucking shit up as a shark. I feel like this year’s E3 hinted at some upcoming RPGs that could be really fun, especially from Bethesda, but it’s still too early to feel really psyched for them. I’m also hoping Little Dragons Cafe makes its way to PC eventually because right now, the PS4- and Switch-only release is breaking my heart.
I am irrationally excited for Maneater, which will finally allow me to live my life-long dream of fucking shit up as a shark.
The new Death Stranding footage also deserves a shout-out for finally getting me pumped for this game. Seeing some actual gameplay made the game real for me, and I’m really fascinated by the setting and the tech on display. It looks like it might end up being too spoopy for me to handle but I hope I get to watch some solid Let’s Plays at the very least.
Jameson Hampton: There was something about the trailers for the new Super Smash Bros that just gave me this really happy feeling in my chest. The fact that they’re bringing back all the old fighters is really special. SSB is a nostalgic game for a lot of people, including myself. It brings up a lot of good feelings of having fun gaming with friends and to me, that’s what the joy of gaming is all about. It feels like Nintendo knows that too.
Also, it’s a little silly since there’s so little information actually out about it so far, but I’m feeling really excited and hopeful about Starfield. I’m mourning the death of the single player RPG Fallout games, so it’s good to see something new and fresh on the horizon that I’m hoping might fill that hole in my heart.
Madison Butler: I know nothing about Babylon’s Fall, but I loved the teaser. It’s coming from Square Enix and Platinum Games, who released Nier: Automata, my favorite game of 2017. The trailer hinted at themes of human-versus-inhuman conflict and showcased some really beautiful designs, so I’m really excited to learn more about the game as we get closer to release.
I’ve never played an Assassin’s Creed game, but the character and interaction possibilities in Odyssey really intrigued me. I might have to that one a shot as well.
MB: Oh, I have to second everybody who’s stoked for Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. I enjoyed the first few games and I have Origins in my to-play list, but let’s be real—I’m here for Kassandra.
Draven Katayama: The Last of Us Part II! The gameplay trailer showed Ellie doing everything we love about TLOU‘s mechanics, from melee to archery to sneaking. Even more culturally and personally significant was seeing Ellie and Dina together, including a slow dance and kiss that left many of us nearly in tears with happiness. There are still so few games among the biggest name franchises that feature queer women, let alone as the protagonist.
Grace Cook: I’m super excited for Anthem! To be honest, if you put a Muse song in anything it’s going to pump me up (same applies to Florence + the Machine), also, jetpacks. I really love jetpacks, y’all. Second what everyone has already said about the new Assassin’s Creed; I’m new to the franchise since Origins is still on my to-play list, but I’m always here for lady assassins.
Naseem Jamnia: I literally screamed when the gameplay video dropped for The Last Of Us Part II. The first one is one of my top five favorite/best games. I hope ol’ man Joel does make a comeback, but I’m so excited to do archery and melee, two of my favorite gameplay mechanics, with Ellie! And to see her romance in the plot instead of relegated to the DLC!
Also like Madison, I’ve also never played an Assassin’s Creed game, but I am so on board for this queer ship that I’ll be picking that up, too! Well, eventually. Oh, and how can I forget? I will definitely be purchasing a Switch FOR THE NEW FIRE EMBLEM! AHHHHHHHHH!!
Were you impressed with the showcases this year? Why or why not?
MB: Honestly, the most memorable thing to me was Ubisoft’s Just Dance presentation. Square Enix’s presentation was nice and short, and PlayStation’s was incredibly awkward. Nothing this year really stood out to me except that dancing panda, and even that’s such a standard for Ubisoft at this point that I guess I’m… not underwhelmed, really, just, you know, whelmed.
NP: Nah. I liked the ones that were short, like Melissa, but so many of them were “How do you do, fellow kids” that I just checked out after a while. It didn’t help that I watched part of the presentations at Melissa’s house, so the real takeaway memory is the amount of shit we were talking, like the consummate professionals we are.
JH: Game companies: If you don’t have an hour’s worth of stuff to announce in your press conference, it’s okay. You don’t have to make it an hour long.
MB: Yes, exactly, Jamey! I can’t stand watching lots and lots of filler. It’s not even like, useful filler? A lot of times it’s just a whole bunch of synonyms for “powerful.”
And Nola, we are professionals. That’s why we were shit-talking.
NJ: Yeah, God, Nola. Rude.
Do you like following along with E3 as it happens or do you prefer wrap-ups?
MB: I actually love following along with the show and watching Twitter at the same time. E3 is one of those rare events that I think is actually made better by everybody snarking along, and in those moments when snark turns to genuine enthusiasm, I am truly living.
It was really fun watching my Twitter feed blow up with people screaming “DID TODD HOWARD JUST SAY FUCK????” at the same time.
NP: I like both! I like following along, but I will invariably get hung up on some bad joke or distracted by another awkward studio head trying to build a cult of personality around a blazer over a t-shirt, so the wrap-ups help me actually get to the, you know, useful information.
ZH: Honestly, I don’t have the time to watch presentations as they’re happening so I prefer to just catch up after each conference. I did see some clips this year and the cringe factor has convinced me that opting for wrap-ups is a good life choice.
JH: I don’t normally watch presentations live but I did catch a couple this year and I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected! I’m a sucker for that kind of camaraderie so it was really fun watching my Twitter feed blow up with people screaming “DID TODD HOWARD JUST SAY FUCK????” all at the same time.
NJ: I’m with Zainabb; I don’t have the time (or, let’s be real, the attention span) to follow along as E3 is happening. I am glad that I caught the news about our queer ladies as it happened, though! Next year, I think I’d like to try to stay on top of the news as it’s happening; there was such a palpable excitement online that I feel the need to torture myself by learning more.
Do you feel like E3 lives up to the hype each year? Did this year bring any standout moments or did it leave you underwhelmed?
ZH: I really enjoy E3 and the sense of possibility it brings, but as a Poor Gamer, I struggle to maintain the excitement that I used to as a kid. I know that I’m not going to be able to afford most of the newly-announced titles on release and I can’t afford a new console for any cool exclusive titles. Price tags are definitely a factor in my preference for indie games over AAA titles in general, and it was really cool to see some intriguing indies, like Sable and Sea of Solitude alongside the heavyweights like Assassin’s Creed and Fallout.
JH: That’s a great point, Zainabb. I still feel this hype in my chest but I have to temper it with the realization that I probably won’t play a lot of these games that I’m hyped for, either because of money or time.
The Fallout 76 announcement was really disappointing for me as a huge fan of that franchise. I don’t like the direction they’re going with multiplayer. I don’t want to play with jerks online! I deal with jerks online every day! This should be my escape from it! But in some ways, past disappointments have gotten me ready by tempering my expectations. I was so hype about Fallout 4, which I then never even ended up playing because, surprise, I didn’t own any of the consoles that could play it! And by the time I may have been able to get one, it was clear how disappointed other people were with it and my excitement had mostly faded.
Soco Cinconegui: I wanted one thing and one thing alone—Animal Crossing for Switch. So, obviously, I was disappointed. But I also learned about things I didn’t know I wanted (I never thought I’d care about Assassin’s Creed, yet here we are, I’m hyped as heck,) and I got more info on things I’m still not sure I want, like Anthem and Cyberpunk 2077.
One thing that worries me (aside from like, the games industry as a whole) is that the tech arms race is going to leave me and many others behind. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to run any of the games announced this year in my one-year-old gaming laptop. As system requirements are amped up each year, and, to make things worse, the cryptocurrency fad distorts the GPU market, it’s going to be a lot harder for those of us who aren’t loaded to keep up.
MB: These are all great points about price. It’s hard to get stoked for things when you can’t afford them. Like Zainabb, I play more indie games than I do AAA, but it kind of sucks that I won’t try new big AAA franchises because I might not like them, and then I’m out sixty bucks. That happened to me multiple times last year, and now I’m being a lot more conservative with my money. So I see something that might look cool, like Skull & Bones, but I know I probably won’t pick it up. And even Odyssey will probably wait until it’s on sale and the fun of talking about it has passed.
So no, I don’t really feel like it does live up to the hype. And that’s kind of sad, for me; I enjoy being excited about games, but a lot of my excitement tapers off as we get closer to release dates and my income isn’t any higher. You can bet I’ll be playing Captain Spirit, but it could be months to a year before I ever get around to Odyssey.
NP: You can talk about it with me, since I’m perennially two years behind, minimum, on Assassin’s Creed games.
DK: I think this year’s E3 had a good mix of satisfying fans of huge franchises with eagerly anticipated reveals while surprising everyone with information about smaller titles. We knew going in we’d probably learn something about The Last of Us Part II and Spider-Man. As far as I can tell from Polygon and other sites, no one expected Sea of Solitude to be featured.
Since several of us mentioned more affordable games, I would’ve loved to hear more announcements of mobile games. I’m really excited about Elder Scrolls: Blades. When are we going to hear more about Night in the Woods on mobile? Or imagine if there’d been announcements of Stardew Valley on iOS and Android, or a sequel to Gone Home on mobile.
SC: OMG yes! Forgot about that, I’m hyped as heck for Elder Scrolls: Blades. I’ll friend you or whatever when it comes around <3
Got any E3 thoughts you want to share with us? Let us know in the comments!
Read the rest of our monthly roundtables here.
Melissa Brinks is Sidequest’s editor in chief, co-creator of the Fake Geek Girls podcast, author of The Compendium of Magical Beasts, and an aspiring beekeeper. She once won an argument on the internet, and tweets at @MelissaBrinks.