It’s been a long, rough week for everyone. E3 is once again over, carried off by the wind just as suddenly as it came. But our thoughts on the expo haven’t stopped! Indeed, everyone is going to pour over the details of E3 2012 for a whole year, until we have another one to satisfy our greedy appetite for games. So now, we share our thoughts about the 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo.
Nintendo won E3 but not by a lot. Both Wii U and its GamePad impress me, and upcoming 3DS games make me want to give the handheld a second chance. The titles I want to play the most are, in this order, Paper Mario: Sticker Star, ZombiU, New Super Mario Bros. U, Luigi’s Mansion 2, and New Super Mario Bros. 2. If a recent rumor comes true, Tomb Raider could be headed to Wii U and if it does, I will buy it only on Wii U. The most impressive game of E3 was not from Nintendo (I am pointing at you, Halo 4) but the fact of the matter is, they have enough content coming this year with three big Mario games headed our way, a Luigi game, Nintendo Land, Pikmin 3, and plenty of third party support.
My lone E3 disappointment came solely from the extreme lack of surprises from not just the Big N but the competition as well, making this a slightly lackluster E3. Where was Retro Studios’ game? What of old Rare IPs? Where in the world is Half-Life 3!?!?!? As I look to the future, I only see very good things coming from Nintendo in the form of many more Nintendo IPs getting the HD treatment. Mario Kart 8 is sure to be on the way, probably in spring 2014. The only thing Nintendo needs to do better (besides showing Star Fox more love) is getting more, big third party games on Wii U. Early 2013 is already filled to the brim with BioShock Infinite, Crysis 3, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, and of course, Tomb Raider. Wii U needs these types of games, including the visually stunning Star Wars 1313.
Will the new Star Wars game grace Wii U?
I am somewhat hopeful that The Legend of Zelda U will be teased at E3 2013 for a holiday 2014 release. Even though we are being bombarded with the red plumber, I predict a fall 2013 launch for Mario’s first Wii U 3D platformer and we will get a trailer reveal next E3. Expect Retro Studios to surprise us with a huge title to be released before Super Mario U. The next two Super Smash Bros. could be arriving before or after Zelda in late 2014. Expect a few Nintendo Directs, teasing 3DS and Wii U games between now and next E3, and the announcement of a brand new 3DS Zelda at GDC in late March next year. I have learned my lesson from expecting way too much from Nintendo at E3. A peek here and there will have to do, through Nintendo Direct and hopefully, GDC.
It’s been an odd kind of E3 this year. Everyone seemed to be playing it quite safe, keeping their cards very close to their chest, but they also let at least something slip through the cracks to keep audiences interested (beside the constant barrage of guns and explosions). Microsoft had their SmartGlass tech, Sony had Beyond: Two Souls and the Wonderbook, and Nintendo had Nintendo Land, ZombiU, and to some extent, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow – Mirror of Fate. Were these surprises the ones we wanted? Probably not for the most part, but it just goes to show that this year’s E3 wasn’t all about pre-announced games. There have also been quite a few interesting things going on behind the scenes as well. Square Enix unveiled their breathtaking new game engine, Luminous Studio (if you haven’t seen the tech demo yet, you really should), and Epic lifted the lid on their Unreal Engine 4 (in quite some detail too). Ubisoft also stole the show with Watch Dogs, but on the whole there are plenty of upcoming games out there that I’m excited about and eager to learn more of.
That said, it certainly lacked the thrill and tantalising wonder of previous years. I mean, who can forget E3 2010, when we not only saw our first glimpse of Skyward Sword but also 3DS, simultaneously blowing minds around the world. Those two things alone would have made any E3 press conference special, but Nintendo went one further and announced games like Kirby’s Epic Yarn, GoldenEye, Epic Mickey and Donkey Kong Country Returns for Wii, Golden Sun: Dark Dawn for DS, and Kid Icarus: Uprising, Metal Gear Solid, Kingdom Hearts, Resident Evil: Revelations, Street Fighter IV and many more all for 3DS too. It was just epic announcement after epic announcement.
“You guys wanted more new Nintendo games at E3? How about some more Nintendo Land footage?”
But as our fine HeartCasters have pointed out, the entire 2010 press conference was also much more forward-looking. This was a whole year before 3DS even launched, and most of those games have only been released in the last six months, with Kingdom Hearts still on its way. The same applied to Zelda, with Skyward Sword arriving a whole year and a half later. A few years ago, they weren’t afraid to talk about games so far in the future. But here’s the problem– now all of the major players seem to be very much focused on the present, particularly the next nine months. The rest of us, on the other hand, are still more eager to find out about what’s coming x years down the line rather than what’s just around the corner. In 2010, I was completely content with the idea of having an amazing few years ahead of me as a Nintendo gamer– “the next couple of years are going to be immense!” were the exact words I wrote in my diary– but very few release dates went beyond February 2013 in Sony and Microsoft’s pressers this year, and Nintendo focused on an even narrower time frame– the launch of Wii U and this holiday season. There’s been an unexpected sea-change in the industry that we as fans perhaps haven’t quite adjusted to yet, and everyone’s tight focus on the present obviously cuts down on the amount of tease and enticement that we’re used to. It’s going to be interesting to see whether this trend carries on in years to come, but then again if Ubisoft can still hit the hype button for Rayman Legends and ZombiU with six months to go, then maybe the big three just had unfortunately blasé line-ups this year. Here’s hoping that we see a little more exhilaration next year, but with Nintendo Directs now being broadcast throughout the year, I wouldn’t hold your breath.
On the whole, I actually think this year’s E3 was rather muted and tame. We got the sequels we expected. We got all of the flashy PR once again and companies were throwing around the word “innovation” like it was out of style. There were standout moments of the expo, but nothing made the show as a whole shine. Why? Because I think that both gamers and developers are ready to get this generation over with already.
Nintendo is jumping headfirst into the next generation with Wii U, but like most new systems I don’t think it will hit its stride and usher out the old consoles until it has been out at least a year or so. Developers probably have all sorts of great ideas planned for the next gen, but they can’t show them without the approval of the console manufacturers. Sony and Microsoft are both intent on squeezing the lives out of their current systems until they are empty husks. Never mind the fact that two generations can exist at the same time, the PlayStation 2 is still getting new games for crying out loud! This E3 suffered because everyone wanted to hear about new systems, but were instead treated to dance concerts and dubstep sizzle reels.
And like the other writers, I feel that this E3 wasn’t forward-thinking enough. To be honest, only learning about games that will be coming out by the end of this fiscal year is somewhat boring. Where’s the fun in that? Great games often have years of anticipation behind them! Remember how early we got to see Twilight Princess? I really would have liked to have seen Nintendo’s long term plans for Wii U. It’s kind of important for a company to let you know what’s in store past the launch window when they expect you to plunk down (what I imagine the Wii U price range will be) $300 or so for a console.
E3 really just isn’t the place for big reveals anymore. Sure, it will have its place for unveiling new consoles, but what about the games? Most every game we saw at E3 this year had already been revealed. When a developer or publisher can reveal a game in Spring during a week with no other big announcements, why would they do it during E3 where it may be quick to get lost? E3 seems to just be for hands-on demos, media buzz, and investor courtship than game reveals. For those of us who aren’t at the show, it’s just not as cool. But gaming needs big events like this, it really does. In the end, E3 is an industry show, and not a fan show. We get so excited from the buzz and we often forget about that.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot about the games! My favorite new game of E3 was definitely Watch Dogs, sorry Ninty. It’s a brand new IP that came out of nowhere, and if the gameplay trailer really exhibits the same kind of freedom that the real game can offer, I’m going to be all over that. As for Nintendo games, my favorite Wii U game was Pikmin 3, and my favorite 3DS game was of course Paper Mario: Sticker Star.
And what about you, dear readers? What did you all think about E3 2012 now that it’s over and done with? Was it as exciting as you’d hoped? Are there any games you’re dying to sink your teeth into? As always, the comments are open to share your lovely views.