Confabia! is going to be a recurring feature on VG Confab where our staff weigh in on hot button topics in the gaming world. For the inaugural edition, our editorial team breaks down the big questions coming out of E3 2012
Which of the Big 3 (Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony) “won” E3?
Brad vanVugt: Nintendo. It’s pretty easy to win when you’re the only one bringing new hardware to the dance, and Nintendo finally showed they’re doing what they have to be a player for this console generation. Yeah, a lot of the big games they showed off are already out on current generation hardware. The point is that third parties have stepped up and shown that they will throw their weight behind the new console, even with new IP’s like Zombi U (for now, anyway). Combine that with a strong showing of first party titles for the Wii U and 3DS, like both New Super Mario titles, and the Nintendo looks to make a strong showing out of the gate.
Jack Rous: Wow! Right out of the gate with the big question! Honestly, I feel like the question is more: who looked the least terrible? I have to say Sony. I’m more excited for their exclusives overall than anything Microsoft or Nintendo showed me, save Halo 4. Prior to the event, I never thought I’d be saying that.
Carrie Wood: I think it’s hard to say. Given what they were able to showcase, I’m going to have to go with Nintendo. We finally got to see what the Wii U was really capable of doing with the GamePad, which apparently involves a lot of feeling like the goddamned Batman. I’m on board with that. I’m disappointed in the fact that the 3DS showcase featured almost nothing new, and I’m also disappointed we didn’t get a release date OR price point on the Wii U. That being said, Nintendo didn’t have a major “what the hell are you doing” moment (Usher, seriously?).
Now that you’ve seen what the Wii U has to offer, are you going to get one?
Brad: Nope. The Wii U was pretty much what I expected it to be, and that doesn’t interest me at all. The GamePad makes for some interesting gameplay applications, but it still feels gimmicky to me. The fact that they felt it necessary to make a traditional controller (for more “intense” gaming sessions) is very telling to me as well. What I dealt with during the life cycle of the original Wii, and to a lesser extent the 3DS, has certainly made me more than a little gun-shy about investing into another Nintendo console at launch. As more compelling games are made available for the Wii U over the next year or so, and if third parties show they’re in it for the long haul, I might change my mind. For now, I have no interest in buying into more potential false promises and perpetual let-downs.
Jack: No. My overall feeling about the Wii and Wii U has always been: if I want to jump up and down and flail my arms around, I’ll go outside. Video games are meant to be played on my ass, on the couch, with a controller in my hand, period. And so far the only interesting thing they’ve shown is Zombi U, and even that forces you to waggle the stupid tablet to shake off zombies. In a zombie game. Like every other Wii game that stuff is going to get real old, real quick.
Carrie: Yes, but probably not at launch. I still need to see: 1. a price point, and 2. a launch lineup. If all it launches with is Super Mario Bros. U and NintendoLand, I’m going to be upset. I would also expect Mass Effect 3 and Arkham City as launch titles, at the very least.
Are you interested in Microsoft’s Smart Glass?
Brad: Absolutely. Since they used Game of Thrones as an example, I will too. One of the coolest features of the GoT Season One Blu-ray was being able to stop in the middle of any episode to read more extensive bios of the characters, and more about the lore of Westeros. Being able to do stuff like that on my tablet without interrupting my viewing experience is a very appealing proposition. Additionally, the decision to make Smart Glass available on a variety of platforms, as opposed to forcing you to buy a Windows 8 tablet, was a stroke of genius by Microsoft. The amount of early adopters this feature gets will be dramatically higher because many people already have the required hardware. With Smart Glass, Microsoft just took me from getting ready to get rid of my rarely used 360, to me now being excited about the possibilities that exist with my 360 becoming my new central media hub.
Jack: Meh. Maybe? Show me something more interesting than DVD liner notes, Madden play calling, and annoying my friends through social media, and we’ll talk.
Carrie: Interested? Yes. I still want to know more details about it before I start foaming at the mouth and saying GIMME. Linking multiple devices to create a unique gaming experience seems to be where gaming is headed, and with an enormous company like Microsoft backing it, it could be potentially awesome. I still want to sit down and use it for myself before I fork over the cash for it, though.
Did Sony leave you excited for the rest of their 2012?
Brad: For the PS3, hell yeah. PlayStation All-Stars: Battle Royale should be a blast, The Last of Us really impressed me, and there are a few PSN titles, like The Unfinished Swan, that are showing a lot of promise that I’m very excited to play. That’s not even mentioning a new Sly Cooper or Little Big Karting. On Vita…not so much. I have no interest in console Call of Duty games, much less a portable version. The new Assassin’s Creed is a wild card right now. The fact that Vita didn’t get involved in the PlayStation Plus program was also a disappointment. You can dive deeper into my Vita concerns in my feature from earlier this week. The fact that I don’t have a single Vita game pre-ordered right now speaks volumes, though.
Jack: Yes, you terrible, non-impartial, Sony fanboy editor-in-chief, you, I am! Two things though: where was The Last Guardian? And fix your stupid controller. Even Nintendo is stealing Microsoft’s design for the Wii U. If Sony could get with the program, I’d play other games on it other than system exclusives.
Carrie: I’d say I’m more excited for Sony’s 2013. The two biggest titles of theirs that I’m interested in are The Last of Us and Beyond: Two Souls, neither of which are due out before the end of this calendar year. Given the fact that I do not currently own a Playstation 3 (my roommate has one though!), I can’t say I’m too excited for anything Sony, personally.
What was the biggest surprise of the show?
Brad: Watch Dogs. There aren’t too many games that go from “never heard of it” to “ZOMG! I MUST PLAY THIS NOW!!!” in the span of 10 minutes, but Watch Dogs did exactly that for me. I love the Assassin’s Creed series, and I thoroughly enjoyed Deus Ex: Human Revolution last year, and this game seems to combine the feel of those two games in a modern-day setting that focuses on issues that we as a society can relate to, with internet privacy being a hot-button issue in the world today. All of the cool abilities given to your character (jamming cell phones, gathering personal data from scanning faces) seem like they would incredibly fun to use and experiment with in-game. There is still much to learn about this game, and it is quite a ways away (Ubisoft themselves said the game wouldn’t be available for well over a year), but you had better believe it is firmly planted on my radar.
Jack: Watch Dogs, of course. A brand new IP that lives in a world with shades of William Gibson and Raymond Chandler? Yes please. Just the tiny bit of big brother-style control teased in the trailer hints at a rich open world sandbox to explore, and I can’t wait to jump in. Oh, and it has multiplayer. I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it.
Carrie: Ubisoft and Watch Dogs. That game looks incredible. Ubisoft is good for having obnoxious morons up on stage, but they’re also good for delivering the goods. Watch Dogs has an incredible amount of ambition behind it and a very unique vision of a story and what a game can become, and I was very pleasantly surprised by that.
What was your biggest disappointment of the show?
Brad: All of the press conferences as a whole. One of the very best parts of E3 is that the biggest publishers in the business get the stage and the spotlight shown exclusively on them for 60-90 minutes to bring their biggest guns to the table and show why you should care about them in the coming year. Usually, that leads to some huge announcements, good or bad, whether that means pulling the curtain back on your newest console, showing off an unexpected trailer for an unannounced game, or shocking the world with some unexpected news (“Oh, and one more thing…”). This year ended up being fairly underwhelming. Part of that was because a lot of the big news that might have been a surprise was leaked or announced in the weeks leading up to E3. Part of it was having unfocused presentations (i.e. Microsoft forgetting that people wanted to see games and not Usher). Part of it is force-feeding info on products that the audience you’re speaking to don’t really care much about (Wonderbook). The reason that the EA and Ubisoft conferences were probably the most effective was because they kept the focus on their game line-ups and showed us plenty of demos. The bright lights of the E3 stage should be reserved for the biggest announcements of the year in the gaming world. I hope the focus shifts more in that direction in the years to come.
Jack: Ubisoft. Again. ’Nuff said.
Carrie: The 3DS showcase. When [Nintendo VP of Sales and Marketing] Scott Moffitt said he was going to spend extra time talking about upcoming 3DS titles, I was expecting him to talk about more than what was mentioned during the main Nintendo presser. I was wrong. We heard a lot about Luigi’s Mansion 2, New Super Mario Bros. 2, Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion and Kingdom Hearts 3D. We heard nothing about Animal Crossing (which got pushed back again), the Smash Bros. that’s been hinted at, or really anything new and exciting. Don’t get me wrong, I’m hype for the upcoming Mario and Scribblenauts games, but I wanted something truly new and unique for the system. I didn’t get that.
What was your game of the show?
Brad: Tomb Raider. I was expecting Lara Croft’s newest adventure to be a solid game. I was happy they were shaking things up by rebooting a series that has long been stale and in need of new ideas. It’s still Tomb Raider though, and because of that, there’s always that little bit of doubt in the back of my mind. The trailer and gameplay demo that were shown this week took any doubt in my mind, and replaced it with unabashed excitement. When Uncharted came on the scene, it took the groundwork that was laid out by the Tomb Raider franchise, fixed the things that didn’t work, and made a kick-ass action series with memorable characters and personalities. Well, the action we’ve seen from Tomb Raider is pretty kick-ass, and by all accounts, it seems like they’ll be developing Lara Croft’s character more in this one game than it’s been in every other Tomb Raider game combined. Now it’s pretty clear the section of game played in the demo was tailor-made to showcase all the awesomeness that Tomb Raider had in store. If the entire game can even maintain half of that fast pace throughout, you’re looking at an all-time great title, and one that I have no problem saying will be a serious Game of the Year contender for 2013.
Jack: Halo 4 and Watch Dogs, in a dead heat tie for first.
Carrie: Gotta go with Watch Dogs. I’m terrible at being sneaky in games that require being sneaky (Metal Gear, Assassin’s Creed… the list goes on). That being said, getting to be a cyber spy in such a large-scale environment looks too intriguing for me not to play it as soon as it comes out. It looks awesome and I can only hope it delivers when it drops. Other candidates for this in my head were New Super Mario Bros. 2, and Beyond: Two Souls.
Agree with our thoughts? Vehemently disagree with some of our responses? Confab below!