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COMMENT | Why Next-Gen At E3 Has Left Me Feeling Underwhelmed

Matt Gardner
E3 2013, Microsoft, Next-gen, Nintendo, Sony, Ubisoft

COMMENT | Why Next-Gen At E3 Has Left Me Feeling Underwhelmed

Walking away from this year's slew of E3 press conferences, and a couple of pre-recorded video presentations, I can't say I felt enormously "pumped", as UFC's Dana White might have put it, for the next generation of video games consoles as I was perhaps hoping. Last year's E3 was a carnival of bombastic, bloody excess -- a gaudy and gory pantomime of slickly presented hammer blows, one after the other. We criticised the uber-violence, we lamented the lack of gameplay footage from some quarters (praising Ubisoft for bucking that particular trend), we slammed Nintendo for not being ready for their own, unopposed console release.

Some things don't change.

But others do. The industry listened and, with more to explain this year, publishers and platform holders stepped up their game, targeting their audience in intelligent fashion. By and large, the worst thing we could level at most of the press conferences, Sony aside, was that there was enough time to adequately express and explain the scope in design and ambitions for some of the next-generation titles.

COMMENT | Why Next-Gen At E3 Has Left Me Feeling Underwhelmed

The most curious games of the pressers -- the likes of Project Spark, The Crew, The Division, Titanfall, and Destiny -- also left us with a small taste of confusion in the mouth, though fact dumps and leaks for the last two had helped a little. There were things to point to of great interest, games to follow up on and titles that piqued our curiosity with seemingly innovative features, far-reaching designs on multiplayer and a connected experiences, but little (at least for me) that immediately made me bolt upright in my seat, and start drooling.

Actually, that's a lie.

You see, for all of the frustrated rage that Jon and I expressed in yesterday's Game Buzz regarding Nintendo's pre-recorded hot mess of a presentation, there were games in there that the dormant Nintendo fanboy in me covets. Mario Kart 8 looks absolutely bonkers and totally enthralling. X is an enormous open-world JRPG that looks truly genre-defining and totally next-gen. Bayonetta 2 appears to be just as insanely bonkers and beautiful, balletically, brilliant as its predecessor, and you know how much we love Platinum. But, of course, the big kicker is that most of the Wii U's impressive games will be coming in 2014, and as much as I love Kamiya's work, I'm not paying full price for a console just for W101; the same goes for Pikmin 3.

COMMENT | Why Next-Gen At E3 Has Left Me Feeling Underwhelmed

Moreover, Nintendo's surprises were backwards-looking iterations of previous games. The new Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D Nostalgia Megamix SNES Revamp Tropical Thunder Crush Freeze HD won't be a bad game; and neither will Super Mario 3D World, but there was nothing impressive about them. We've seen them before, on  the Wii and 3DS (the freaking 3DS!!!!) respectively. It's possible that Mario no longer has the power to spearhead an evolutionary console jump the way he used to (see: Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy). That's ok, but Nintendo really ought to have realised that. They've had all of the time to really look to push their franchises forward, but their lead has evaporated, and the lack of releases on the slate is symptomatic of incredibly poor planning. I was so looking forward to Nintendo presenting me (not to mention third-party prospective partners wathing eagerly) with a barrage of reasons to get behind the Wii U right now. But they blew it.

In similar fashion, the more accessible pieces from Sony -- Killzone: Shadow Fall and Infamous: Second Son -- held little for me either. Both of them are shiny, and both will stand for quality exclusives come launch day for the PS4, but they're both incredibly safe bets. I know what I'm going to get with both of those franchises and they don't excite me at all. And as for the much-hyped Ryse reveal over on Microsoft's stage, clunky animation and swathes of quick-time events do not make for good entertainment.

So it was that the games that actually impressed me the most were the same ones that impressed me last year. Beyond: Two Souls gave us a more action-oriented look at the game, giving us a glimpse of some serious player agency and leaving me with so many questions, chief of all being how this military background would lead to a homeless, bedraggled Ellen Page flipping police cars with her mind. I can't wait to find out.

COMMENT | Why Next-Gen At E3 Has Left Me Feeling Underwhelmed

Watch Dogs gave rise to several presentations that showed off that particular game's diverse range of gameplay opportunities, and it's to be hoped that the game seems as open to player choice in terms of mission approaches as it first appears. In fact, the reason perhaps Ubisoft's press conference felt a little muted was because most of the titles they had there had already been announced: Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag looks like it could rescue the series with a fantastic degree of openness and a charismatic central character who gives us the Pirates of the Caribbean-esque title that the film tie-ins never could; Rayman Legends still looks fantastic, and that Vita version is going to delight our eyeballs thanks to that drop-dead gorgeous OLED screen. I was critical of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, but that long gameplay trailer that emerged from Konami's pre-recorded presentation dropped my jaw -- I'm going to need that game in my life.

But the best console to win out? Probably the 3DS. New Pokemon that's actually seeking to advance the series rather than tread water in new make-up; Mario & Luigi's: Dream Team which is looking absolutely brilliant and hugely subversive (these days I almost enjoy Mario spin-offs more than I do the increasingly repetitive core games); new Zelda! Animal Crossing is just around the corner, too, as is Project X Zone.

Of course, there's an enormous current-gen game from Rockstar that's coming out in September that didn't feature in any of the press conferences!

COMMENT | Why Next-Gen At E3 Has Left Me Feeling Underwhelmed

My point is that off of the strength of this E3 so far, I see little reason in investing either any of the next-gen gadget boxes before Christmas. Titanfall and Destiny will both be on current gen systems, and there's always the PC sitting quietly there too. No doubt Gamescom and TGS will be bigger than ever this year (they really need to be for all concerned, especially those companies -- *cough* Microsoft and Nintendo -- who sometimes skip out on one or both), and I'm really hoping that a few little events and announcements over the next few months will seriously change my mind. I love new tech, I want to be convinced. But given the rocky start to the last generation (no death lights please!), the likelihood of more attractive bundles (for me personally) arriving a few months down  the line, the noted need from both Microsoft and Sony to continue pushing titles on current-gen consoles, and the existence of my PC, waiting a little while might well be prudent.

Except I can't stop watching that Metal Gear Solid V trailer. But that's just me. How about you?

Add a comment6 comments
X10  Jun. 13, 2013 at 17:16

I think a number of developers, as has been posted on Dealspwn in the not too distant past, have said the exact same thing. That Next-Gen isn't going to wow people.
It's almost as if they've taken a step backwards (re: always on connections and pre-owned DRM) that a normal console is actually a step forwards, being not a step at all.
Until the peripherals and software catalogue merge to take advantage of the possiblities of what each console could do (imagine a spiritual successor to Hard Rain on the XBone that used the Kinext!), I don't think we'll see many people being that excited.

Breadster  Jun. 13, 2013 at 18:13

I'm looking forward to them, mostly because I can't afford to upgrade my PC and I want some sexy looking games.

I started to list which games I most liked the look of but realised it was quite a big list so I guess I'll just say the ones I was least impressed with. Killzone and Infamous just looked exactly as you'd expect, Final Fantasy 15 looked nothing like a FF game, Ryse was possibly the worst game I saw. It was just a giant quick time event. I thought Dead Rising looked good, but I was a bit disappointed with it's lack of colour, DR has always been a very vibrant game.

I didn't watch the Nintendo event so I can't really comment on that.

hrasda  Jun. 13, 2013 at 19:09

Maybe this will cheer you up, a copilation of the funniest and most humiliating moments of E3 2013 http://www.noshitshurlock.com/the-big-e3-video-list/

hrasdadd  Jun. 13, 2013 at 19:10

Maybe this will cheer you up, a copilation of the funniest and most humiliating moments of E3 2013 http://www.noshitshurlock.com/the-big-e3-video-list/

chieftex  Jun. 13, 2013 at 23:03

I hear a lot of people saying they can't afford to upgrade their PC. Assuming you don't change your monitor, can people afford £350 to £400 to get some parts? I think it's doable, and the next gen consoles will cost you AT LEAST this, and more in terms of extra controllers/peripherals etc.

Then there's the games. PC games are around £10 to £15 within a month of release of late! If you factor buying around ten console games compared to 10 PC games, it's possible it's more worth while upgrading your PC...

Breadster  Jun. 14, 2013 at 17:13

The thing is, imo if you're going to upgrade your PC you may as well go top of the range, or close to it because the parts get better so quickly. You just end up feeling like you're lagging behind again, even if it's still more powerful than the consoles, and for a top of the range PC, it's going to cost a lot more than £350, especially seeing as I would literally need to buy an entire new PC as mine is garbage.


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