Sunday, Aug 19, 2018
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WEEKENDER I GAME ON

Major firms disappoint at game expo

  • Activision-s-Crash-Bandicoot-Spyro-and-Sekrio-Shadows-Die-Tw

    Crash Bandicoot greets fan Zac Wojnar at the "Spyro Reignited Trilogy" booth during E3 at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, in Los Angeles.

    Invision for Activision

  • Switch-SuperSmashBrosUltimate-illustration-02-jpg

    'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.'

  • 3400038-last-of-us-part-ii-jpg

    'Last of Us Part II' screen grab.

    Sony Interactive Entertainment

E3 2018 is in the books, with the city of Los Angeles and video game journalists alike recovering from a week of nonstop gaming news. If you were like me and observed last week’s yearly gaming expo at home and through live-streams on Twitch, then you might feel a bit overwhelmed.

Activision-s-Crash-Bandicoot-Spyro-and-Sekrio-Shadows-Die-Tw

Crash Bandicoot greets fan Zac Wojnar at the "Spyro Reignited Trilogy" booth during E3 at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, in Los Angeles.

Invision for Activision Enlarge

As usual, there was a lot to see and hear, though I found each of the major press events from the usual suspects to be somewhat lackluster. Given that we may not be too far from a new console hardware generation, it felt like publishers were holding something back. Still, there was plenty to get excited about.

Nintendo did its usual prerecorded, Nintendo Treehouse event, but outside of a promising new version of Fire Emblem for the Switch there was very little by way of new announcements. The majority of Nintendo’s time was filled with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the next iteration in the successful fighting game franchise.

The roster will feature every character ever included in a Smash Bros. game, along with a new addition: The beloved and long-requested Ridley from the Metroid series. The Blade attempted to reach Waluigi for comment on his continued exclusion from Smash Bros. but heard only the faint sound of sobbing on the other end of the phone.

If you weren’t hyped for Smash Bros. then there wasn’t much else from Nintendo. To quote E3 attendee and VentureBeat staff writer Jeffrey Grubb, “I'm going to leave E3 for this first time without playing anything at Nintendo. It's disappointing that I don't feel the need to get in there to try something,” he said on Twitter at the close of the week. I can understand how he felt, considering big franchises such as Animal Crossing and Metroid were absent.

3400038-last-of-us-part-ii-jpg

'Last of Us Part II' screen grab.

Sony Interactive Entertainment Enlarge

Microsoft, however, came out swinging during its Sunday afternoon event. Lagging behind Sony in regard to console sales during the current hardware cycle, Microsoft’s largest problem has been bringing big name games to the Xbox One.

The company solved that with a salvo of announcements, including the next game in the famed Devil May Cry franchise, a new Gears of War, and the first trailer for Steampunk 2077 — the next game from The Witcher 3 developer CD Projekt Red. Microsoft also announced the acquisition of multiple game studios, including Ninja Theory, creators of Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice.

While none of these moves are glamorous or exciting, they are steps in the right direction for a company working to win some goodwill and fans back from Sony.

Sony’s press event held its usual Monday night spot, but with a new twist and a focus on four major, upcoming games.

The night opened in a tent with a crowd crammed into the venue like so much Spam spewing from its can for a musical introduction to The Last of Us Part II. What proceeded was a fantastic showing by developer Naughty Dawg, highlighting representation in games with a gay, female lead character locked in an emotional kiss ... right before the footage quickly cut to Ellie disemboweling a man with a knife. It was a fantastic trailer that not only highlighted the game’s motion-capture technology, but also some of the most gruesome, visceral violence I’ve ever seen in a video game.

The biggest highlight of the night for me was the long-awaited reveal of Resident Evil 2, a remake of the 1998 classic Capcom game. Running on the gritty and realistic engine used in Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, this new version of RE2 showcased some disturbingly awesome visuals. More than a rehashed version of the original, this updated take features a new combat system and an expanded police station.

Resident Evil 2 is set for a Jan. 25 release.

I wish there was more space to talk about all the great games on display, such as the intriguing Fallout 76. I’ll be discussing this new entry in the Fallout franchise in the months ahead, as a beta test will run this summer. If you’re looking to catch up on all the news from the week’s events, head over to Twitch.TV and navigate to each company’s channel to view the footage from each event.

Contact William Harrison at DoubleUHarrison@gmail.com or on Twitter @DoubleUHarrison.

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