Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have now each staged their respective E3 2017 presentations and press conferences, showing off their upcoming games (and, in Microsoft’s case, console) to attendees in the Los Angeles Convention Center.
As the dust has now settled on the expo’s presentations, PS4, Xbox One and Switch owners are left looking towards the future and the games set to keep us entertained over the course of the next few years. With that being said, let’s take a look at which of the “Big Three” impressed us the most this year.
The Good: Lots of games
Ever since the ill-fated Xbox One launch where Microsoft positioned the console as an expensive TV box rather than a gaming system, they have used E3 to focus upon their games and, for the most part, let them do the talking. This year was no different, with a selection of new games being debuted from Forza Motorsport 7, to Metro Exodus, to Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, along with a wide selection of upcoming indie games as part of their ID@Xbox program.
Anthem was the major takeaway from the press conference, with BioWare’s upcoming new IP closing out the show in all its 4K glory, showcasing the Mass Effect studio’s new action RPG. Taking clear cues from Destiny, Anthem‘s four player co-op multiplayer looked like a lot of fun, with it offering plenty of giant beasts to fight in its push environment and dynamic world events ripped straight from Bungie’s blockbuster FPS.
The Bad: Few exclusives
Microsoft has failed to provide any substantial reasons to pick up an Xbox One in 2017, with them neglecting their console for the past 6 months or so. It was hoped that E3 2017 would see them wheel out the big guns, but while there were a lot of games on show during its press conference, few could really be categorized as major system sellers.
With the likes of Anthem and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor also releasing on the PS4, Microsoft’s exclusives were limited, with the highlight being the impressive new gameplay footage shown from Rare’s multiplayer pirate adventure game Sea of Thieves. Unfortunately, this is set to release in 2018, with Microsoft set to continue its dry year until the launch of the Xbox One X.
The Ugly: Xbox One X reveal
Microsoft fumbled the Xbox One X reveal, and while it wasn’t exactly disastrous, it’s unlikely that it sold as many people on the 4K console as they would have wanted. Though Head of Xbox Phil Spencer continued to pummel home the tagline that it’s the “most powerful console ever,” Microsoft failed to adequately showcase this power during its presentation.
Yes, Forza Motorsport 7 looked great, and both Metro Exodus and Anthem boasted slick graphics, but for those watching at home in the 1080p stream it inevitably didn’t look like an improvement worth splashing $500 on. With a lack of killer exclusives on the horizon and a dearth of great games for a while now, it’s difficult to see why Microsoft believes consumers will choose to purchase an Xbox One X over a PS4 Pro for their 4K gaming needs. It’s more powerful, sure, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot if it doesn’t have the games to play on it.
The Good: Spider-Man and PS VR
Sony echoed Microsoft’s E3 press conference by also pushing games to the forefront, spending little time on filler in order to instead reeling off trailer after trailer. Insomniac’s Spider-Man was one of the highlights of this year’s E3 presentations, closing Sony’s press conference with a demo that highlighted why they’re so invested in the property. Showing off a thrilling chase sequence in which Spidey web-slings through the New York streets before sprinting through a crumbling building, this game could be to Spider-Man what the Batman: Arkham series was to the Dark Knight. Outside of the Marvel vs. Capcom series there has yet to be a truly great Marvel superhero game, so hopefully Insomniac will break that trend.
Despite many believing it to be dead on arrival, Sony also spent a surprising amount of time on announcing new PlayStation VR games. This segment probably wasn’t all too interesting for those who don’t own a PS VR, and nothing shown could have really been described as a system seller for the virtual reality headset, but for current owners of the platform it was encouraging that Sony spent an extensive amount of time on it this year.
The Bad: No surprises
Sony has had an incredible run of form over the course of the past few E3s, but it was inevitable that it would end at some point. Unfortunately, E3 2017 was the most disappointing Sony E3 press conference since the PS4’s launch, with them not really offering anything new in terms of exclusives and mainly focusing upon delivering extra footage of previously announced games. It wasn’t bad by any means, and there were at least a few surprise reveals in the form of Monster Hunter: World and the Shadow of the Colossus remaster/remake (we still don’t know what it is), but it didn’t live up to the level of excitement generated by its previous E3 presentations.
The Ugly: Absent games
Perhaps Sony’s lack of new announcements at E3 2017 was a conscious decision on behalf of the company, considering some of the games it has announced over the past few E3s that have gone M.I.A. Although Sony’s press conferences were home to Final Fantasy VII Remake and Shenmue 3, both games were completely absent at E3 2017, with them also failing to provide updates on other highly anticipated titles such as Death Stranding, Media Molecule’s Dreams and, most surprisingly, The Last of Us 2. A lot went unaddressed in Sony’s conference, and more than a few of the PS4’s most exciting upcoming games were overlooked completely.
The Good: Major reveals
Out of the “big three,” Nintendo’s E3 presentation was the only event that really featured any huge new reveals. During the 25-minute Nintendo E3 Spotlight, they revealed that both Metroid Prime 4 and a new “core Pokemon RPG” for the Switch were in development, effectively answering years of fan requests in the process. Though they revealed little information about these upcoming games, that they were announced at all was a shock for Nintendo fans, and provided E3 2017 with its only real surprising news outside of Ubisoft’s Beyond Good & Evil 2 reveal.
Then there was Super Mario Odyssey, which closed Nintendo’s show and confidently became the highlight of E3 2017 in the process. Showcasing Mario’s brand new hat-throwing ability which allows him to possess (yes, actually possess) the bodies of his enemies/inanimate objects, it looks equal parts ridiculous and amazing. We can’t wait to play it when it launches in October.
The Bad: Too little time
Clocking in at just 25 minutes long, the Nintendo E3 Spotlight may have been to the point but it also felt far too short, and we would have definitely appreciated a closer look at some of the games. Quickly hopping between announcements, barely any time was spent on the new Kirby and Yoshi games, and though the Treehouse Live segment revealed some new gameplay footage for a selection of the games (including a lengthy demo of Super Mario Odyssey), the whole thing felt rushed. Also, while we’re still very excited by the prospect of Metroid Prime 4 and the Pokemon Switch RPG, learning that Retro Studios won’t be at the helm of the former and not receiving so much as a logo for the latter is disappointing.
The Ugly: Third-party support
Nintendo has notably struggled with third-party support, and while their E3 2017 was certainly better than the wasteland of developers that was their Wii U E3 presentations, there still wasn’t a lot here outside of their first-party releases. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle was shown again following its reveal at the Ubisoft press conference, Rocket League was announced and a new Xenoblade Chronicles 2 trailer was shown, but outside of this it seems like Nintendo is yet again facing an uphill struggle when it comes to getting developers to support its platform.
This wasn’t a great year for E3, az outside of Ubisoft’s surprisingly great press conference no one particularly hit it out of the park. Sony struggled to generate excitement with their underwhelming announcements, Microsoft failed to properly build momentum for the Xbox One X and Nintendo rushed through its Spotlight event. However, despite Nintendo’s presentation being incredibly swift, a few key and surprising announcements combined with their wonderful showcase of Super Mario Odyssey on Treehouse Live makes this their year.
Riding high on the success of the Switch, Nintendo revealed a bunch of upcoming games that owners of the hybrid console can look forward to, and Super Mario Odyssey looks set to propel it into a very successful holiday season. With the past few E3s having been filled with exciting announcements it’s a shame that both Microsoft and Sony simultaneously suffered an off year, but at least Switch owners can rest easy that there’s plenty more great games on the way.