E3 2018 Opening Day: The Highs and Lows From Nintendo and the Show Opening
After days of pre-show events, the official E3 2018 opening day has come and gone and we have a few highs and a few lows to discuss.
E3 2018 is officially underway. The pre-show press events are complete, and the convention center has already seen thousands – tens of thousands of people. But now that the show has begun, the major announcements are essentially complete. There will be plenty of news to come thanks to private events and closer looks from the show floor (and closed meeting rooms), but the developers and publishers havent held anything back.
Tuesday was the last day for announcements, and there were a few. And along with them, there were some highs and lows. This is what stood out the most us.
Low: Nintendo’s Presence
Nintendo came into E3 2018 with as much heat as any hardware maker. The Switch has sold nearly 18 million units since launch, and that number is expected to reach nearly 40 million by March of 2019. So you’d expect that Nintendo would use the biggest gaming event of the year to drop the hammer and announce something major that would keep people excited. Instead, they showed a few games that were previously announced and others that were even less exciting.
To be fair, Nintendo has taken a huge step back from E3 over the last few years. It doesn’t put a heavy emphasis on it and instead favors its Nintendo Direct events. That’s not a bad thing as it lets fans feel more connected to the announcements, but this E3 was supposed to be different. This was the E3 that was going to take the Switch to the next level.
The closer look at Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was great, and the announcement that every Smash Bros. character ever will be playable had people talking. The confirmation of ports for Fortnite and Hollow Knight were cool, the trailer for Fire Emblem was well received, and Super Mario Party should sell well. But that’s it.
If you’re a huge Smash Bros. fan then the show probably wasn’t too bad, but it would have been significantly more impactful if there were a Metroid Prime 4 presence or even the reveal of several classic games coming to Switch. Instead, it was just underwhelming.
High: Fortnite is Available Now for Switch
While the Nintendo E3 2018 presentation wasn’t the showstopper people had hoped, the long-awaited confirmation of Fortnite coming to the Switch was welcome news. It wasn’t a surprise by any means at this point, but it was nice to have it come out immediately. And given that it’s free to play and Switch fans are always looking for new games, it’s probably going to do very well.
Low: Sony Continues to Block Crossplay
One of the highs of the day was to see Fortnite come for the Switch; one of the lows was to hear that Sony continues to block cross-platform play and PS4 users that want to transfer their characters to the Switch won’t be able to. Accounts registered to the PS4 are locked to the PS4. You can unlock from the system and keep the profile details, but you can’t bring your unlocks and stats over. Boo.
High: EA Responds to the Battlefield V “Backlash”
When EA and DICE first announced Battlefield V via a trailer featuring a female protagonist, a small and very stupid contingent loudly protested, claiming it wasn’t “historically accurate” or something. It was nonsense, but it was the type of nonsense that made for great clickbait. From there, it snowballed from a few stupid people into a “thing.”
EA’s response was a predictable silence. That would make sense if it was just something a few Twitter or Reddit users said – you don’t want to give it more credibility by addressing it if you don’t need to – but it was headline news, and still EA was quiet. During an interview with Gamasutra EA finally took a stand, as EA Chief Creative Officer Patrick Soderlund said, “These are people who are uneducated — they don’t understand that this is a plausible scenario, and listen: this is a game,” he added. “And today gaming is gender-diverse, like it hasn’t been before. There are a lot of female people who want to play, and male players who want to play as a badass [woman].
“And we don’t take any flak. We stand up for the cause, because I think those people who don’t understand it, well, you have two choices: either accept it or don’t buy the game. I’m fine with either or. It’s just not ok.”
Low: Rocksteady’s Absence
It’s hard to be too disappointed at something not happening when that thing was never really confirmed to happen in the first place, but fair or not, it was a little disappointing that Rocksteady didn’t announce its next game at the show. And since there are already so many rumors claiming its next title will be a Superman open-world game set in the Batman Arkham universe, it seemed logical that Rocksteady would either just confirm it or refute it by announcing something else. People are already talking either way, it’s better to control the narrative. Instead, the rumors will continue.
High: Ambitious Games
Overall, while there haven’t been too many surprises, the games that have been featured are massive, ambitious titles. It’s easy to forget that and take it for granted given the similarities on display, but while a game like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey might look similar to its predecessor Origins, that’s not a bad or simple thing. Origins was a huge, beautiful game, and if Odyssey can match that, all the better. Similarly, we may have seen teases for Kingdom Hearts III for years now so there isn’t much of a “wow” factor anymore, but it’s going to be a big, big game.
There are also some games that look like they are going to push the entire industry forward, like The Last of Us Part II and Fallout 76. We’ve only seen hints of games like Cyberpunk 2077 and Remedy’s Control, but both should be huge. This E3 may be devoid of big reveals, but what we’ve seen so far is not to be overlooked.
Low: Very Few Surprises
While we give a lot of props to the titles that have been revealed and highlighted, it’s still a little disappointing that there haven’t been more surprises. There were even some titles that seemed certain to appear at the show, but the publishers/developers took a pass. And given how wide open this show has been, a few major surprises could have become the talk of this E3. Instead, it feels like developers and publishers are being timid. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but there were just so many missed opportunities.