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Monday, June 2, 2014

E3 2014: Matt's expectations for the show

Opinion by Matt S.

It's that time of year again; the industry gets together to show off the big games and technologies that we'll be playing in the year ahead. E3 2014 will no doubt be a big show, but what are the DDNet staff looking forward to?

This week we're running a series of articles looking at what we're anticipating and worried about from E3 this year. First up is Matt, Editor-in-Chief;

With no hardware to show off, the 2014 show will be all about the games, and while there will be a couple of surprises no doubt, what concerns me in terms of E3 putting on an eye-opener is the fact that most of the really big games that we'll see there have already been announced. In addition to the inevitable details about Call of Duty, Assassin's Creed and Battlefield, we'll see more of Destiny, Sony's new The Order, The Witcher 3 and Nintendo will no doubt dedicate a lot of time to Smash Bros.

These are games that people want, and the big publishers know that. That means, when Sony and Microsoft take to the state, and Nintendo does its video thing, far too much "screen time" is going to be occupied with outlining new features, new footage, or story trailers for games we already know about. None of that will get me excited because I come to E3 for the new stuff. Not to have my experience of playing these games ruined by the publisher's love of showing off too much of a game before it's even commercially available.

And to be honest I can't see E3's surprises topping what we already know about. Even Project Beast, which is certainly going to be Sony's big reveal, won't be so surprising now that we've seen snippets of footage; those brief couple of seconds that have been leaked are enough so to know the game is indeed a spiritual successor (at the least) to the Souls games. And so just like that the inevitable has already been confirmed and From Software is doing another "hardcore dark JRPG." Which is great. I'll love the game, I'm sure, but now that I already know about it, that leaves even less time for Sony to surprise with something genuinely new.

With all that in mind it's actually the indie and small-scale stuff that I'm looking forward to the most. Because indie games tend to get produced more quickly than the AAA-grade stuff, it's almost certain that E3 will be the first time these games are shown off. This has happened in E3s before, of course. Contrast, that brilliant little puzzle platform game, was an E3 surprise, and it turned out to be one of my favourite games of the year.

In fact, one of the things I am looking forward to the most is seeing how Sony, in particular, presents its indie partnerships this year. Sony's been pushing very heavily to support innovative indie stuff on its PlayStation platforms, and the inevitable show reel during its presentation is going to be exciting stuff.

Over the past year or so I've been reading predictions that the open world genre will replace the FPS as the focus of AAA-development, and I suspect that we'll see that play out in E3 this year. From the Lord of the Rings game, to Batman, Assassin's Creed and whatever surprises have yet to be announced, I suspect that it's this year that we'll see the trend start to play out. Whether that's a good thing or not I'm not sure - I have my reservations about the genre, but that's a discussion for another day.

With regards to Nintendo, the fact that it won't be doing a live presentation is enough to tell me that it simply hasn't got enough planned to justify a full stage show. This means no new hardware, which has been a persistent rumour ever since the Wii U was released and nearly immediately bombed. But, worryingly, it could also mean very little software. Nintendo is apparently making a big bet in lifestyle products, which might have little appeal in the context of an E3 show, but both its Wii U and 3DS lineup is looking very thin indeed; On the Wii U we've got a redundant Smash Bros, which is being released on the 3DS six months earlier, and then we've got a Hyrule Warriors game, Project Zero game, and Project X, which we already know about. These games are good, but hardly enough to carry a console. The one hope I have is Nintendo finally shows of SMT Vs. Fire Emblem, which has been, frankly, the reason I haven't traded the console in for some PSN credit.

The 3DS... well, I've got no idea what's coming on that console other than Smash Bros. So there's a lot of room for Nintendo to unleash an avalanche of game announcements, but I can't help but feel that if Nintendo was planning that, it would have done a proper stage show.

All that aside, I am looking forward to E3. There is inevitably at least one true surprise that absolutely blows me away, and I can't see this year being any different.

Oh, and if Sony doesn't show off The Last Guardian, I'm going to be very offended indeed.

- Matt S.
Find me on Twitter: @digitallydownld
E3 2014: Matt's expectations for the show
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