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Friday, June 12, 2015

E3's already been completely spoiled... so we're going to declare the game of the show now

... Actually, not really. Or are we? I'm not actually going to declare categorically a "winner" of E3, but I've got to admit that this past week has been one of the most frustrating experiences as a fan of games and gaming.

See, this week has seen an almost endless number reveals and leaks, and I'm left wondering what, if anything, will be left to be revealed at E3 itself. There were major announcements around Fallout, Uncharted, Ratchet & Clank, Forza, Shadow Warrior 2, Hellblade, Vanquish 2 (probably), Mirror's Edge, Hyrule Warriors on the Nintendo 3DS (okay, that was probably an accidental leak), Devil's Third, and whatever else I'd forgotten off the top of my head.

Now, all of these games are worth getting excited about. In fact, I think I would blow a fuse or ten if all of these games were announced, revealed, and showed off over the course of E3's three days. It would have made for one of the most effortlessly exciting E3s in the history of the event. There would have been so much information flying around that it would have been difficult to keep up. Perhaps the developers and publishers, through their international spy networks, knew just how strong the lineups of their rivals were, and so decided to go for the preemptive strike and get their news out before their rivals could.

That would be one good reason to make your E3 announcements early, but the problem this year has been that every publisher has apparently had that idea, it seems like everything has already been announced, revealed, and trailered, and there's nothing left to look forward to from the three days of E3 itself, other than perhaps a bit more footage of stuff we already know about. While I'm sure there's going to be the odd surprise or two left, it's hard to shake the feeling that those big, expensive, stage shows just aren't worth getting up to watch any longer (because as an Australian, E3 does ask us to keep some ridiculous hours).

This is truly disappointing. E3 is the closest the games industry has to a major event which every single fan and pundit needs to follow. It's an event that is meant to surprise, wow and excite us, to remind us why we love playing games, and part of the appeal of the show is that these surprises come in a concentrated form. For just a couple of days, it's an endless stream of excitement and enthusiasm. It's like a trip to Disneyland, and it provides us all with a firm roadmap for what to look forward to in the years ahead.

What all these early announcements have done is dilute the impact that E3 itself can have. Microsoft or Sony might get up on stage and take us through a demo of their respective "big" games, but we already know about Forza and Ratchet & Clank. Bethesda is perfectly justified in getting up on stage and building a show around Fallout 4. It is a major, major game release, after all. But while we'll be excited to see what footage of Fallout 4 Bethesda has to share, it simply cannot compare to the excitement of hearing about Fallout 4 for the first time.

As E3 is meant to be something to really look forward to, I can't help but be disappointed that so much of it has been spoiled already. Unless, somehow, there are some massive surprises in wait yet (and that's unrealistic, to say the least, given that developers and publishers can only work on so many things at any one time), we already know enough about E3 to say it was a great show and there's plenty of great games coming in the year ahead.

And the winner of E3 2015 is...

What the heck, I couldn't help myself.

Hellblade is clearly going to be a winner of a game. Ninja Theory is one of the most under appreciated game developers out there, and this is a real throwback to the kind of ingenuity that drove its last original IP, Heavenly Sword. It's got a strong female lead, a dark premise (which could go wrong, but I'm hoping the talented writers at Ninja Theory are able to handle the theme of madness with sensitivity and restraint), and some intensely beautiful art about it. Ninja Theory also knows action like almost no other developer, so there's no concerns there. This is going to be an incredible game. Hopefully it will finally find the commercial success it deserves.

And so, unless Koei Tecmo comes out and surprises us with a new Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball or Final Fantasy Warriors game, I'd be very surprised if any game can top this one... and that basically means I've already seen the best of E3.

- Matt S. 
Find me on Twitter: @digitallydownld
E3's already been completely spoiled... so we're going to declare the game of the show now
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