That’s a wrap everyone! E3 2019 is now over and it was… well… it was okay. E3 always packs surprised, hype-filled fandoms, innovation, and some truly great cringy moments. But with everything wrapped up its time to speculate. Where are the games we were looking forward to that never showed? What were the biggest surprises? And (because this is a click-baity list) what letter grade and rank did each conference arbitrarily get!? Without further or due, here are the E3 Press Conferences 2019: The Missing, The Surprises, and The Ranking
Missing: A Press Conference
Surprise: Wait… they really didn’t show up?
Rating: Incomplete (F)
EA’s only real and hype surrounded announcement was Respawn’s Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order, only offering a few more announcements in the form of less-than-exciting DLC and the yearly sports games.
Missing: Any Excitement
As I stated before, other than kicking off with Respawn’s Star Wars Game (something we already knew would be there), EA really seemed like they could and should have gone the way of Sony and skipped a conference altogether. Rather than shocking fans with new games and possible entries to beloved series (WHERE IS SKATE 4!?) we were treated to a slog of Battlefield, Apex Legends, and Sims 4 DLC, along with the samey and predatory sports game entries we get each and every year. This conference really lacked anything of true substance, making it an absolute bore to watch.
Surprise: That Jedi Fallen Order wasn’t canceled
Jedi Fallen Order was finally shown off with some gameplay and story trailers, demonstrating that it really is kind of the Uncharted of Star Wars games. This fact, that it is actually a story-driven adventure-filled single-player experience, makes it all the more exciting that it is actually happening rather than EA saying that isn’t “what gamers want” and shutting it down. I guess they still have some time to do that. Please don’t do that.
Though they had a few extremely exciting while vague announcements, Bethesda mostly focused on add-ons and continued development to despised and less-popular games, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of fans.
Missing: Elder Scrolls (or anything first party [or a genuine sympathy])
While acting as confident as ever, it was clear that there was a lot missing from Bethesda’s 2019 conference. Most clearly there wasn’t actually any Bethesda developed games represented, with both Elder Scrolls 6 and Starfield not even appearing. This is then made worse by a focus on how “great” Fallout 76 is and how grateful we should be for the updates their making, really only showing remorse for their inept and predatory game development, with their sympathy stated only in snide remarks. This overabundance in add-ons to okay games and lack of in-depth reveals made this conference feel hollow and slightly tone-deaf.
Surprise: Tango/Arkane Announce New IP’s
It was absolutely stellar to see the two kick-ass developers Tango Gameworks (The Evil Within) and Arkane Studios (Dishonored) announce new exciting IP’s with Ghostwire: Tokyo and Deathloop respectively, which will no doubt be incredible games in the future (having the absolutely loveable Ikumi Nakamura on stage didn’t hurt as well). It is just too bad that seeing mere announcements without gameplay or in-depth explanations just wasn’t enough to propel a tone-deaf conference into the green.
5. Square Enix
Though capped at the beginning and end with big hitters like Final Fantasy VII Remake and the still-confusing Avengers by Crystal Dynamics, Square Enix mostly failed to excite with the bulk being middling remasters and ports for cult fans.
Missing: Anything Platinum Games
Platinum Games have proved themselves to be one of the most exciting and skilled developers out there right now, bringing quality and hype wherever they go. Though also having prevalent partnerships with Sega and Nintendo, Platinum and Square Enix have found themselves teaming up for superb projects, one of which is one of the studios most beloved games with Neir Automata. Just last year the two announced they would be working together again with a very brief trailer in Square’s E3 lineup on a game called Babylon’s Fall, making Platinum’s absence somewhat of a surprise this year. With a fairly past-focused conference, Square Enix could have greatly benefited from the jolt of adrenaline that is Platinum Games.
Surprise: People Can Fly and Square Enix team up on a new game
People Can Fly, a developer that was once part of Epic Games who helped make Gears of War and the cult favorite Bulletstorm, finally unveiled a brand new shooter title with Square Enix as the publisher, called Outriders. Though getting only a vague cinematic trailer, it already seems like a perfectly strange partnership and outing for Square Enix in all the best ways.
Ubisoft started off strong with grabbing genuine interest in some sequels, but slowly faded as they had no big surprises for their cult or main audiences. That being said, Ubisoft seemed more confident and composed than ever, straying away from their awkward missteps of the past (except for the mobile game thing).
Missing: Splinter Cell
Being Ubisoft’s biggest misstep, having no new news for the Splinter Cell franchise, and our friend Sam Fisher, ended being a huge disappointment for fans. Following that with an announcement for a mobile game that has Sam Fisher in it… that inspired anger rather than just disappointment.
Surprise: Watch Dogs 3 looks good
With a notable honorable mention to the announcement of a new PVE co-op entry into the Rainbow Six franchise with Rainbow Six: Quarantine, the true star of the show was surprisingly Watch Dogs 3. While it was no surprise that it was there (god bless you leaks) what was a surprise was the new innovations to the series that actually captured my attention. Through taking the series to London and focusing the aesthetic a little to be almost Black Mirror adjacent is making Watch Dogs 3 look more confident than ever (there was nothing more “look at me” than the needlessly hipster Watch Dogs 2). But with the addition of a “Nemesis System-like” mechanic of permadeath gameplay that makes every civilian a possible protagonist with each of their own distinct gameplay styles, from hacker granny to badass agent, makes this the first Watch Dogs that had me pretty damn interested. The potential of what was shown was impressive and just might innovate enough to make Watchdogs 3 a must-play. I guess I’m going to play Watchdogs now (a sentence I never thought would come out of my mouth).
Xbox delivered a solid, if not somewhat predictable and too future-focused, conference with another confident and swift showcase that showed Microsoft knows what they are doing in setting up a future for their brand.
Missing: Gameplay footage of anything and also Fable
Similar to Bethesda’s big fumble, Microsoft’s biggest misstep in this conference was no doubt the lack of anything gameplay oriented. We got updates on projects and the unveiling of new projects altogether but none of these felt entirely impactful due to the focus on cinematics. Being a gamer, cinematics have meant less and less, so seeing Microsoft’s heavy hitter exclusives with a few years behind their backs, Halo Infinite and Gears of War 5, get updates in the form of new trailers and cinematics rather than any gameplay or information on their systems, was hugely disappointing.
There were many fans waiting with bated breath for the project that has been hush hush for a few years with Playground Games Fable project. This announcement could have pumped this conference with a bit more juice and excitement, but its absence still doesn’t cripple Microsoft’s graceful conference.
Surprise: KEANU FLIPPIN’ REEVES and Double Fine is now a 1st party studio for Microsoft
We all expected the biggest game of them all, Cyber Punk 2077, to make an appearance but we were not expecting this. Even though Cyber Punk even skimped on the gameplay footage, the unveiling of Keanu Reeves being present in the game was one of those moments that make me still have hope in the hype of E3 each year. Having it followed up by having a giddy Keanu come out and talk about the game made this small announcement something to be cherished.
As stated before, just like Microsoft’s 2018 E3, this is a conference to secure a future for Xbox as a brand. This took form in 2018 as short snippets of their big IP’s but most importantly the acquisition of beloved studios like Ninja Theory and Obsidian. In 2019 this also took the form of an acquisition but of possibly their boldest studio yet with Double Fine, the creators behind Psychonauts and Broken Age. These new studios joining the Xbox team is no-doubt Microsoft finally trying to fight back against the power that has been the acclaimed PlayStation Exclusives of this generation. Microsoft is focused on the future.
2. Devolver Digital
Devolver’s irreverence and parody have proven to be just as potent as ever as they aimed their sights at Nintendo and took the form of Devolver Direct, as they continued their wacky yearly story and still reign as king of the indies.
Missing: A major announcement
While having a nice little lineup of games, special attention to the brand new monster game Carrion, and had numerous weird surprises, they didn’t really have any major and heavy hitting game announcements (honestly making it even more on-brand).
Surprise: The Audacity
Not being satisfied just poking fun at companies like Nintendo, Devolver next set their sights on themselves with discounted knock-off versions of their own games and an arcade light-gun shooter set in the world of Enter the Gungeon, called House of the Gun-dead. I literally had to look both of those up afterward to see if it was just a joke. It wasn’t just a joke.
Nintendo has now locked themselves into the hot-seat of most reliable and fan-focused company out there with another (there hasn’t been a dud) Nintendo Direct packed with unexpected surprised and delivery of best possible scenarios for what was expected.
Missing: Metroid Prime 4
Although this was somewhat expected, pretty much sealing its fate with the announcement that Nintendo was starting over development on the project due to lack of quality, but there were still many that were holding onto hope that Metroid Prime 4 might finally show off a bit more than just a title. There was even a hope we might see the series make its transition to the console in the meantime. But even with Metroid missing, Nintendo was in top form.
Surprise: Banjo Kazooie in Smash, the sequel to Breath of the Wild, the Witcher 3, and just so much!
Hot damn Nintendo seemed to be the only press conference that packed legitimate surprises. From the announcement of Banjo Kazooie joining Smash Ultimate (seriously everybody, this is actually happening…), the Witcher 3 coming to Switch (can it seriously run this game!?), and an actual announcement for the next major Legend of Zelda. These are just the big ones; Nintendo even showed off numerous release dates and new footage for things like the new Animal Crossing and Luigi’s Mansion 3. It’s hard for me not to just write about every announcement right now. God bless you Nintendo
Though companies smoothed out their rough-edges on conferences and cut their truly cringe sections, E3 and its press-conferences this year have shown signs of wear and fatigue. With Sony, usually one of the biggest presenters, skipping, and Nintendo innovating with their Nintendo Direct Format (and also Devolver haha), E3 lacked the oomph of previous years. Though there was some good show in both Microsoft and Ubisoft, this proved to be a supremely weak year and may have shown signs of age for future years to come. But with Nintendo showing the way of future, it feels like our hype and hearts as gamers are still in good hands.