Tag Archives: E3 2014

E3 Reactions — Elizabeth Tobey’s Top 3

The Division

by Elizabeth Tobey

For the first time in five years, I didn’t personally attend E3. While part of me was sad about missing out on such a usually huge event for me work-wise, the rest of me giggled with glee that I didn’t have to worry about trailers and appointments and booths and how I’m a germaphobe and detest shaking hundreds of hands.

Watching E3 purely as a spectator, with no proverbial horse in the game, was a breath of fresh air. It is, however, impossible for me to shed my (fairly cynical) perspective of the industry when I sit down to write about three trailers that stood out to me during the event. It’s so easy to critique negatively when you are sitting on the sidelines, but I know that every demo that went to E3 came with the baggage of long nights and perhaps some frantically couriered thumb drives with last-minute edits.

I’m going to start off by cheating a little bit and talk about the same game for my first two trailers. See, I have a problem with trailers that I can tell are fake: they either have gameplay I’m fairly certain was made just for the demo and therefore might never make it to the real game (so often it doesn’t) or somehow the dialogue is so forced and fake that I actually cringe when I hear it. Case in point is the gameplay trailer for The Division:

Don’t get me wrong. I applaud Ubisoft for showing off so much gameplay and I think it shows the game very well, but for god’s sake, people, gamers don’t talk like that to each other. When you are cooperating with your friend, you speak like a normal person and not in character. This doesn’t make me feel like I’m playing with my friends – it keeps making me realize this is a carefully scripted demo read by the devs to hit on the Key Marketing Initiatives for E3.

That being said, The Division absolutely nailed it with their cinematic trailer:

I don’t even really like cinematic trailers as representations of gameplay because – while they are great mood pieces and often artworks in their own right – they are CG, usually made by an outside agency, and so often the gritty mood of the piece (I’m looking at you, Dead Island cinematic trailer) does not carry in the slightest to the final game. That makes you even more disappointed in the end product than if you’d never seen the cinematic piece in the first place. But this trailer? I want to be a good guy (not the kind of good guy that when you think about it is actually a psychopath) and this trailer sells me on the desolation and the hope of the world they are creating.

Saving the best for last, The Crew continues to blow my fucking socks off. This year’s trailer, “Coast to Coast,” wins a special place in my heart not just because it used in-game footage that I felt was realistic and representative of the actual experience, but because it brought together the thrill of driving cars and made me absolutely giddy to do it online with my friends. The sheer scale of this game makes me want to play it right now thankyouverymuch – I have bought into everything this game promised and it’s a Day One purchase for me. The best part about me loving this trailer and game? I played it last PAX Prime and I was TERRIBLE at it. It was embarrassing. But that doesn’t matter. I need to play it, even if I’m the derpy pre-order Z4 that always gets smashed up, because that’s what friends are for and The Crew makes me believe that completely.

Elizabeth Tobey has been a Senior Manager of Interactive Marketing at Bioshock developer 2K and the Director of Global Communications at Defiance developer Trion Worlds. She is currently the Director of Marketing at Smule. You can read her thoughts on the gaming industry and other topics here.

E3 Reactions – Forrest Walker’s Top 3

Zelda E3 2014

by Forrest Walker

It’s 2014 and Japanese video games are irrelevant. That’s the current byline, at least, and it seems to be increasingly true in a global sense. Consoles are dying in Japan, developers are going under, and even the once-mighty Capcom has scaled back to just a few retreads a year. Japanese publishers now fund western development houses, and Japanese developers are starting to worry that the hubbub about lack of innovation in Japan might just be true. It’s a strange time for the Japanese game industry, but not as strange as the trailers and announcements coming from the Far East this E3. What’s happening in Japan right now, and how much does it matter?

The biggest splash made by a Japanese trailer was probably a look into the new Zelda game for Wii U, a trailer consisting mostly of Eiji Aonuma of Nintendo sitting in a white room and talking about Legend of Zelda. More business proposal than trailer, this video sparked a thousand articles. The reason? The rock that is Nintendo changed the formula. Aonuma outlined the difficulty of making the world of Zelda feel open, expansive and free, something that Nintendo has struggled with since the onset of 3D graphics in Ocarina of Time. Now, that’s changed.

Whether hardware upgrades or simply in-house ethos is the primary factor, Link has jumped on board a train that’s been rolling through America for a decade: the sandbox. Zelda is now an open world, a place where a boy and his horse can run to the furthest mountain, meet bizarre creatures, and choose to do the water temple first…or last. Japan is tired of being left in the dust.

Hideo Kojima and Konami, on the other hand, are throwing their franchise into the dust face-first. Adding onto a previous trailer, E3 gave us a real look at the gameplay of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. After a brutal, cinematic look at the often-agonizing world of Metal Gear, Punished Snake rides into the hills of Afghanistan to sneak and snipe his way toward his goals. After a long, strange decade of games since Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Kojima has returned not only to the protagonist of that game, but to the fundamentals of what made it an aficionado’s choice. Phantom Pain seems to have it all: bizarre enemies; intricate faces; a confusing, dark story; meticulous historical detail; and infinite ways to confuse and murder your enemies.

In leaping into an open world sandbox, much like Zelda, another Japanese developer is taking something uniquely western in game design and using it to emphasize what’s unique about their franchise. In this case, the myriad of combat options in Metal Gear align with a vast possibility of transportation and destination. If you love the cinematic, intense world of Kojima, this game has the most exciting trailer of the season.

Of course, no talk about Japanese auteurs would be complete without bringing up the Andy Warhol of the video game universe. Goichi Suda, aka Suda51, and his Grasshopper Manufacture are at it again. Every year he releases another oddball entry into the world of pulp video games, a subsection of gaming he’s more or less invented himself. They’re not all good games, and they’re not all fun games, but they’re always bizarre, interesting, and worthy of critical analysis…despite usually appearing to be a vapid murder simulator.

Suda51’s Let It Die premiered at this E3, and the trailer featured more live action than gameplay footage. By all appearances, Suda51 is biting Bethesda’s Fallout style and is making some kind of a western RPG in which you try to murder each other brutally. It’s dark, gritty, and probably going right for the throat of western gaming culture, something Grasshopper Manufacture has seemingly declared a loving war on. For the other two examples, going western is a new, risky move. For Grasshopper, doing something they’ve never done before is just Thursday.

The new Battlefield, the new Halo game(s), Mass Effect 4, these are all bigger news in America. How relevant is Japan now? Not very, and that’s why these trailers are so important. Japan has been sliding for a decade, and the climb back up is long and treacherous. Nintendo and Konami have been reluctant to start that climb, but are finally, barely starting. Could this mark a change in the industry? An ascent of Japan? I don’t know and neither does anyone else, but at least Japan is willing to give it a shot, and that’s big news.

Forrest Walker is a native Texan who was raised on a steady diet of Sega consoles and Japanese RPGs. If he could only get good at an online game, he’d be all set.