Today I had a striking moment as I was traveling from my apartment to the Sony E3 2013 press conference. My phone was in my hand and I was checking Twitter when I realized I was passing by the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles. Rows of flowering bushes and kids goofing around amidst one of the largest park/garden areas I'd seen yet in LA. I paused, took a picture, then continued on to the concrete yard surrounded by fencing where the audience congregated and mingled prior to the presser. The contrast was, at best, startling. I'm not sure why, but when I think back over the day, I think that moment by the museum of natural history was my favorite.
Enough with the romanticism, let's get to the press conferences. We all saw a lot of video games today, and I don't think there's any argument that whether it's EA or Microsoft, Sony or Ubisoft, the real winners in the year to come are gamers like you and I. What was of most import to me, however, wasn't the games themselves, but how they were presented to us. I loved seeing each and every game show, but I had a tough time caring at all about what was said in between trailers. We as an industry have so many creative minds, passionate about what they do every day and the game's they're making, why can't we put them on the stage more often? Instead, we get this scripted nonsense that says nothing about the game itself or what it stands for and an actor or speaker who cares even less about what they're saying. At least stumbling over a line or mispronouncing something feels genuine. At least gameplay trailers and demos feel genuine. Everything else? We need to do better.
That said, as far as the four press conferences I watched today, I was the most impressed by both Sony's and Microsoft's. Now I say that as someone who prefers to step away from the console war controversy and look at the games themselves, both announced and those which will potentially come in the future. There's no argument, Sony's ahead in every category on every chart, but Microsoft looks outstanding to me as well. Dead Rising 3 and Titanfall are huge exclusives, and while I wasn't anywhere near surprised to see Halo 5, it's refreshing to see Microsoft still recognizes they're expected to show him no matter what. Microsoft even had a number of indie reveals, like Below from Capybara, and I truly believe an strong indie community drives a console's base. It showed me Microsoft wants to continue what they're doing with XBLA right now, and I believe in that service. It produced some of the best games of the last generation! No indie self-publish straight up sucks, but at least indies have a home on PS4.
Sony struck me in another way. A ton of great exclusives, a ton of XBLA-tier indie games in development for the first year of PS4's life, a solid argument that PlayStation Plus is worth our investment, even though we're basically forced to buy it for multiplayer now anyway. I love what I see and I can't wait to play everything I saw. Transistor being a timed exclusive on console is maybe one of the biggest small announcements I heard. I'd already watched that trailer a hundred times, but one more felt pretty good. Killzone: Shadow Fall looks better than all the other Killzones combined, as does Infamous: Second Son. Then there was the fact that the PS3's lineup for the next year is actually pretty outstanding. "Why start the conference with PS3 games?" you ask? Because The Last of Us, Beyond and Gran Turismo 6 are three of the best games of the year, next-gen coming or not. Tretton could have dropped the mic after The Last of Us and I'd probably be okay with E3 being over.
As for the other two conferences, well, EA's had too many celebrities and Ubisoft was over-scripted and boring. Yes, that's an oversimplification, but I'm tired. Every game shown at both those conferences looked outstanding -- sports games and dance games included. I want to play them all. I just have a hard time watching the press conferences to announce them.Titanfall looks like it's Call of Duty inspired by the great free-to-play FPS titles out there mixed with some scifi. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is the pirate game I've always wanted, it's just too bad that it's an Assassin's Creed game too. Oh, and Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare? Outstanding! I'd still rather just have a straight up sequel to Plants vs. Zombies with none of that free-to-play bull, but two semi-spinoffs will do okay, I suppose.
Then there's the big announcements. The teases. Mirror's Edge 2, Star Wars: Battlefront, Halo 5, Kingdom Hearts 3, The Division, Dragon Age: The Inquisition and The Order: 1886. Perfect. A lot of creativity, huge leaps in technology, and I'm not even covering all of them here. Most of these games will be headlining next-year's E3, which already makes for a painful wait.
Riding the train back from the Sony press conference I thought again about how nice it would have been to stop and smell the flowers. No can do however, there's news to write and a day to prepare for. Tomorrow is the first main day of E3 after all. I had the time to think about all the games we were able to see, some of which I'd get to try out over the course of E3. Maybe the Natural History Museum can wait, there are some amazing experiences at E3 I've just got to try out. Them video games aren't going to play themselves.
Oh, PS, where's the bloody Beyond Good and Evil 2 and The Last Guardian, ya jerks.
Day 0: Rory Stops to Smell the Flowers
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