As I place my Luchadore mask into my already tightly packed suitcase, I can't help but reflect on this years E3; what it might bring, and how I'll ever be able to muster the human courage and fortitude to deal with it all. It has been tough in years passed; braving acid trip-like circus acts, dorky white men trying desperately to dance and keep up with their digital black counterparts, horrific wi-fi connetions. I don't mean to complain, it surely is a joy but maybe, just maybe, two Kamikazes, one martini and half a bottle of wine wasn't a good idea last night.
I will say this though, this year is going to be much different than last year...at least in terms of focus. Now that we are, hopefully, beyond the motion control craze I'm wondering what the main focus will be this year. What golden pony will the big publishers be riding this year?
For Nintendo, it will surely be their new HD console and their reintroduction into what many call the “hardcore” market. Since they have been focusing on the Wii and DS for so long, Nintendo will almost have to reintroduce themselves to the new “Call of Duty / Gears of War” gamers of today as a company that can produce results for that market. It's been a long time since Nintendo has directly competed with the other big consoles of this generation and they may have to do some Wooing in the process. How best, then, to woo said market? With some decidedly “hardcore” titles. Brad Simons tweeted yesterday that he believes Nintendo will announce GTA V for the new Nintendo HD Console and I think he's right. GTA is the perfect title for Nintendo to use. It's the total antithesis of everything they've been as of late and will also be a good title to prove the power of the new console.
As for Microsoft, they've painted themselves in a bit of a corner. Putting all of their eggs in a basket called “Kinect” and then having the unit appear to mere tepid acclaim, they either have to sweep it under the rug (something they would never do) or keep pushing it until people like it (something Microsoft is good at doing). I think Microsoft will be introducing a new console that has Kinect installed directly in the box. Meaning, Kinect will no longer be a separate peripheral, but will already be in a new generation of Xbox's available soon. Much in the same way they introduced the Xbox slim last year, this year will be the Xbox KinectBox...or something.
Sony will be the most interesting. If there is any press conference which has the capability of being extremely awkward, it's this one. They will be facing a fairly critical audience this time around and are going to have to face the PSN issue head-on, at the beginning, if they are going to get anywhere. If they don't, anything they announce or try to push that has to do with their online capabilities simply will not resonate. Other than that, Sony will be all about the NGP this year and how the NGP is NOT like the PSP Go. Sony is running away from the PSP Go as fast as possible and throwing NGP's behind them in an effort to distract everyone.
Needless to say, the games are going to be good this year around. We're talking Skyrim, a new Hitman game, Dead Island, The Darkness II. I truly wish that Skyrim was going to be playable but I totally understand why they may not be ready for that yet. Considering that the combat system is so revamped this time around, and the fact that they are going for an extremely visceral feel to it, I'm sure that there will be a lot more refining to be done over the next 6 months.
Tomb Raider looks to be a completely different experience that we have been seen in the series. Open world, a younger more naive Lara, and a focus on exploration instead of linear levels will be a good change for a series which might have gotten a bit stale as of late.
Some playtime with Dead Island will finally reveal what the game actually feels like. From the video's I've been seeing so far it certainly looks much more gamey than I think people were expecting. Anyone who is looking for a very serious emotional roller coaster ride will probably have to look elsewhere. However if you want a zombie Far Cry with a Dead Rising weapons system and a Condemned style combat system, then I think you're in luck. Serious is good, but so is seeing numbers flying off of zombies after you chopped them up, in first person, with a bat that has a table saw blade strapped to it.
And there is so much more but I must run to the airport. The drink has been replaced with coffee and I'm wearing a goddamned Unicorn shirt. Should be a good flight.
I'll be updating frequently on the site, and on twitter from the show floor. We're talking observations and pictures so follow my twitter for that if you're not already. @Joseph_H_Christ will show you the way.