There were more than 68,000 total attendees at E3 this week, and I’m almost certain all of them have been gaming more than I have in the past five years. I’m retired. Too many consecutive days of realizing I’d played through the night until dawn had me putting the sticks down. Not to mention, I just can’t keep up with these kids. I’m washed.
Yet here I got the fortunate opportunity to cover E3 for NOC in the conference’s first year open to the public. I had to do this, for the culture, for the kid inside who never finished Mario 2, and for the same kid that reached the end of Streets of Rage and chose to kill my brother to take over the gang.
As expected, E3 held nothing back in spectacle. Exhibitors were well-prepared for the estimated 15,000 gamers who bought tickets this year to join industry professionals, journalists, and influencers on the coveted exhibition floor. There, the gargantuan odes to gaming, mostly called “booths” in perhaps laughable understatement, were all masterfully crafted, and obviously very expensive. I heard more than one critique from industry professionals about how much money was going into these elaborate, mostly one-off showcases. But this is where the industry’s top publishers reveal content for their most anticipated games. There was more than a little one-upmanship going on here.
As for the newly-sanctioned public, they were mostly here to play the games. Lines occupied most of the time spent by gamers on the exhibition floor, waiting to try out beta versions of upcoming releases. The lines were long, and waits could go well over 2 hours. A group of hopeful beta testers waited over 5 hours at the Bethesda VR booth. I can barely wait in line at a Whole Foods, so no games were played.
There wasn’t much in retail offerings, only a few companies brought merch to be sold. No games, just t-shirts, figurines, pins, etc. But if E3 remains open to the public, there may be more retail coming down the line. Most of the pop-up shops selling merch were sold out almost completely by the final day of the show.
A few cosplayers were in attendance, but not many. Those who did come to E3 in costume, however, held nothing back. Shades of the Comic Con model were already starting to creep in, like it or not.
E3 even added a mini Hall H a la San Diego Comic Con called the E3 Coliseum, which hosted featured speakers and panels. There was beer.
There was also a concerted effort to push eSports panels and events, mostly new this year, like the Twitch eSports Arena at L.A. Live just outside the convention center. The promotion of eSports tournaments, players and teams, was a regular topic, especially for the studios of the games featured in competitive play like Injustice 2, Overwatch, and Marvel vs Capcom. The Warner Bros stage had a series of eSports-related promotions and panels for Injustice 2. Legitimizing eSports was a recurring theme at E3.
It was all a pretty mind-altering experience, I could see myself going back to the old me. These games just keep getting fresher, faster, hotter, doper. If I’m honest, I like watching people play more than actually playing these days, and damned if I didn’t I start cheering with the crowd at Twitch Arena. It was fun as hell.
I’ll leave some choice trailers here to wrap up this round up, all of which debuted at E3. From Nintendo to Sony, Bethesda to Ubisoft, pretty much every exhibit had giant screens displaying trailers for their upcoming wares. These were the ones I liked best, though I remind you these selections are mostly influenced by the nostalgia of a washed gamer.
The best trailers at E3 not only dazzle you with their imagery and a bit of story, they have to show off the gameplay. Spider-Man a nice, long trailer that checks all those boxes, and the gameplay looks fantastic. Nice little cameo at the end, too.
WOLFENSTEIN II: THE NEW COLOSSUS
Another bad creation. This game is nuts. From the in-story television clips to the last minute or so of gameplay, this Wolfenstein II looks like it’s going to be a monster.
GOD OF WAR
Kratos is my co-pilot.
AGE OF EMPIRES: DEFINITIVE EDITION
This one just might bring me out of retirement. Put in more hours on Age of Empires games than any other series, except for maybe Fallout.
FALLOUT 4 VR
Crap, I’m done fer, folks. I wouldn’t say E3 was like a recovering binge drinker going to Oktoberfest, because it was actually like a recovering binge drinker going to the greatest Oktoberfest ever created by gods and man. Ya’ll might never see me again.