The curtain has closed on E3 2018’s press conferences, which means that it’s time for us to cast a critical eye over the briefings and issue our all-important report card. Which of the publishers passed its summer exam – looking ahead at some of the ratings here, they’ll all be having trouble securing a scholarship before school re-starts.
We're not going to lie: we were utterly underwhelmed by EA's presser. The whole thing was as predictable as ever, and outside of one or two small surprises, this was very much a publisher following the numbers. It was announced that Battlefield V will have a Battle Royale mode, to the surprise of no-one, and the multiplayer trailer, while visually impressive, didn't exactly inspire. FIFA 19 has secured the licence for the UEFA Champions League, but the rest of the annual sports titles were largely glossed over, and enthusiasm for them was very muted.
Unravel Two was revealed and released in the same breath, which was a nice curveball, and Sea of Solitude looks genuinely interesting. The only other original game to be announced was Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order in an embarrassingly awkward interview with Vince Zampella that screamed "we're not ready to announce anything yet". Wrapping up with ANTHEM was fine, but the game looks woefully dull – a sort of Mass Effect meets Destiny that looks like the very definition of "designed by committee". The games shown weren't all bad, but if you put EA's conference next to any of the others, it simply pales in comparison.
Bethesda's E3 2018 press conference got off to an unbelievably slow and sloppy start. We love the party hard and enjoy life attitude of Andrew W.K., but we didn't tune in to watch him and his band play an entire song. The RAGE 2 gameplay that followed looked fine, but it didn't exactly sell us on the game. After that, there was a lot of talking, and the whole thing dragged, DOOM Eternal teaser aside.
The presser only really came to life when boss Todd Howard hopped on stage. His charisma is plain to see, and even though we're still not convinced by Fallout 76, Howard's presentation of the title was informative and engaging. But did it last a little too long? Perhaps, but it was undeniably better than the opening 30 or so minutes. Bethesda's decision to officially announce both Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VI feels like cheating since they're clearly years off, but it's hard to ignore the hype that they generated – the latter in particular. Overall, though, this was a largely boring and clumsy press conference, despite Howard's best efforts.
Square Enix didn't have a proper press conference, instead opting for a 30 minute, prerecorded showcase. The publisher had been hyping this thing up prior to E3, but the wait really wasn't worth it. A compilation of trailers is a fair idea on paper, but it doesn't quite work when there are no surprises – we may as well just hit up Square's YouTube channel. A semi-decent Shadow of the Tomb Raider gameplay walkthrough definitely wasn't enough to carry the show.
Babylon's Fall, developed by Platinum Games, was the only thing worthy of discussion, and even then, the teaser trailer told us virtually nothing. The fact that the showcase ended on old footage of Kingdom Hearts III tells you everything you need to know about Square Enix's near pointless E3 efforts. We're just glad it was only 30 minutes long.
As usual, Ubisoft kicked things off in traditional off the wall style with Just Dance 2019, a game that, if it weren't for the dancing panda, we'd have already forgotten about. Luckily, things moved swiftly along to Beyond Good & Evil 2, which received yet another stellar trailer, but not much else. It's a real shame that this project can't seem to get off the ground, as all of the CG trailers have been fantastic. The Division 2's segment showed improvements to the first game, while Trials Rising was a pleasant, if somewhat unexciting, surprise.
We also had updates on Starlink: Battle for Atlas and Skull & Bones, both looking decent, and of course, Assassin's Creed Odyssey rocked up at the end to Spartan kick everything else off a cliff. All in all, Ubisoft's conference just about ticked the boxes, but conspicuous by its absence was the new Splinter Cell. This would've elevated the presser, as it's a title many are waiting for, but the no-show left us a little deflated.
Sony clearly needs someone who’s not afraid to say no. The company’s creative streak can be a pleasure to behold when things come together, but how it thought a themed E3 2018 experience – meaningless for the millions on livestreams and an inconvenience for games journalists in attendance – was the best way to display its vibrant array of PlayStation 4 exclusive games beggars belief.
The company is paying the price for early announcements, long development cycles, and an ageing generation – but few would argue that its titles look a cut above almost everything else. The problem is that this showcase – padded with a scant selection of surprise announcements in Resident Evil 2 and Nioh 2 – did almost everything in its power to undermine the enthusiasm for its otherwise exciting lineup. There are accusations of hubris from some corners of the web; we think the company’s simply trying too hard. Tone it down next time, and allow the games to speak for themselves – god knows they’re more than good enough.
And there we have it: a full press conference report card for your entertainment. But did we give out the right grades? Feel free to give all the briefings a re-test in the comments section below.
Which publisher had the best E3 2018 press conference? (117 votes)
Please login to vote in this poll.