Happy days are here again! …wait, it’s just E3, not necessarily happy days? Well, we’ll take what we can get. The world’s biggest gaming conference is back and ready to invade your life all over again: E3 2019 is here and upon us, and with it we’ve got conferences on conferences from many – but not all – of the gaming industry’s biggest titans.
The spread of conferences was a little different this time around since Sony decided they weren’t going to play ball this year. Instead, we’re going to talk about Ubisoft, Microsoft, Square-Enix and Nintendo. Not to worry, there was plenty of excitement to go around without yet another announcement about how you won’t be playing The Last Of Us Part II this year or whatever. Just kidding, Sony, you know we love you.
Time to take a look at the new announcements and check out what’s floating around.
We’ll start with Ubisoft: they’ve got new takes on several of their classic franchises. Watch_Dogs Legion is the third entry in that series, for instance, and rather than hopping on the topical plotline train, it’s hopping on the topical plotline train by taking place in post-Brexit London and also letting you play as pretty much any NPC you want. It looks better than it sounds, bringing to mind the classic Driver: San Francisco, and frankly it might be one of my most anticipated games from the show.
Ubi also demonstrated a new horror-focused Rainbow Six, talked a bit about the (extremely exciting) Ghost Recon Breakpoint and introduced the Uplay+ service that serves as another take on Origin Access or Game Pass. I’m never going to complain about another of these things, since they’re a great, cost-efficient way of getting your games.
Microsoft, meanwhile, hit the ground running with a new console announcement called Project Scarlett. That’s not what it’ll eventually be called – we’re not all playing on Scorpios these days, after all – but we know it exists and we know it’s coming next year. Excuse me, it’s coming “Holiday 2020”, so start saving those pennies now. As you might expect, this powerhouse should really pack a punch, so check out Microsoft’s dedicated Project Scarlett page for all the specs and speculation you can handle.
There were games too, of course, including the new Dark Souls-alike Elden Ring (which features George R. R. Martin’s work if you’re still not over Game of Thrones), a new Tales game in Tales of Arise, and release dates for anticipated titles like Gears 5 and Ori and the Will of the Wisps.
But really, we’re mostly interested in that new console. It’s got backwards compatibility! It’s fast as hell! It’s going to launch alongside a new Halo game! Great job, Microsoft, you’ve got the biggest announcement of the show! Oh, and you’ve got Game Pass on PC for cheap now, too, promising an even better selection than what’s currently available. Of course, Game Pass on PC does shake up the current model, so check out Microsoft’s official pricing site to see what Pass makes the pass.
New paragraph just because this is important: Microsoft also announced that we’ll finally be able to play Phantasy Online 2 in English officially! No more fan patchers! No more desperately trying to get through Japanese CAPTCHAs to make an account! It’s here, or it will be in 2020, and you won’t even have to pay to play it.
Square-Enix also threw around some pretty heavy hits. The star of the show, naturally, was the Final Fantasy VII Remake. It looks absolutely amazing, something akin to a hybrid between Crisis Core and Kingdom Hearts 3 with the return of all kinds of classic characters, and it certainly deserved its place as the centerpiece of Square Enix’s show.
Other highlights included a remaster of Final Fantasy VIII, a game only I enjoy, apparently; the long-awaited English translation of Seiken Densetsu 3 as Trials of Mana – which is now available on Switch as part of the Collection of Mana, should you want in on that; and a few titles we already expected like Dragon Quest Builders 2 and SaGa Scarlet Grace. If you’re into the sort of game Square Enix puts out, they had plenty to whet your appetite at E3 2019.
Finally, Nintendo did what Nintendo does best: pander to its fans. Nintendo are absolutely fantastic at that. They really pulled out all the stops this year; we’ve got Banjo-Kazooie returning to the Nintendo-verse in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, for instance, and there’s a sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the way. Other hot announcements included a 2020 release date for Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the development of No More Heroes 3 and plenty of tidbits about Pokémon Sword and Shield.
There was some unexpected spice in the mix, too, like the fantastic-looking brawler Astral Chain and a new entry in the Panzer Dragoon series and even news that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Complete is headed to the Switch, and look for Bethesda to unleash their two biggest FPS heavy-hitters, Doom: Eternal and Wolfenstein: Youngblood, on Nintendo’s console as well.
I suppose we can’t forget the good ol’ PC as well. The hotness there is, of course, CD Projekt RED’s Cyberpunk 2077, but the overall theme seemed to be the return of classic franchises. We’ve got sequels to Evil Genius and Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines on the way, but we already knew about both of those. No, the real surprise – assuming you haven’t been watching gaming news lately – was the existence and development of Baldur’s Gate 3. Yes, really. I wet myself a little too. Oh, and of course there were Auto Chess clones, because nothing good can exist alone in the gaming industry, there has to be five of it. Look forward to Auto Chess, Underlords and Riot Games’ Teamfight Tactics soon!
Basically, it’s as great a time as ever to be into games. If nothing else, watching the E3 2019 conferences demonstrated that fans of every platform having something to look forward to, and there were plenty of hype-inducing surprises throughout the show. Calling it now, though: the big winner is going to end up being that Project Scarlett console Microsoft was talking about. I’m looking forward to blowing tons of money on one next year – and you will too. You know how this goes. Count on being broke!