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Michael Bitton: My Best and Worst of E3 2014

Column By Michael Bitton on June 11, 2014

Another year, another E3, but this time I’m not at the show. Like the rest of you, I’ve been fixated on every stream and piece of information I can find. Overall, I can say this year’s E3 is turning out to be an OK show, but nothing altogether spectacular. We just haven’t seen any real earthshaking announcements up until this point and I don’t expect that to change between now and the end of the show.

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Things have been markedly worse on the MMO front, however; a pretty stark contrast to last year’s presentation. MMOs or pseudo-MMOs (e.g. The Division) were both front and center and far more prevalent last year, but this year’s E3 has been a bit of a bust for MMO fans. 

No matter how awesome or underwhelming, there are always a couple of standouts, for better or worse. Let’s take a look at a few, starting with my E3 show favorites.

BEST:

FFXIV: A Realm Reborn’s Ninja Job Reveal

Sure, there wasn’t a whole lot to love about MMOs at this year’s E3, but Square Enix definitely came out with a crowd pleaser by unveiling the game’s most anticipated new Job addition in the Ninja. I haven’t played FFXIV: ARR in some time now, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t squeal a bit when I first caught a glimpse of the Ninja class in his clearly Shadow inspired Relic gear. 

 

Rainbow Six: Siege

It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a Rainbow Six game, much less one that truly looked like it hearkened back to the series’ roots, which is why Rainbow Six: Siege came as a welcome surprise at this year’s E3. I also got a really strong SWAT 4 vibe while watching the reveal and that is definitely a good thing. The various gadgets and tools were impressive, but what really blew my socks off was the emphasis on improvisation through the game’s highly destructible environments. If Ubisoft can pull it off, teamplay oriented shooter fans could be in for a real gem in Rainbow Six: Siege. Let’s just hope the title doesn’t run into the same problems Rainbow Six: Patriots did and end up canceled.

No Man’s Sky

I’ve loved space games since I was a kid, but they’ve all only captured part of the experience. I never expected that we’d make it to the year 2014 without a videogame that allowed players to truly explore a sci-fi universe. Exploring the vastness of space is great, and many games do it well, but for even the best games out there the planets you come across are mostly just pretty backdrops for you to wonder about.

In No Man’s Sky, the goal is to allow you to explore it all. Vast, procedurally generated worlds and systems are out there for you to explore and this small team of indie developers has even managed the seemingly impossible: you can seamlessly transition from land to space and from space to land. For me, this has been the ultimate space game fantasy. I got chills watching the player hop into his ship and just seamlessly exit into space and then enter the atmosphere of a nearby planet. 

It also helps that No Man’s Sky is absolutely gorgeous. The environments we were shown in the two different clips presented at E3 were simply wonderful. In some cases, I felt like I was looking at the cover art found on many 70’s sci-fi novels come to life. That said, there are still scant few details on the meat of No Man’s Sky. Will the game be gorgeous to look at but lack a deep feature set? We simply don’t know just yet, but the team certainly has my attention at this point.

WORST:

Destiny

I just don’t know what it is about this game, but the more I learn about it, the less I’m interested. With the way both Bungie and Sony have been pushing it, you’d think the team had a real blockbuster on its hands. But for all the crazy marketing hype (including a brand new white PS4 bundle), I just feel sort of “meh” whenever I look at it.  I get a serious Borderlands vibe, but without the unique art style and personality. The team’s Halo pedigree clearly shows in the well-polished mechanics and gameplay, but I’m just not getting it at this point. Hopefully the MMO aspect will get its hooks in me once I get a chance to try Destiny for myself.

Mass Effect 4 & BioWare’s New IP

While I’ll take any scrap I can get, there just wasn’t really enough shown of either of these games to speak of. If you don’t really have much to say or show, that’s fine, I can wait until you’ve got more than a few vague comments and teensy bits of conceptual footage to show off.  The pre-show teases just got my engines revved for a payoff that just wasn’t there, even with my expectations curbed to perfectly realistic levels beforehand.

Star Wars: Battlefront

Even worse than Mass Effect 4 and BioWare Edmonton’s untitled new IP was the ‘reveal’ of Star Wars: Battlefront. Unlike the two aforementioned titles, Battlefront got a proper tease a whole year ago during E3 2013. Fast forward a year later, with fans expecting something far more substantial, we were treated to a presentation as equally light on details and footage as the BioWare trailer.  To add insult to injury, it won’t be until spring 2015 when we’ll have our next opportunity to ‘learn more’ about the title.  Even without a whole lot to show, I was definitely hoping for a bit more to chew on coming out of the biggest gaming show of the year.

What are your bests and worsts of E3 so far? Share your thoughts with us below!

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