Yahtzee presents the CliffsNotes of E3 2018.
So E3 rolls around once more to insolently demand our attention like a street-corner preacher with his knob out so the developers can demonstrate to the world that they are in vague occasional contact with someone who can cut a half-decent trailer together, and for this reason alone, we should fork out now for their overpriced grindy tat that we can't even play yet. Gathering once again in single-file to have a good old splurge-to-camera are the usual suspects: EA, Bethesda, Ubisoft, Sony, Nintendo, and... what was your name again? "Mic-ro-soft"? Microsoft, Microsoft... Oh yes, weren't you the guys who made that funny paper clip thing?
Ostensibly, this year's conference was from the 12th to the 14th of June, but as seems to be increasingly common, most of the big lads did their shows beforehand; I guess if they tried to keep it in their pants a moment longer, they'd have started spooging out their nostrils. Interestingly, it was almost all games this year. None of the big boys were pushing hardware; even Nintendo didn't bring out that Labo thing much, not that I'm that bothered, because I'm a 35-year-old man and don't plan to spend a week putting together little origami pianos before making a sweary Internet video about my paper cuts.
EA started spooging first a full three days early with some more Anthem footage to make my eyes glaze over faster and more efficiently than ever. Still looks like they mulched together Mass Effect, Destiny, Titanfall, and Horizon Zero Dawn and spread it over a garage floor with an uninteresting broom. Did you see that pulse-pounding combat in action? Can't wait to point it at enemy, hold down the fire button, and stand there picking at my itchy bum crack until the damage indicators stop coming out!
Then Bethesda stepped up and said, "Who likes prerendered teasers that tell you fuck-all?" ...Nobody. "Well, nobody's going to like this, then!" And we proceeded to learn precisely fuck-all about Elder Scrolls VI, Starfield, Wolfenstein: Youngblood, and Doom Eternal. We did get to see an only slightly less informative, painfully scripted Rage 2 video that I would only call "gameplay footage" because "suffocating yawn-fest" takes slightly longer to type. So someone at Bethesda must have said, "We're making sequels to scrotum-pulverizingly good Doom and teabag-squeezingly forgetful Rage; which one would people most want to hear about?" "Well, I think that should be obvious!" "Ha ha! Yes, I suppose it is. Aw, fuck! Now I'll look stupid if I ask again!" We also very loudly and conspicuously didn't learn much about Fallout 76, except that it's online-focused, so we can reliably infer the rest from what we know is already popular and easy to rip off; so, open world, survival, crafting, you know the drill, get ready to punch trees, but only now can you punch trees wearing sporty Fallout-brand blue! So roll over and yap like little dogs at suppertime, you uncritical, butthole-relishing close-relative molesters!
My goodness, Microsoft's conference showcased a lot of games! Cyberpunk 2077? Just Cause 4? Metro Exodus? Shadow of the Tomb Raider? Wow, are those all Xbox-exclusives, Microsoft?! "Um, no, none of those are, but you can play them on Xbox!" Yes, Microsoft, we could... hypothetically... do that. Shadow of the Tomb Raider is apparently the game where we see Lara Croft become the Tomb Raider. Fuck you, Square Enix! That's what you said the last two times! She's been "becoming" the Tomb Raider for five fucking years! When is this whimpering cunt going to get out of training bras?! So what exclusives have Microsoft got? Well, there's Halo Infinite, which already isn't even the most interesting FPS sequel about a green Lego astronaut with a generic subtitle that means "never-ending".
In contrast, Sony's show went for a "quality over quantity" approach with in-depth, endoscopic looks up a small handful of first-party anuses. And forgive me if it seems like Sony are putting a lot of love eggs in the same basket, or arsehole. I mean, there's Ghost of Tsushima, a game about stealthing around an apocalyptic landscape killing thugs; then there's Last of Us II, a game about stealthing around an apocalyptic landscape killing thugs and being a lesbian; and then there's Death Stranding, a game about... What the fuck are you about, Death Stranding? Well, there was something stealth-like going on in an apocalyptic landscape, so I'm adding it to the pile.
The more I see of Spider-Man, the less confidence I have in it. And I wasn't exactly foaming at the urethra in the first place, 'cos every Spider-Man game they've made in years makes the same three goddamn mistakes - one, terrible dialogue; two, trying too hard to be like a Batman: Arkham game; and three, not being Spider-Man 2 on the GameCube - and the new trailer terrible-dialogues its way through a sequence that is literally Batman: Arkham Asylum except with Spider-Man's shitty villains, and it blatantly isn't Spider-Man 2 because Spider-Man 2 was a game, not a bunch of overblown scripted action sequences strung together like a line of colorful flags coming out of Stan Lee's dried-up old man tits!
Right, who else? Nioh 2 got announced, which was unfortunate timing, because FromSoftware announced their own feudal Japan Dark Souls game, namely Shadows Die Twice, and instantly removed whatever reason Nioh 2 had to exist. Ooh, and also, Nintendo announced a new Smash Br-- oh. Oh, sorry; halfway through saying the title, I suddenly stopped caring.
I suppose I could mention Ubisoft, but that feels like mentioning the color of the wallpaper; they're always hanging about in the background, putting out their samey sandboxes with the clockwork regularity of an explosively copious period. New Assassin's Creed, right on cue; set in ancient Greece, which makes sense, because the ancient Greeks were really into buggery. But what made me choke on my sherbet was when the bloke narrating the gameplay video said, "For the first time, you will be able to choose between a male and female hero." YOU WHAT?! Am I on crazy pills?! Assassin's Creed Syndicate did that! What is the fucking point of doing progressive and innovative things if you're just going to pretend they didn't happen two games later and try to score innovation points a second time?! It's not "progressive" if you're progressing to the place where we already fucking are, genius!! I'm genuinely mad about this; I've got no more room to snark about Beyond Good and Evil 2 now, and it's Assassin's Creed Odyssey's fault!
(Sigh) You know why I still do these rundowns every year; it's because gamers as consumers have conceded too much fucking ground, and what counts as acceptable standard business practice inches more and more toward Fort Bullshit, Tennessee, every year. Twenty years ago, the relationship was, "Play one-third of our game for free as much as you like, and then consider paying this unworthy mortal twenty insignificant dollars for the rest, Your Grace." And somehow, that's turned into, "Pay in full now, stinking plebs, 'cos we showed you a logo. You can't have it for six months, and then you have to pay another ten bucks for the special helmet with a bell-end on the front so everyone knows what a cockhead you are." The pushback against loot boxes was a good start, but how about this? Let's all stop preordering stuff! Just for a year, six months maybe, trial period. If you're tempted, ask yourself: "Can I envision a scenario in which my decision to purchase this game might ultimately hinge on whether or not I can play it while wearing a special preorder cock helmet?" At least consider it, so the next year, I'm not saying, "Hey guys, how about we all stop ticking the box that says, 'Sony have the exclusive ownership rights to our blood'?"
- Speaker for the dead: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
- Please don't fill the comments with the usual "why didn't he mention X, Y, and Z" shit because the point of this exercise has never been to list off every title and give a token snark to each one, but to encourage critical thinking as a counter to E3's deliberately mind-numbing hype. It's too easy to get swept along with the bright lights and the constant coverage and forget that a lot if not most of these games are created as obligatory products rather than as something with artistic integrity, often designed for broad appeal and the numbing of emotions rather than their stimulation. But at the same time it's a mistake to dismiss everything out of hand, as any genuine passion a developer had for their own contribution can shine through even the densest corporate machinery. Assume I said the same thing about every game: "Could be good or bad, but there's no way of knowing until it's been played through by someone who isn't being paid to shill for it." As a basic starting point, try considering what you aren't being shown as much as what you are. If you noticed, as I did, a couple of conspicuous edits in the Anthem and Rage 2 gameplay videos that didn't appear to signal a change of scene, ask yourself what was cut out that the publishers didn't want you to see, and why they didn't feel like the game could sell itself by its unembellished appearance alone. Also, consider the way the player in a gameplay video acts wholly unlike one in real life, usually moving slowly and rotating the camera languidly to drink in the expensive scenery, when a real player would probably want to move and look around a lot faster, and such a fundamental change of pacing would almost certainly impact any story elements that the gameplay video showcased.