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The Ultimate E3 Wishlist: Expectations v. Reality

By Blake Chapman Christmas for gamers comes twice a year. The obvious one is the day that jelly-bellied dude in the red overcoat comes rolling down your chimney to deliver all those new consoles, games, and accessories. The second instance happens over the span of just one week near the start of June - E3 2019. This year promised a plethora of information on previously announced games as well as surprise reveals of unexpected titles. However, major players like EA and Sony were missing from the traditional conference lineup bringing the total down to only five true presenters ranging from Xbox to Square Enix. Even with that noticeable divot in content shown off live across YouTube and Twitch, there were still plenty predictions to make and expectations to be dashed. Here are the gifts I was wishing would show up under my E3 Christmas tree and what I actually received.

Cyberpunk 2077 blows everyone out of the water

Image from Techradar
CD Projekt Red  has made it their mission to push the boundaries of genre-defining role-playing experiences ever since the release of 2015’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The Polish development firm is best known for its series of fantasy titles that are based off of Andrzej Sapkowski’s collection of novels, releasing two major expansion packs and racking up multiple Game of the Year nominations. Way back in 2013, two years before the release of The Witcher 3, a brand new game titled Cyberpunk 2077 was teased. After five years of radio silence, fans finally got their chance to witness a second trailer at E3 2018 during the Microsoft conference. Developers have also revealed that 2019 is going to be a humongous year for CD Projekt Red along with Cyberpunk 2077.
Last year’s unexpected reveal was one of the most talked about moments from any conference. When you also consider how much the game has changed since the last segment of game play was shown off, CD Projekt Red’s promises of practically revamping the gaming industry might not be that far from the truth. Ever since The Witcher 3, I have fallen in love with the development process CD uses, taking their time and fleshing out their games with true style and class. This year only added to the legacy of the upcoming project. Fans not only received a release date that is coming in less than a year, but learned that Keanu Reeves (yes, that Keanu Reeves) is going to play a major role in the story. Though live gameplay and a release date that would end in 2019 instead of 2020 was my initial dream, the developers have cracked the surface of what they have in store for millions of RPG veterans and newcomers.

Nintendo has some ‘splainin to do

Luigi’s Mansion 3, Link’s Awakening, Animal Crossing, Bayonetta 3. Each one of these titles all have two things in common: they all are Nintendo exclusives and they all have very soft release dates. The lack of attention with some of these titles is justified though. Luigi’s Mansion , Link’s Awakening, and Animal Crossing have been revealed in just the last calendar year, with Awakening being the most recent of the bunch. When it comes to Bayonetta, we have not seen any appearances of the alluring umbra witch since way back at The 2017 Game Awards. We are already halfway through the year and no updates have been given on any of these titles. The only game fans have gotten any confirmation about is that Metroid Prime 4 development is being restarted at veteran firm Retro Studios . Nintendo has always been known as a company of secrets and rumors that keeps its projects under lock and key until they are just ripe enough. Even with these massive titles still behind closed doors, the release calendar for mid-2019 seems well-padded including Super Mario Maker 2, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3. However, hype can either build games to enormous heights or tear them to shreds in a matter of moments. Luckily for Nintendo, they avoided any major catastrophes other than the lack of a national Pokédex in Pokémon Sword and Shield and no new information on Bayonetta 3. Many games did receive long-awaited recognition though. A proper release date for both Link’s Awakening and Animal Crossing: New Horizons was given (even if the latter was delayed until next year), and a multitude of surprises flashed on screen as well. Overall, Nintendo did a swell job at closing out E3 2019.

Sony gets their time to shine

I’ll admit it. I am a humongous Xbox fanboy. Ever since I received a 360 Slim for Christmas almost eight years ago, I have been sitting pretty under the green roof of this Microsoft bandwagon. This same devotion continued throughout the early days of the next generation even with the very poor marketing of the Xbox One. Currently I am the proud owner of an Xbox One X, feeling positive about the current state of Xbox under Executive Vice President Phil Spencer and am excited to see what they have to show off in Los Angeles. Does that mean I detest their bitter blue rival Sony? No. Sony’s approach to gaming in the current generation has always seemed elegant and fine-tuned. They truly make it their mission to bring refinement to their content, especially when displaying it on the E3 stage. With them missing from this year’s expo, that high class and grace might be severely lacking. Recently though, Sony has taken a different approach to revealing game-changing advancements.
Image from Kotaku
The latest trailers for some of Sony’s biggest titles like Death Stranding and Final Fantasy VII HD have simply been uploaded online. News about the PlayStation 5 have been on the uptick recently and a reveal might be waiting in the wings. If all else fails, Sony could also rely on Square Enix to pick up the slack at their conference or just wait and hold a digital “State of Play” event later in June. Did Square Enix’s entire hour and fifteen minute show cover for the lack of PlayStation representation? No. Did Final Fantasy VII: Remake steal the entire conference and make up for it? Absolutely. From the impressive gameplay demonstration, to seeing Tifa in high definition and discovering that it will launch next spring was a feast for all five senses, and added a bigger boost to the PS4’s library of exclusives. In all honesty, not much else was needed, and that is exactly the way Sony likes it.

The impossible becomes possible

When it comes to E3 in terms of presents, it ends just like any other birthday or holiday. You get a decent amount of the things you want, but the big ticket items always feel like they are another year away. It is not an easy or realistic task to accurately predict what can or will happen each and every year. The content of this expo in particular is based off of months of corporate scheduling, developer time and effort, and a decent amount of pure luck. At the end of the day, E3 is one of the most magical dates on any video game fan’s calendar. The dreams and excitement building around our favorite form of entertainment finally display themselves on a global stage. From the unorthodox to the extraordinary, this week in early June brought the titans of gaming together to celebrate the year to be and it would not have been E3 without a few disheartening disappointments and some glorious surprises.
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