3ds

The Nintendo 3DS is Living Its Best Year in 2017

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All eyes are on the Nintendo Switch this year, as well they should be. Nintendo has been in a weird place with home consoles over the last decade. The Wii exploded onto the scene as a gimmicky toy, then quickly collected dust in everyone’s closest. The Wii U failed to capture an audience at all, reaching only 10% of the sales of its predecessor. Launching earlier this year, the Switch is faring much better, including a killer app like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and featuring full portability.

It’s the portability that had me worried about my favorite Nintendo product of this century: the Nintendo 3DS. With the announcement and launch of the Switch, I had concerns over how Nintendo’s handheld-only console would fare when stacked up with a device that could do both.

Turns out my concerns were completely unfounded. The six-year old Nintendo 3DS is having its best year ever in 2017.

From the hardware side, this year saw the release of the New Nintendo 2DS XL. While the New Nintendo 3DS XL has failed to garner much of an audience thanks to a lack of Circle pad-requiring games, the New Nintendo 2DS XL should fare much better.

The New Nintendo 2DS XL is the exact same device as the 3DS XL (circle pad and everything) minus the 3D feature, for a much cheaper price. It’s an even better buy-in for parents and kids where the 3D effect isn’t nearly as desired (or even unwanted for younger kids) as just getting access to the amazing library of kid-friendly Nintendo 3DS games.

Over its prolific life cycle the 3DS has been home to all the biggest Nintendo series, including Zelda, Mario, Super Smash Bros, Pokémon, Fire Emblem, Monster Hunter, and Dragon Quest.

Need another reason why the 3DS is having an amazing year? I’ve got 19.

 

Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King

A remake of one of the best Japanese RPGs of the PlayStation 2 era, Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King is a must play for anyone who loves and appreciates old-school 90’s-style RPGs. The original game was noteworthy for featuring a fully 3D world to explore, which translates perfectly to the 3DS.

Release: January 20, 2017

 

Poochy & Yoshi’s Woolly World

With the abysmal sales of the Wii U I’ll forgive you if you missed Poochy’s Woolly World last year. That’s all the more reason to play the 3DS version of this whimsical platformer. With a fun variety of levels, unique yarn art style, and plenty of secrets and unlockables, it’s one of the best 2D platformers I’ve played in years.

Release: February 3, 2017

 

Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns

Farming sim Stardew Valley was all the rage last year. If you like that style the 3DS has plenty of sim-life and farming sim games to tackle. Story of Seasons: Trio of Towns features the same basic but fun routines of tending to farm life while exploring different towns and people.

Release: February 28, 2017

 

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia gives Western audiences their first introduction to 1991’s Fire Emblem Gaiden. Thank the Nintendo 3DS for popularizing the Fire Emblem series, from Awakening to Conquest and Birthright. Echoes offers unique gameplay features for the series, including dungeon crawling and dual protagonists. Read our review.

Release: May 19, 2017

 

Ever Oasis

The 3DS tends to play it safe with big franchise installments, but Ever Oasis is a completely new title. It combines Zelda-style exploration and combat with Animal Crossing-esque town management, as you build up your burgeoning oasis and recruit allies to run stalls and delve into dungeons. Read our review.

Release: June 23, 2017

 

Hey! Pikmin

Hey! Pikmin is a 2D spin-off that represents a significant departure from the main Pikmin series. This time around Captain Olimar using found Pikmin to solve puzzles. It seems particularly suited to younger children, and is noteworthy for supporting all amiibo figures with various in-game bonuses.

Release: July 28, 2017

 

Miitopia

Do you love those Streetpass mini-games where a bunch of Miis race cars or fish or battle zombies? Miitopia is a full-scale RPG featuring everyone’s Mii avatars. It’s as goofy and fun as you imagine, utilizing a lot of fun design elements from The Sims with a a classic party-based RPG.

Release: July 28, 2017

 

Monster Hunter Stories

This new spin-off combines all the best elements of Monster Hunter with Pokémon to create a surprisingly special experience. The Monster Hunter series can be especially daunting, but Monster Hunter Stories represents a successful kid-friendly version that retains much of the depth of the classic action series. Read our review.

Release: September 8, 2017

 

Minecraft: New Nintendo 3DS Edition

Minecraft is the only title here that requires the New Nintendo 3DS (or recently released 2DS). Minecraft was available on just about every platform in modern existence, and the 3DS wasn’t about to be left out. The 3DS version comes with five addtional skin packs and two texture packs.

Release: September 13, 2017

 

Metroid: Samus Returns

The first new 2D Metroid title in over a decade is cause for much rejoicing. It’s actually a remake of the 1991 Game Boy title Metroid II: Return of Samus. The entire game has been rebuilt with new modern visuals, dual-screen interface, and much-welcomed gameplay enhancements to combat and movement. More Metroid games please!

Release: September 15, 2017

 

Pokémon Gold and Silver

Pokémon Gold and Silver isn’t a remake or even an enhancement, it’s just the original games, coming to 3DS. Why is that noteworthy? For one, Gold and Silver (Gen 2) are still considered the best generation of Pokémon games, and favorites of many a long-time fan. Second it makes transferring Pokémon from these games into other 3DS games, such as Sun and Moon, much easier.

Release: September 22, 2017

 

Yo-Kai Watch 2: Psychic Specters

Yo-Kai Watch may be a shameless modern Pokémon clone, but they’re also legitimately fun games in their own right. Psychic Specters is the definitive third version of last year’s Fleshy Souls and Bony Spirits. Aside from the better name it features new locations, new quests, expanded co-op, and more Yo-Kai to befriend.

Release: September 29, 2017

 

Culdcept Revolt

Culdcept has been around for years but mostly flown under the radar for Western audiences. Culdcept Revolt is the first title to reach the West since 2008’s Culdcept Saga. The series is a unique combination of strategy card and board games featuring over 400 different cards.

Release: October 3, 2017

 

Layton’s Mystery Journey

The Professor Layton series has been captivating puzzle game fans for years on Nintendo DS and 3DS. Layon’s Mystery Journey stars the Professor’s young daughter, Katrielle, now her own private detective, as she investigates the disappearance of her famous father. It’s the first Professor Layon title since 2013.

Release: October 6, 2017

 

Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser’s Minions

Yet another remake of a classic game, Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga updates the visuals of the 2003 Game Boy Advance RPG and combines it with an all-new storyline called Minion Quest. The original Superstar Saga is one of the best GBA games, and the series is beloved by Nintendo handheld fans.

Release: October 6, 2017

 

Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth

With an old-school RPG flair that tasks you with mapping out dungeons, the Etrian Odyssey series is not for the faint of heart. Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth is the second deep RPG in the series to grace the Nintendo 3DS. You can download a demo on the Nintendo eShop.

Release: October 17, 2017

 

Fire Emblem Warriors

We last saw a Dynasty Warriors – Nintendo crossover with Hyrule Warriors in 2014, and it reached the 3DS last year. This year both the Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Switch will see the launch of Fire Emblem Warriors, featuring the large-scale action battles of Dynasty Warriors with the familiar anime characters of Fire Emblem.

Release: October 20, 2017

 

Mario Party: The Top 100

Mario Party: The Top 100 was just announced last week during the Nintendo Direct. It’s a compilation of the best 100 mini-games from all 10 Mario Party games. Let’s skip the laughably unbalanced and random board game portion and jump right into what we loved – goofy, quick, and fun mini-games starring our favorite Mario characters.

Release: November 10, 2017

 

Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon

You can’t declare a great Nintendo handheld year without a main Pokémon title to back it up. Unlike 2013’s Pokémon X and Y, last year’s Sun and Moon is getting a definitive third edition this year, featuring new Pokémon, new areas in the Alola region, and a new storyline.

Release: November 17, 2017

Fortnite Early Access Preview

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Available On: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4

Fortnite exists in that odd space between a public beta test and a full release. Epic Games’ online tower-defense, third-person action hybrid can be purchased right now; but it’s actually launching as a free-to-play title next year. The closest equivalent is a Steam Early Access game. An Early Access purchase grants access to the live game right now, as well as some extra loot.

Fortnite’s laborious focus on grinding and digging through random loot mars an otherwise fun experience of scavenging, leveling, shooting, building, and defending with friends.
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Pyre

No Game Over: Pyre and the Acceptance of Failure

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I had mixed feelings about Pyre, the recently released tactical RPG by Supergiant Games. Despite my misgivings on how the story and gameplay were structured, I was fascinated by Pyre’s complete lack of a traditional Game Over screen. Unlike most video games, Pyre forces you to accept the consequences of failure.

Warning: Spoilers for Pyre!

Pyre is dressed like the beautifully crafted, voiced, and orchestrated RPG that we’ve come to expect from Supergiant, developers of Bastion and Transistor. But its unique combat system is modeled after a sports match, closely resembling 3-on-3 basketball.

The initial narrative follows a linear journey through the prison world known as the Downside. You and your recruited team face-off against teams of other competitors, all eager to escape this world by competing in the Rites. Naturally the Rites involve trying to get a mystical ball into your opponents’ goal, er, pyre.

The story accepts your results whether you win or lose any given match. That’s a shockingly mind-blowing way of handling an RPG, where falling in combat usually requires you to either restart the battle or reload an earlier save.

But Pyre is set up more like seasons in sports, which encompass multiple games of wins and losses. While you can certainly attempt to finish the game with an undefeated record, the story doesn’t require it. In fact it presents a rather nasty difficulty spike during your second championship match: the Liberation Rite.

The speed and efficiency of my suddenly very competent opponent caught me completely by surprise. I lost the match handily. I grew upset at how I felt cheated by this suddenly very aggressive and competent AI. I expected to be treated to a Game Over screen so I could try the match again.

But it never came. I watched as the enemy team’s leader was granted her freedom, and my own team fretted. We returned to the wagon, licking our wounds and promising to each other to do better next time. I realized the game was teaching me an important lesson: it’s okay to lose, even on the big stage.

pyre

Video games have relied on the Game Over crutch for decades. It’s a simple feedback loop – if you can’t complete this task, keep trying until you do. Occasionally an RPG may force you into an unwinnable battle, knocking out your green team while showing off the strength and power of the big bad. Your team gets beaten up and flees, or is captured, or the big bad laughs and runs off. It’s a scripted event, one that the game designed for you to fail as part of the story. Success was merely an illusion.

Many modern western RPGs and adventure games like to offer you real choices and options, from where you go to whom you ally with. There could be many different ways to role-play a character. Sometimes you may have to decide who lives and dies. Games like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and Fallout love giving you tons of options and freedom with exploration and quests.

But these choices and paths rarely include failure as a real option. They’re still telling the same story, and require you to mostly play along, tweaking some details here and there. But should you fall in battle, your character isn’t captured or slain, and you aren’t forced to live with the consequences. It’s Game Over, man.

Pyre’s story can change dramatically depending on how often you fail. A caveat is built in to the story to make sure you always reach the Liberation Match in each season, despite your W-L record. This does make individual matches mean a lot less in the long run, though you’ll gain better experience by winning.

Winning and losing the Liberation matches are where the story can really change direction. As an additional quirk, winning the championship match also causes you to lose a player, as they ascend from the Downside. You need to release these players in order to improve your chances at receiving the better endings. Losing thus comes with a consolation prize: you’re not down a player for the next season.

game over

As a lower budget indie game Pyre can alter its ending quite dramatically. The ending is told through simple vignettes and slides of the various players, both friends and foes. The concept of multiple endings is certainly not unique to Pyre – Chrono Trigger had over a dozen back in 1995. But your ending is directly related to how well you perform in the Liberation matches, as well as the choices you make with which of your characters can earn their freedom. Even if you manage a perfect record, there’s not enough tickets for everyone to make it home.

Many action games as well as Telltale’s episodic adventure games could greatly evolve by learning from Pyre. Games like The Walking Dead and Guardians of the Galaxy tell heavily scripted stories that offer dramatic choices throughout key moments.

I love that in most of their dialogue scenes refusing to say anything is a valid option. However during action moments if you miss a quick-time event a character typically dies or fails, and it’s Game Over. Likewise many action games like Tomb Raider employ quick-time events during tense dramatic moments. You fail, Lara dies, Game Over.

The dramatic tension of these situations are quickly drained when you have to restart the whole scene. How much more interesting it would be if your character were injured from the failure, and you had to keep going?

A few modern examples do provide interesting twists to failure. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor’s entire Nemesis system is built around falling to one of Sauron’s Uruk. Any Uruk who survive an encounter with the player, or even manage to slay them are promoted to captains, gaining new abilities and powers. It provides a unique system that catapulted Shadow of Mordor into a memorable experience.

game over

State of Decay also plays around with failure using  permadeath. In a zombie-infested world you can locate randomly generated survivors to add to your growing colony. As a third-person action game you control one of these survivors at a time as you scavenge for supplies. But should you get overrun by the undead, that survivor is gone forever. They drop whatever they were carrying, morale is shaken at the colony, and you have one less ally on your team. It creates a tense, pulse-pounding scenario when things get bad, as you can’t rely on the crutch of reloading to save a favorite character.

Pyre’s failure isn’t as dire as killing off characters, but I appreciate a game that can cleverly incorporate real, meaningful failure into its narrative. More games should learn how accepting failure as a valid option can enrich the experience, provided the other gameplay systems support it.

 

survival-crafting

Online Survival-Crafting Games are the New MMORPGs

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Multiplayer survival-crafting games lack a succinct acronym or single genre-defining style, but they’re absolutely taking over the world of modern online gaming. Older MMORPG behemoths like World of Warcraft have begun a steady decline while there doesn’t appear to be any stopping the new juggernauts like ARK: Survival Evolved. These new breeds of shared sandbox worlds evolved from Minecraft and traditional MMORPGs that had dominated the last decade and a half of online gaming.

MMORPGS: The Rise and Fall

The modern video game industry grew up alongside the rise of the internet, from dial-up modems tying up phone lines to being able to stream games online and store your entire life in the cloud. Massively Multiplayer Role-Playing Games began cropping up as early as text adventures and crude pixelated games in the early 90s – most with exorbitant subscription fees that caused many a parent to faint when they saw their phone bill.

In the late 90s gaming began testing the waters of truly massive online servers with thousands of users. Emerging 3D technology helped shape new virtual worlds that players could only dream of a few short years prior. Ultima Online, EverQuest, and Asheron’s Call paved the way for even larger worlds and universes like Dark Age of Camelot, EVE Online, and Star Wars Galaxies.

The year 2004 alone saw three incredibly huge, genre-defining MMORPG releases: City of Heroes, EverQuest II, and World of Warcraft. You don’t need to be a gamer to recognize one of those games as the most popular MMORPG of all time, reaching over 10 million subscribers in 2014.

World of Warcraft wasn’t the first MMORPG but it is the last survivor of the traditional subscription-based model. WoW exploded the MMORPG market in a genre that was already seeing massive growth.

Major publishers began scrambling to concoct their own WoW. In the last decade we had the Matrix Online, Guild Wars 1 and 2, The Lord of the Rings Online, Age of Conan, Champions Online, Neverwinter, and Star Wars: The Old Republic. Even traditionally single-player franchises like Final Fantasy and The Elder Scrolls embraced MMORPG spin-off entries.

The MMORPG bubble began bursting nearly as quickly as it started. While everyone can have a different definition of what constitutes success and failure in the MMORPG world, the goal of all of these games was to produce ongoing gaming experiences that would last for years. Nearly every single monthly subscription model failed in the long run, with the 13-year old World of Warcraft being a notable exception.

Save for the occasional oddity, it’s unheard of for a MMORPG to launch with a subscription model these days. Nearly every MMORPG has had to completely shift their revenue model from subscription into either free-to-play with microtransactions or simply relying on an upfront box cost plus paid DLC. The Elder Scrolls Online represents the rare success story of the latter, shifting to a “buy-to-play” model one year after its release, and releasing its first major paid expansion earlier this year.

Your World, Crafted

But the traditional WoW-style MMORPG has become quaint when faced with the explosive new genre of Survival-Crafting games.

Minecraft changed everything. It birthed an entirely new genre based on gathering resources, shaping the world around you, and sharing it with others. And it didn’t require a monthly subscription.

This new genre of games has steadily risen in popularity over the last several years. Minecraft begat single-player survival adventures like The Long Dark, Stranded Deep, and Subnautica, 2D pixelated adventures like Terraria and Starbound, and online first-person worlds like Rust, Osiris: New Dawn, and ARK: Survival Evolved.

They take full advantage of a generation who’s grown up with high-speed internet, YouTube, and livestreaming. These games provide tense, unpredictable gameplay with heartbreaking losses and hard-fought victories, all in real-time.

This week alone sees the Early Access launch of two more online survival-crafting games – Dark and Light and Citadel: Forged with Fire. Both games could trace their genus back to ARK: Survival Evolved, which debuted on Steam Early Access in 2015 and is launching in a few weeks on August 8. These games effectively blur the line between the Massively Multiplayer Online games that were all the rage a decade ago and the new world order of Minecraft-like shared worlds and private servers.

citadel

Theme Park vs Sandbox

Most MMORPGs subsisted on the Theme Park concept. The world was set up like one grand amusement park, with everyone standing around ready to dole out quests to park-goers. It was fun to explore the park and ride the rides, but at some point you could see everything. Your mark upon the world typically ended with customizing your own character with bigger and better stuff. Regular expansions added new theme park zones to explore, but in the end it was your guild or friends that kept you coming back, not the rides or gear.

Many Survival-Crafting games generate a completely random, empty world. Your world. You, along with friends and/or random strangers (depending on the server), help create the world around you. There may be existing cities and NPCs in place, or a meticulously crafted island. But you construct the houses, tame the beasts, and assault player-built fortresses. It’s a sandbox waiting to be built.

survival-craftingTheir worlds aren’t quite as massive, instead relying on relatively smaller areas for more densely packed content and crowded neighbors who incite conflict. Servers are more democratized, with the best games offering both hardcore PvP options and more friendly cooperative atmospheres. The downside of free-form servers is they open up to hacking and cheating problems, which feels like an accepted trait that comes with the territory these games provide.

As a parent it can be difficult to navigate the murky world of online gaming. Due to the nature of building and sharing in these survival-crafting games, there’s an even greater risk of frustration, loss, and all manner of negativity, regardless of the game’s rating. Thankfully with so many games to choose from, it’s possible to steer your younger children in a direction you deem more appropriate, such as Dragon Quest Builders instead of Rust.

You can discuss with your children about what games they’re playing and why they’re playing them. Building a world together with friends can be an incredibly nurturing, positive experience at a time when many kids and teens feel they may lack control over their lives, or simply want to hang out with friends.

Only time will tell if this is the 2004 of Survival-Crafting games. We’ve seen some explosive growth in the last few years. According to Steam’s player counts, some of the more popular games in the genre like Rust and ARK: Survival Evolved hit 40-50,000 players every day, and both are still in Early Access. Meanwhile Final Fantasy XIV and The Elder Scrolls Online – hugely recognizable gaming franchises, enjoy a much more humble 10-15,000 players.

Since they don’t rely on monthly subscriptions the market may be much kinder than the MMORPGs of yesteryear. But one thing all these games have in common is they demand a large amount of time and dedication. You start with nothing and have to work hard to do everything, building your own theme park before you can ride any rides. It can be incredibly rewarding, as well as overwhelmingly frustrating.

Either way most gamers can only dedicate their time to one of these games at a time. It’s exciting to have so many new avenues to explore within a still relatively new genre. But history tells us it’s also a bubble preparing to burst, and only the best games will survive.

 

e3

Ranking the E3 2017 Press Conferences

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It’s a pompous, yet time-honored tradition to grade each publisher’s E3 press conference. Companies go through an interesting cycle every year where some have exciting new game announcements or console reveals while others tow the line with some extended trailers. And some just go completely bonkers.

E3 2017 is further proof that physical, live-audience press conferences are increasingly becoming obsolete. Each show is live streamed and can be easily watched from the comfort of your own home on a myriad of devices and websites.

The majority of each show was dominated by trailers, which soon show up on YouTube for bite-sized viewing. The showmanship and spectacle of each conference continues to dwindle, instead replaced by flashy sizzle reels and carefully orchestrated cinematic trailers.

Before we drown ourselves in our own cynicism over E3, it’s important to remember that each conference remains an informative and enjoyable way for major publishers to shine the spotlight on their developers and the games they’re making.

Here is our ranking of the E3 2017 press conferences.

1) Ubisoft

Ubisoft has had some down years lately. But they really brought their “A” game to E3 2017.

For the first time in years they dropped frequent E3 host Aisha Tyler in favor of just letting Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot anchor the presentation. It began with Guillemot announcing the surprisingly awesome-looking Mario + Rabbids Battle Kingdom by bringing Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto on stage. It was self-congratulatory but also disarmingly sweet thanks to Guillemot’s boyish charm and enthusiasm.

Two other brand new announcements were the online pirate adventure Skull and Bones and the sci-fi toys-to-life Starlink: Battle for Atlas. Astonishingly Ubisoft spent minimal time on its core franchises like Far Cry 5 and Assassin’s Creed: Origins, smartly giving more time for new games. Assassin’s Creed: Origins looks completely amazing with its intriguing Ancient Egypt setting. Ubisoft made the correct call putting the annual franchise on hold for a year. Now we can get excited about more Assassin’s Creed again.

Ubisoft had the biggest finale of all the conferences with the jaw-dropping cinematic trailer for Beyond Good and Evil 2 – a game no one expected to see at E3 at all. It’s been in development for so long with little information that to see a lengthy trailer in a beautiful sci-fi world was incredible.

Final Grade: A

 

2) Nintendo

Nintendo had the foresight to see what E3 was becoming and switched to pre-recorded video conferences for E3 years ago. It’s worked well for them, but this year was especially exciting given the recently released Nintendo Switch just a few months ago. This was Nintendo’s chance to show off all the new games coming for their new console and they did not disappoint.

They focused exclusively on Nintendo Switch games and had several new announcements – Kirby, Yoshi, Metroid Prime 4, and a new Pokémon game all coming to Switch. Unfortunately Metroid Prime 4 was very much a teaser and we got less than that for the upcoming Pokémon Switch title.

What we did get to see were spiffy new trailers for Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Fire Emblem Warriors, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s upcoming DLC, and the belle of the show – Super Mario Odyssey. Nintendo’s E3 Spotlight was the very definition of short and sweet with a refreshing run time of less than 30 minutes. Switch owners have a lot to get excited for this year and beyond.

Grade: A-

 

3) Xbox

Microsoft had the distinct advantage of unveiling a new piece of hardware this year: the Xbox One X. Confusing name aside, the Xbox One X is a powerful upgrade that takes advantage of 4k resolution and HDR lighting. While the specs are certainly impressive, Microsoft knew that what ultimately sells gaming hardware is the software.

The Xbox E3 presentation was dominated by trailer after trailer, most of which boasted exclusivity – a glaring complaint that Microsoft is trying to address. I was very impressed with trailers for State of Decay 2, Sea of Thieves, Metro Exodus, Super Lucky’s Tale, Ashen, and Ori and the Will of the Wisps. Nailing exclusivity for the extremely popular online shooter PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds will pay dividends, as was the Minecraft news of cross-play between Xbox, PC, and mobile.

Microsoft also got to show off the first footage of Assassin’s Creed: Origins and show expanded gameplay footage of Anthem and Middle Earth: Shadow of War. Based on this year’s E3 conference the Xbox brand looks stronger than ever.

Final Grade: B+

 

4) PC Gaming Show

Watch live video from PCGamer on www.twitch.tv
The PC Gaming Show fills an awkward space in the E3 conference line-up. It’s technically not hosted by a publisher but by a media outlet, PC Gamer, and sponsored by Intel. It does provide a unique focus on PC games and developers in a trade show that’s usually obsessively focused on console news.

This year marked the third PC Gaming Show and everyone has grown far more comfortable with what the show is. The unique format lets game developers come on stage to discuss their game with host Sean “Day9” Plott. Plott keeps the event moving quickly, asking dev-friendly questions and showing a trailer and/or slice of gameplay. We got some fun looks at Battletech, Wargroove, Sea of Thieves, Tunic, and Ylands. We even had some fun new announcements, like a trailer for GriftLands, the LawBreakers release date, and the reveal of the upcoming XCOM 2 expansion.

Compared to other events the PC Gaming Show is much smaller and lighter. But I appreciate the talk-show format, and letting the developers talk briefly about the games and content they’re excited to show.

Final Grade: B

 

5) PlayStation

Sony had a very strong showing last year and the PS4 has been doing extremely well this console generation. It was disappointing to see them mostly resting on their laurels, continuing to show more impressive trailers for games that first impressed us last year.

Monster Hunter: World looks like a triumphant, AAA experience that should please fans of the series and a Horizon: Zero Dawn expansion is very welcome news. The rest was a collection of PlayStation VR games that are always difficult to show off in a trailer, and many new trailers for games we’ve already seen, like God of War III, Days Gone, and Detroit: Become Human.

Only a single person ever graced the stage, Sony’s CEO Shawn Layden. Layden always feels uncomfortable in his host position, leaving Sony’s event devoid of personality. Spider-Man was their big send-off trailer and while it looked nice, it also featured a whole bunch of eyebrow-raising quick time events.

Final Grade: B-

 

6) Electronic Arts

EA had one of the more traditional E3 press conferences with a hefty dose of flashiness – including revealing a new Porsche on stage to help promote Forza Motorsport 7. It was also ridiculously long. With a Saturday time slot all to themselves the EA Play show lasted a bloated three hours.

A solid 30 minutes was dedicated to shoutcasting a Star Wars Battlefront II multiplayer match. While I always appreciate raw gameplay footage of upcoming games, it came across as awkward and even a bit embarrassing as they tried to explain the game during a live match where many players clearly didn’t know what they were doing. The actual press conference was not the best time for this.

Almost the entire rest of the show was dedicated to the next sports game installments, which are mostly incremental, and racing games like Need for Speed Payback and Forza. EA felt far less diversified this year. Oddly while they did get to announce the upcoming Destiny-like BioWare title Anthem, we didn’t get a good look at it until the Microsoft show.

The one memorable highlight from EA Play was A Way Out, a uniquely forced split-screen co-op game. Josef Faris, maker of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons took the stage to talk about his upcoming title and was one of the more engaging speakers at E3.

Final Grade: C+

 

7) Devolver Digital

If you wanted to bottle up all the weirdness and memes of internet culture into a game publisher, you might end up with something like Devolver Digital. The small publisher has made waves producing dozens of small but fun indie titles, many of which are very streaming-friendly. The publisher held a very late night press conference that lasted all of 15 minutes. They didn’t  announce any new games and only two actual game trailers were shown.

The majority of the show was designed  to poke fun at and explicitly mock traditional E3 press conferences, as well as modern gaming trends like Early Access games and knee-jerk community feedback. Comedy is tough to pull off but Devolver did an admirable job that went over very well with its fans. I enjoyed it for what it was but I wish they would’ve peppered in more games.

Final Grade: BANANAS

 

8) Bethesda

Oh, Bethesda. You had such a fun idea. I loved the show’s theme around “Bethesdaland,” a visual representation of all their franchises. But when it came time for the actual show, the publisher just didn’t have anything new and exciting this year. At just over 30 minutes it felt more like they needed to hold a press conference since they’ve hosted one the last few years.

It was business as usual with some new content for existing games (Dishonored 2 DLC, expansion for Elder Scrolls: Legends) and VR spin-offs of Fallout and DOOM. They sneaked in a new paid mod system called Creation Club, but it raised more questions than answers.

The two new announcements were sequels – The Evil Within 2 and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. The latter had an especially cool eight and a half minute trailer but ultimately it wasn’t enough to lift Bethesda from last place.

Final Grade: C-

 

Pixelkin E3 2017 Complete Coverage

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EA Play

Saturday, June 10

Electronic Arts’ EA Play media show spent the majority of its conference on Star Wars Battlefront II, including showing off a full 20v20 multiplayer match. Other news included a new co-op adventure from the developer of Brother’s: A Tale of New Sons, gameplay from Need for Speed Payback, the first major DLC expansion for Battlefield 1, and more sports gaming news for Madden NFL 18, NBA Live 18, and FIFA 18.

ea play 2017EA Play 2017: New Split-Screen Co-Op Adventure A Way Out

 

 

 

EA Play 2017: FIFA 18 Coming to Nintendo Switche3 2017

 

 

 

EA Play 2017: New Gameplay Trailer for Star Wars Battlefront 2

 

 

 

EA Play 2017: The Russians Are Coming to Battlefield 1e3 2017

 

 

 

e3 2017EA Play 2017: BioWare Teases Brand New IP – Anthem

 

 

 

Xbox E3

Watch live video from Xbox on www.twitch.tv

Microsoft’s E3 show didn’t waste any time. Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, took the stage to reveal the Xbox One X, the new 4k console coming this November. The show was dominated by trailer after trailer of exclusive new games coming to Xbox One over the next year. We also saw gameplay footage of Forza Motorsport 7, Assassin’s Creed Origins, BioWare’s new co-op sci-fi game Anthem, Sea of Thieves and Middle Earth: Shadow of War.

xbox one xXbox E3 2017: Project Scorpio Revealed as Xbox One X

 

 

 

xbox e3Xbox E3 2017: All the Exclusive Games Coming to Xbox One

 

 

 

e3 2017Xbox E3 2017: First Gameplay Reveal of BioWare’s Anthem

 

 

 

minecraftXbox E3 2017: Minecraft Crossplay with Mobile, PC, Xbox One

 

 

 

life is strangeXbox E3 2017: New Prequel Life is Strange: Before the Storm

 

 

 

Bethesda E3 2017

Watch live video from Bethesda on www.twitch.tv

Sunday, June 11

Bethesda  hosted a very late night press conference that lasted only 40 minutes. Bethesda is known for The Elder Scrolls and Fallout, but in the last few years have expanded into other series like Prey, Doom, Dishonored, and Woflenstein.

The short but succinct event continued to use the “Bethesdaland” theme to reveal new content for nearly every series and franchise, including Skyrim on Nintendo Switch, Dishonored 2 DLC, Elder Scrolls: Legends expansion, and a new paid mod system called Creation Club. Two new sequels were also announced: The Evil Within 2 and Wolfenstein II: The New Order. All the announced games and content are coming later this year.

bethesdaAll the News From Bethesda’s E3 2017 Press Conference

 

 

 

PC Gaming Show

Watch live video from PCGamer on www.twitch.tv

Monday, June 12

The PC Gaming Show is hosted by PC Gamer, sponsored by Intel, and emceed by Sean “Day9” Plott. It focuses on many games coming to PC (as well as other platforms) with a particular focus on smaller indie titles. Firaxis announced their new expansion for XCOM 2, and we saw new trailers for Ooblets, GriftLands, Ylands, Tunic, and a Killing Floor 2 seasonal event. We got an extended look at Battletech, Mount and Blade, and Wargroove. Cliff Blezsinki also revealed LawBreakers release date and pricing. Finally Microsoft revealed a new Age of Empires HD remaster.

xcom 2E3 2017 PC Gaming Show: XCOM 2: War of the Chosen Expansion

 

 

 

lawbreakersE3 2017 PC Gaming Show: LawBreakers Release Date and Price

 

 

 

tunicE3 2017 PC Gaming Show: Tunic Is an Isometric Zelda-like Adventure

 

 

 

Ubisoft

Watch live video from Ubisoft on www.twitch.tv

Monday, June 12

For the first time in years Ubisoft ditched their E3 host Aisha Tyler and stuck with CEO Yves Guillemot and some Ubisoft developers to show off their new stable of games. Ubisoft had one of the most exciting press conferences of E3 with many brand new announcements, including Skull and Bones, Starlink: Battle for Atlas, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, and the shockingly fantastic trailer for Beyond Good and Evil 2.  We also saw more South Park, Assassins’s Creed, Just Dance, a Steep expansion, and Far Cry 5.

mario + rabbidsUbisoft E3 2017: Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle Features Tactical Combat

 

 

 

skull and bonesUbisoft E3 2017: New Multiplayer Pirate Game Skull and Bones

 

 

 

starlinkUbisoft E3 2017: Build Real Starships for Starlink: Battle For Atlas

 

 

 

beyond good and evil 2Ubisoft E3 2017: Beyond Good and Evil 2 Announcement Trailer

 

 

 

PlayStation Live

Monday, June 12

Sony’s press conference was light on the sizzle and even lighter on the new games. We did get an announcement for a new Horizon: Zero Dawn expansion called The Frozen Wilds and Monster Hunter: World. Many of the games Sony showed during last year’s E3 have yet to come out. We got deeper looks into Detroit: Becoming Human, Spider-Man, and Days Gone. Sony had the largest VR presence, with several new games coming to PSVR.

spider-manPlayStation Live E3 2017: Watch Spider-Man Gameplay Trailer

 

 

 

psvrPlayStation Live E3 2017: All the New Games Coming to PSVR

 

 

 

call of duty: wwiiPlayStation Live E3 2017: Call of Duty: WWII Multiplayer Trailer

 

 

 

monster hunter: worldPlayStation Live E3 2017: Capcom Announces Monster Hunter: World

 

 

 

marvel vs capcom: infinitePlayStation Live E3 2017: Marvel Vs. Capcom: Infinite Story Demo Now Available

 

 

 

Nintendo Spotlight

Tuesday, June 13

Nintendo has settled into a comfortable routine each E3 with a pre-recorded, shorter event that highlights new games. This year they could take advantage of having released a brand new console earlier in the year. The Nintendo Switch completely dominated the show, with new trailers for Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Fire Emblem Warriors, Breath of the Wild DLC, and Super Mario Odyssey. Nintendo had reveal trailers for new Kirby and Yoshi Switch games. We were also teased with Metroid Prime 4 and a new untitled Pokémon game.

super mario odysseyAll the News and Trailers from the E3 2017 Nintendo Spotlight