The conferences have finished and all (or most) of the news is in. While everyone in California is still enjoying the show floor or resting afterward, those of us around the rest of the world can take a breath and review everything we’ve learned. If there’s something you missed in the flurry of announcements over the last week period, you’ll find it here!
This is an assembly of all major news that’s released across all platforms and publishers, and will provide a space for final discussions among the community here on The Avocado. For completeness and organization, information will be divided by date and start prior to E3’s beginning with the Pokemon Sword and Shield Direct from Wednesday June 5th, continuing with the start of E3 during last weekend, and finishing with the Nintendo Direct from Tuesday June 11th.
Due to sheer amount of text present here, I will be breaking up the major sections with cool new art from upcoming Nintendo games, while only linking trailers to open in new tabs so as to not completely overwhelm you lovely readers. All images will be sourced with credit as always and information will be backed with external sources where appropriate.
Wednesday through Saturday
Pokemon Sword and Shield is receiving a global simultaneous release on November 15, 2019, including a specialized limited edition two-pack of the games. The two legendaries on the covers for Generation VIII are a pair of wolves called Zacian and Zamazenta. The games will feature local and online multiplayer in the massive free-roamed Wild Area, where players can control their free camera and work together in four-player Raid Battles. Several other new Pokemon were unveiled with a focus on the Dynamax battle feature, where Pokemon grow to many times their normal size for three turns of a battle. This feature is prominently displayed during both gym battles and raid battles.
Google Stadia is “powered by the best of Google”, releasing in November (no specified date yet) across 14 countries, all of which are North American or European.1 The only way to play Stadia at launch will be purchasing the $130 Founder’s Edition package, which includes a Chromecast Ultra to run the streaming to a TV, a controller, and a three-month subscription to the $10 subscription service, Stadia Pro. The free tier of the service won’t start until sometime in 2020. The majority of the service’s game lineup at this time is still older games from Bethesda, Ubisoft, Square Enix, and others. Upcoming titles featured include Doom Eternal, Wolfenstein Youngblood, and Borderlands 3,2 as well as newly announced titles like Larian’s Baldur’s Gate 3 (will also be on PC), two indie exclusives called Get Packed and Gylt, and a Diablo-like Darksiders spinoff also releasing on Switch.
Google says it plans to make additional announcements regarding Stadia games, referring to the above list as “the beginning” of its launch portfolio. The full list so far is here, with 2019 and unreleased games in bold: 3 Their presentation makes no acknowledgment of the use of data caps by companies like Comcast and how they’d affect using this service. In fact, when asked about them elsewhere, Google representatives have insisted that caps will simply be raised or removed at their will.
All of this news came in the same week as Google in their management over Youtube was able to get headlines to run “Youtube is removing thousands of nazi channels” without administering any actual consequences to the numerous and most powerful leaders of far-right discourse on the site, including men like Steven Crowder who lead extended homophobic and racist harassment campaigns while profiting off the spread of misinformation. Google and Youtube will not actually be punishing these individuals because the damage to the profits they make from their videos would be too great, while at the same time they continue to flag and demonetize any queer Youtubers whose content dares to be so provocative and radical as to…acknowledge trans people, for example. Furthermore, their content removal algorithms are affecting responsible journalists, like Ford Fischer, and educators and activists, because their work too is confrontational in a way that is actually positive, but these algorithms can’t take context into account. Nazis and neo-cons are being taught that their actions will continue to have no consequences, and they can evade these algorithms to avoid even that level of scrutiny, while good working people of marginalized identities and otherwise will continue to suffer and lose their livelihoods because they can’t weasel their way out of doing their jobs right.
EA spent two and a half to three hours on what is very little actual information. After some obligatory fawning from Kinda Funny‘s Greg Miller while discussing Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, a roughly 14-minute gameplay demo played, which demonstrated how the player character will use the Force in both combat sequences, including slowing down his enemies or speeding up his own movement, and interaction/navigation of the environment in Uncharted/Tomb Raider-esque adventure platforming sequences. It showed off prestige guest actor Forest Whitaker returning as his character from Rogue One and The Clone Wars, to essentially be the Navi to this redheaded Link, and finally ended with a quick montage of the character in other combat situations, including facing off with an AT-ST firing at him from above. Even with this second reveal, nothing has really been seen to justify why this character needed to be mo-capped to a specific actor, rather than be customizable and able to provide exciting representation for a variety of players.
Apex Legends Season 2 was shown off next, with a new gun, a new support character named Wattson, and the undefined suggestion of a new gameplay mode. Battlefield V showed off all of its updates for the rest of the year, including several new multiplayer maps, the implementation of private matches in September, and a theming around the Pacific front for the next set of updates. With the next hour dedicated to their sports games, FIFA 20, which will be released on September 27th for its non-Switch platforms, revealed its expansive career mode entitled Volta Football, which features extensive customization and story mode among other excitements. FIFA 20 for Switch was confirmed without a release date and with the caveat that is like its predecessors a Legacy Edition, suggesting a reskin without the most recent game’s new features. Madden NFL 20 also showed off a new career campaign, called Face of the Franchise, introduced by the requisite latest college athlete to be exploited by this corporation, and what’s really exciting about this mode is how it is an actual simulation of the precipitously painful and disappointing experiences that most college athletes go through!
EA Play concluded with the reveal of a Sims 4 expansion entitled Island Life, which will release for computers on June 21st and consoles on July 16th. The expansion provides a variety of new tropical activities for Sims to experience on the island of Sulani. That is everything EA showed on Saturday over the course of three hours, longer than every other conference. They even actually announced a few new indies in an evening press release, but those simply couldn’t fit into the three hour show dedicated to three games that are already out, two game series on a yearly cycle, and Star Wars.
The Splatoon 2 World Championship ended with a brief trailer for the very final Splatfest, AKA Final Fest: Splatocalypse. The three day event, from July 18 to July 21st, and the 5.0 patch released immediately afterwards, will be the final pieces of post-release support for Splatoon 2, coming two whole years after its launch in 2017. Patch 5.0 will make every single Splatfest map permanently available for use in online multiplayer.
Microsoft had a whopping one hour and 45 minute presentation featuring dozens of games and closing out with a tease for their obscenely overpowered next-gen hardware, code named Project Scarlet, which will launch with Halo: Infinite during the 2020 holiday season. Here’s just a quick list of everything that was presented and revealed:
- After a dramatic countdown and credits sequence, the second trailer for Obsidian’s The Outer Worlds began, ultimately revealing the game’s release date as October 25th, 2019, and that it would be instantly available on Games Pass at launch, which was a recurring theme throughout the conference.
- Phil Spencer and Ninja Theory developers came onstage to reveal the previously leaked trailer for Bleeding Edge, a cartoony four-on-four multiplayer melee battle game. Although the game has no release window, public test plays for it will begin on June 27th. The developers’ comments confirmed previous reports that this game had quietly been in development for years before Microsoft’s acquisition of the studio.
- The trailer reel continued as Ori and The Will of the Wisps was revealed for a February 11th 2020 release, currently only on Xbox One and PC.
- Next up was Minecraft Dungeons, a four player cooperative Minecraft-skin dungeon crawler releasing multiplatform (PS4 and Switch included) in Spring 2020.
- After a break in the action for Phil Spencer to get into typical E3 stageshow speak in trademark business casualwear, a very brief trailer for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order kicked in, providing no additional narrative or gameplay information on top of what was seen from EA on Saturday.
- Next, a World Premiere TM trailer for a very surprising first-person survival horror game based on the Blair Witch film series, releasing on August 30th in time for the 20th anniversary of the original film. Featuring an AI canine companion for the player character and being developed by the same team as Layers of Fear and Observer, this was a very pleasant surprise for this horror fan.
- CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 returned from 2018 with a bizarre bleeped out cinematic trailer building up to the reveal of beloved biracial superstar Keanu Reeves as the mo-capped sidekick to the player character! Keanu arrived onstage to briefly discuss the game and his experience being recruited for it, before unveiling a quick gameplay trailer ending with the release date: April 16th 2020.
- The first, but certainly not last, completely new indie for the day was Spiritfarer, a seafaring communal adventure game created by Thunderlotus coming in 2020 to Xbox One, as well as PS4 and Switch.
- The sidescrolling beat-em-up action and classically terrible vehicle sequences were all there in the first gameplay footage for Battletoads, developed by DLaLa Studios in conjunction with Rare, which showed off a 2-D animated visual style and boasted 3-player couch co-op. No release window was provided.
- Another indie adventure title, RightMe: The Legend of Wright, presented a very charming art-style paired with unique environmental interaction gameplay somewhat reminiscent of something like Okami or Scribblenauts. It’s promised to be coming sometime in 2020 to the Xbox digital store.
- This led into a dedicated montage for Indies on Xbox, featuring – Dead Static Drive, Pathologic 2, Star Renegades, Afterparty, TABS (Totally Accurate Battle Simulator), The Good Life, Cross Code, Creature in the Well, the much-delayed Killer Queen Black, Riverbond, Unto the End, Blazing Chrome, Felix the Reaper, Undermine, Supermarket Shriek, Secret Neighbor, ikenfell, LOTR Living Card Game, Night Call, and Totem Teller, all promised to be available at launch with Xbox Game Pass alongside AAA titles.
- That in turn led to an extended discussion on Xbox Game Pass, starting with Hollow Knight, Metro Exodus, Arkham Knight and Borderlands Handsome Collection all launching on the service as a Sunday shadowdrop. The previously teased Xbox Game Pass on PC also launched on Sunday June 9th in open beta, and was said to include many PC exclusive curated titles added over the months, as well the signature blockbuster release, Halo: Master Chief Collection. The Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Package was also announced, providing Game Pass for console and PC, and Xbox Live Gold online, all for $15 per month. Speaking as someone who was paying a lot more than that just for Xbox Live Gold for a solid several years from high school to 2016, that really is an insanely good value.
- A very pretty trailer for a new edition of Microsoft Flight Simulator was shown.
- Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition in 4K is set to release in Spring of 2020.
- Coming from recent Microsoft acquisition inXile Entertainment, Wasteland 3, previously in development from crowdfunding resources, was shown off with a fresh coat of AAA resource paint in a surprise trailer set in wintery Colorado and displaying an irreverent tone.
- Longstanding and oft-struggling developers Double Fine were announced to have been bought by Microsoft, leading into a new Psychonauts 2 trailer introduced by one Tim Schafer, who I still think should make all entrances accompanied by slithering sound effects, after his appearance during March’s Nindies.
- A trailer revealed Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, remaking all of the previous games based on main-series films, together with new levels adapting The Last Jedi and Rise of the Skywalker, put onto one disc, releasing on all consoles in 2020.
- A message from Akira Toriyama himself introduced the RPG Dragon Ball Z Kakarot set for release in early 2020.
- 12 Minutes is a dramatic indie game about an apartment and its inhabitants caught in a timeloop. Published by Annapurna Interactive, it is promised to be coming soon in 2020.
- Anthony Tan’s previously announced4 indie game, way to the woods, showed off survival-puzzle gameplay centered on deer finding their way home, with a 2020 release and a soundtrack by Steven Universe‘s beloved musicians Aivi and Surasshu.
- After being announced last year, Gears 55 had a September 10th 2019 release date confirmed with a trademark art-angst trailer in the same vein as the legendary Mad World trailer from more than a decade ago. A Multiplayer Tech Test for the game will start on July 17th, and DLC featuring a crossover with Terminator: Dark Fate among others was shown off.
- A new extremely intricate “Elite” controller was shown off in a quick video, set to release in November for…$180?!?
- Dying Light 2 will release on the Xbox digital store in Spring 2020, and was also shown during Square’s conference on Monday.
- Forza Horizon 4 revealed a Lego expansion set to Everything is Awesome, which was unabashedly capitalist but somehow still a little endearing. Thanks to this expansion released on Thursday June 13th, Microsoft upheld the tradition of putting a car on stage by building one out of Lego. Pray for whoever had to do that.
- Gears Pops!, the mobile Funko-brand nightmare crossover from last E3 was shown again and promised/threatened to be coming soon.
- The “biggest expansion yet” for State of Decay 2, Heartland, was revealed to be Available Now.
- Microsoft went big in their continuing efforts to engage with Eastern games by revealing the first Western release of Phantasy Star Online 2, with all known content, coming in 2020, along with an extremely popular online shooter called Crossfire X.
- Two games from Bandai-Namco were shown off after previously leaking: the announcement trailers for Tales of Arise coming in 2020 and FromSoftware/George RR Martin collaboration Elden Ring, with no set release window. Both games will release on Xbox One, PC, and PS4. Interviews with Hidetaka Miyazaki have since released claiming that Elden Ring‘s world will be the biggest yet by FromSoft, and discussing how he approached Martin, as a fan of his work, with a request to write the game’s lore. Arise is the first new entry in the popular Tales Of JPRG series since 2016’s Tales of Berseria.
- Borderlands 3 trailer with an emphasis on the upcoming free Borderlands 2 DLC (featuring the character voiced by rapist and abuser Chris Hardwick) serving as narrative setup for the sequel coming in September. As always, fuck you Randy Pitchford, you abusive trashfire of a human.
- Microsoft’s Project Xcloud streaming got a brief mention and set October 2019 as its release window.
- Finally, we return to the Project Scarlett preview, with much discussion of hardware specs, the promise of being four times more powerful than the Xbox One X, and then the introduction of a in-engine cinematic trailer for Halo: Infinite, with still no gameplay to show off.
Bethesda generously decided to give their best efforts to make Devolver Digital’s parody show from later that Sunday redundant with the sheer hubris and absurdism on display. We all knew to expect it, but that didn’t make the sheer excess of back-patting and “cute” self-awareness from Todd Howard that the conference’s opening was devoted to any easier to stomach. This atmosphere continued throughout the conference with three separate intermissions for fan and employee testimonials speaking to the positive impact Bethesda has on them. I do relatively trust these people’s sincerity and positivity, but that doesn’t render the context in which they’re being used any less cynical or exploitative. Before leaving, Howard promised new IP would be announced and a deep dive for Doom Eternal, and went ahead with throwing out that The Elder Scrolls: Blades, a notoriously predatory mobile game, was receiving a shadowdropped update and would be released on Switch this Fall. Oh, and let’s not forget that repeatedly throughout this conference, Bethesda took credit for what Id Software accomplished in the 90s, many years before they owned that studio, of innovating in the first-person shooter genre.
- Updates from Fallout 76‘s RoadMapTM include three announcements. The first trailer revealed ‘Wastelanders’, a free update that patches in a cast of NPCs and full dialogue trees to introduce and begin a new real main questline for the game, which is framed as something that was always part of the plan but had to be saved for ‘Year 2’ to build off the initial experience of utter loneliness and nothing to do in this $60 entry in a story and character driven series. I like to think all these new characters just suddenly appearing out of the woodwork are in fact arriving from Poochie’s home planet.
- Next is a trailer for a battle royale mode entitled Nuclear Winter, in which 52 players fight to the death for the right to overseer a newly opened Vault, which seems like an extremely questionable way to select a leader in a sparsely populated world.
- The final piece of news is that a free trial for Fallout 76 across PC and consoles is available from June 10th to June 17th, starting at the same time as the patch for Wastelanders and Nuclear Winter goes live, because maybe arrogantly insulting people’s intelligence is just the right way to reel in new buyers.
- Resident Evil and The Evil Within creator Shinji Mikami appeared on stage to announce Ghostwire: Tokyo. Produced by Mikami and directed by his long-time protege and employee Ikumi Nakamura*, this ‘spooky’ action adventure title is the next project from Tango Gameworks and has no current release window, but the cinematic trailer certainly was intriguing enough.
- *Nakamura was instantly embraced as one of the new icons of E3 for her charming and genuine presence, substantially brightening the often unpleasant conference atmosphere.
- Zenimax came up to present the cinematic trailer for the next story-focused Elder Scrolls Online expansion, the winter release Dragonhold, which concludes the story continued by Elsweyr, which released on June 4th. A separate DLC, multiplayer dungeon-crawling focus entitled Scalebreaker will release in August. Both Doom Eternal and The Elder Scrolls Online were promised to be appearing with new info at Quakecon 2019, with the former receiving special dedicated “Doomcon” events based around the series’ history.
- The Commander Keen series returns with a free to play mobile game coming this summer, starring the twin children of the original Billy Blaze and being marketed with phrases like “Get your anus to Mars!”
- There was a deeply silly live action trailer for The Elder Scrolls: Legends, a mobile digital card game that’s been out for two years and wasn’t even revealing a new update.
- The first trailer for Rage 2‘s post-launch updates presented the Rise of the Ghosts Expansion alongside promotion of weekly updates including cheat codes, battle mechs, and more.
- Wolfenstein Youngblood (and Wolfenstein Cyberpilot, a VR release, coming out in July) had a story trailer about Blazkowicz’ daughters going into enemy territory to save their father, alongside reconfirmation of the game’s July 26th date and multiplatform simul-release.
- Arkane Studios developers came out to introduce their new game Deathloop, a complex stealth-shooter hybrid based on the hook of rival assassins caught in a Spy vs Spy style endless battle to the death. Players will navigate carefully designed levels where they can choose how to approach each enemy and situation on their way to achieving victory over their enemy, whichever one they play as. The game has no release window and no consoles confirmed yet, so it could be quite a while before it’s seen again.
- Before closing out with Doom Eternal, Bethsoft announced and briefly discussed their own streaming tech, Orion, which launches a month before Stadia and offers all of their same new and updating releases that they licensed to Google, which is the funniest public backstabbing I’ve seen in years. Thank you for that one, Bethesda. Your tech will have the exact same problems of excess data consumption and dysfunctionality as Stadia.
- Edit: Correction to the above, apparently Orion is closer to a supplemental tech meant to help stabilize the performance of other platforms’ cloud storage rather than an independent streaming device. This was not remotely well explained in the conference, but nonetheless I don’t want to spread misinformation.
- Doom Eternal presented both a new trailer and an extended gameplay demonstration, during which the asymmetric multiplayer Battle Mode was revealed, in which two people playing as different types of demonic enemy must work together to take down a single Slayer. Doom Eternal releases on November 22nd 2019 across all good platforms and also Stadia and Orion. End of conference.
Devolver Digital successfully hindered Bethesda’s efforts to sabotage their third E3 conference with a very exciting set of announcements paired to the “Devolver Direct” and the unveiling of a new corporate villain to oppose and torment beloved icon Nina Struthers.
First up was Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout for PS4 and PC in early 2020, a colorful and cartoony indie battle royale with a twist: death comes not from other players but the dangers of the environment they are all traversing.
Devolver Bootleg was revealed to be Available Now exclusively on Steam, serving as a parody of the kind of games that clutter Steam by providing an eight-in-one game assembly based on different classic Devolver titles, such as Enter the Gun-Dungeon.
Continuing the tradition of graphic, cartoony, staged violence in their E3 conferences, Carrion by Phobia Game Studio, was first revealed with a rampaging monstrous puppet before gameplay was also shown. It’s a side-scrolling pixel art horror game and possible Metroidvania set for the extra vague “PC and Console in 2020”, wherein the player is a rampaging tentacle monster eliminating threats to its disturbing existence.
The June 20th release date trailer for dynamic side-scrolling shooter My Friend Pedro, already highlighted by Nintendo a week earlier, was also shown. As the conference collapsed in typical heightened fashion, two more big announcements snuck in: a free expansion for The Messenger entitled Picnic Panic is available on all platforms as of July 11th, and a $5000 original light-gun arcade cabinet game based on Enter the Gungeon, House of the Gun-dead, blew this grew-up-on-lightgun-games young woman’s mind. It will be distributed to arcades in early 2020 and is available to be pre-ordered for private ownership sometime soon.
Finally, Square Enix pulled a surprise on Sunday night by posting a new trailer for Final Fantasy VII Remake complete with the release date of March 3rd 2020. With still no formal indication of the previously stated episodic structure, but also still no footage of the game from beyond the very beginning, this announcement only raised further questions for many fans.
Some highlights from the PC Gaming Show on Monday morning include: a new gameplay trailer for Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines 2 and an interview with some of the developers, which renewed the promise of an early 2020 release; indie publisher Chucklefish revealing a new spacefaring management game called Starmancer; and the first trailer for the long-awaited Evil Genius 2.
Some highlights of the Limited Run Games conference streamed from their North Carolina office include: A late 2019 Night in the Woods release for both Switch and PS4, Supergiant Games’ Transistor, the launch of a 3DS Limited Run line starting with the Atooi Collection of five eShop titles on one cartridge, the 3D version of Myst for Switch, a Collector’s Edition of legendary vaporware Shenmue 3, currently scheduled for November, and finally a fuckoff-huge assembly of collector’s edition rereleases of classic Star Wars games, as well as several Monkey Island titles, through a partnership with Lucasarts. The full list for that is here:6 The primary focus of these releases will be new printings for the games’ original platforms, but additional modern console porting may be announced down the line.
Ubisoft opened with a brief orchestral performance of pieces from the Assassins’ Creed series before quickly shifting into the first new title, Watch Dogs: Legion, which was informally announced by a Kotaku report after Amazon accidentally leaked the game last week. Releasing on March 6th 2020, Legion‘s presentation intermixed trailer and gameplay footage to establish the game’s setting of a London ravaged by government neglect, dangerous drones, and chaotic public unrest in the wake of Brexit. It also demonstrated how the previously reported NPC recruitment and resistance mechanics can play out in real time,7 as one character died during a shootout and the player quickly shifted over to a new character elsewhere in the environment to salvage the halted mission. Several character profiles and specialties were shown off, including espionage, martial arts, and the immediate fan-favorite, an ex-assassin grandma. The promise of a large cast of consistently unique characters with varying mechanics is going to be a tall order to match up, especially considering the trailer’s frequent displays of gunplay over other gameplay types. It’s already been confirmed by developers that there is a set list of character profiles with different variables that will be minutely adjusted for distribution across the wider population of the game’s digital city. The only question is just how well that works in practice.
Although the game’s creative director Clint Hocking has a decent pedigree (Far Cry 2 and what is perhaps the consensus best Splinter Cell, Chaos Theory), and a particular earnestness towards the messaging in his game, what’s been seen in both the game’s footage and his comments during this part of the conference suggest a very clumsy and unsophisticated grasp of the politics he’s trying to explore. He definitely thinks Brexit will and has hurt the UK’s populace, and he’s correct in that, but he seems to lack a sense of vision as for how exactly the current political state led to the dire circumstances the game portrays. How and why would the British government, which has seen rapid turnaround in leadership as the Conservative Party continually strives and fails to complete their EU withdrawal negotiations, simply abandon their posts, and how does that result in birds being replaced with robots? And does Hocking have any grasp of how Brexit is part of a much broader global pattern of far-right fascist powers and the catastrophic consequences of their actions, that its local impact reaches far beyond the single city of London, and that the consequences that have already occurred are far more insidious than any hypothetical cartoonish anarchy state?
On that note, here’s a quick track record of other recent political messages to come out of Ubisoft: During an interview last week, Ubisoft executive Tommy Francois expressed how the company would continue to remain committed to their convictions, convictions that both-sides-ism, trying to be as apolitical as possible, and avoiding messages entirely are the key virtues to what make their games more mature than the competition. Francois is not the first individual from high up in the company to claim and defend an apolitical quality to their products. It’s easy to see how such a perspective has given us such stories and choices as The Division‘s “government agents must massacre homeless people and escaped prisoners for the greater good,” and Far Cry 5 designing white religious fanatic villains to not only be as removed from any real-world ideology as possible, but even to not have any agency whatsoever. I trust that Clint Hocking is well-meaning in his attempts at social commentary, but I remain deeply skeptical that such a corporate environment as this that his work is being produced in will allow for anything truly radical or meaningful.
Now, as for the rest of the actual presentation:
- Some multimedia announcements from Ubisoft included The Division film adaptation going forward as a Netflix Original with John Wick‘s David Leitch directing, and Jessica Chastain and Jake Gyllenhaal in leading roles, and a sitcom about game development from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia‘s Rob McElhenney and his fellow creatives from the series. Starring him in the lead role along with Danny Pudi and F Murray Abraham, it is tragically an AppleTV+ exclusive.
- Finn, Jake, and Princess Bubblegum of Adventure Time are all being added to the messy free-to-play fighter Brawlhalla, continuing one of the more creative rosters in fighting games if little else of worth, given the intensive microtransacting and paywalled roster.
- A cinematic trailer for Ghost Recon Breakpoint revealed The Punisher’s Jon Bernthal in a leading role as the main antagonist. Bernthal was onstage for a little while, he had a cute dog for some reason. “Cole D Walker” is a bad name. A fairly random assortment of information followed from Bernthal’s appearance, with a gameplay trailer, confirmation of AI teammates available for single player, which they weren’t originally going to do, another Terminator: Dark Fate tie-in DLC, and the October 4th 2019 release date being reconfirmed. I still don’t really get why they announced this game in May instead of just saving it for right here. Oh well.
- A new cartoony mobile squad tactics game, Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad, features various Ubisoft franchise characters working together, including Splinter Cell‘s Sam Fisher, to the frustration of fans hoping for a new full entry in the stealth series. The game is coming soon.
- Just Dance 2020 celebrates the series’ tenth anniversary by doing the same thing as always, which works just fine for it. It’s also still releasing for the original Wii, delightfully.8
- Rainbow Six Quarantine, a story-focused co-op action horror game, was announced for early 2020 with little other details yet. Its lead designer is a woman with pink hair, which was the only interesting aspect of this part for me.
- The Division 2‘s live service will continue with the Episode 2 update in July and Episode 3 update in early 2020.
- Building on top of the already widely criticized Uplay distribution service is Uplay+, a subscription releasing on September 3rd for $15 a month, the same price as Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Uplay+ will only be available on PC and eventually Google Stadia.
- Roller Champions, a multi-platform multiplayer-focused action game, was introduced with both a cinematic and a gameplay trailer. This colorful science-fiction roller derby game, clearly intended to compete with recent multiplayer phenomena like Overwatch and Fortnite, has no release info as of yet, but a demo was shadowdropped, available to play from June 10th to the 14th, only on Uplay.
- Finally, a new IP developed by the same team and using the same engine as Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey was revealed with a cinematic trailer, setting its release date as February 25th, 2020. Although the conference cut off right there with no additional context for the game, Gods and Monsters, Ubisoft’s website and reports from the show floor quickly provided additional info: it’s a 3D adventure game exploring a kingdom of Greek mythology as the (customizable) hero tries to restore the gods to power against the powerful titan Typhon. With RPG elements, puzzle solving, crafting, and an open-world map, it’s already inspiring comparisons to/suggestions of influence from the seminal recent Zelda title, Breath of the Wild. Also inspired by the positive response to the myths and monsters featured in AC: Odyssey, Gods and Monsters will be simul-releasing for all platforms, including Nintendo Switch.
Square Enix unsurprisingly dedicated a large amount of their conference, the highly coveted slot occupied by Sony in previous years, to the extensive Final Fantasy franchise.
- Tetsuya Nomura’s Final Fantasy 7 REMAKE opened the conference with an extended presentation from both producer Yoshinori Kitase and the aforementioned director, with multiple trailers playing, including the original release date trailer from Sunday and an extended version presenting multiple environments, more gameplay, and the new models for beloved party member Tifa and major antagonist Sephiroth. The episodic release structure announced back in 2017 is still being employed, with this game releasing next March focusing and expanding on the Midgar setting from the original game into a semi stand-alone narrative that stretches across two blu ray discs. They cannot confirm how many distinct releases will be needed to tell the entire new version of this story, as they themselves do not know yet.
- The new form of real-time strategic combat for FF7R was explained in detail. Players will freely swap between party members like Cloud and Barret, directing them to employ both individual basic attacks and combined team attacks while moving and taking cover as these attacks build up an Active Time Battle meter. Completely filling the meter will allow the player to slow the action during which advanced spells and attack maneuvers can be employed, consuming it so it must be refilled again. Only one party member can employ ATB at once, but the others will still attack independently while controlled by an AI.
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered, first announced in 2018’s September Nintendo Direct, was revealed to be coming in Winter 2019, with a confirmation that cooperative multiplayer would be supported through online rather than the original game’s LAN Gameboy Advance model.
- Previously Switch-exclusive, Octopath Traveler released on PC through Steam last Friday, June 7th, and during the conference it received a quick trailer announcing that it was available now and receiving further console releases in the future.
- Polarizing JRPG The Last Remnant Remastered, first released in 2008 and then suddenly remastered for PS4 last year, was shadowdropped on Monday June 10th in its remastered form for the Switch.
- Dragon Quest Builders 2 and Dragon Quest 11 S, the Switch release, each receive quick trailers, the former dedicated to extendedly explaining how Builders, a complex Mine-craft-alike with more active RPG elements and a story, works through a wacky announcer for those unfamiliar with the game. Builders 2 releases on PS4 and Switch on July 12th and has a demo coming to both platforms on June 27th, while Dragon Quest 11 mysteriously received no release date…
- A montage plays of indie games published by Square under the Square Enix Collective label since 2016, leading into two new titles, Circuit Superstars, coming to all platforms in 2020, and Battalion Easternfront, Available Now on Steam.
- Music from throughout Square Enix’s history, with an emphasis on scores from throughout the Final Fantasy series, were shadowdropped across a variety of music streaming services.
- After originally being posted online Sunday morning, the dialogue-less trailer for Kingdom Hearts 3: Re: Mind played, promising that the DLC will arrive this Winter and further expand the narrative of main villain Xehanort and his relationship to the Master of Masters.
- The director of Final Fantasy XIV Online arrived to present the launch trailer for its latest expansion, Shadowbringers, which releases on July 2nd.
- Previously shown by Microsoft, the first-person zombie survival parkour shooter…thingy Dying Light 2 plays another trailer promising a Spring 2020 release.
- Two entries in the long-running open world RPG series SaGa are receiving their first Western releases later in 2019. One is 1995’s Romancing SaGa 3, originally for the Super Famicom, and the other is SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions, the expanded edition of the most recent entry in the series. Both will release on PS4, Switch, Steam, iOS, and Android, and the former will also release on Xbox One, Windows, and PSVita.
- Free-to-play mobile gacha game Final Fantasy Brave Exvius is receiving a tactical RPG spinoff entitled War of the Visions to release on consoles later in 2019.
- Outriders, a new IP from People Can Fly (former Epic subsidiary and developers of Gears of War: Judgment, Bulletstorm). A co-op sci fi shooter set to release in summer 2020, the developers promise more info will be coming this winter.
- After originally being revealed during Nintendo’s February Direct, Oninaki was announced to release on August 22nd 2019, digital-only in North America.
- After outcry last fall over the absence of Final Fantasy VIII from the lineup of new ports coming to Switch and other consoles, Final Fantasy 8 Remastered was finally announced to be coming later in 2019 to all platforms, in time for the game’s 20th anniversary, and to the excitement of my partner and other friends. This release is hoped to turn out better than those other recent ports due to being built from the ground up for consoles rather than a mobile port, and it is especially positive to know that they made this happen even after losing the original source code.
- Square closed out their show with an extended showcase of Marvel’s Avengers. The trailer presented the game’s main heroes in action9 and the initial narrative premise, which will emphasize grief, failure, and redemption in a manner similar to the recent film whose shadow casts long over this game. The main voice cast for the Avengers was spotlighted, presenting a small assembly of video game voice all-stars10 which will continue to expand over time, due to the use of a live service model of the narrative being continually updated over multiple years (all major updates being entirely free, they carefully note) to replicate the ongoing comic book or MCU experience. Playable in four player online co op, Marvel’s Avengers releases for PS4*, Xbox One, PC, and Google Stadia on May 15th, 2020.
- *Marvel’s Avengers will have a pre-release beta that launches first on PS4 ahead of other consoles due to Sony and Square’s continued partnership, and the full game on PS4 is promised to have undefined special benefits as well.
- A quick trailer played at the very end to give some tease of what to expect out of the narrative updates, presenting Hank “Ant-Man” Pym joining the roster of heroes.
In a few self-contained announcements, Untitled Goose Game was announced to be a temporary Epic Store exclusive for its PC launch in order to secure the studio resources for future games, and Microsoft revealed the final lineup of games to be made backwards compatible for the Xbox One, before resources are fully moved over to focusing on backwards compatibility for Project Scarlett. The final original Xbox games to soon be compatible with Xbox One and available on its store are: Armed and Dangerous, Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb, Sphinx and the Cursed Mummy, Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict, and the first four Splinter Cell titles, up to Double Agent. The final Xbox 360 games are:11, with Too Human being available for no charge in accordance with the Silicon Knights court ruling. Several Rare titles available individually and as part of Rare Replay are also confirmed to be receiving an upresing for playing on the Xbox One X, namely all three console Banjo-Kazooie games, Kameo, Perfect Dark and Perfect Dark Zero, and the two main Viva Piñata games.
- After a Nintendo colored and styled dramatic countdown in the same vein as Microsoft’s opener, a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC trailer kicked things off, revealing Dragon Quest’s The Hero as the second Fighter’s Pass, set for a summer release. Featuring DQ11‘s Luminary as the default skin, the Hero is meant to embody many generations of warriors across the Dragon Quest series all at once, with the Heroes of Dragon Quests 3, 4, and 8 (Erdrick, Solo, and “Guv”, the latter two not having strictly canonical names) all being represented by alternate skins, and every other Hero being featured in the fighter’s Final Smash. The Hero’s stage is only briefly glimpsed, but it does feature Yggdrasil the World Tree in its background, a recurring setting from throughout the series with a spiritual connection to the Luminary in particular. The series’ iconic Slimes are present as well from the stage and/or the fighter’s taunts. The Hero’s moveset presents a mix of swordplay, shieldplay, and various magic spells selected from a classic JRPG menu screen! Whatever your personal relationship to the series, this is the grandfather of all JRPGs, it matters to very many people, and it belongs in the Smash Bros. world.
- It turns out that Square’s coyness on Monday had some purpose after all. One more trailer for the Dragon Quest 11 Switch port12 follows right on the heels of the Smash trailer, ending with the release date being revealed at last: September 27th, 2019. Further details have been provided regarding additions being made to the port, namely that new optional ending cutscenes will be available that provide more choice and variety to the Luminary’s romantic life. And that’s not all, folks!
- September and Autumn in general will be very busy for Nintendo fans, with Daemon X Machina and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening being released one week apart before Dragon Quest, on September 13th and September 20th respectively. Daemon X Machina‘s trailer focused on presenting a more polished form of the gameplay seen in the demo from February, and a stronger cel-shaded visual design on the newly revealed characters piloting these tremendous mechas. In the Treehouse, it was announced that feedback from the survey paired with the demo has led to camera adjustments and UI additions, namely enemy unit markers and damage markers to know where attacks are coming from, as well as optional motion controls. There will also be a post-launch update providing competitive multiplayer functionality.
- Link’s Awakening, along with more time simply spent soaking in the gorgeous renders of Koholint Island, announced the Chamber Dungeon feature, wherein rooms from dungeons completed during the main story can be collected, recreated, and assembled into the player’s own custom dungeon maps, which can be explored to stock up on items like Fairy Bottles to use during the main game. Later during the Treehouse, the Color Dungeon from Link’s Awakening DX was confirmed to return in this year’s remake.
- After the Dragon Quest content, Luigi’s Mansion 3 (apparently the official title now) received an extended gameplay demonstration narrated by a Ghost Host / Cryptkeeper esque character, and would be continued later in the Treehouse. The game is confirmed to be developed by Next Level, the same studio as Dark Moon, who have been listening to the criticisms of that game. Features shown during the Direct include: local two-player co op through an expanded implementation of the Gooigi character from the Luigi’s Mansion 3DS port; new abilities with a redesigned Poltergust including a puff of air and a suction cup launcher to traverse and alter your surroundings, and slam and burst attacks used to for crowd control and harming more ghosts at once; and the returning Scarescraper for time challenges in both solo play, and local and online multiplayer up to 8 players.
- Several new Character Ghosts were shown off between the Direct and the Treehouse, including a sadsack film director named Morty, an aggressive knight, and a pig, uh, I mean a cop, with the promise of at least one for every floor-level of the Last Resort Hotel. Gooigi is a new creation of E. Gadd to aid Luigi in navigating hazards such as spikes, while Gooigi is in turn vulnerable to its own hazard, namely water that causes it to run and melt. The Treehouse segment also assured viewers that the gameplay would emphasize open-ended exploration over Dark Moon‘s mission structure, and trips to E. Gadd’s bunker being fewer and farther between. Although the trailer only says 2019, other official Nintendo documentation says Q4 2019, leading this writer to speculate that rather than a Autumnal/October release, the game is Nintendo’s choice for a first week of December holiday title alongside Pokemon Sword and Shield.
- Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics is revealed for an undefined 2019 release in a trailer that mixes actual puppetry in with gameplay footage. A Netflix-licensed tie-in to the new Dark Crystal series with an absurdly stacked cast, this game looks to mix fantasy tactics and a typically Henson style irreverent sense of humor.
- That’s right, Square’s got more for you! A 3D remake of Seiken Densetsu 3, Trials of Mana, has been announced for a global release on Switch, PS4, and PC in early 2020, and the Collection of Mana, an assembly of all three of the series’ original Game Boy and SNES games, was shadowdropped onto the Switch eShop on Tuesday afternoon. Two different versions of a game never before brought to the West, the sequel to a cult classic among Nintendo JRPG fans, will be released within a year of each other.
- After rumors, leaks, and reports, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Complete Edition is finally confirmed to release on Switch sometime later in 2019. In an impressive bit of news, the Witcher Twitter account announced on the same day that the entire game, all DLC included, was successfully fit onto a 32GB cartridge with no required further downloads to deal with, unlike some third party releases.
- A Fire Emblem: Three Houses story trailer played employing a sort of John Hughes/Breakfast Club angle to express the emotional stakes of former friends and classmates being brought to the brink of war with each other by their families. The Treehouse showed off a new mechanic called Divine Pulse, which provides a limited number of charges used to rewind a battle and adjust based on the consequences seen. The game’s release date of July 26th 2019 holds firm.
- A deeply charming live-action commercial set inside a haunted house is introduced by Mr. Koizumi, evoking both the Resident Evil series’ awkward cutscene past and a classic gaming frustration13 of both people in the same space wanting to play at once. This leads into two more games in the horror-action series arriving on Switch in the Fall, the especially co-op driven Resident Evil 5 and the critically panned franchise bestseller Resident Evil 6.
- A cinematic trailer plays out with Star Wars references, the word fucky, and much more. That’s right, Suda51’s train just keeps on rolling, as No More Heroes 3, after being teased in the credits of January’s Travis Strikes Again, is officially revealed to be coming in 2020.
- Konami’s baby steps back into the gaming industry continue wholeheartedly as the Contra Anniversary Collection, following on their previous very recent Anniversary Collections’ heels, was shadowdropped onto the Switch eShop on Tuesday morning, alongside an announcement for a wholly new, top-down and 3D entry in the shooter series, Contra Rogue Corps, is announced to release on September 24th 2019.
- Another surprise comeback is afoot as Panzer Dragoon soars into the Direct with gameplay and cinematics for a Winter 2019 release. Although it was initially unclear, this was confirmed later to be a full remake of the 1995 Sega Saturn original Panzer Dragoon.
- Pokemon Sword and Shield received a brief interlude introduced by Shinya Takahashi, as the Direct transitioned over to him hosting. He announced that the Pokeball Plus controllers introduced with last year’s Let’s Go games would be partly compatible with this year’s releases,14 and some quick footage revealed the second gym leader, the water type wielder Nessa. Later during the Treehouse, two new Pokemon would be shown as well, an adorable electric corgi called Yamper, and a dark/fairy little demon whatsit called Impidimp. Both are my perfect children. Additionally, more information was provided on the radical new Wild Area of the games, with confirmation not only that wild Pokemon battles are available side by side as random encounters in tall grass and as visible free-roaming encounters, but also that the player is fully capable from the jump of roaming into areas where the Pokemon are much higher level than theirs, providing new opportunities of challenge and variety.
- Platinum Games’ Astral Chain showed off a new story trailer, explaining that the “hot cop” protagonists are part of an experimental guard known as the Legions protecting humanity from an ongoing extra-dimensional invasion by neurologically synching with the aliens, Chimeras, and using their powers against their own. The trailer reiterated the game’s August 30th 2019 release from February.
- A top-down strategy game centered on warring 20th Century gangsters is being brought to us by the Romero Games15 in Spring of 2020. There is a great theme song to go along with the game’s title, Empire of Sin.
- Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is shown to feature Ghost Rider, Elektra, and ELSA BLOODSTONE??? all as playable characters, featuring a fun roster of villains including Hela, Doctor Octopus, Mysterio, MODOK, and Surtur, and expansion packs will release starting in Fall 2019 featuring the Fantastic Four, More X-Men, and Marvel Knights.
- Cadence of Hyrule quickly showed off some new gameplay and enemies along with announcing a June 13th release, providing the game some opportunity to avoid being overtook by the other new releases and games on sale.
- After a very brief trailer and announcement in the Spring, Mario and Sonic at the Tokyo Olympics 2020 received a brief highlight as the new trailer showed off surfing, skateboarding, and martial arts as new sports to play in local and online multiplayer, as well as a briefly seen retro mode to play the games and witness the various characters with pixel art.
- As the E3 Direct rounded down, it was time to finally blow the lid off one of the most extendedly and hotly anticipated upcoming Switch titles, which is now known as Animal Crossing: New Horizons. With a travel package from Nook Enterprises,16 the Villager arrives on a deserted tropical island, starting completely with nothing, and will work towards cultivating it into an attractive getaway with a greater degree of control and customization to bring new residents in and motivate them to stay in order to form a new village wholly from the ground up, a community that is truly theirs. New customization options include greater control over skin tone, being implemented over from Smash Bros. and Pocket Camp, being able to choose between Northern and Southern hemisphere for your island and affect the climate thusly, and the removal of the starting game quizzes in favor of being able to freely choose and adjust all physical features throughout the game without any being ‘gender-locked’.
- New crafting mechanics will be employed along the way as resource gathering and management decisions are made. An example provided in interviews is that the Villager can decide to focusing on making more tents for residents rather than building the cost and labor intensive houses, but those houses would attract certain personalities like Isabelle to aid in the establishment of a firmer infrastructure for the new community. Multiplayer options include up to eight multiple local profiles on the same Switch being able to set up camp on the same island and collaborate towards their goals of communal development, good for parents being able to play together with their kids, and there is also online multiplayer functionality allowing friends to visit each others’ islands, although they won’t be able to set up camp as you cannot have more than one island. Animal Crossing: New Horizons will arrive next Spring on March 20th, 2020, getting it just under the wire for fiscal year 2019.
- After the Animal Crossing unveiling is complete, a massive rapid-fire montage ensues as we near the endgame. I will be listing the games featured in this montage in rough order of release rather than the order shown in the video. Some games previously mentioned in other conferences will be included.
- Catan – June 20th, My Friend Pedro – June 20th, Super Mario Maker 2 – June 28th, Stranger Things 3 – July 4th, Dragon Quest Builders 2 – July 12th, Wolfenstein Youngblood – July 26th, Spyro: Reignited Trilogy – September 3rd, Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch – September 20th, Dead by Daylight – September 24th, The Sinking City – Fall 2019, New Super Lucky’s Tale – Fall 2019, Disgaea 4+ Complete – Fall 2019, The Elder Scrolls: Blades, Alien: Isolation – 2019, Just Dance 2020 – November 5th, Doom Eternal – November 22nd, Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles Remastered – Winter 2019, Dauntless – Late 2019, Minecraft Dungeons – Spring 2020, and Hollow Knight: Silksong is Coming Soon.
- Some other exciting information to come out from this lineup includes: New Super Lucky’s Tale is confirmed to be a ground-up reimagining of the Microsoft-published game, including a redesigned camera and new story cutscenes among others; during the Treehouse segments, Takashi Tezuka confirmed that Nintendo has heard the criticisms of no online multiplayer for friends in Super Mario Maker 2, and it will be patched in later this year.
- On the heels of the sizzle reel, a second Super Smash Bros Ultimate trailer kicked in, revisiting and parodying last year’s King K. Rool trailer as the lead-in to a Rareware reunion, as Banjo-Kazooie were announced to be Raring to Go for a Fall 2019 release. As the creations of Rareware’s British developers back in the 90s along with K Rool and Diddy Kong, and the current property of Microsoft, these are the very first fully Western characters in Super Smash Bros. and their first appearance on Nintendo hardware since Banjo-Pilot on the Game Boy Advance 14 years ago. Their stage was shown as Spiral Mountain, the hubworld of the series’ platformer games, and the rearrangement of Spiral Mountain’s theme played in the trailer was soon confirmed to be composed by the series’ original composer Grant Kirkhope himself, although the rest of the music for the Challenger Pack will be handled by the usual Sora Ltd. team.17
- Before leading into One More Thing, Shinya Takahashi acknowledged, without naming names, that Nintendo has a lot more in development both first-party and third-party, both already announced and not yet announced, and they look forward to presenting these games when the time is right. Some of the notable no-shows include: Atlus’ Shin Megami Tensei V, which has no information available whatsoever. Retro’s Metroid Prime 4, which we all know only just restarted development. Game Freak’s Town, which I myself admittedly hyped up as something to expect during the E3 Direct, but it is still dated for 2019 and it did recently have new screenshots officially released for it, so we most likely will see it sometime soon. Platinum’s Bayonetta 3 was discussed by the studio’s head Inaba Atsushi here, where he promised that development is still going well and the time before seeing it again is simply indicative of the ambition and more radical development approach going into the game. Assuming that is all true, Bayonetta 3 will most likely start to be presented after Platinum’s Astral Chain is out at the end of August.
- The closer of the Direct and this year’s conferences as a whole finally arrived, delivering a cinematic teaser trailer with a simple message: The sequel to Breath of the Wild is Now in Development. It was not simply this information unto itself that left such an impact, but the tangible details surrounding it, the tone and atmosphere, the multitude of questions and speculations inspired by every thing that was glimpsed over the course of less than two minutes. Not only does it provide the deeply exciting visual of Link and Zelda side by side as equal participants in the journey, but with unnerving music, a mounting dread throughout, zombified Ganon and Hyrule Castle rising into the sky, it truly feels like a horror movie in a way the series hasn’t since the demented darkness and elegiac tragedy of Majora’s Mask and Twilight Princess.
- Later on Tuesday after the Direct, Legend of Zelda series producer and manager Eiji Aonuma made the rounds of interviews to answer what he could about this surprise announcement. In a Game Informer interview, he confirmed that Breath of the Wild‘s director Hidemaro Fujibayashi would be returning to direct the sequel, and that a major goal for the game would be to “use that world again, while incorporating new gameplay and new story”, further stirring the belief that the game will reuse some of the first’s assets to provide a unique experience within this popular vision of Hyrule with a quicker production turnaround. He did assure at the same time that the production could not be entirely comparable to Majora’s Mask as they would not be operating under the unhealthily short deadline enforced for that game’s production.
- In short, all those of us in the public truly know for sure about this game is…
That’s all for our 2019 E3 Roundup! Thank you so much everyone for reading! What did you think of this year? What were some of your favorite and least favorite moments? The best and worst conferences? How bad did Sony fuck up by holding out, even if it was just going to be updates on games they’d already shown the last couple years and the PS5 wasn’t ready for a full show yet? What was your personal total positive surprise moment, AKA “What?! Hell yeah! What!?”18
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