This is the post that inspired me to start this blog. I wrote it the same day I finished my first visit to E3, hope you like it!:
LA, June 15th 2018
So, E3 just finished. This was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that will be nice to remember in future years, so I thought I’d write down my thoughts and impressions, for anyone that may also be interested in this kind of thing.
(TL;DR: E3 was awesome, will definitely buy some of the games I tried)
DAY 1 (Tuesday):
Arrived at the hotel from the airport and the atmosphere in the lobby was already buzzing, with tons of people wearing E3 lanyards, both press and non-press variations. I’d decided to stay at L.A. LIVE for convenience, so I made my way to the LA Convention Center on foot.
On my way I passed the Microsoft Theater and Microsoft Square. The Theater was covered on XBOX signs and had guests lining up outside to visit the XBOX Experience, Microsoft’s version of a booth away from everyone else at the Convention Center. If you have your own building, why not use it, right?
The Square itself hosted a stage called The Battle Rig, by Gamespot. This stage hosted a series of events for the duration of the show, most of them around live battles on Fortnite.
As I turned the corner on Figueroa Street, I could immediately see the huge banners on the Convention Center. I thought to myself: “E3, another item crossed off the list!”
Having watched the Nintendo Direct on the flight on the way to LA, I was already hyped to try out Super Smash Bros Ultimate at the Nintendo booth, so I headed there first. Unfortunately, due to lack of planning, I didn’t realize tickets were required to try the game. These tickets were free, but determined a timeslot you could show up and play the game. As I was standing in the procrastinators line (i.e. those without tickets were invited to wait on the “standby line”), I booked my ticket on my phone to try it on Wednesday, so I went ahead to try other games in the meantime.
MARIO TENNIS ACES: This game had already been announced a couple of months ago, but was playable for the first time here. We got to play two matches, with the opportunity to change characters if needed. The game felt very accessible at first, being able to simply play with the left joystick and one button to use the basic moves, but as we played on, the hostess started recommending trying different techniques and abilities that quickly showed how deep the game could be, although these are entirely optional. Classic Nintendo, making games that are welcoming to beginners, but with enough depth to satisfy the hardcore. I had a really good time with this one.
After playing MARIO TENNIS ACES, we received a “Passport”, which was a little piece of cardboard with spaces for stamps you received at every game you tried. Before being able to enter the “3rd party” area, you needed to receive the MARIO TENNIS ACES stamp. Nintendo making sure you try their own game first, smart. Once the passport was complete with 5 stamps, you received a Nintendo-themed freebie.
FORTNITE (for Switch): I hadn’t played this game before, so I thought this was as good a chance as any (the completionist in me NEEDED to get the 5 stamps). This game is hugely popular on other platforms right now, but for some reason it hasn’t appealed to me. Unfortunately, the demo didn’t do much to change my mind.
Verdict: Try it out at home (download is free!)
DRAGON BALL FIGHTER Z (for Switch): Again, another game available on other platforms that I hadn’t had a chance to play. I’ve decided that if a game is coming out on multiple platforms, I’d go for the Switch version because I’d probably get more of a chance to play it on the go (as long as it didn’t feel like a compromise in terms of quality or visual fidelity). There was no compromise in this case. Over the course of two fights, I really enjoyed the pace, the visuals, and the closeness to the source material. Definitely a must for fans of the series.
Verdict: Buy (if you don’t already have it on other platforms)
PALADINS: I had not heard of this game before (I’m probably out of the loop on a lot of these), but I decided to give it a go. My first reaction was that it was almost an IDENTICAL copy of Overwatch. The game was only available on portable mode (no TV), but it seemed to run smoothly. Like in Overwatch, you get to pick from a wide selection of characters, all with their own abilities, to then participate in a match to capture a base or a specific objective. The one thing that did catch my attention was the ability to quickly get to where the action is by riding a horse. This was something I always missed in Overwatch, and really made a difference here.
Verdict: Buy if you only play on Switch. Otherwise, Overwatch is the superior choice.
Unfortunately, I ran out of time before being able to try other games (my staaaaamps!!). On my way out I managed to visit the Super Smash Bros. props all over the Nintendo booth, which I thought was a nice touch.
DAY 2 (Wednesday):
To avoid Tuesday’s fiasco, I went directly to the Super Smash Bros. line to try out the game. We had the opportunity to try Competitive and Non-Competitive. I went for Non-Competitive, since I figured it would give me a chance to try out more things without having to worry about getting killed immediately.
SUPER SMASH BROS. ULTIMATE: I went in hoping to try my main character, Captain Falcon, but unfortunately he wasn’t available in the demo. Instead, I tried Link, Ridley, DK and Ganondorf (closest character to Captain Falcon). Overall the game feels very much like SSB 4, so not much new there. We did get to try the new Zelda and Splatoon stages, as well as Ridley. I found he was an interesting character, as he can fly, brawl and throw fireballs. I’m looking forward to see how he plays in the final version. At the end I got a nice little pin with the SSB logo.
Verdict: Buy…just buy
I then headed to the Microsoft Theatre, since it wouldn’t be open on Thursday. As soon as I entered, I was engulfed by green light and some much-needed AC (boy, it was hot on Wednesday!).
Besides the XBOX Gear store, and Gears of War memorabilia decorating the place, there were plenty of exhibits to visit, including the Xbox Adaptive Controller. I found this controller to be a great innovation, and it made me happy to see that effort had gone into making gaming more inclusive. At a high level, this design allows for any controller configuration, so players with certain disabilities can play any game, even if they can’t use a standard controller. Definitely a highlight for me.
BATTLEFIELD V: I must confess, I had never played a Battlefield game before, but I knew more or less I was heading into a large-scale multiplayer battle set in WW2. Even though this was a pre-alpha version, the game looked and played great, it felt very immersive. I really felt I was in the middle of a raw, brutal war. You could play either as a British or German soldier, either male or female, which was a nice touch. If you like FPS games set in historical wars, this is certainly one for you. For me, however, it will be a discount-buy if I have time to play it (*shakes fist at games backlog*).
FORZA HORIZON 4: Man, I loved this. I’m not much into driving simulators, but the feel and look of the cars, and the way the demo was structured really made me want to play more. The demo was split into 4 sections, each played during a specific season: Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer. They each had their own weather conditions and terrain, allowing you to play with a variety of vehicles. My favorite was Summer (which also happens to be my favorite season), which ended with a race to the festival, in which I managed to snag the first place at the very last second. Thrilling stuff (…it really was, ok?!). Also got a pin for this one. There were four challenges in the demo which, if completed, earned you a Forza t-shirt). I’d rather not say if I got it.
Verdict: Buy (I’ll probably need a bigger, better TV for this one, also).
Sea of Thieves was also available, but I didn’t feel too compelled to play it.
On my way back to the South Hall of the Convention Center I ran into a JP jeep, so I HAD to stop for a picture.
The South Hall also housed most of the largest 3rd party publishers: Bethesda, Ubisoft, Activision, Square Enix, Capcom and Bandai Namco, among others. Most lines were huge when I got there.
Walking around I saw Jurassic World Evolution’s booth which was large and very impressive, complete with raptors, the classic Jeeps, and of course, John William’s OST. I decided to get in line to try out.
JURASSIC WORLD EVOLUTION: This game is based on the new movies in the franchise, and the objective is to run your own park. Even though it sounds similar to the mobile versions of the game, this one is a lot deeper and more sophisticated. Unfortunately, the objectives of the demo weren’t very clear, and I ended up freeing a T-Rex into the herbivores pen, where she proceeded to eat my triceratops, while my brachiosaurus panicked and ran out of the fence. Yup, that happened. In any case, the game seems like it’d be a lot of fun, and I’m a big fan of the franchise, so I’d like to try it out at some point.
Verdict: Buy if you like either Jurassic Park or games like Rollercoaster Tycoon
My day ended with a visit to the Fortnite booth, were they were hosting a dance-off, followed by a trip to the E3 Coliseum, where there was a God of War-themed concert played by a string quartet.
DAY 3 (Thursday):
The last day…so sad. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a lot done this day, because most of the lines were capped, which meant there wasn’t room to even stand in line. At every booth you were requested to come back in 30 min to try again. In the end, I ended up lurking around the Tomb Raider booth until I found my opportunity to get in line once it opened. Then, a 2-hour wait followed. Thankfully I had my Switch with me, and managed to get a loooot done on Skyrim in the meantime.
SHADOW OF THE TOMB RAIDER: I haven’t played the game preceding this (Rise of the Tomb Raider), but I did play and enjoy the one before that (Tomb Raider). This one was very similar, with plenty of cinematic action, climbing, puzzle-solving and shooting. Standard Tomb Raider, which is a good thing! Also, I got their very last pin!
Verdict: I’d buy it after playing the previous one
After giving up hope of getting into other booths, I decided to try Ninjala, a multiplayer game for the Switch similar to Splatoon, but with…gum
NINJALA: The game was easy to pick up, was very colorful and fast-paced. The objective was to hit your opponents with a variety of chewing gum-based attacks. The concept was funny, but I didn’t find anything that really hooked me. Got a couple of pins here too, but meh.
The last thing I did before leaving (I had 15 min. before closing) was to go to the Nintendo booth to watch the last Smash fight of the show, which was great.
Overall, I’m really glad I came. This was something I had wanted to do for a long time, and it was definitely worth the wait. I’ve been to events similar to this, but never on this scale. The fact that you could walk around, run into celebrities and people that work in the industry, the sheer size of the booths, the atmosphere, the friendliness of the staff and guests really made this a great experience. I would love to come back next year.
I've been a gamer since the SNES days and Donkey Kong Country was the first game I ever owned.
I currently work as a management consultant, and my console of choice is the Nintendo Switch, which I carry with me during my travels.