E3 disappoints, but still plenty to be excited for

Dusty Ricketts

Once again, I took Monday and Tuesday off this week so I could stay home and watch all the major press conferences and liveplays during this year's E3 video game conference. This has become a tradition for me, something I've done the past five or six years. But for the first time, this year's show left me a little underwhelmed.

It's understandable that this year's E3 turned out to be a little disappointing. Both Sony and Microsoft are working on their next generation home consoles and the majority of game developers are moving resources over to make games for those systems. But it's still too early to show those titles off. Because of that, Sony skipped the show entirely.

Although it was a little disappointing, there was still a lot to like about this year's E3.

One of the most anticipated games coming out is "Cyberpunk 2077" from CD Projekt Red, the makers of beloved game "The Witcher III: Wild Hunt." Their last game won numerous Game of the Year awards and every time they show off "Cyberpunk 2077" the game just looks better and better. They really didn't need to do anything else to get gamers excited about the game, just tell us when we could play it. CD Projekt Red showed a new trailer for the game during the Microsoft press conference on Sunday and the trailer ended with the reveal that Keanu Reeves is playing a character in the game. And then Keanu, hot off the success of the third John Wick film, came out on stage and announced the game would be coming out on April 16, 2020.

Another big surprise is just how many appearances the Terminator made this E3. The next film in the series, "Terminator: Dark Fate," comes out in November and there's a lot of cross promotion going on to get people excited for it. It started on Sunday at the Microsoft press conference when it was announced the characters of the Terminator and Sarah Conner (voiced by Linda Hamilton even!) will be playable in "Gears 5" when the game launches later this year if you preorder the game or buy it within its first week of release. The next day, Ubisoft showed a trailer for their upcoming game "Ghost Recon: Breakpoint" that ended with the iconic theme from the Terminator movies and the machine's red eyes.

The biggest disappointment for me during the various E3 press conferences was the lack of gameplay we saw from a lot of games. Even the "Cyberpunk 2077" trailer, as amazing as it was, was a CG trailer and wasn't actual gameplay. There were games that showed off gameplay of course, just not as many as in years past.

For my money, the game with the best gameplay demo was "Watch Dogs Legion," the third game in Ubisoft's Watch Dogs series. The past two games each had you controlling one character throughout the entire game. For "Watch Dogs Legion," every character you come across in the game, and it takes place in London so there will be thousands, can be recruited and played as and they will have their own animations, voice acting and design. It's a huge innovation as no two people will play this game the same way. The demo they showed started by following your typical video game protagonist, a young white guy who can fight, shoot and is agile. He is killed a few minutes into the demo and then the game switches over and follows an older lady in her 60s or 70s who has to continue the mission. I've never been a huge fan of the series, but after that demo that looks to be changing.

Another game that looked really interesting was a 2D sidescroller called "Carrion" that is described as a reverse horror game where you play as an alien creature that escapes from a lab and makes its way through the facility taking out scientists and soldiers as you become stronger. The art design and animation of the creature looks terrific and creepy. The game is expected to come out on PC and consoles next year.

The biggest disappointment for me this year was the way Square Enix handled their "Marvel's Avengers" reveal. There was a 15 minute presentation on the game, showing off a trailer, a look at the voice actors (nope, Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans are not in the game, but it's not set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so they really shouldn't be), interviews with developers and people on stage talking about the game. But during all that time, they only showed off about 20 seconds of actual gameplay, so we still really don't know what the moment to moment gameplay is going to be like.

My personal game of the show shouldn't be much of a surprise. I'm a huge Star Wars fan and "Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order" looks like it was designed just for me, but more on that next week.

While this year's E3 was a little disappointing, I'm already expecting next year's event to be amazing. Sony and Microsoft both will want to build hype for the next versions of the PlayStation and Xbox respectively and I think both will go all out to do so.

Finally, let's look back at last week's column and see how I did on my E3 predictions:

Prediction 1: The Nintendo Switch port of "Friday the 13th: The Game" will be featured during the Kinda Funny Games Showcase and the game will be released that day.

Did it happen? Not even close. The game was not on the showcase and it still has not been released.

Prediction 2: WB Games would debut their new Harry Potter spinoff game during the Microsoft press conference.

Did it happen? Nope. Nothing Harry Potter-related was shown during Microsoft's or any other press conference.

Prediction 3: Microsoft will release their first details on the next Xbox console.

Did it happen? Microsoft did show a video discussing the next gen Xbox machine. Like what Sony's doing with the PlayStation 5, the next Xbox will feature an SSD hard drive to drastically cut down on load times and that the console would be able to display games at 8K resolution, which most TVs don't even support yet. Most importantly, they did confirm the system is coming out next holiday season (so probably November 2020).

Prediction 4: EA will finally announce details on the upcoming large scale offline mode coming to "Star Wars Battlefront 2," along with new content coming to the game based on the upcoming movie "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker."

Did it happen? Vaguely, yes. Developer DICE did announce a new mode would be coming for people who don't want to play online in August. They also said they plan to announce their plans for adding new content at the end of the year in August as well, and that it wouldn't be focused on the Clone Wars like the majority of their recent and upcoming updates.

So I did OK, not great by any means.

Dusty Ricketts is the editor of The Destin Log and The Walton Sun newspapers and can be reached at dricketts@thedestinlog.com. He is currently playing "Star Wars Battlefront 2," "Friday the 13th: The Game" and "New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe." You can find him to play online through his PlayStation Network ID, DustRAG316.