E3 2013: aftermath analysis
The AVForums games team sit down to discuss and give their opinions in the aftermath of the many revelations presented during this year's E3.
As the war for consumer hearts, minds and pre-orders rages, the AVForums games team sit down to discuss and give their opinions in the aftermath of the many revelations presented during this year's E3.The team are as follows: Mark Botwright (MB), Manny Brown (EB), Stephen Carter (SC), Ben Ingber (BI), Steve Hill (SH) & Leon Matthews (LM).
Now that the dust has settled on E3 and all the revelations afterwards, the big question is are you buying a next generation system at launch?
EB: I try to kid myself that I'll do the right thing and wait to see how things pan out over the initial 5-6 months with every new bit of gaming tech, but then I inevitably cave when the hype train pulls into town and a friend or two eagerly jumps on-board. For that rather inauspicious reason I'll say I'm likely to end up with both, either at launch or within a month or so. The Wii U has been the only exception to that rule since adulthood. I am a tool.
Looking at E3 however, it was difficult not to come away far more impressed with Sony's messaging than the catastrophic performance of the Microsoft executives. There were great games shown on both systems, but with Titanfall also coming out on PC, I'd say the PlayStation 4 definitely edges it in terms of exclusives. Forza 5 would be the only title I'd be annoyed to miss out on. I won't however, because I am a tool.
BI: I can't see myself buying anything day one. For a start, I'm just not sure I trust the hardware at release these days. Not to mention the fact that as Leon pointed out on a recent podcast, the launch line-up of every console ever has been a little bit disappointing. I can see myself with a PS4 within six months of launch, and an Xbox at some point a year or two on. Having said all that, I'm an absolute sucker for 'new and shiny' so could well end up in line at midnight despite my intentions!
SC: The answer has to be the PS4. I have owned both consoles in this generation, however I cannot justify the decisions MS initially made upon the announcement of the One at E3; their policies just seemed completely illogical and did nothing for those customers who have been loyal to them for the past few years. Despite their turnaround on the used games policy and online check-ins, the PS4 still does it for me in terms of the titles available and the support for indie releases which, in truth, is the future of the games industry.
It'll take something special for me to buy a One, a PS4 is pretty much a guarantee and a new PC is also on the cards at some point to make up my next generation gaming collection.
SH: I think this has been easily the biggest E3 ever but for all the wrong reasons. Will I buy one or both of the new consoles!? Difficult for me to answer right now. Personally I am feeling less and less compelled by the day. No doubt I will be swept up in the hype machine nearer the time and buy two of each! But while I have my sensible head on, I really don't see a massive pull to either platform.
MB: I understand the general sense of "was that it?" amongst many gamers, but I think E3 has just become a hard place to display anything but grand scale, buzz word-friendly behemoths ("power of the cloud!"). That's why I was impressed by Sony's decision to apportion a good slot in their show to indie developers. The launch line ups currently look little more than safe, but has there ever been a truly stellar set of launch games?
SH: The term "launch game" just doesn't seem relevant to me anymore. It's not like a there is suddenly a new wealth of technology available to developers, instead I'd argue that developers can no longer claim to be held back!
EB: I'd estimate I spent 90% of my console time in this generation playing my 360, and - provided it wasn't blinking red at me - for the majority of that time it was a brilliant, brilliant system and home to many of my favourite AAA titles and indie gems that I'd never play anywhere else. I desperately want that to be true of both systems this time round. Microsoft have a huge hill to climb though; and it's one of their own making. It's hard to see anybody but Sony coming out on top over that first 12 months, and if the early reports of disparity in hardware performance are to be believed, the Xbox may well face an even greater struggle over the long term. I have them both on pre-order. I am a tool.
LM: I have my Xbox One on pre-order, I secured it the day after the "180" but I was actually going to pre-order before they back-pedalled, I just hadn't got round to it. For me all the policy posturing got in the way of why we all wait for E3: the games. Personally I discovered a lot of reasons to look forward to next gen, Watchdogs, Titanfall, Dead Rising and more have me genuinely excited. Although they have been living a perpetual PR nightmare since the One reveal I actually think in terms of games MS have a better offering at the moment, Titanfall alone ensured the next Xbox had a place under my TV.
BI: The reasons Mark and Steve give are a big part of why I'm going to hold off. Despite the Xbox u-turn, I'm still favouring the PS4 - mostly because of inFamous, to be honest - but I don't see what's to be gained by rushing out and buying it. I think PC will still be my first choice anyway, and I'm glad to be out of the console's generational cycle. I can pick up a PS4 at my leisure and play all the big exclusives secondhand (and therefore reasonably priced).
With Kinect, PlayStation Camera, Wii U and Oculus Rift, the peripheral still seems to be the direction the industry is looking to for innovation, is this what revitalises the next generation or are these add ons detracting from the core experience?
SH: The new Kinect could be amazing and those who got to see it in the flesh at E3 seemed impressed. Microsoft did themselves no favours by shamelessly releasing the first Kinect when it was clearly not ready for the world. People rushed out and spent good money on a substandard product and it left a bad taste. We know that this improved version will be bundled with all Xbox One consoles so in theory any Xbox exclusives should really utilize it to its fullest. We all want to see brilliant innovation in this next gen and the Kinect must surely be a big part of that.
SC: Is it just me though, or is anyone really that bothered about Kinect? Don't get me wrong, the technology behind it is fantastic, but I can't help but feel the money could be better spent somewhere else.
What games can we expect to see on it? Head tracking in Forza again? Fitness evolved and Just Dance again? Hardly innovative or enthralling.
MB: The problem is the Kinect will surely only be of use to exclusives, and properly used by only a sliver of them. The overwhelming majority of titles will be multi-platform and without the PS camera being bundled with the PS4 developers can't build around the concept of camera/motion/voice control when a significant portion of their market will not have the peripheral.
I think anyone expecting true, integral Kinect innovation will be disappointed. If it was that important, where were the games utilising it in a decent fashion at E3 and pushing a potentially major selling point? I foresee a few voice commands no one'll use and some dance games. Are you into Zumba Steve?
SH: Mark you know I am a keen pursuer of all things dance and rhythm related
Well that's where MS Studios need to step in and take the bull by the horns. If they are going to force this peripheral on the world then they should be showing off what it really can do.
LM: I think voice commands will be the feature that warms people to Kinect, I - like many others - have little desire, to arm wave and generally move for little reward, but I have grown up watching every sci-fi catoon/tv show/movie having voice controlled technology. A really excited part of me cant wait to get the Xbox One home and say "Xbox On" and watch it boot; sad but true.
EB: I have to be honest, it's not worth the price of admission for me. I bought a Kinect and had my fun with Dance Central and Kinect Sports for a month or two, and then relegated it to the trade-in pile as soon as it realised full novelty potential. For the new one to be mandatory is annoying, and for them to bump the price by $99 just to include Kinect is pushing me further away from that system.
I agree on the remote control and voice-activation being key features to market that thing around, but on a personal level they don't represent a compelling way to use the system.
MB: I've got some sympathy for Microsoft's Kinect stance. They've plumbed R&D money into it, and know that unless it's bundled it'll never be more than a novelty with a limited user base. To integrate it was a ballsy move, but i still can't see past the fact that genuine innovation is hard to come by in gaming terms.
Does anyone seriously hold out much hope for developers utilising a peripheral - with a reputation akin to dog dirt amongst the core audience - to find a path to something genuinely new?
If so, can i interest you in a Wii U?
LM: Expanding on your comment Mark of "genuine innovation is hard to come by in gaming terms", do we really think gamers want innovation? Almost everything which has been introduced to change and/or possibly improve our gaming experience is usually met with staunch opposition, Move, Kinect, SmartGlass, Wii U, always online connectivity, no one seems willing to give any of them a chance. Are we, by pushing back on every new element introduced, stifling the innovation we claim to crave?
MB: I think the problem is those of us who've routinely and over optimistically (I can't believe I paid full price for Kinect) bought into the whole "this peripheral will change everything" hype do so to attempt to recreate that feeling of genuine wonder we once felt, when gaming seemed to be a limitless medium, capable of offering new experiences at every turn. The leaps in technology promised so much, but the genre tropes have become so established and the markets so clearly defined that jumping on a peripheral fad seems acceptable to me. I hold out high hopes for the Oculus Rift.
EB: The brief time I had with Oculus Rift was the most impressive experience I've had with new tech in years, it's absolutely fantastic.
As soon as 1080p becomes standard on the dev kit I'm picking one up.
BI: Like Manny, my experience with the Oculus Rift was so much more than I expected it to be. I don't know if it'll hit the big time in terms of the home entertainment, but the novelty was fantastic. Overall though, I'd say yes - the Kinect and the Playstation Eye are detracting from the core experience and I'd love it if they disappeared without a trace.
Back to the games, the E3 awards have been presented, what titles in particular got you excited for the next gen?
EB: Watch_Dogs appears to be pitched precisely in the centre of the venn diagram that makes up my thematic and gameplay tastes. I want to play that more than any other game this year.
The one I'm left wanting to know the most about is Beyond: Two Souls. David Cage games are nothing if not divisive (and I'd argue occasionally brilliant) experiences. The latest trailer is a total u-turn in terms of tone, and I have to know what they have planned. It'll be weird, whatever it is.
LM: I'm surprising no one when I hand Titanfall my crown for Game of E3. I'm a huge shooter fan and since Respawn Entertainment split off from Infinity Ward i've been patiently waiting for them to capture my attention with a shooter like they did with Call of Duty 4 back in 2007. Titanfall looks like it could do just that.
BI: I'm sure Titanfall will be great, but at heart I'm a single-player kind of guy, and so I can't see myself getting into it long term. Personally, I'm really looking forward to the new inFamous. It's a console shifter for me. Mirror's Edge 2 and Watch_Dogs will be brilliant too, I'm sure - but I'm still holding out for something genre-busting to grab my attention.
MB: Transistor and Below both intrigue me, but for all my talk of wanting originality, I can't help but also be drawn back to Battlefield 4 as it's a very base desire to see what the shiniest thing will be on a new console.
The Division is the one that ultimately stole my attention though. It felt like the fluid multiplayer wasn't just an additional buzz word friendly ruse, but actually at the core of the game. Even the drag factor of a cliché ridden dystopian setting couldn't dampen my enthusiasm.
SC: I'd have to say that Watch_Dogs is probably the thing I'm most excited for upon launch, and then further down the line it'll have to be Kingdom Hearts 3. Watch_Dogs looked amazing to me and a real shake-up for the open world sandbox genre. That and the new inFamous it must be said, and I could probably say that WD was the game of the show for me. Based on that running demo, I'm sold already!
SH: In a weird way I was left feeling nostalgic! Can Titanfall be the online multiplayer game that keeps me coming back night after night!? I have made good friends through playing Infinity Ward games online and if I can recapture half of that online magic it will be amazing
Well those are the team's thoughts, but where do you stand? Have you placed a pre-order? Did E3 get you excited for the next generation? Let us know in the comments and keep your browser locked to AVF for more opinions, reviews and ridiculous pictures of Ben wearing the Oculus Rift!
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