Outside of the games themselves, there are major moments at each year’s show that ripple throughout the next year or more in the industry. I’ve gathered up three such moments slash trends, in my Top 3 Best Moments of E3 2019 awards.
Now is the moment when you read them. Thanks!
Microsoft’s Xbox Project Scarlett Reveal.
For my first best moment, Head of Xbox Phil Spencer formally revealed Microsoft’s next generation of gaming console called Project Scarlett during the Xbox briefing last Sunday. Its introduction was reminiscent of the powerful Xbox One iteration Project Scorpio from last year’s event, namely a short video featuring hardware engineers and designers. These folks rattled off buzzwords such as the box will have a custom AMD processor with GDDR6 memory, a solid state drive, 8K resolution support, 120 frames per second capability and more.
Which is kind of general, plus of course there was no actual showing of the box or mention of price. Not even the final name, as it’s still being decided according later interviews with Spencer. We do have a release window at least plus one launch title: Project Scarlett is targeting Holiday 2020 alongside 343 Industries’ Halo Infinite. It’s a major moment for the Xbox brand and console gaming, though there’s still so many details left for future events including next year’s E3 show.
Gaming Services: Google Stadia, Microsoft’s Project xCloud, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, Ubisoft’s UPlay Plus and probably more.
We can’t go a couple of weeks these days without another company revealing some sort of modern service for gamers, whether it be streaming or access to a digital catalog. The most significant of these started back on June 6th right before E3 weekend, with Google Stadia Connect. In a prepared video that felt more like a corporate presentation than gaming reveal, VP & GM Phil Harrison of the massive tech giant discussed more on its streaming service such as a November release window for early adopters in certain countries, Google Stadia Pro monthly subscription, a lineup of 31 games on sale at launch and that Destiny 2 would be included as part of the Pro tier.
The other streaming offering featured prominently at E3 was Microsoft’s Project xCloud, one of Google Stadia’s main competitors. A quick mention at the Xbox briefing was followed by hands-on demos for media folks. Details here are more vague, as the remote streaming service is in its earlier testing phases among employees with a more public beta period rumored for this Fall. I’m a vocal skeptic on game streaming due to the physical limitations of reducing input lag and the lack of widespread internet infrastructure in a number of areas even in the States, so both of these projects have a lot to prove in my eyes.
Then there’s the other types of services. Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which offers console and PC players a library of older games, first party exclusives plus Xbox Live online service for a friendly $15 per month. Ubisoft also shared UPlay Plus, a PC subscription giving access to the publisher’s suite of games for, again, $15 monthly. This has a firm release date of September 3, 2019. Not to mention there’s probably another one announced at the show that I missed, because these are popping up at a rapid pace. Which one will catch on and which will fizzle? I’m confident in the appeal of Xbox Game Pass, then UPlay Plus will carve out its niche, though streaming is the big question mark even though there’s no denying it’s the talk of the industry lately.
Square Enix E3 Showcase Revival.
Let’s be real. Last year’s Square Enix showcase wasn’t very good. The Japanese publisher redeemed itself this year in what I thought was the best of all the major companies, including Nintendo’s strong Direct offering.
The show began with a remarkable portion on the remake to Final Fantasy VII, a game I awarded one of my best in show. It somehow showed both a trailer and gameplay section without feeling overly bloated or boring. Plus, the March 3, 2020 release date reveal was a pleasant surprise.
Towards the end of its showcase, Square finally showed off the mysterious Marvel’s Avengers project. The game looked solid enough, though wasn’t able to capture a top spot on my awards. Presentation itself was good, though dragged towards the end when talking about future content when we don’t even really know that the game proper is. Surprisingly, we do have an exact release date, May 15, 2010. Earlier than I anticipated.
In between, Square boasted a number of games targeting both local and Western audiences. Some of which are internal, others it’s publishing. Dragon Quest XI Definitive, Dragon Quest Builders 2, Dying Light 2, Final Fantasy VIII remastered, Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, Kingdom Hearts 3, Oninaki, Outriders, Romancing Saga 3, Square Enix Collective indie titles, The Last Remnant remastered, Trials of Mana collection to name a few. Not all of these are my types of games, though I’m plenty interested in enough of them plus impressed enough with the showcase’s overall pacing that I’m here to award Square Enix with the title of strongest live show.
Sad to say, that about does it for E3 2019. Next year’s is already announced for June 9th to June 11th, 2020. Let’s do it all again then!
Sources: Companies included here, Entertainment Software Association, GamesPress, CNET.