Well, E3 is over, and now the time comes to sit back and assess all that has transpired. Coming at you now are my five favorite/least favorite things from E3 2013. Of course please remember that I’m just one guy, I can’t see everything on the floor, and these are just based on what I experienced.
5. Forza 5. Turn 10 Studios may finally kill “Gran Turismo” with this racing powerhouse. From drop-dead gorgeous graphics to the incredible Drivatar functionality, this one is coming in hot.
4. PS4 Controller. As a die-hard hater of the Dual Shock, no one was more surprised than I the first time I picked up Sony’s new offering: better joysticks, much-needed triggers, a useful touchpad. While I think the X1′s is a little better, I’m giving the spot to PS4 for converting a hater into a believer.
3. Witcher 3. CD Projekt Red is going for broke with this gigantic threequel, which is an estimated 35% bigger than “Skyrim.” From dynamic weather and stunning graphics to over 80 unique and terrifying monsters to track and hunt, “Witcher 3″ looks like it’s going to bring the trilogy to a close in grand fashion.
2. Destiny. Bungie’s new multiplatform IP is basically “Borderlands” filtered through “Halo,” but the longer you think about that sentence, the more excited you should get. The Sony press demonstration doesn’t do this one justice: the engine is silk-smooth, the draw distance is spectacular, the powers and weapons look breathtaking, and the combat has that sweetly polished feel that only Bungie has mastered. “Destiny” isn’t even out yet, and it already feels like a masterpiece.
1. Titanfall. It was tough choosing between this and “Destiny,” but in the end, Respawn came to E3 hungry, and that made the difference. “Destiny’s” destiny (ha!) is already assured, but the new IP from Vince Zampella and Jason West needed to prove itself here. Boy did it. “Titanfall’s” high-concept multiplayer mech shooter is a jack-in-the-box of delightful surprises: giant mech suits, wall-running, ejecting from a dying Titan and landing on an enemy’s, integrated single and multiplayer, all at a crisp 60 frames per second. Is it Spring 2014 yet?
5. Ryse. This game’s most ardent supporters just keep repeating how pretty it is, and that’s when you know there’s trouble. I don’t know why Crytek thought that making Quicktime Events—one of the most hated trends in modern gaming—a staple of the combat was a good idea, but it’s sinking what could have been a fascinating new IP. The demo is short and I still have hope, but I’m worried.
4. Diablo III (PS3/Xbox 360). Suffering from a chronic case of “Day Late/Buck Short” syndrome, Blizzard’s console port is a shrug-fest. They did a nice enough job porting it, but where were they when we were crying out for a console version? “Torchlight” has more than taken the place that could have been Blizzard’s, and now this port feels perfunctory. Plus, the textures are noticeably soft.
3. Wolfenstein: The New Order. Yawn. Yes, that train car sequence you’ve heard about is cool, but the actual shooting brings nothing new to the table. The alternate reality thing feels like a gimmick born of having no better ideas, and the robots are surprisingly dull to fight. This looks like another middling, aimless entry in the once-venerable “Wolfenstein” franchise.
2. Wii U. The Wii U’s stated aim at E3 the last two years was to reclaim hardcore gamers, and by any measurable standard, they have either failed or abandoned that goal. Nintendo apologists point to a bevy of new entries in classic franchises, but the baffling decision to put Retro on another “Donkey Kong” instead of “Metroid,” the no-show “Legend of Zelda,” and the tepid looking new “Mario Kart” put a strain on this defense. And let’s not forget the biggest WTF moment of E3 2013: putting the Wii Fit Trainer in “Super Smash Bros.” If your mission in life is to play “Bayonetta 2″ and anything with Mario in it, then I guess Nintendo is doing great. But for the rest of us, they’re just not on the radar anymore.
1. Call of Duty: Ghosts. The prominence of dogs in “Call of Duty: Ghosts’” promotional material is almost poetic, because when I think of “Call of Duty,” a certain expression about old dogs and their proficiency with new tricks springs to mind. The demo begins with a ten minute demonstration of the new graphical technology and why it really does look better, and at first that seems cool. But as the game gets underway you realize why they did it: you might not notice the improvements otherwise. Is “Ghosts” better looking? Sure. Is it better enough looking? Not even close. Yet again, Activision and Infinity Ward drag their feet, re-packaging and re-selling the same exhausted tech and gameplay with only surface-level changes. That I’m supposed to get excited for the dog levels is hilarious to me, since they’re glorified re-skins of the robot missions from earlier COD games. There’s nothing new here, it’s just been given a new coat of paint, and to add insult to injury, the new paint is remarkably similar to the old paint. But it’s not their fault, Dear Reader, it’s our fault. They’ll stop doing this when we stop rewarding them for it.