• E3 2017 Unofficial Awards by Rick Moscatello

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    Unofficial E3 Awards

    I went to my 20th (or thereabouts) E3 this year, and I tell you, it’s gone through many changes since it was a tent behind the porn distributors at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas.

    This year, like most years, it was held in Los Angeles; truth be told I liked it best in Atlanta. I know, nobody cares about where the shows are, it’s about what was at the show.

    There are already a bunch of sites already giving coverage of E3, so let’s get to my own special awards, which nobody else has:

    Baby’s First Rodeo: Lots of people go to E3 just for the swag, the free stuff. Press are no different than the fanboys, except we also want food. There’s a free lunch in the Media Room, at noon. By 12:06, the food’s all gone, and there are guys tipping over the jars to get the last few drops of free tea. I’m not exaggerating, I was there, and had no choice but to try a “ZLT,” a zucchini-lettuce-tomato sandwich that would qualify as a human rights violation anywhere else but in California.

    Lucidsound, makers of great headphones, sent out a press-only e-mail: free breakfast, and free headphones, to any journalists that came by before the show started. Lucidsound clearly has never been to E3 before. Over 1,000 guys showed up, so they ran out of headphones (and food) long before E3 even began. How bad was it? Lucidsound had over 1,000 people coming to their hotel room at the same time, overwhelming the hotel staff and elevators and packing the hallway…talk about a mess. Lots of companies didn’t actually have a place to show their wares, because of the next award.

    Most Rapey:
    The Los Angeles Convention Center has been jacking their prices up, and up, and up, mercilessly raking everyone over the coals. Fanboys at the show get to find out, only after standing in a very long and slow food line, that the price for a burger and fries is $12 (and another $4 for a bottle of water)—and we’re talking nothing different than what you’d get off the dollar menu at a normal fast food place. Blizzard andElectronic Arts are long gone from E3, and even Microsoft and Atari, among many others, found it hellacheaper to just set up at a nearby hotel than actually pay a hundred grand or more for a spot on the floor to set their stuff in the convention center. Others have responded differently to how to make E3 work out well:

    Most Commercial: E3 this year was extra crowded, but not by companies with money to burn. This was the first year that gamers were allowed in masse to the show, making it miserable for press trying to get to actual appointments (or, God forbid, actually see a game without spending an hour or more in line). Bethesda is an awesome company, and doesn’t need to be nice to press. So, they made their booth just for the fans, setting up games everywhere, as well as a store to sell Bethesda-licensed merchandise. The place was packed nonstop. I’m a fanboy too, but that line was too much; the line thinned out by the third day, but at that point they were sold out of most everything cool; don’t the fanboys know all this stuff is for sale at Bethesda’s online store? Doing the math on those $15 bobbleheads (among other really, really, pricey tchotchkes), Bethesda made bank here. Their games are awesome, but why listen to me when you can just go to YouTube and see what’s coming up (my money is on Quake as their best though)? After standing in line forever and marching offsite time and again to see stuff, I needed a decent place to sit.

    Most Comfey: E3, at the convention center anyway, was really more about peripherals and accessories than games. There were at least 4 different booths of people selling “gaming chairs.” These things have come a long way from the corrugated plastic torture device I got swagged one year. By far the best was from Noblechairs. They have engineers who build car seats working for them, and it shows—very comfortable, more than good enough for 8 straight hours of play. They even have leather models, though such a chair might set you back $500…a good chair is worth it.
    Most Farmey: Farming simulators are suddenly a genre? I must have missed the memo. Astragon had a nice simulator, and they’re specialized in simulators so they know what they’re doing (they also have a sweet trucking company simulator and a cop simulator—with a co-op mode!--on deck). Focus Home Interactive also has a farming simulator that looks pretty slick. That said, my money is on Techland’s farming simulator, which covers a wide range of farming vehicles, and farming opportunities around the world. You might have heard of Techland’s other big game, Dying Light? I’m not sure how you go from zombies to farming, but I’m not about to argue. Anyway, Dying Light is still played heavily, so Techland is coming out with a bunch of DLC for it, some of which is free, and all of which is awesome. Just get Dying Light, it’s amazing, trust me, and you’ll want the DLCs eventually, too.

    Milk The Cow Until Dust Comes Out: This award goes to companies that have taken the sequels and licenses and IP just a little too far. Activision, the winner this year, is coming out with yet another Call of Duty game, this one set in WW2. Gee, didn’t they already do one or two or three of those? Yeah, it looked ok, but I’m ready for something new. Second Runner Up for this award goes to Bandai/Namco for coming out with a DragonBall Fighter Z game—some great animations, mind you, but I’m not seeing much difference in the design from games of years ago, even with the addition of 3 on 3 fights.

    Rudest FPS: There were a few other shooters, but I think the best for pure fun was PWND. It has a strong Unreal/Team Fortress feel to it, but what sets it apart is you don’t just have to kill your enemies, you have to PWN them, which means do a victory dance (and not get killed yourself while doing it). It’s a hoot of a shooter and one I hope to play when it comes out.

    Best VR: So far, the virtual reality games have fallen far short of the money spent on the Oculus (or other inferior unit) you have to buy to play them. I mean, it’s cool to be able to look around and all, but the games have been pretty mediocre. Archangel, a big robot fighting game, is the first VR game I’ve played where I really felt the VR tech was being used appropriately. You got your rockets, machine guns and hosts of enemies to blast as you stomp your way through a city, using your fists to break things that are too much trouble to shoot.

    Hottest Demo: The convention center is basically a huge auditorium, and companies then build their little rooms for demos inside it. All well and good, but something about packing a small unventilated room with bodies and overclocked computers just makes these demos hot. Focus Home Interactive gave me scorching back-to-back demos of Vampyre and A Plague Tale: Innocence. Vampyre looked pretty cool, as you play a vampire in 19th century Britain, more or less. The standout part is the city is populated with NPCs, each with their own extensive backstory. But…as a vampire you need to eat them. So, you have to pick who die as you try to survive and solve quests in this unique RPG. A Plague Tale is still in early development, but the basic theme is you’re trying to help two kids escape two incursions: the Inquisition and a plague of rates. It’s a puzzle game, as you manipulate your foes into fighting each other while you try to survive. Both have a detail or two to be worked out, but FHI has a good record for putting out solid games when the time comes.

    Best Setting: I started playing Warhammer Fantasy in the 80s. It’s a deep setting every bit as grim as Warhammer 40k. One of the many “lost” aspects of the game was Lustria—basically South America, the New World. Total War Warhammer II is actually set here, the first game (or anything, really) set in Lustria in decades. You have basically have your elves (high and dark) fighting the natives (lizardmen, although the pygmies probably won’t make the cut thanks to political correctness) for control of a chaos warp gate. The artwork is pretty sweet, but the neat thing is the plan to make the game fully compatible with the previous Total War, so you can fight literally across the world. Check it out if you’re looking for a sweet real time strategy game with lots of sandbox elements.

    Best Moon
    : In days gone by, E3 was flooded with Booth Babes; scantily clad women who knew so little about gaming that they’d slap you if you said the word “joystick” near them. They’re not around so much (no great loss, and the place is too packed to guarantee their security anyway), so the Best Moon award goes to Natsume’s Harvest Moon. Yes, it’s a 20 year old game, but they’re giving it a great facelift, and some games really are timeless in their playability (and a shout out to Atari’s re-release of Roller Coaster Tycoon II is merited here as well, even if it doesn’t have a moon in it).

    Best Ride
    : Driving games have never been my thing. Either they’re goofy (hi Mario Karts!) or realistic, and both are limited for me. If you just play the computer, well, once you’ve won, there’s nothing left. Multiplayer is a problem however, as it’s pretty easy for a griefer to make these games unplayable (unless really goofy) by constantly crashing or driving the wrong way.

    Project Cars 2 plans to carpetbomb all my issues with the limited play value of this genre of games. There are a ridiculous number of tracks (real world, with all possible weather conditions), cars and car types (rally to formula 1), and details, details, details. Adding to that is a player rating system, so you’ll can keep the guys that like to crash out of your game. I don’t see how anyone else will top it, and there were a few other folks trying to sell their own driving games as well—they looked good at E3, but lots of games look better at E3 than they do at home.

    Best Head-Bashing: Mount and Blade II is a genre defining game. It’s basically a role playing game, and it has action and is first person…but all those descriptions apply to games that are nothing like MaB2. The best short description I can give is a game where you ride a horse and bash people’s heads in. I was a big fan of the first game, and it’s one of the few that kept me up late at nights, killing just one more guy. As an indie title, way too many people don’t know about it, but the combat blows away anything by Bethesda, being more close to a hectic first person shooter than Skyrim, set in an awesome realistic (no magic, anyway) medieval gaming world.

    E3 may not be what it one was, and perhaps its golden age is long past, but it’s still the best approximation I know of to being inside a gigantic pinball machine…so maybe I have a few more shows left in me.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: E3 2017 Unofficial Awards by Rick Moscatello started by Doom View original post