It finally happened. After years of drooling over the new games shown at the press conferences every year and watching videos of the booths on the show floor, finally I was going to attend what I’ve heard a lot of people in the gaming industry refer to as, “The Show” (not to be confused with Sony’s, MLB: The Show). For weeks after I purchased my pass, I planned out what games I would go see. I knew which company’s booths I would go see and on which days. I brought a little notebook to take notes and my phone’s voice recorder was put in a place where I could easily access it. I even asked friends and colleagues if they had anything they would like me to check out for them. My excitement kept me up almost all night the night before but I still managed to wake up early enough to get me to the Los Angeles Convention Center with plenty of time to spare. I used the wait to double check my plan for the fifth time, make sure I brought everything, and to catch a quick nap in the parking garage. An hour later the doors were thrown open and thousands of gamers rushed through them to the gaming Mecca that is E3.
Being primarily an Xbox gamer, I started my three days of video game madness in the South Hall of the LA Convention Center where booths for Microsoft, Activision, Ubisoft, Bethesda, and a few others would be found. Upon passing through the doors, I was immediately greeted by the Microsoft booth and the Xbox One X in a clear glass case. After admiring a completed and broken apart version, so that fans could see the inside of Microsoft’s newest baby, I moved on to the games.
The newest installation in Microsoft’s Forza racing series looks absolutely gorgeous. The game was being shown on multiple 4K tvs all equipped with Xbox One X consoles and also a giant racing simulator both of which had lines to capacity of gamers excited to get their hands on it. What I found to be most striking about Forza 7 was the dynamic weather and environments that players were racing through. The changes in the clouds and the weather gave it a sense of realism that I had never before experienced in a video game and, if it hadn’t been for the giant racing simulator machine next to me, I would have thought I was just watching actual racing on tv.
I was very excited to see the new Crackdown game since I was a fan of the original and it has been plagued with delays for the last couple years. The gameplay and art style of the game are just like the first two games. I can’t say I saw too many changes other than a new jet boost feature while jumping, a few new guns, and a bigger selection of agents to choose from. Crackdown 3 is still Crackdown. The multiplayer wasn’t shown but it promises fully destructible environments in a giant sandbox of a city and I’m excited to experience it.
This game I was incredibly excited to play. Its character models are 3D but it looks 2D most of the time unless a character is doing a power move. The screen will tilt in a way to show that the Z Fighter you are controlling is in 3D. Otherwise it looks exactly like an episode of the show. It feels very much like a Marvel VS Capcom game but with characters from the Dragonball Z universe. You are able to switch between a team of 3 fighters though only a few heroes and villains were available for the demo. Arenas were destructible based on giant special moves that were done and if you knock out an opponent with one it will show a cutscene of your character Kamehameha-ing a character off the planet or even just destroying half the planet with a giant ball of Ki. This is the Dragonball Z game that I’ve always dreamed of and I can’t wait to buy it upon it’s release next year.
From here I moved on to Activision’s huge booth for Destiny 2 and Call of Duty WWII. Being not so big a fan of the recent CoD games, I opted to check out the Destiny 2 side since the first game consumed my life for about 2 years. Little did I know, Destiny 2 would also consume almost an entire day of my time on the floor. The line was huge but the booth housed a lot of players at once and I NEEDED to play this game. I ended up being in line for 3+ hours which I wasn’t thrilled about but I knew I had a couple more days and it couldn’t possibly still be this crowded the entire time.
We were placed into teams of 4v4 and thrown into a new map that appeared to be in the ruins of the city beneath The Tower. We were set up to play a new gametype called “Countdown” in which we could eliminate the other team or take turns detonating the two bombs on the map. Players do not respawn but could be revived by other teammates and if the bomb was set, it could be disarmed within a short period of time.
The station I was seated at happened to be set as the new Dawnblade class for the Warlock which is replacing the old Sunsinger class. The Dawnblade’s super, Daybreak, creates a sword made of Solar Light and rains down beams of fire onto enemies. While the Solar Warlock no longer has the ability to revive itself, it can now buff itself and allies with Healing Rift or Empowered Rift. When activated, these rifts create a circle of light on the ground that can either heal or buff the attack of those inside it.
The HUD has been updated to show the status of teammates and whether or not they have their Super avaliable. The map has also been updated to show where you are on the map so that you can use callouts to alert teammates of your location. We were only allowed to play one full match and the match was won if your team won 5 rounds. My team won all 5 pretty handily so we only got to play for about 10 minutes. Upon leaving the booth we were all given a free t-shirt for playing. The game was fun and it looked amazing on the 4K screens but after waiting in line for over 3 hours I was disappointed that we could not have more time with it.
The rest of the booths in the South Hall were way too packed after my time with Destiny 2 and lines were being cut off since the day was almost over. I did a few laps just to check out the other booths to see what they had in store and made mental notes to come back to the games that I still wanted to see on day three. The next day I went over to the West Hall of the LA Convention Center where the Sony and Nintendo booths were being housed. Sony had taken up most of the left side of the hall with Nintendo’s Treehouse taking over the right.
Sony seemed to be the more crowded of the two so I navigated through the crowds into the Treehouse which had been made to look like New Donk City, a setting in the Super Mario Odyssey. I immediately got in line for a demo of Super Mario Odyssey but unfortunately, after waiting for 40 minutes, we were informed that the line we were in was for a single console and that we should move into the bigger line which housed more consoles for more people to enjoy the demo faster. Hesitantly, the line disbanded and we migrated over to the much larger line where I waited a good 2+ hours before I finally got my hands on some Joy-Cons.
SUPER MARIO ODYSSEY
Mario’s got some new moves this time around! My demo took place in New Donk City and just running around it i was reminded a lot of the city from the original Sonic Adventure game, especially since a new move Mario has is a roll. Along with this roll attack, I figured out the throwing of his hat and an air tackle. While rolling around the city was fun I also realized Mario could hop on a scooter sitting on the side of the road and while driving the scooter, the Joy-Cons rumble. Mario’s new hat possession trick is pretty neat and really handy in the city for getting to new areas via power lines but there weren’t many enemies in my demo to try it on. My main goal in the demo were to collect Moon fragments to complete a whole Moon and collecting gold and purple coins which can be turned into the Crazy Cap shop for new moves and costumes.
After Super Mario Odyssey I went over to the Sony booth where I was told I could download an app to schedule my demo playtimes. I downloaded the app and saw that all demos were booked for the next few hours but a bunch of sessions were available later and that those spots would be open for reservation later and to try reserving at a set time closer to those sessions. In the meantime, I took a lap around the hall, grabbed some coffee, and then jumped in line for Arms. It took almost 2 hours but I was about to enjoy my high point of this E3.
Arms is the crazy spring arm fighting game on the Nintendo Switch and I had been looking forward to trying it out for some time. I was handed the Joy-Cons and told to hold them in a way I wasn’t expecting. While the game can be played with the pro controller and also in handheld mode, when using the motion controls the Joy-Cons are held in such a way that when you are making a fist, your thumbs are resting at the bumper and trigger and the rest of your fingers are wrapped around to touch the joystick and buttons. The only buttons used are the triggers and bumpers to jump and dash but on the left Joy-Con, the directional buttons can be used to change target. Everything else you can do in game is controlled by movement. Need to get closer to the opponent? Tilt the Joy-Cons forward. Need to block an incoming punch? Tilt the Joy-Cons toward each other.
My opponent in the demo was a CPU fighter and we played in a basketball type match. If you were grabbed (punch with both Joy-Cons at once), you are automatically dunked into a giant basketball hoop. A grab cannot be blocked the normal way but can be countered by throwing your own grab or throwing a punch with a larger variety of Arm to break the incoming grab. First to 10 points wins. Controls are super awkward at first but I was having a blast countering and breaking grabs. I eventually bested the CPU and was sent on my way but I definitely wanted more time with Arms.
With most of the day gone, I checked out the app I was told to download for Sony demos at the allotted time that we could come back and reserve a spot. The app crashed. I tried again and got a loading screen for a couple minutes before closing the app and trying again. Once again the app crashed. It appeared that the amount of people accessing the app all at once was too much for it to handle and by the time it finally worked, all the remaining open spots had been filled. Disappointed, I did another quick lap around the hall to see most lines for demos were now being cut off for the rest of the day. Feeling discouraged but still optimistic for the next day (there’s no way the crowd would still be that bad the next day, right?), I decided to end the day early.
The final day of E3 had arrived and I still had games on my list to see. I headed straight to the West Hall as soon as the doors opened and booked it for the Bethesda booth to try Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus but the line had already filled and been capped by the time i fought through the sea of people. I rushed over to the Ubisoft booth for Assassin’s Creed Origins and South Park: The Fractured But Whole (hehe) but both of those were also capped. I checked the Sony app once again but half the day’s demos were already reserved and reservations wouldn’t open again for hours.
At this point I was feeling really discouraged. I knew E3 would be packed but this was way more than I had expected. I chatted with some industry people who waited in lines with me over the last couple days and they had confirmed that the amount of the people on the floor had doubled since last year. I was beginning to understand why E3 wasn’t normally open to the public. I overheard a few people say at least it was less crowded than Comic-Con which was a terrifying thought with how much I badly want to attend Comic-Con. I decided to do a quick lap of both halls once more just to see if anything else caught my eye. While leaving the West Hall for the South Hall I came across a small booth for the Crash Bandicoot remaster in the lobby. Feeling nostalgic and seeing the hilariously short line compared to the ones inside the halls, I went for it.
CRASH BANDICOOT N.SANE TRILOGY
Crash is back in all three original games, Crash Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, and Crash Bandicoot: Warped. All three games have been built from the ground up and Crash’s sister Coco Bandicoot has actually been brought back as a full fledged playable character in all three games. Before she was only available for a few levels in Warped. The demo I played was the first level from the original game but i was able to play as Coco and it was like being 5 years old again. I was a big fan of crash when I was little and it was really great to return to this old friend. Definitely a game to pick up if you’re a fan and a fun game for newcomers as well.
After having a great time with Crash, I completed a last lap of the South Hall and decided I was ready to go. I really wanted to play more games but it seemed like most lines showed no signs of getting shorter anytime soon. Overall, I enjoyed my time at E3. I expected to play more games but the experience of getting to play brand new games and some updated older ones before they were released was still exciting. I felt guilty for being there at times after hearing people in the industry gripe about the crowds and the lines but I think the public should still be able to come and see what E3 is all about. It would be a lot less congested if industry folks and fans could hit the show floor on their own designated days but more days would need to be added for people to have time to see everything. Hopefully something can be done about it next year but until then I will wait impatiently, as I have every intention of returning to “The Show”.