E3 2017: The Twilight of Living Room Gaming?

This year’s E3 has me convinced that Xbox and PlayStation are in deep trouble, and that the de facto winners of this decline are the PC and Nintendo Switch. Xbox tried to advertise “exclusives” that were all going to be available on PC as well, while Sony kept talking about VR. The 4K revolution is dead in the water. Nobody cares about 4K, even though we recognize that it’s an improvement.

VR and 4K are things that would’ve been nice to have if they were fully-functional and properly showcased three years ago. But by now we’re so starved for quality games that we just want to have things to play on our existing machines. I’ve seen people argue that they’re totally satisfied with their PS4 and even their Xbox, and that they look forward to the release of the titles in development, but the overall excitement for this generation of machines is lower than I’ve ever seen with previous generations. The logic of a console cycle is that you’ll be given a front-row seat to the cutting edge of gaming for the duration of the console’s lifetime, building up a library that will some day stand as a distinct epoch of gaming innovations. Each console has its own gimmicks, branding, and eccentricities that you can incorporate into your identity, and the rituals you learn on that machine become part of the shared identity you have with your fellow gamers. But now there’s nothing special about consoles, since they all share the same controller layouts, hardware is always just a mid-tier PC, and the distribution models and features are homogenized. PC has never had the epoch-ritual-identity quality that consoles offered; they were generic machines that did a lot of stuff, and also gaming. Consoles are now in the same boat, and without that strange generational epoch psychology, they just become worse PCs with a smaller library and less features. This E3 proved that Sony and Microsoft have absolutely nothing interesting to offer.

Nintendo Switch stands apart from all of that, and is winning as a result. This E3 was a huge success for the Switch because they are creating an epoch-ritual-identity framework that people can become invested in. The games, tone, and features of the Switch are distinct and flavorful, and you can be guaranteed that you’ll be able to build a library that will some day stand as an epoch of gaming.

The “AAA” games shown at E3 were boring and mediocre. The indie games looked interesting, but we’ve learned by now that indie games usually fail to follow through on their enticing designs and premises, so we have to take them with a grain of salt. VR and 4K editions of exiting games are not even close to worth the cost, and only push us further into the outdated living room as the hub of entertainment. I suspect many gamers will look at this E3 and decide that traditional consoles are enjoying their final twilight days.

I’ll be discussing the games, hardware, and announcements themselves in future posts. This was more of a broad evaluation.

Forget the Prologue. It’s all about the trailers!

I’ve been thinking more about the celebrity praise page for the E3 2014 MGSV trailer, and it’s becoming funnier and funnier to me.

I just finished writing about how disappointing and fumbled the storytelling of Ground Zeroes itself was.  It’s strange how none of these great celebrities are discussing how good of a job he did with that, considering it’s THE ACTUAL PROLOGUE OF THE GAME.

Why would Konami seek out reactions of celebrities on a mere trailer, when the prologue is already available for the world?  Did they even ask them about Ground Zeroes, or do they already know that no intelligent person would praise it as a masterpiece or a work of art?  Call me crazy, but I think the prologue should be considered a better test of Kojima’s storytelling ability than a carefully edited trailer with a licensed song.  I mean, isn’t that what a prologue is for?

The trailer praise page serves as a reminder of how lame Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is.  It already injected cash into Kojima Productions and served as a beta test for the Fox Engine, so now nobody needs to be reminded of its supposedly crucial role and its groundbreaking mature themes, artistic depth, or genius creative vision.  That honor belongs to a damn trailer.

Eurogamer explains Mother Base and more, must-read & 60fps trailer

Real information and insight coming from Eurogamer (and probably others) about Phantom Pain, including a lot about Mother Base.

You manage your resources as you see fit and you choose how to expand Mother Base’s capabilities. Do you spend GMP, the in-game currency, on upgrading your defences with more UAVs, or invest in research and development? Either way, most of the time you’ll have a new platform construction somewhere in the distance – a future wing of your hexagonal home.

Read the impressions here.

Then watch the 60fps video — which makes a world of difference if you’ve only seen the YouTube stuff or live streams from E3 — on this page.

Phantom Pain news

I’m terrible at covering news, but I will say I am very happy with everything I’ve seen from The Phantom Pain so far.  Fulton Recovery, Mother Base, and all of that “metagame” goodness is going to give the game some extreme longevity.  Very cool, and the new trailer is a great blend of emotion and story teasing.

Go here for the up-to-date information:

http://thesnakesoup.org/

http://www.metalgearinformer.com/

Kojima: E3 Trailer won’t be a blank screen

Kojima TwitterHere’s an exciting update from the master of social media marketing, Hideo Kojima:

“As got feedback from people played GZ that they wanna revenge in TPP, I’m adding hints of what happens to Snake & his team in E3 trailer.”

They wanna revenge, huh?  So you’re going to give them hints?  Clever guy!

Considering you released a $40 multiplatform prologue game that has a cliffhanger ending, I have to say it’s pretty brilliant to use the world’s biggest videogame presentation stage to make some follow up hints!  Much better than simply showing a blank screen for 8 minutes.

Once again we can see Kojima “reacting” to “feedback”, but this feels like a hollow marketing campaign to me, at least compared to past Metal Gear announcements which had genuine hype.  Sure, we always want to know more information about the next Metal Gear game, but shoehorning in this rhetoric about fans wanting “revenge” (HINT: That’s the theme of MGSV) is a little bit contrived.  Lying about being involved with The Phantom Pain, creating Moby Dick Studios, and releasing Ground Zeroes as a separate game have all generated more confusion and resentment than true hype.

This E3 trailer has a lot riding on it.  It needs to finally get the average gamer to understand what the hell is supposed to be happening, both in terms of the story and the product itself.  If it’s more chopped up cassette tape recordings, I’m going to roll my eyes so hard.

“This is Snake”: Kojima picks Kiefer Sutherland to replace David Hayter

kiefer

Kiefer Sutherland is the new voice of Big Boss.

This announcement comes from the pre-E3 Konami online press event which has just finished streaming a few hours ago.  Kojima said that the choice of Sutherland came from a friend of his, and it appears that Kiefer was happy to oblige.  This means David Hayter wasn’t lying about not being contacted by Konami (and negates the clever theory that it was “Moby Dick Studios” that contacted him instead) and that Kojima really is using Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain as a fresh start for the franchise.

With the utmost respect to David Hayter, I love this.  I’ve always been a fan of Kiefer Sutherland from back in Young Guns, and there are a few things I expect to see different thanks to the new voice for Snake:

Continue reading

Why I Hate “The Last of Us” (Now With More Hate!)

 

[NOTE: Full review is on its way. This was a reaction to the initial E3 trailer and hype.]

NOW WITH MORE HATE!

[Added a second part.]

You’ve probably heard of The Last of Us by now, which means you’ve probably shrugged and said yeah, cool I guess.  It’s the gory post-apocalyptic PS3 exclusive developed by Naughty Dog, makers of the Uncharted series.  It’s already won a bunch of awards, including “Best of Show”, “Best Original Game”, “Best Console Game”, and “Best Action/Adventure Game” at this year’s E3.  There’s no doubt that it will be a highly polished, carefully crafted, and feature unparalleled voice acting and CINEMATIC CINEMATIC CINEMATIC.

Continue reading

(Updated) Konami’s E3 Show features trailers, Mega64

Konami’s “Pre-E3 Show” is now available.  Interviews, trailers, and a great Mega64 skit are being shown.  We finally get to see more of Rising‘s gameplay, which looks very typical for this genre.  Sadly, level design seems to be ripped from the Nintendo 64 era.  Huge crates scattered around for no reason, allowing you to reach higher areas; generic wide city streets with nothing going on; a train chase; a scripted bridge collapse.  The rushed development schedule is evident, and so is the lack of ideas.

And in case you hadn’t figured it out, the theme of cutting everything and has been cut down as well.  The developers say that only enemies and certain background objects will be sliceable, meaning you shouldn’t be expecting to get too creative with your sword.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

I’ll be talking about the upcoming E3, Zone of the Enders, and a bunch more on my twitter.  I’ve started using it regularly, and I’ll be using it to announce new articles and such for your lazy ass.