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Japanator Discusses: E3 2013

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Our takes on the pressers, the trailers, and everything E3

E3's over! Well, it has been for a while, but now we've all had time to digest the news, and this being a "hardware year", there was a lot of news. News of the kind even we at Japanator pay attention to...and talk about! It's not all strange moon-cartoons and comics over here!

In any case, E3 being the topic of the week for geeks the world over, we took to chewing the fat, and here's a smattering of our thoughts on Stations of Play, Boxes of X (One), and more! Then tell us what you think of the latest in electronic entertainment!

 

Josh Tolentino: 

With Nintendo more or less opting out of a major presence opening E3, it was all about the Big Two, Sony and Microsoft, where they brought out their biggest names and toughest pitches to convince gamers to go in for a new generation of hardware, despite a changing landscape that, from some angles, seems to threaten the very idea of consoles and the triple-A gaming industry that anchors them. 

Even a week on, it looks like Sony has the messaging advantage. Despite a presentation weighed down by the uninteresting-but-mandatory corporate talk about media services (which Microsoft got out of the way at its Xbox One reveal weeks ago), the PlayStation 4 captured a lot of goodwill by being cheaper than its competition as well as ostensibly supporting the current status quo with regards to game ownership rights and always-online DRM, which hardcore gamers seem to prefer and Microsoft wants to see annihilated. Only time and games can tell whether Sony's support of the old way will affect how things will shake out with publishers (who theoretically benefit more from Microsoft's scheme) will be a wise step or a mistake.

Though they did pull an "Xbox Live" and lock online multiplayer behind the PlayStation Plus paywall, I'd note that so far PS+ has been a much better value proposition in terms of free game downloads and discounts, and if Sony can keep that up into the next-gen, it shouldn't have a problem making the new requirement stick with consumers. 

Weirdly enough, despite my being super-ambivalent about the Xbox One back when it was revealed, due to many of its features being irrelevant to the way I enjoy entertainment, in retrospect I wanted to buy the damn thing a lot more back then, during the original reveal, than I do right now now. Maybe it's the combination of the stiffer price tag with the clarification of its DRM and online requirements, but if nothing else, seeing a fellow onstage demonstrating all the cool multitasking and gesture/voice control features incited some of that sweet, nerdy gadget-lust. Ironically, the one time Microsoft opted to focus heavily on games (especially ones that didn't really scream "THE FUTURE!" at me), the more I thought about simply upgrading my computer instead.

Salvador G-Rodiles:

Sony didn't just hit the ballpark with their conference, they annihilated Microsoft with their Sony Kick and Sony Punch -- especially with their excellent video on how to share games. Even better, in accordance to some info that I encountered through some retweets, the PS4 will be region free! In other words, I'll still be able to import games during the next generation! While it's a bummer that PS+ will be required for online multiplayer, Sony was at least able to give people the ability to use the PS4's video apps (such as Netflix) without having a PS+ subscription -- take that, Xbox Live. 

In regards to the PS4 games, Square pulled an interesting move with their trailer for Final Fantasy XV (Previously known as Versus XIII) and the long awaited Kingdom Hearts 3. As one of the people that's been waiting for this game, I liked how FFXV's had  a stage where Leviathan (based on my assumption) is fighting in the middle of a city as you platform and fight your way through the chaos at hand. I mean, it's a fine way to show the environmental damage and calamity that can happen all at once. As for KH3, I'm digging the way how they handled the swarm of Shadows that was chasing Sora throughout the trailer, since it's setting up for some promising improvements to Kingdom Heart's combat system. Hopefully, Square will be able to release the two games during the PS4's first two years. That way we won't have to worry about waiting over a decade to play both titles. 

Speaking of the Xbox One, I was surprised that Microsoft failed to address the concerns that people were having with the console. They had their chance to regain the trust of the concerned individuals during their press conference. Instead, they only manage to leave the important questions unanswered (such as the concern over the system becoming obsolete after Microsoft shuts down the console's online servers when the Xbox One's successor appears). At least they were able to confirm that they are abandoning the points system, which is one of the few positive things about their show. But honestly, I think I'm going to agree with Josh's statement about investing money on a stronger PC instead of buying an Xbox One.  If anything, my following tweet sums up my thoughts on the first day of E3 in one sentence.

It looks like Sony lost a bit of power in its finishing move, due to Kingdom Hearts 3 and Final Fantasy XV being announced for the Xbox One as well. In all honesty, it's not too surprising, since Square has taken the multiplatform route with their AAA titles since the 360, PS3, and Wii console generation. Sony's blow may have been severed, but the critical hit they delivered to the Xbox One during their press conference still remains strong. 

Next up in the big corner, Nintendo finally shows their hand, and boy did they impress with their showings. Obviously, the big one is with Megaman appearing in the new Smash Bros for the Wii U and 3DS. But in all honesty, it was the Wii Fit Trainer that stole the show, since she's on a similar level to Mr. Game & Watch's debut in Smash Bros Melee. Sakurai really surprised me with his new direction, because I was surprised by the fact that the two versions of Smash Bros were done in two different styles. In fact, I was thinking that they were going to do the same thing that Capcom did with Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate where the Wii U version of the game was going to be the 3DS version with an HD coating. Instead, Sakurai put the effort to make sure that both version have their own perks. Heck, he's even went as far to have exclusive stages between both version, so I applaud him for that. With that being said, I was happy to have been proven wrong, and my urge to get a Wii U is rising.



Actually, it wasn't just Smash Bros that sold me, since Monolith Soft's new Xeno game got me excited when they showcased more of the mech gameplay throughout the game's vast world. I'm also excited to fight that ginormous creature that was showcased towards the end, due to that feeling that comes from taking down an enemy larger than your robot. Speaking of taking down giant monsters, Platinum's The Wonderful 101 is looking quite nicely with the Sentai-like roll call for the playable heroes, along with showing off more of the giant weapon features. Honestly, I could ramble about the rest of Nintendo's stuff, but that there's a chance that I would take up 90% of the discussion. Long story short, Nintendo's goal is for its player to have fun with their games, and their lineup ensures us that we will have the time of our lives! 

But yeah, this year's E3 rocked, and it's one of the few items where I'm super excited for more than 80% of the content shown at the show. As for the victor, that would depend on the specialty. Sony wins the award for ensuring gamers that the PS4's features and pricing, which shows that they have come a long way from the PS3. Unfortunately, I wish I could say the same thing about their Vita stuff for the show, but I'm hoping that 2014 will be the handheld's time to shine. Nintendo wins for their strong lineup of titles, with a good number of them being for the Wii U. As for their faults, I wasn't to keen on the new Yoshi's Island game, since 3D color book style doesn't come close to the crisp 2D crayon colored sprites from the original SNES game. Who knows, the game might be good when it gets released later on. One thing for sure, E3 has dealt a critical hit on my wallet, and I need to save up ASAP. Well done, guys. Well done.

 
Jeff Chuang

The biggest news about Monday's E3 big pressers for me was that the Xbox One doesn't launch in Asia until late 2014. I guess by now we should know better than to expect a healthy game library for any console in the first 12 months of a platform launch, and I can see myself still turning on my PS3 just so I can Produce some idols even well into 2014. After all, that DLC money won't mean a thing on the PS4. I think the time frame of the Asian launch is a big deal because this mean there won't be big-time otaku pandering titles on the One until probably well into 2015, giving the PS4 probably an insurmountable lead, at least in Japan. And even if the official word on Xbox One's Japan launch is still to be determined, and even if Microsoft launches it in Japan much earlier than late 2014, its fate may have already been preordained already. 

Of course, given Sony's usual dominance in Japan, Microsoft is likely to again pay for some nice exclusives to promote the Xbox One like how Microsoft did with One's predecessors, targeting the paying otaku. Thankfully we don't have to worry about that for a long while. The way I see it, Xbox One's inclusion with advanced TV features and the accompanying Kinect system is similar to how the PS3 came with Blu-ray. Both are long shots that drive up the cost of the console but may provide some serious value in the long run. But unlike Blu-ray, it's really hard to see right now what those advance motion tracking tools will bring to gamers and non-gamers alike, in a way that justifies that extra $100. 

Chris Walden

Microsoft obviously had a big hole to dig themselves out of, and while I don't think they'd managed to get their head above the surface with their E3 presentation, I think they did a good job (at the time) convincing gamers that this actually is going to be a games console. Starting with Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was a great way to kick everything off, and argue that Microsoft had the strongest start of the three platform owners. Ryse: Son of Rome looked beautiful, but somewhat killed the mood by being infested with quick time events. Killer Instinct snatched people with nostalgia (until we found out that it was free-to-play) and Sunset Overdrive looks to be going somewhere interesting.

Project Spark has some interesting uses for people that want to build their own games, Crimson Dragon looks a lot like Panzer Dragoon so that was cool, and Forza was the Xbox One's vehicle-driver of choice. D4 could be good for a laugh, seeing as SWERY65 is behind it, and Dead Rising 3 at the very least looks interesting. There was even a new Halo game and some Titanfall footage, so quite honestly, I think Microsoft did okay on the games front. A lot of people, while still noticeably angry about the DRM issues, walked away from that conference thinking about the games, not the system. The price point was definitely too high, but with no marker set by Sony at this point, it seemed that the PS4 may even go higher. Long and short of it, MS did what they came to E3 to do. Well, besides the new Xbox 360 slim. That seems like a sure-fire way to confuse your market.



It was definitely Sony's E3 to lose at this point. I can't say I was expecting much either. The console reveal would be nice, a price would be nicer, and we'd get to see some new games. That Sony were very hush-hush about DRM was extremely worrying going into that conference, but I suppose we know exactly what their reasoning was now. 

I was pleasantly surprised at Sony's approach to the PS3. We had a good amount of time dedicated to new trailers of upcoming titles, as well as a nice little nudge towards The Last of Us, for the two people that don't know about that game. Unfortunately, while Sony do like to promote remote play with this nifty little Vita device, they've once again neglected its software. I don't doubt there are some big plans for that handheld, but it would have been nice to be reassured that my investment wasn't premature. Oh hell, who am I kidding, of course it was premature. Moving swiftly along.

Around the beginning of the PS4 section of the event, Sony went ahead and revealed what the console would actually look like. Really, there wasn't much they could do at this point to put people off. If it didn't look like a bulky VCR or a toasted sandwich maker, people would be pleased. While it looked deceptively like a squashed Xbox One at the event, a look at the hi-res images show that it's actually more akin to the PS2 slimline console. It's also around 60% smaller than the Xbox One, and it also has the power supply built into the unit itself. Not bad, Sony. Not bad at all. 

There was the return of KillzoneInfamousKnack and DriveClub, all games that look nifty in their own ways and with new trailers to try and reignite the anticipation. I'd say that worked pretty well, and while there'll be few of us interested in picking up all four of them, they cover a lot of interests. It is true that the PS4 doesn't have much in the way of third-party AAA exclusives, but I don't think there's a game developer on the planet that didn't see the reaction from the crowd on the topic of used games and DRM. PS4 will get those exclusives eventually, and in the meantime we have a lot of really neat console debuts from budding indie developers. It was great seeing developers on stage showing off their own games. It not only looks good for Sony, but it drove a big message about Sony and their willingness to snag indie companies. 

Exclusive or not, the PS4 has some great games coming to the platform. With better specifications, a cheaper retail price and no DRM/used game shenanigans, it's easy to see who came out on top at E3. Sure, it'll annoy a few people that they have to get PS Plus to play online multiplayer, but at least there are some genuine perks to doing so. Xbox Live certainly hasn't done much to reassure gamers that their £40 a year is actually worthwhile. Whether the new Xbox finds itself in your living room sooner or later as a TV device-come-console for exclusives, that remains to be seen, but the sheer surge of PS4 pre-orders must have Microsoft shitting Xbox Ones. 



And then came Nintendo's event, which made their peculiar decision not to do a large event at E3 finally make some sense. Well, sense in that there seemingly wasn't a lot to show off, with their main conference taking a mere 40 minutes. However, there was plenty of news about first-party titles for Nintendo enthusiasts, plus news on The Wonderful 101 and Bayonetta 2. In typical Ninty fashion, the third party titles that are coming to the Wii U were shown in a very brief recap trailer, which doesn't bode well for their thinning relations. 

However, you'll find few people who would complain about their presentation as a whole, as they revealed Super Mario 3D World, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze and Mario Kart 8 will be coming to the struggling console. However, as expected from the start, it was the Super Smash Bros. news that was getting fans excited, reintroducing some familiar faces, alongside the Villager from Animal Crossing and Capcom's Mega Man as new playable characters. This is no doubt the beginning of the latest Smash craze, but Nintendo will be doing well to ride that high along with it's newest first-party titles to try and lure in some more buyers.

It was a crazy couple of days, that's for sure. Microsoft hasn't done much to help its current image, Sony have used this to gain an overwhelming advantage, and Nintendo continues doing what it does best by feeding its new console first party titles. This has no doubt been one of the most exciting E3 conferences in recent years, but it's from now until the release of either the PS4 or the Xbox One, whichever comes first, where things will get really interesting. I can't wait!


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Josh Tolentino
Josh TolentinoManaging Editor   gamer profile

Josh is Japanator's Managing Editor, and contributes to Destructoid as well, as the network's premier apologist for both Harem Anime and Star Trek: Voyager For high school reasons, he's called "u... more + disclosures


 



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