Gaming, Opinion piece

E3 2016 ft. The Best and the Worst | Part 2

Aaaaand here we go. Several weeks ago, I talked about what I thought were the Best things coming out of this year’s E3, while promising a follow-up article on the opposite side of the spectrum, and (while very, veeeeeeery late, especially compared to my initial plans) this is it. In case you missed the former article, you can find about it here

https://theflyingthoughts.com/2016/06/23/e3-2016-ft-the-best-and-the-worst-part-1/

In any case, I remind this is not a ranking, but just a list featuring the stuff that surprised me the most (negatively, in this particular case); it’ll be clear how some items of this list would place in an imaginary ranking between each other, though.

This introduction sounds good enough to me; time start to dive into the second part of this feature (so ironic to say “time to” for such a long-delayed article, and after so much time passed since E3 ended, but they say auto-irony is a quality, after all…right?).

The Worst

Scalebound

I’m sorry, Hideki. I’m really, really sorry. You’re a great guy, and Platinum has released some fantastic, over-the-top/exploding-with-awesomeness  games in the recent years, but no. Before you ask: no, I don’t eat shit…and this is why I’m not that sold on this game.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist the temptation. Ahem, seriously now… I started having doubts back at Gamescom 2015, when the gameplay itself was shown: the idea of controlling a dragon’s action sounds cool (freaking cool, honestly), and it can bring some interesting real-time tactical implications for the battle themselves. Send the dragon there, while you fight here, for example. The setpiece looked really nice, and, in case you were asking, I’m not so opposed to the idea of a non-Bayonetta/W101/Rising style action by Platinum. Especially since it’s more of a real-time RPG, not turn-based; there were several instruments to use for battles, and they showed were cool moves you can pull off, despite the game NOT being a character action title. However, as just mentioned, the execution didn’t exactly make me as intrigued by the premise. It  just didn’t feel as fluent as I hoped. It was surely one of the first parts of the game, but it showed some clunkiness and it didn’t look that exciting. The possibilites to use the dragon and different weapons were there, but their implementation didn’t inspire me as I thought. Also, the sword combat scenes didn’t feel fluent, the animations weren’t always fluid, and the music that starts once the main character puts those headphones on…don’t like it that much. However, when watching this year’s E3 Conference, I was ready to see more of Scalebound. Several months had passed since that demonstration, I was geniunely curious. Aaaaaand it was a bit of a letdown. I didn’t see anything that could convince me my fears were a thing of the past (except for the frame rate, that improved a lot), and the fight just felt…boring. A gigantic boss battle in a Platinum title feeling boring is strange. It’s impossible, like a cat hugging a dog, or seeing goats raining from the sky, or a decent show from EA at E3; you get the idea. Yes, this is not a character action game, but it was still boring, the hits didn’t feel they were actually being felt by the gigantic boss in the way you’d expect. The battle even seemed confusing to follow at one point. The confusion was probably increased by the fact the live demo included a multiplayer demonstration, and it still felt not that exciting. My initial doubts were not dissolved, and I still remain with mixed feelings about it.

That beautiful mess @ EA Play

It was inevitable. EA conferences have always had some great stuff…to laugh at, I mean, even in spite of interesting announcements. And no, I won’t use the Peggle 2 guy’s gif since it’s been so overu-who am I kidding.

Aaaah, that awkwardness in trying to pull off something like that in a cool way.

EA seems to be the master of cringe-worthy press conferences, and this is no exception. I mean, just watch the Career Mode for the next FIFA, with the guy we play in the game introducing it in such an emphatic way it’s difficult to not laugh at it (he tried hard to sell it as well as possible, I can’t deny it…but it’s so funny!). Or, right before that, what said about the new FIFA. Terms they’ve always used about (more or less) about the upcoming iteration of the franchise, quite devoid of significant meaning. Also, all those promised 2018 titles…behind the scenes! Behind the scenes here, look at how we’re working hard there, cool montage and effects, almost zero gameplay. And this is not new for EA, it already happened with Mass Effect Andromeda… which looked pretty good here, despite not a huge amount of footage shown. Also, Josè Mourinho’s presence on the London stage. Or better, his physical presence there, with just one-two words spoken, then it sits there until Peter Moore tells him “You can go now, you did good Josè”. Some cool stuff in the conference, but not that much to talk about, honestly. And, again, not the first time it happens for an EA press event. But the best of the worst (actually, this could be an ad-honorem Best of the show) was the post-conference massive Battlefield 1 event. So many people playing, between major pro Battlefield gamers and vips, like…Zac Efron? Jamie Foxx? Emily Ratajkowski?!? Snoop Dog? So strange to see those people there. And what was the best thing to come out of that, if not…Snoop Dog playing while clearly smoking a joint (also, not contributing at all for the team, 0 everything). That was AMAZING. GiantBomb’s crew went wild for that, and for a good reason. Snoop, why didn’t you give something to the guy who presented Fe on stage? He could’ve relaxed a bit!

The Project Scorpio’s announcement 

The weeks and days before E3 were filled with brand new, reliable rumours about a new console from Microsoft, much more powerful than the current Xbox One, peaking at 6 terafops (so, higher than the rumoured-but-basically-confirmed PS4 Neo specs as of the latest update), so it doesn’t come off as a surprise this announcement. But, since the appearance of these rumours, considering how some of them outlined its official unveiling right at this year’s E3, I’ve always wondered…why should they announce it this soon. And this thought became even stronger by watching the conference, since they opened it with a hardware announcement (Xbox One S) and they closed it with another hardware announcement (Project Scorpio, indeed). I mean…why. What’s the point in announcing two brand new hardware revisions for your console in the same event, with one of them being the posterchild of the “world without generations”, of a brand new way of thinking the console environment, while the other is the classic lighter and slimmer looking revision (with 4K for movies/tv, internal PSU, etc.). Especially when the former is so far away, due to the Fall 2017’s release date. I don’t exacly buy Phil Spencer’s reasoning of “letting developers knowing about it and making it so they can use its full potential now”, since that’s a thing they can perfectly do behind the scenes, behind the strong (?) wall of NDAs and such, especially if you’re a major Western publisher. Also, announcing such a stronger, hyped-up version of your console makes the upcoming S a bit less exciting in the customers’ eyes, even in spite of a quite thrilling entering price (it’s also true the only SKU available at launch is the 2TB, at $399.99, which counters the “thrilling entering price” point, but anyway). Not that it will do awful (in US and UK, at least), but it could’ve had better chances to be a good success without the ghost of Scorpio looming behind it already. Moreover, Microsoft announced Scorpio without that much “substance”: several promises and technical datas, but no physical image of the console. They clearly tried to sell more the concept than the console itself, and, I have to admit, they didn’t do a bad job at that. But again, why don’t just wait for the console to be ready to be shown, or parts of it (hello, PS4’s first event!), to do the announcement? We live, after all, in the social-media age: news spread out far sooner than in the past, their reach is massive compared to even just 10 years ago, so it’s not necessary anymore to have brand new devices announced one year / more than one year before their actual release. Both PS4 and Xbox One’s original announcements showed that announcement-to-release times lower than one year for brand new consoles are, indeed, possible (One had other problems that influenced its public image tremendously, just to clarify).  I suppose the real reason for the announcement now was to try to steal PS4 Neo’s thunder before its official unveiling event, after all. Honestly, I don’t know if this kind of news will be that successful on such front, especially considering how Scorpio will be back in the spotlight in 2017, while Neo will be out sooner (maybe even this year?).

Mario Party: Cover Rushed

Once, we had publishers that did not remove publications’ logos from covers, not even trying to hide they were taken from a mere image search and slapped on printed copies, ready to be sent on shelves (hi Capcom!), then we had mispelled titles on the spine of retail boxes (hi again, Capcom!), and now we have art being recycled for the sake of getting the job done as quickly as possible.

…Hi Nintendo! Look at the image on the right: it’s not the first time I see that artwork, honestly, but here it’s so blatant and clear how they just put a circle-shaped frame with stars, recoloured the Toad and said “Bam, there we have it, job done! We are masters and artists, ladies and gentlemen!”. There isn’t even a background behind the recycled artwork. It’s so blatant you can’t avoid to laugh at it. What’s even more ironic is that the game, by watching the Treehouse live streaming looks not bad, kind of refreshing compared to most recent Mario Party games.

No female main in Breath of the Wild, and here’s why!

I’ll make this clear right from the get-go: this is here NOT because female Link / female main character is not in Breath of the Wild. While I would’ve loved to see it, I’m not angry or anything that it’s missing per se. There are cases where the original creators have a specific idea about how the story plays, who are the actors for the story, which gender fits the best, and if there are good reason for a character to be male or female, or black / white / blue / everything, no problem. A reasonable motivation is not the cause of debates. Aaand this is where Anouma’s words back at E3 fell short. This is how he explained the decision

http://www.gamespot.com/articles/why-zelda-breath-of-the-wild-wont-have-a-female-he/1100-6440862/

During the conversation, which was translated by a Nintendo representative, we asked Aonuma if the rumors of having the option to play as a female version of Link are accurate. He said that he’s aware of the conversations happening online, stating: “So yes, there were rumors like that, and we did discuss as a staff as to what would be possible if we took that route.”

However, instead of entertaining the idea of the player being able to choose the hero Link’s gender, Aonuma said his team considered what they deemed to be the simplest option; making princess Zelda the lead character. “We thought about it,” said Aonuma, “and decided that if we’re going to have a female protagonist it’s simpler to have Princess Zelda as the main character.”

This idea was ultimately rejected, because according to Aonuma “…if we have princess Zelda as the main character who fights, then what is Link going to do? Taking into account that, and also the idea of the balance of the Triforce, we thought it best to come back to this [original] makeup.”

http://kotaku.com/zelda-producer-explains-why-despite-speculation-the-n-1781973528

Zelda series producer Eiji Aonuma credits fan speculation for the creation of a female Link in the recent Legend of Zelda: Hyrule Warriors 3DS game, but he clarified to Kotaku here at E3 that the Link in the new Wii U Zelda who first showed up in a 2014 trailer was always planned to be a guy.

Aonuma said he had been vague about the specifics of the new game’s Link when he was giving interviews about that trailer in 2014. He thinks that helped lead some Zelda fans to think that the somewhat androgynous Link shown in the trailer might be a girl. Aonuma said his lack of specifics on the character two years ago hadn’t been intended to stoke fan theories. “My intention was to say this isn’t done and there may be changes coming to that. I in no way had intention of leading people into believing Link was female.”

But why not have a female Link in this big new game? “You know there’s the idea of the Triforce in the Zelda games we make,” he told Kotaku. “The Triforce is made up of Princess Zelda, Ganon and Link. Princess Zelda is obviously female. If we made Link a female we thought that would mess with the balance of the Triforce. That’s why we decided not to do it.”

Now, the first remark could sound reasonable, i.e.Princess Zelda fighting would have consequences in Link’s role in the story, it would become worthless…but that would mean that Zelda cand just be, more or less, a damsel-in-distress, which sounds “archaic” compared to today’s brand new world, and that Link couldn’t – you know – assist Zelda in battle. Or the opposite as well, like happened in Spirit Tracks. Seriously, why can’t Zelda be the main character in a Zelda game, after all.

I meant a good / great one!

Also, and I’m probably going to look stupid to my audience (yes, I saw all of you. You three are great, never change!), but I don’t get the “Triforce balance” reasoning. Yeah, ok, male + female + monster. But, I don’t know, I don’t think it’s said anywhere that the Hero’s legend can ONLY be transmitted from a male to another male (correct me if I’m wrong), and I don’t see female + female + monster being such a tragic disurbance of the balance.

Also, we just had a female Link-like character, it’s in the opening image to this paragraph! Actually, Linkle is not a perfect female Link, it has some character traits which are opposite to Link’s ones, and that’s even better!

After all, it’s true that, as time went by, Link has started growing more as a character (more personality in his reactions), but (personal opinion) he’s still strictly connected to its avatar origins, the representation of the player. So, technically, I believe Link can be female. If Anouma and his team believe otherwise, no problems, but the reasons they outlined didn’t convince me that much, if not at all.

 

Bonus: what happened to Will Powers 

This is something that, indeed, happened around E3 time, strictly related to E3 since it happened at a party for the fair, and it’s something, let’s face it, more serious than the stuff listed earlier, so I decided to put it as a bonus to the end of this article.

So, this is what happened to Will Powers, Deep Silver’s PR guy, at this specific E3 party. All the tweets describing the events are here:

http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1235681

Basically, he was drugged by drinking something destined to the girl he was with, and other people could’ve been drugged as well. I don’t think this deserves long comments, one word is enough: disgusting. Disgusting, disgusting, disgusting. Not the first time it happens in the world for sure, and not a problem just of the gaming industry for sure, but…yep, disgusting, and it’s another episode of women not being safe in the gaming industry. The news is old, so this article will not give to Will Powers’ story way too much renewed relevance, but I thought I had to talk about it anyway.

So, yeah, I suppose this is enough. This two-parts feature is done, after all. This was an interesting E3 for several reasons: the marketing gigantic monster gave us several stuff to talk about cheerfully, and also other stuff to be disappointed about or to, simply, reflect on. No NX, no Neo, but the games were there, the passion was present too after all (once again, the Treehouse gang did a great job…you can’t even understand how much I hope we’ll get a Treehouse Live @ NX Unveiling event, seriously). We’ll meet again next year, E3.

See you soon, world

P.S. #westandforfemalesingamingindustry

 

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