Now that Xbox One and PS4 have both presented at E3, it’s time to examine who gave a stronger performance
Before we dive into the good and bad of both shows, we have to get over some preliminary statements. First off, this is marked as an opinion piece, so please treat it as one. This is the Bear Claw take on E3, so please feel free to disagree. Secondly, this piece also aims to totally ignore any fanboy notions about the consoles. This post is about who showed better games, not which console is “better.” With the dull points out of the way, lets start breaking the shows down.
The hype and momentum that carried Xbox the past few weeks soared through E3. Without awkward pauses between trailers, Microsoft revealed content throughout their show at a pace that was almost hard to keep up with. Now this isn’t to say Sony’s press conference was slow, it was actually paced quite well. That being said, after The Last Guardian and Horizon, the rest of the show felt sluggish until the Battlefront multiplayer and Uncharted conclusion. This resulted with a show with a sizable sag that had a lot of games in the middle I couldn’t get excited about. To me, Microsoft gets the win here for keeping me on the edge of my seat during the conference.
This area is somewhat hard to debate. While The Last Guardian is a title I am interested in, I couldn’t help but feel annoyed that Sony won praise for showing off a game that had been mismanaged to the point where it was delayed more than half a decade. Hell, some people bought PS3s to play The Last Guardian. So because it was an anticipated title, many people (myself included) were thrilled to see the game in action, but that doesn’t mean it automatically wins. Winning comes down to how good the actual gameplay looked.
The Last Guardian, while not an ugly game, is one that shows its age. The beast that follows the player is cute, and its feathers look fantastic, but the rest of the world feels bleak and grey much like the screen filter used in Fallout 3. Much of this demo was showing a puzzle where the player push an object and then need rescuing from the beast companion. To me, a simple puzzler that only showed a single mechanic twice in one demo just wasn’t enough to get me hyped up for the long awaited title.
And then there’s the Halo 5: Guardians gameplay demo. First, 343i showed off the new squad mechanics which did seem like a nice addition to the series, but the core of the singleplayer portion felt incredibly linear, and I never felt overly excited to give the game a go. Frankly, the demo was toned down in difficulty for the presentation and that made watching gameplay boring. Luckily, after the dull campaign portion, 343i gave us a quick glimpse of their new multiplayer mode: Warzone. Warzone looked incredible, and I’m thrilled that there’s even more stuff for us to do when the game comes out.
To conclude kick-off, Xbox wins ever so slightly. While singleplayer romps shown by both Xbox and PlayStation were dull to watch, Warzone was the saving grace of the Xbox kick-off.
Both sides made time to show off indie games at their conferences this year, which was a pleasant addition to the events. Xbox showed off a handful of titles that looked intriguing like Tacoma and Ion, and they even revealed that Day-Z will debut on Xbox later this year. Xbox then wen’t on to detail that there will be a new Early Access-esque addition to the Xbox Store that will allow gamers to play titles that are still in development. This felt huge!
Sony didn’t show much from the indie department during their show, but they did make a point of giving Hello Games three minutes to show of the highly anticipated No Man’s Sky. The demo was incredibly scaled and showed off a massive world. The creator of the game simply picked a planet at random and showed off the random world generator. After landing, he showed destructible environments and explained a bit of wildlife. While visually stunning and of epic scale, I still feel like Hello Games doesn’t know what the point of No Man’s Sky is. Is there a story to be told? Is it simply a space game with an emphasis on exploration that doesn’t feature a story mode? Who knows.
Ultimately, Sony takes the cake with No Man’s Sky in the indie department. Microsoft might have shown more games, but nothing made me as intrigued as the colorful worlds Hello Games have created.
At E3, both Sony and Microsoft showed off new capabilities coming to their console in the coming years. Sony showed a bit of Project Morpheus that looks interesting, but without a price tag, it was hard to get excited without worrying about how my wallet will handle it. A little less interestingly, Sony then described new DNLA features that would allow gamers to stream in their favorite music while they played. It wasn’t a sexy announcement by any means, but it’s certainly a useful feature nonetheless.
Xbox revealed a sleuth of changes during their E3 presentation and post-show. First off, Xbox 360 games will now work on the Xbox One thanks to backwards compatibility. Additionally, it was noted that there is a new UI coming to Xbox One in the coming months at it will feature Cortana as an AI companion that will work through Kinect. Oh, and one last thing. They showed this incredible Hololens Minecraft demo!
Most Awkward Awards
E3, while a fantastic time to be a gamer, also has its share of outright cringeworthy moments from overzealous executives and nervous developers. Ubisoft and EA sure worked hard to meet the awkward quota, but this article is about Microsoft and Sony’s shows only.
Microsoft really didn’t have anything overtly awkward happen during their show. Chris Charla, the man behind ID@Xbox, did forget to inhale air while talking, which made him hard to follow, but otherwise, things felt tight during the Xbox show.
Then there was Sony’s show. There was one point where the Sony presenter yelled “Delicious” after a gameplay demo, or that time Nathan Drake didn’t move and they had to restart the demo. Then there was the total miscalculation from Sony that people watching E3 would get jazzed about exclusive DLC from Disney Infinity. To me, the most awkward, inappropriate thing during the show was undoubtedly the way Shenmue III was presented. It just felt incredibly weird to have someone come on stage and essentially say, “Hey, pay for my game online if you want to have us make it, please!” I’m all for KickStarter game development, but if Sony was willing to host the game developer during the show, why not just fund them entirely? For a platform that constantly boasts about being “for the players,” that was a very not for the players move.
Sony undoubtedly crushes Microsoft in this department and wins this years most awkward award.
While the areas I’ve shown seem to make an obvious choice of who won, I feel a little more divided. Xbox undeniably won 2015 games. With a mountain of diverse exclusives this holiday, there’s no reason to not be excited if you’re an Xbox gamer. What Sony showed did look really strong; however, the fact that the vast majority of it won’t be playable until 2016 kind of takes the air out of their tires.
I saw someone online say “Microsoft wins 2015, but Sony won E3.” This sentiment essentially means that because they have so much coming in 2016, Sony wins by default. Now, to me, that feels like a really lame argument considering Microsoft had a very different goal with E3 than Sony. Sony aimed to show just about everything coming to PlayStation in the next few years to get players jazzed. Microsoft focused almost entirely on 2015 content. Later this summer, Xbox will be returning to the stage at Gamescom in Germany to show of Quantum Break, Scalebound and Crackdown 3 – the biggest games coming to Xbox One next year. So in what mind would it be fair to compare 2016 showings from E3 when Xbox is strategically saving their 2016 content for an event Sony is skipping entirely? For that reason, I won’t debate who has a better looking 2016 until after Gamescom.
To keep things short and to avoid more tangents, if you’re going to use one console this year, it should be the Xbox One. With backwards compatibility, a myriad of exclusives, a brand new controller, a new UI with an AI companion, mod support for Fallout 4 and an early access program, it is truly an incredible time to experience all that is coming to Xbox.