E3 2016 has come and gone with tons of games to be excited about for the next year, VR still coming along and the future slowly becoming a reality with the upgraded consoles talk. However, there's always trends that come out of the show from multiple games having similar mechanics and cheesy moments from the press conferences. Here's what stood out for me from this year's expo.
2016: The Year of the Grappling Hook
Couple years back was the "year of the bow" where multiple games had a bow and arrow that was pivotal to their gameplay. This year is already shaping up to be the year of the grappling hook. We already seen Uncharted 4, Mirror's Edge Catalyst and Overwatch have grappling hooks playing key roles in certain moments, but the new games out of E3 2016 have plenty of them.
My highlight out of this is Titanfall 2's where you can hook into your titan as another way of entering or enemies in the air or not to take them out. Other games that spotlight this wonderful mechanic are last week's release Trials of the Blood Dragon, ReCore, For Honor,Horizon: Zero Dawn to a certain extent and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare. Grappling hooks are pretty cool when used right and I wonder which weapon is next to be featured in nearly every game.
Franchises Getting Much Needed Reboots
One of the big surprises from E3 last week was beloved franchises going on a completely different direction from their past to the point they are getting rebooted. God of War and Resident Evil 7 are the big examples where their last games were getting stale and needed a major shakeup to make fans intrigued again. Seeing old man Kratos and his son in what looks like an action RPG now from the Sony press conference as well as the slow and methodical combat is a complete 180 from the more frantic action of the previous games. Resident Evil 7 so far is going back to it's survival horror roots which is a long time coming after going action heavy the past three games. From what I played of the demo on the Playstation 4, the spooks are not there yet, but the atmosphere is. The sequel being fully playable on Playstation VR is a nice bonus when it comes out in January 2017. Bethesda and Arkane Austin's Prey to a certain extent is a reboot from the 2006 first-person shooter even though it has been a development hell for a while. This new one being more psychedelic than being an old school FPS is a big change and well Bethesda has plenty of those now with the new Doom and the recently announced Quake Champions. You know what, I would count The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild into this trend too because of how much of a departure it is from past Zelda games where Nintendo is finally implementing a fully open world and westernized RPG mechanics. Developers taking risks on beloved franchises at this point of the game industry today is just crazy where the budgets are getting way bigger and I hope this continues in the coming years because I can think of a lot more franchises that need a reboot.Fake Chatter in Multiplayer Gameplay Demos Again
I don't know why game publishers and developers still include fake video game banter in their gameplay demos at E3 press conferences. Does the normal gamer even talk like that these days while playing a Destiny raid or an Overwatch multiplayer session? The two noticeable games last week that were the suspect of this were Rare's Sea of Thieves and Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands. Ghost Recon wasn't a surprise because Ubisoft loves to do that with their multiplayer shooters, but Rare's newest game pushed it to intolerable levels. Having "Let's Play" folks and YouTubers play your gameplay demo is already dumb and yes, it's a sign of the times with how big YouTube and Twitch streaming is today, but even the dialogue between these guys felt scripted than normal. Sure, Microsoft is trying to fix the multiplayer chatter problem with their clubs and "looking for a group" systems, but honestly I don't think this is the absolute solution to this problem.
More "VR Experiences" & Less VR Games For Established Franchises
VR gaming is off to a shaky start with both Oculus and the HTC Vive being quantitative than qualitative in terms of the games out now. Some customers still don't have Oculus pre-orders and there hasn't been a breakout hit yet that everyone is talking about. The same might be the case for Playstation VR's launch this October with 50 games that will support it by the end of the year. Except most of those games are likely going to be bite sized experiences instead of fully realized games.
From the Sony press conference alone, Batman Arkham VR, Star Wars Battlefront: X-Wing VR Mission and Final Fantasy XV VR were announced that are shaping up to playable for a hour each from folks that had hands-on time with them last week. Sure, these franchises are nice to get for the Playstation VR launch, but maybe not in what we actually want. They may seem forced as a tactic to sell headsets to the casual market, but I prefer Sony going all out than releasing safe tech demos. I get that we're still a while away from more lengthy VR games especially when the tech catches up, but look at Resident Evil 7 taking a chance being fully playable in VR. I can't think of any other established franchises currently that is going that route, but with that Bethesda's Todd Howard is saying about Fallout 4 VR being fully playable next year, maybe we'll get there sooner than later. It's still early to say but VR still needs to make a bold statement than just be "experiences."
More Publishers Backing Out at E3 Next Year?
Arguably the big takeaway from E3 2016 is the huge amount of free space in the show floor because of the lack of booths. The big notables were EA and Activision being being absent for either doing their own thing or the fact E3 is not relevant anymore and they can announce what they want at their own time for the sake of getting all the coverage than someone else potentially stealing the show. For EA, EA Play seems to be successful with this year's sports games, Titanfall 2 and Battlefield 1 being playable for the press and public.
With developers getting better at using their YouTube and Twitch accounts to reveal stuff whenever they feel like it, what is the point at E3 now besides the press conferences and networking with the games industry? I have a feeling if Nintendo backs out of E3 next year to do their own thing around the same time, then E3 is gonna have another Santa Monica year before needing another shakeup to bring back the big publishers. Nintendo is easily capable of doing that (bring back SpaceWorld!) and this year alone felt like the start with the lack of a Direct and just showing the new Zelda off all day.
Do you think the E3 show floor can be still relevant next year? Any other trends that you noticed that we missed here? Let us know what you think in the comments below.