Games Inbox: Did E3 2019 rely too much on CGI trailers?

The morning Inbox marvels at the discount deals for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, as another reader thinks Nintendo won E3.

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Not gameplay footage

I was impressed by a number of games announced or shown off at E3 this year but listening to the E3 special of the excellent The Computer Game Show podcast brought to my attention how little gameplay was shown at the conferences this year.

Don’t get me wrong, I really liked the gameplay I saw for a number of games, such as Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and virtually everything from the Nintendo Direct, but not being able to see gameplay for Cyberpunk 2077 and Marvel’s Avengers – two of the biggest games at the event – was disappointing. Similarly, Gears 5 only showed CGI cutscenes to the audience too.

I am hopeful that the behind-closed-doors gameplay sections of Cyberpunk 2077 and Marvel’s Avengers that were shown to journalists (I’m assuming Gears 5 also had gameplay shown off but haven’t read anything about it) will be released for everyone to see, as per Cyberpunk last year.

Getting CGI trailers for games when they’re first announced is fine with me, as you can’t expect to see the finished product when it might only be a relatively early concept at that point, but the three games I’ve highlighted here are all due for release within the next year. If the gameplay isn’t up to scratch at this point, I’d be a bit concerned, but maybe it’s just about building the intrigue and hype before release, who knows?

GC: It was a worrying trend. Even the Fallen Order gameplay was counterproductive, since it implied the game was much more linear and uninteresting than it really was. A reasonable amount of the Marvel’s Avengers footage was real gameplay, it just didn’t seem that way in the context they showed it. The Cyberpunk 2077 trailer was probably gameplay too (albeit on a super expensive PC) but weirdly it had nothing to do with the behind the scenes mission they showed. The only thing for Gears 5 at E3 was a new multiplayer mode, which wasn’t terribly interesting.


Next level design

Luigi’s Mansion 3 looks fantastic. Hope it’s up to the standards of the second game, which is still one of my favourite 3DS games.

Not so sure about Zelda. I’m a huge Zelda fan but not so much of Breath Of The Wild. I can see why people like it and it is a good game but open world is not so appealing to me. I’m more old school and prefer the Ocarina Of Time type formula, which I still think is one of the best games ever.

GC: Luigi’s Mansion 3 is by Next Level Games, who also did the second game. We very much enjoyed the demo we played at E3.


Held back

Having thought about all of the announcements at E3 I am struggling to see where the next gen Xbox is heading. On one hand I’m thrilled, as an existing Xbox One S owner, to learn I can play the new Halo game. But at the same time, concerned that with all the incredible power this new machine has it will not be utilised to its full potential compared to if Halo Infinite was not playable on my Xbox One S.

I guess we’ve already seen this with the Xbox One X, I cannot tell the difference between State Of Decay running on both machines. If all we get with next gen is resolution, frame rate, load times, and fancy lighting then I see that as a bit of a letdown.

I guess the simplest question is at what point will games stop being made that work on original Xboxes?
PS: Very upset that Microsoft have cancelled backwards compatibility! (Pleased that Indiana Jones got included though!)

GC: They haven’t cancelled it; they’ve just stopped adding to it.


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Aggressive deals

I really liked Microsoft’s E3 show, as it had lots of games. I was disappointed by the lack of next gen news as Phil Spencer had been banging on about it for a while but in reality it was always too early to go into it in any detail.

The big winner for Microsoft for me was Game Pass, it feel likes a game changer now. The current games on offer and the games coming to the service in the future, like The Outer Worlds, Psychonauts 2, and the Ori sequel now make it a massive bargain. Especially when you factor in the aggressive deals to get punters to sign up to it, like the current £1 Ultimate upgrade.

I picked up one year Xbox Live Gold and Game Pass deals around Christmas time for… I think it was £73, which I upgraded to Ultimate for £1. I had longer on both than I thought and now have Ultimate until November 2020 for a blockbusting £74 or £4.11 a month.

The Outer Worlds was going to bought for my PS4 Pro but will now be played on Game Pass. I have an Xbox One S but with a gaming PC and PS4 Pro won’t be playing it on the lowest quality option so it will be played on PC. The crazy thing is, is that I prefer playing on console so have been contemplating trading in my Xbox One S for an Xbox One X, as there’s currently some great deals. But the fact we are close to the next gen, and I want to focus my funds there, means I won’t.

Sony’s first party games, VR option, and my large PlayStation 4 library means I’m still focused on their product now and the next gen. But by offering a great service like Game Pass, and promoting it aggressively, Microsoft have now made me a customer of theirs again and regained some of the gaming ground it lost from me this gen. All from just picking up a half price Game Pass deal to see what it was like.
Simundo Jones


Avengers anthem

A Destiny style game with the ability to fly like Iron Man? That vaguely rings an (alarm) bell…

In fairness, Marvel’s Avengers sounds better than that, but I’d like to get a proper understanding of the balancing of the characters and the variety in the missions/ levels before I get too excited.
The Light Knight
PS: Well done for staying on brand with Squirrel Girl.


Hype rescue

Thanks for the E3 coverage, as always, GC. You pretty much saved my hype for Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Marvel’s Avengers, both of which I was pretty disappointed by what they show. I suppose we’ll never get an answer for why they showed them off in such a weird way but it just underlines again just how weird and out of touch publishers can be.

Pretty much agree with the Reader’s Feature at the weekend, which said that Microsoft fumbled the ball. They didn’t do terrible or anything but they didn’t blow me away and, like he said, their next attempt is going to have Sony breathing down their neck.

For me Nintendo definitely ‘won’ E3, although I think the game with the most hype, again, was Cyberpunk 2077. Getting Keanu Reeves on stage to talk about it was a genius move and will ensure that game is the one to beat next year.
PS: Do you have other interviews as well, that you haven’t published yet?

GC: Yes, we have lots. There’s today’s Cyberpunk one, plus Pokémon, John Wick Hex, Bleeding Edge, Judgment, Dying Light 2, Phoenix Point, The Outer Worlds, Contra, Baldur’s Gate III, Borderlands 3, Jason Kingsley, and John Romero.


Small but perfectly formed

I’m really looking forward to Zelda: Link’s Awakening arriving on the Switch. The graphics look absolutely fabulous and have all the usual Nintendo charm and character that we have become accustomed to.

I know there are fears that the game may end up being a little short but I’d much rather a more condensed fun-filled game than the vastly long and oversized Zelda: Breath Of The Wild droning on for all of eternity.


Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here


15-minute appraisal

So, I took up the offer of everybody’s cuddly, little liar and downloaded the free trial of Fallout 76 in the week just gone. I started the gargantuan 65+ GB download on Thursday afternoon. Come the end of my session, the download was still not complete.

PlayStation Network problems on Friday meant it didn’t finish then either! So, on Saturday, just before I was going to do a bit on Mortal Kombat 11, I managed to give it a go.

When I read GC’s review and you said that you could forget creating a cool character because the system and models were so rubbish – I thought that was a mean exaggeration. Fallout 4 was decent in that regard, I was never unhappy with the characters I made. But boy, this game makes the character models in Fallout: New Vegas look like everybody in the Resident Evil 2 Remake.

My god, the characters you make in Neverwinter – a game that is free to play – are much better! I wanted to make a contemporary, female vampire character from one of my writing projects – but only ‘Raider Punk’ hairstyles are in any way modern and there was no way of saving her from being ugly and weirdly old looking. How can it be so much worse? Baffling.

Just as I was wandering Vault 51, I couldn’t help noticing how bored I was. There was barely any loot, what there was wasn’t interesting. Getting outside, the feeling of exploration does not give you the same buzz as even Fallout 4 on your tenth playthrough.

The combat is worse, too. The weapons have no weight and stripped of V.A.T.S., it’s pretty much unplayable. Running around from side to side like hyperactive lunatics, this is just no fun. At all. Some dogs killed me, like 15 minutes in, and I was not compelled to try again. What would be the point? There’s no story, no adventure, Diablo III has better combat for Atom’s sake – just no. I can imagine it being worse, but I don’t see how this is ever going to be worth anyone’s time. Ever, ever.

I deleted it immediately, which was very happily also just as immediate. It turns out to be the most fun you can have with the game.


Inbox also-rans

So we never did find out what Retro Studios were working on before they got moved onto Metroid Prime 4, eh? I guess whatever it was must’ve got canned…

I really don’t know why companies think releasing a game in E3 week is a good idea. There’s no reviews from anyone I trust for Cadence Of Hyrule and I guess it’s going to be a while till you review it?

GC: Yeah, it’s going to be a few days before we can get around to that.


This week’s Hot Topic

With E3 2019 having just finished the subject for this weekend’s Inbox asks what you thought was the best and worst announcements of the show.

What do you think was the best game or hardware (or service) reveal and why? And which was the worst? What gameplay footage impressed you the most and which games are you now looking forward to more – or less – than you were before E3?

Do you think E3 2019 was a vintage year and what were the best and worst aspects about it? Who do you think ‘won’ E3 and what was the best press conference? Please make sure to label your emails either for the weekday Inbox or Hot Topic, so we know which is which.

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The small print
New Inbox updates appear twice daily, every weekday morning and afternoon. Readers’ letters are used on merit and may be edited for length.

You can also submit your own 500 to 600-word 4Player viewer features at any time, which if used will be shown in the next available weekend slot.

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