Earl Baylon

Earl is an LA-born actor/improviser that wants desperately to be loved. Hah, not really. He'll eat all your leftovers if you're not careful. He's done it before. Tweets at @earl_baylon. Earl Baylons at earlbaylon.com. Tumblrs at Nerdoholic.

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Holy E3 2014 breakdown, Batman!

A good chunk of you know that E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) happened this past week at the LA Convention center. Being, the domestic epicenter of all things gaming, E3 gives us all a nice little peek into what’s in store for the coming year in video games. Leveraging my considerable diplomacy skill, +10 modifier from charisma and class skill bonuses, I managed to procure myself a pass to E3. Just kidding, I have no diplomacy or charisma modifiers.

e3-2014-batmobole
Speaking of Batman.

Anyway, here’s my quick rundown from this year’s show, in a new GUARDicle thingamajigger I like to call: “5 Up, 5 Down!”

 

#5. Consoles

Up: Microsoft

Looks like Microsoft has really taken fan reactions into consideration. I suppose, that’s just part of business, but it’s cool nonetheless. They’ve busted a 180 from last year’s conference in their decision to focus completely on games, rather than trying to sell the Xbox One as an all-in-one entertainment center type deal. Sure that appeals to a certain chunk of consumers. Really though, in the choice between a system with stunted gaming performance because it’s running that dashboard in the background, and a dedicated gaming system, I’d choose the latter.

Down: OUYA

Crowdfunding’s console darling is dead. Finito. With officially zero presence at show this year, the hopeful little console that woulda shoulda coulda is definitely no more. It unfortunately joins the ranks of dozens of non-start consoles like the N-Gage, Wonder Swan, 3DO, Jaguar, and CD-i. Yup. CD-i.

 

It's like Doomsday, Jeff Goldblum-fly, and Admiral Akbar had a love-child.
It’s like Doomsday, Jeff Goldblum-fly, and Admiral Akbar had a love-child.

#4. Attendees

Up: Industry Attendance

Because E3 is an industry only event, it’s really more of a trade show, rather than a convention. As such, the great bulk of the attendees are working professionals in the gaming industry, instead of fanboys and fangirls. Not that there’s anything wrong with fans. I’m a fan. It’s just that some fans are less pleasant than others…let’s say. I’m also not saying that the industry is devoid of the socially unaware and less than polite. That’s impossible. They’re everywhere. They’re just in lower proportions at E3 when compared to other large gatherings with specific fandoms. Also, less “con funk.” Come on, tell me you haven’t noticed the reek on the last day of Anime Expo or Comic Con. It lives.

Down: Cosplay (or lack thereof)

Again, because it’s a trade show, there really very few people cosplaying. And the people that do aren’t going all out costume-wise, because it’s not really the place for it. Actually, there might be restrictions about wearing costumes on the show floor. I have no idea. Either way, there’s very little to look at costume-wise on the floor. If people are in costume, it’s because their promoting something/working for a booth.

#3. Food

Up: More options!

Truthfully, I can’t remember if this was the case last year, but hey, Food Trucks! They’ve arranged to have a few food trucks in the patio area connected to the West Hall lobby. No longer are we relegated to one of the two (probably expensive) in-house! Huzzah! Rejoice!

These fries belonged to someone. I ate them.
These fries belonged to someone. I ate them.

Down: Earl

I’m still too stingy, er… frugal to pay for food during conventions, so I usually pack a lunch or haggle with the bacon-wrapped hot dog people outside the convention center. Haha. Ok, so this down wasn’t really about E3, it’s more about my willingness to live off my substantial fat stores to save a buck.

Guess who's fries.
Guess who’s fries.

 

#2. Marketing

Up: More clothing and outside stuff

Gone are the days of the scantily-clad women, forced to smile and pretend to be excited about some game no one will ever play. Gone are the days of really awkward men asking to take a picture with said women and posing with the hoverhand in full effect. Gone are the days of the “Booth Babe.” At least at E3. Well, I didn’t see any this year, and that’s just dandy as far as I’m concerned. I mean, booths like Nintendo still have people at every kiosk, but they’re usually fully clad and are really good fonts of information for the game they’re demoing. One thing I definitely still feel weird about though, are the people walking around with two 3DS systems leashed to their waists. It’s an odd feeling playing a 3DS that’s tethered to another person, trust me.

Also, following the OUYA’s lead last year, Nvidia took their marketing to the streets, more specifically, the parking lot across from the convention center. They had some pretty cool stuff going on: free food, free drinks, and a Titanfall tourney for some pretty awesome prizes. If I didn’t absolutely suck at those games, I’d have been all over it.

Only a few steps away from holodecks. Maybe.
Only a few steps away from holodecks. Maybe.

Down: Swag

Swag wasn’t the best this year. But, I suppose that it’s not a console release year, so the first-parties, and thus everyone else, weren’t coming with their full marketing force. While there were more than a few cool t-shirts this year, I really like useful swag. Last year, Playstation Plus was giving away sling bags, which I actually still use. My first E3, way back in the day, Guild Wars was giving away flash drives. I did hear, though, that there was a booth giving away phone chargers (can never have too many of those) this year, but I didn’t make it in time. There were standouts, though… I heard WarGaming.net was giving raffling away Alienware laptops. I will definitely watch out for something like that next year.

 

#1. Games

Up: New intellectual properties

One of the really great things about it not being a console release year is that so much focus gets shifted to the actual games. There was a lot to look at this year, and I wish I was better at waking up before noon. There were even a few new IPs that I’m totally excited about. I got hands on with Sunset Overdrive, which was a lot of fun. Completely eschewing realism and seriousness for just plain fun gameplay, Sunset Overdrive could fill the void of what seems to be missing in the PS4/XboxOne console-verse. Also, although I didn’t get a hands on demo, Evolve looks great. I know there’s been a lot of hype in the journalistic circles about the game, and I sure hope it delivers come release in October. Super Smash Bros for Wii U was also awesome. It feels a bit more responsive than Brawl, and without that stupid “slipping” mechanic. I didn’t play any of the new characters (winner gets a t-shirt, damn it!) so I can’t really speak to them. Also, Shadows of Mordor, a game set in the Lord of The Rings world, between the events of the Hobbit and Fellowship of the Rings, looks pretty darn cool. As far as I know, you’re a ranger that is possessed by an ancient spirit, which affords you wraith like abilities, like teleporting (like mage blinking) and possessing minds.

Pro.
Pro.

Down: No shows

There were a couple of games I was hoping we would hear something from this year, but there weren’t at show as far as I heard. Quantum Break, a sci-fi, time-freezing action game was unveiled at last year’s show, but there really hasn’t been news since then. I suppose they’re working on the TV-series tie-in… which is supposed to affect the events of the game or something. I don’t remember. Perhaps they’re waiting on a Gamescom for big news?

Also, much like the movie industry, it seems there are fewer and fewer original IPs coming out every year at E3. While I love a lot of the franchises coming out with sequels and third installments and such, I really would like to see more original ones to balance things out. True, there’s Evolve, Sunset Overdrive, Destiny, and Dying Light, amongst others. I also understand that new IPs are tricky, and can be a huge financial risk. But wouldn’t it be awesome to see an IP become the Halo of its time, or the Elder Scrolls of its time, or something like that? It would be awesome, trust me.

A little somethings else:

For exhibiting the courage and mettle to make it through this GUARDicle, I share with you a quick video I cut together from the random smattering of b-roll from E3.

Well, that’s all I got for E3 2014! Let me know if I’m right on point, or completely off base. I can handle it… I swear. Maybe.

 

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