E3 2013: Sony and the death of the Xbox One

Sweet Jesus, Sony just won E3.  It’s over.  Mic is dropped.  Microsoft is dead.

Even if the software lineup hadn’t been so spectacular – and it was – the 1-2 punch of the used games policy (i.e., they’re OK with it) and not needing a constant internet connection was utterly devastating.  PLUS the $399 price point?  BOOM.  Game, set, match.

Shit, they very nearly sold me on the Vita.  If they come out with a price cut or a bundle with the PS4, I’m in, no questions asked.

Let’s run down what they did cover, though – these are my hastily written notes (enhanced with my Twitter commentary):

Opening montage:

  • The Last of Us
  • Puppeteer (?)
  • Rain
  • Beyond
  • Gran Turismo 6

All known quantities, for the most part, except Puppeteer, which looked colorful and also a little forgettable.  Beyond remains enigmatic and weird; I want to like it, but I have no idea what the hell it is anymore.

Featured trailer

  • Batman Arkham Origins – a little nervous.  I mean, I’m happy to play more Batman, but that’s all this seems to be.

PS4 reveal:

  • it looks like an Xbox Rhombus.  This might be the most underwhelming part of the evening; the box looks a lot like the Xbox One, except tilted.
  • Sony Entertainment integration.  Why are they only getting around to this now?  Seems like a no-brainer.
  • new IP:  The Order (which is less “steampunk” and more “wildly and randomly anachronistic” – no gameplay)
  • Killzone: Crysis – er, ShadowFall
  • Drive Club – don’t quite know what this is, but as a PSPlus member, I get it for free!
  • Infamous Second Son – this looks great.  Big fan of the first game, underwhelmed by the second.  This looks like they took their time with it.
  • Knack – got a weird Kameo vibe from it.
  • Quantic Dream tech demo – “The Dark Sorcerer”
  • Supergiant’s Transistor, which continues to look great.

Indie montage – and this was so great to see:

  • Klei – Don’t Starve
  • Tribute Games – Mercenary Kings.
  • Young Horses – OctoDad
  • Secret Ponchos
  • Ray’s The Dead
  • Oddworld!  Lorne Lanning!
  • Galak-Z (some sort of side-scrolling open-world space shooter!  looks amazing)

Featured items:

  • Diablo 3 – PS3/PS4 – with exclusive items.  Meh.  I played the shit out of it on PC and don’t need to go there again.
  • Final Fantasy Versus XIII is now Final Fantasy XV and that trailer looked completely fucking insane.
  • new Kingdom Hearts.  Which is good for people who like Kingdom Hearts.  My deep-seated loathing of Disney makes it impossible for me, but whatever.
  • Assassin’s Creed 4 gameplay.  As I missed the Ubisoft presser, this was all new to me.  Still very wary of this franchise after the debacle of the last 2 games.
  • Watch_Dogs gameplay.  Looked great, as always.  (For some reason, when I was trying to recall the footage just now, I got it confused a little bit with that new Tom Clancy’s game, The Division, which also looks incredible.)
  • 2KSports NBA2K – hard to do a facial tech demo after that Quantic Dream “Dark Sorcerer” bit.

(Here’s where it started getting very, very interesting, and when Twitter started to explode.)

  • Elder Scrolls Online?!!  PS4 exclusive beta?
  • Mad Max (by the Just Cause devs)
  • Oh shit.  Used Games are OK.  Doesn’t need to be online.  SHOTS FIRED, DIRECT HIT.
  • World gameplay premiere of Bungie’s Destiny.  Halo + Borderlands = awesome.
  • $399?!!!

I need to sleep on this and process it.  Because if I don’t, I will pre-order a PS4 right now with money that I don’t actually have.

Well played, Sony.  Well played.  You just won the shit out of E3.


E3 2013: super-quick EA impressions

  • Hooray:  Peggle 2, Mirror’s Edge 2
  • Fingers crossed:  Dragon Age 3
  • Curious:  Need for Speed
  • Whatever:  everything else
  • To fix for next year:  give the off-screen guy a lozenge and maybe turn his mic off, stop with the on-stage gameplay banter, the celebrities/athletes are out of place, Dana White scares the shit out of me.


I will probably miss the Ubi presser as I think it’s during my evening commute, and my ability to react to the Sony presser is wholly dependent on my kid going to sleep at a reasonable hour and my wife being willing to wait another day for DVR catch-up (i.e., Mad Men / Game of Thrones).   Still, I’ll do my best.

E3 2013: Microsoft impressions

Unfortunately, work got crazy at the exact moment that Microsoft’s press conference started, so as a result I didn’t get a chance to watch much of the livestream, and so I missed a lot of the shittiness (1, 2).

General reaction on Twitter seems to be almost comically negative, even more so than during the initial reveal of the Xbox One (which was already pretty negative).  The disappointment during that first conference seemed focused on two things:  1) there were no games being revealed, and 2) the general ambiguousness and/or perceived awfulness about MS’s policies regarding DRM/always online/privacy/used games/etc.

Microsoft does not appear to have made any appreciable upswing in their PR messaging during the interim between that first conference and today, either.   I can’t speak to any of that, though; almost none of their quote-unquote “disastrous” policies appear to conflict with my personal gaming habits, as I generally only buy new games and my consoles are always connected to my router.  (Of course, the used-games business makes my Gamefly account look pretty worthless, which is a bummer).

As for today’s news, well:  the biggest news (for me, at any rate) is that Microsoft is FINALLY adding value to an XBL Gold membership by giving away two free games every month (which is, of course, what PSN has been doing for a while  now).  The bigger question is:  will any of those free games on the 360 re-appear on the Xbox One?  Since the Xbox One comes out in November (at $500, which, yikes), this “free game” business doesn’t necessarily have that long a life cycle.

And as for the games?  Here’s what they talked about today (some 360, some One):

  • World of Tanks
  • Metal Gear Solid V
  • Dark Souls 2
  • Ryse
  • Killer Instinct
  • Sunset Overdrive (Insomniac)
  • Max: Curse of Brotherhood
  • Forza 5
  • Minecraft (?!!!)
  • D4
  • Below
  • Witcher 3
  • Battlefield 4
  • Quantum Break
  • Dead Rising 3
  • Crimson Dragon (no audio, but still looks really good?)
  • Halo… something
  • Titanfall (Respawn)

Well, that’s some games, and – to be fair – a decent amount of new IP.  But mostly lots of shooting and guns.  The only bit of the livestream that I was able to catch was of Ryse, which looked boooooooooring.  QTEs?  Really?  Ugh.   I’m reluctantly intrigued by the open-world MGS5, and I’m very curious to see what Sunset Overdrive is about.  Below might be the title I’m most interested in, being that it’s made by the Swords & Sworcery people.

Still:  $500 is no joke, and there’s nothing here that I feel like I need to have on launch day.  So I’m inclined to wait it out a bit longer.

I’m very, very curious to see what Sony has up its sleeves.  I’ve seen some Twitter comments that basically amount to Sony only needing to come out, not tell any rape jokes, and announce a launch price of $400 in order to “win” E3.  I’m not sure that Sony is in any sort of financial situation to be able to do that, however, and they certainly need to do some clarification of their own with respect to those same DRM issues that have dogged Microsoft.

Honestly, it’s the third-party press conferences (EA, Ubi, etc.) that I’m mostly concerned about.  I’m hoping we can see some stuff that doesn’t involve shooting FOR ONCE.

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