E3 2016 Reaction

With E3 winding down, it’s time I flush all these thoughts out of my brain. Who won? Who lost? Who cares?

If I had to say what conference was the best, I would say Sony. Sony’s keynote on Monday night was succinct and didn’t waste time to show games – overly long orchestra section to unveil the new God of War notwithstanding.  Sony had a couple of big announcements, showed more of games people expected to see, and generally did nothing but please. Oh, and we learned that Hideo Kojima’s new game will be called Death Stranding and stars Norman Reedus. Rest peacefully, Silent Hills.


On the other hand, if I were to pick the one thing unveiled at E3 that was the biggest highlight, it would be Microsoft’s Project Scorpio. The rumored Xbox One upgrade was confirmed and is promised to be the most powerful home console in existence. If you’re apart of the PC master race that won’t matter to you. But for those of us in the console market, which I am proud to be apart of, the technical specifications of Microsoft’s new machine could make Xbox One the go-to system for multi-platform releases in the second half of generation 8.

Then again, even when Microsoft does have something cool to show at E3, they still can’t seem to get their house in order. There have been mixed messages regarding the future of Xbox. I’m focused on Phil Spencer’s comments that without a 4K television, the upgrade from a standard Xbox One to Scorpio isn’t worth it for current owners. This is despite the new system having been said to have a positive effect on games already released that have a varying resolution. Eurogamer’s Rich Stanton also explores what the divide in the Xbox family means moving forward.


On Tuesday morning, Nintendo finally came out to play with its Nintendo Treehouse stream. The big N caught some flak leading up to E3 for choosing not to hold any sort of formal event and forgoing unveiling its new hardware – codename NX – set to release next March. Instead, Nintendo held its Treehouse stream to showcase its upcoming Legend of Zelda title which will release on both Wii U and NX. Now known to be fully named The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the new Zelda looked nothing short of amazing. I’ve been a detractor from modern Zelda for quite a while; publicly chastising the last major entry, Skyward Sword, at every chance I get (despite its critical acclaim). When it comes to Zelda, I’m not easy to please because I hold it to such a high standard due to it once being the most creative and innovative series under the best game developer in the world. Breath of the Wild gives me hope to see Zelda return to a true open world experience seen in the original Zelda and Link to the Past while adding in new design philosophies. Hopefully the era of the ‘Zelda formula’ and trying to recreate Ocarina of Time is dead. Call it the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Fresh Air.

The big three developers with conferences of their own – EA, Bethesda, and Ubisoft – didn’t do much to move the needle for me. EA wouldn’t shut up about sports. Bethesda is bringing back Quake and very subtly teased a new Wolfenstein. Ubisoft spilled the beans about Watch Dogs 2 leading up to E3 and was met with the public’s apathy.  


Atlus brought Persona 5 to E3’s convention floor on Tuesday. I’ll cover everything that’s happened with P5 since the Tokyo Tower event last month at a later time. As far as E3 is concerned, floor goers were treated to new gameplay footage that dazzled.

Overall it was a good week. There are good games to look forward to, a shakeup in the console market, and best of all, P5 and Zelda looked awesome. Here’s my ranking of E3 games I’m looking forward to:

#10 Scalebound: Scalebound made the cut because I was afraid that if I didn’t include it, Hideki Kamiya would somehow find out and block me on Twitter. What was shown at Microsoft’s keynote didn’t blow me away, but I still think Kamiya and Platinum Games can deliver another great character action game.

#9 Watch Dogs 2: A lot of people think I’m crazy for not writing it off yet. Admittedly, some of Watch Dogs 2’s marketing is cringe worthy due to its outdated Internet culture references that just scream that it’s trying too hard. Still, I can’t help but wonder what if I had never given Assassin’s Creed II a chance just because the first game wasn’t great. Word is you can play through this game non-lethally. That’s a positive step. Hopefully Ubisoft can deliver the video game version of Person of Interest that I still want.

#8 Resident Evil 7: This is more a curiosity than anything else. RE7 looks more like a traditional survival horror game (ironically with P.T. influence) than it does a Resident Evil game – at least RE4 and onwards. The demo made available is getting mixed reviews. This is definitely a new chapter for Resident Evil and I applaud Capcom for taking a chance.

#7 The Last Guardian: TLG is coming in October of this year, which quelled suspicions that it would slip to 2017. The game continues to look artful and inspiring, just as Ico and Shadow of the Colossus were. It won’t be long before we learn just how it measures up.

#6 Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night: Koji Igarashi’s crowdfunded game quietly was present on the E3 floor. Everyone who donated $60 or more to the project received a download code for the E3 demo. I haven’t gotten to try it yet, but what I’ve seen looks great. IGA has truly continued the legacy he started while being the director of Castlevania.

#5 Cuphead: The 1930s Disney-inspired side-scroller didn’t get showcased like it did last year, but the latest gameplay video for E3 looks good. Its developer, tiny Studio MDHR, is still eyeing a 2016 release on Xbox One and PC. I look forward to experiencing their truly one of a kind game.

#4 Final Fantasy XV: This feels odd for me to write as a self-proclaimed “Not-a-Final-Fantasy-Guy.” FFXV’s decade long journey to release will end this September and I find myself being more and more impressed as I see it. I’ve never been a fan of Final Fantasy’s gameplay or storytelling, but FFXV is beginning to become a game that I feel I have to play in order to feel abreast with gaming as a whole. Hopefully all that Square Enix money and marketing will be backed up by a game worthy of it.

#3 ReCore: I’ve been quietly anxious about this game since it was revealed at last year’s E3. The Armature developed and Comcept guided title looks to be a unique addition to the Xbox One (and Windows 10) list of exclusive titles. I’ve been waiting to see the guys at Armature do a title this big since splitting off of Retro (makers of Metroid Prime). And while Mighty No. 9’s development has been a disaster, hopefully Keiji Inafune still has some creativity in him to aid to this project.

#2 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: What can I say that I haven’t already? The new Zelda looks great and we’ve only seen it on Wii U. I look forward to seeing how different and hopefully even better it is on NX. My excitement in Zelda and Nintendo has been restored.

#1 Persona 5: P5’s extended look at its average day gameplay left me hungry for more. Dungeon and battle gameplay is so much more alive than it was in P3 and P4. What has started as a grassroots movement among Persona fans is spreading to the general gaming world. Despite not getting shown on any conference or major stream, P5 rivaled Zelda for E3 buzz on Tuesday afternoon and nearly beat Zelda for Game of the Show. The hype is growing.

Sexism at E3: Real and Perceived

My goodness is that headline uncomfortable to write. Let’s be straightforward. I’m a man. Ethnically speaking, I identify as white because, while my bloodline isn’t completely true to that (hispanics are the fastest growing demographic if you haven’t heard), culturally, that’s what I am. I’m a millennial male devoid of any sort of significant ethnic heritage and fully assimilated to the American way of life. In other words, I am square in the middle of what’s considered to be the gaming industry’s key demographic.

So with that in mind, I have to be mindful of what I say regarding this topic. I don’t want to be misunderstood or have anyone put words in my mouth. On that note, at this very moment, there are people having heated discussions over sexism in the gaming industry in this country. I guarantee it.

There are a lot of ways to tackle this issue – a lot of instances and examples that can be covered. I’m focusing on one event (E3) and two games: Battlefield 1 and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.


EA’s Battlefield 1 launches this fall as that series once again looks to dethrone Call of Duty as the most popular first-person shooter franchise. The game’s peculiar title stems from it being set during World War I – the first game of its stature to have the distinction of retelling one of the great wars in quite some time. Because of its historical reference point, EA let it be known that players would not be able to play as female characters in online co-op, as women largely (understatement) did not see combat during WWI. However, the game’s campaign mode, which is said to jump across multiple perspectives, will feature a woman’s perspective in some way.

Due to how relevant a topic sexism is in gaming today, EA quickly drew detractors. People were quick to point out women did serve in WWI.

During WWI, about 12,000 women enlisted in the United States Navy and Marine Corps. About 400 of those women died, though not necessarily due to combat. Keep in mind that the U.S. suffered over 116,000 military deaths during the war (over a third of which were directly in combat). So while it is true that there were women in the war, at least on the yankee side, it would be more correct to say that there were virtually no women.

Was EA’s choice to not have women in Battlefield 1’s co-op sexist? In my opinion, no it was not. Granted, co-op, in terms of storytelling, is a bit ephemeral. Are we to believe that each round of the countless co-op games that will be played in Battlefield 1’s history is an accurate representation of any given battle during the war? I suppose so, as ridiculous as that sounds. I’m not here to argue whether that’s feasible or whether the co-op should or shouldn’t be part of the ‘realism’ of Battlefield 1’s WWI inspiration. I merely think that is what EA would like you to believe and there isn’t anything necessarily wrong with that.


That brings us to Zelda. Nintendo’s famed franchise saw its first extended gameplay demonstration and title reveal this week. Many questions were answered about the long awaited game’s identity. One of those questions was whether or not this would be the first main Zelda game to give players the option to play as a female incarnation of the series’ iconic hero, Link. The answer was no.

Admittedly, this caught me by surprise. Nintendo has been a fairly progressive company when it comes to equality in the gaming industry and there had been a noticeable push from their public to include a female Link. That push was fueled in no small part by the fact that a female Link, known as Linkle, debuted in Hyrule Warriors Legends for Nintendo 3DS earlier this year.


And yet come time for the main game, Linkle is nowhere to be found. Naturally, people had questions. Zelda director Eiji Aonuma had this to say:

“So yes, there were rumors [about a female Link], and we did discuss as a staff as to what would be possible if we took that route… We thought about it and decided that if we’re going to have a female protagonist it’s simpler to have Princess Zelda as the main character… If we have princess Zelda as the main character who fights, then what is Link going to do? Taking into account that, and also the idea of the balance of the Triforce, we thought it best to come back to this [original] makeup.”

If I’m understanding him correctly, and to be fair, I and the rest of the English speaking world may not be because these words were through an interpreter, he and his staff are of the opinion that the only proper way to have a female lead in a Zelda game would be for Zelda herself to be the player’s character. However, doing so would apparently emasculate Link and leave him without a purpose. I guess that means in their eyes, you couldn’t have a game where the roles are reversed: where Zelda goes on a quest to save or aid Link. That may be what he was referring to when he noted the balance of the Triforce; where Link has always represented the Triforce of courage and thus, to stay true to the universe and Zelda timeline, you could not have a passive character holding the Triforce of courage. When thought of that way, I can see what he means.

However, this still does not answer the real question, which is why Link, the character that holds the Triforce of courage, cannot be female. There remains no good answer as to why the player cannot simply choose to have their Link be male or female other than Aonuma and his staff just not wanting that to be a reality. At this point, you can only ponder why that is and I struggle to find a logical reason.

It’s ironic to me. Here I am, examining two major games showcased at E3. One, Battlefield, is in my mind, very much at the center of uber-masculine, violent gaming culture just as its rival Call of Duty is. Zelda on the other hand, is a classic Nintendo title predicated on artful design and storytelling alongside inspired, cutting edge design philosophies. Yet somehow, Battlefield is the game I’m defending and Zelda is the one that is coming off as sexist. No offense to EA and Battlefield players, but that’s really disappointing to me because I expect a lot more out of Nintendo and the Zelda franchise.

It is shameful. This issue and Aonuma’s comments, are a blemish on what was otherwise a perfect coming out party for Breath of the Wild. It’s not too late. The game isn’t releasing until March at the earliest to coincide with the launch of the NX platform. How difficult would it be to make this change? Perhaps too difficult, but I can wish. Regardless, I hope Nintendo feels blowback from this decision and Aonuma’s comments. This decision and what was said, are both incorrect from an ethical standpoint and a public relations standpoint.

Does keeping it the way it’s always been mean Zelda has always been sexist? I don’t believe so. But acknowledging that you were well aware of the public’s growing desire to see a female Link in the game but choosing not to make that available based on illogical, gender-biased reasoning is definition sexism. That is disappointing to even write. I am in no way a white knight for gender equality in gaming. But as I’ve made clear countless times through social media, I hold Nintendo and Zelda in particular to a higher standard in gaming. Zelda has once again let me down – only this time, it isn’t because they’re trying to make another Ocarina of Time clone.