E3 2014 Wrap-Up: Battleship Golf, Quirky Nintendo and A Villainous Kevin Spacey

We asked our contributors what they thought the best trends of E3 were. The oddities and absurdities stuck out the most within our crew, like battleship golf games, WWI without gunpowder and indie exploration games. Quixotic may be the next big thing for our gamers, and here is why. 

Favorite Trends

Connor Thomas Cleary - "Nintendo is Getting Weird Again."

Besides my obvious excitement for Alien: Isolation, my favorite part of E3 was this: Nintendo is getting weird again. And Nintendo at its weirdest is Nintendo at its best. So they have been having a bad run lately? Okay. They react by bringing out crazy things like Splatoon. Yoshi's Wooly World, and that untitled, claymation Kirby game you play with the stylus. This stuff is why we love Nintendo. They're about play at their core, and Nintendo is far more likely to take playful risks than the other guys. (GameCube controller support for Smash is a big plus as well.) After this year's E3, I no longer regret owning a Wii U.

Kt Sagona - The winners of E3 are the villains.
Villains got an entirely new level of complexity at this year's E3, which I think is a trend we'll see more alongside the desire for complex narratives. The nemesis system built into the new Lord of the Rings: Shadow of Mordor created an entire enemy society, skill and quest system built with the sole purpose of you destroying. You also get to work under antagonist Handsome Jack in Borderlands: The Pre Sequel!  SEGA's new Alien: Isolation only consists of you and and the Alien, and Kevin Spacey stars as the new villain in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

One team plays against a Monster player in  Evolve , seen above.

One team plays against a Monster player in Evolve, seen above.

There was a nonstop crowd surrounding Evolve's E3 booth, and there was no clear crowd favorite every time you listened to the audience. This 4v1 FPS places one player as a powerful monster against four various hunter classes. If they add more features to Evolve, it could be a game-changer in competitive FPS communities. 

Justin Mohn - Cautiously optimistic about next-gen console puberty.  
Watching Microsoft’s presser, I was in an instant both excited and skeptical of the new Fable title.  Yes it looks gorgeous, yes they promise it’s groundbreaking and innovative…but haven’t we been down this road before?  Much of what we saw this year was great in concept, but potentially tricky in final execution and ultimately still grounded in the last generation’s consoles.  Many blockbuster titles - including Destiny and Dragon Age: Inquisition - are still offering themselves up on PS3/Xbox 360 as well as PS4/Xbox One.  Which begs the question - are games groundbreaking and innovative if they do not commit wholeheartedly to new platforms and their capabilities?  I am truly grateful for advances in quality storytelling from the games I play, and it seems we are in for a lot of that in the near future. But in terms of high flown, next generation razzle-dazzle, cautious optimism remains the key phrase of E32014.  Fable Legends looks gorgeous and I will likely end up forking over my cash for it, but the relative letdowns that were Fable 2 and Fable 3 are still fresh in my memory.


Favorite Games

Bryant Francis - "Hail Battlecry!"
The greatest part of going to E3 is experiencing a game I haven't played from my home console or computer. So with that in mind, my best of E3 goes to Battlecry

Battlecry, from Bethesda, is a game filling a new niche in the gaming space -- a Free-to-play game from a AAA developer that promises the same quality you’d pay $20-$60 for. And like its Valve-developed cousin Team Fortress 2, Battlecry manages to carry its weight even this early in its existence. The elimination of gunpowder and emphasis on close-quarters combat already makes it stand out for me in a sea of online shooters, and a determination to include 50/50 gender representation made it strangely noteworthy on a show floor filled with identical shooter heroes. The game’s inclusion of western aesthetics and a hyper-realistic art style turns the battlefield into a fun space to be, and the fact that it organically introduced a 300-style shield wall among me and my teammates remained the single most unique thing I did on the show floor over the course of three days. 

So to this I say hail Battlecry -- hail gender diversity, hail inventive gameplay, and hail F2P gaming that acts in the interest of gamers and developers alike. 

Zach Yost - Replacing Tiger Woods with Battleships in PGA Tour 15

2014 marked the end of an era for EA's long-running golf franchise, Tiger Woods PGA Tour, when they announced that the titular athlete would no longer be the game's namesake. This makes sense, as Woods has not won a major tournament since 2008 and has been frequently injured over the past few years, but from a business perspective, he still remains as golfs biggest household name. EA would need to plan a new strategy for the loss of name recognition.

They revealed this plan through their E3 trailer for EA Sports PGA Tour 15. The game's new emphasis? The Frostbite 3 engine and a course that features a battleship running aground. In a golf game. Seriously. I have no idea if this strategy will work and I'm not sure if a long-running yearly golf franchise even needs to continue innovating if it wants to survive, but I'm rooting for it to do well just the same.

Fantasia is a better game then you think! Seen above.

Fantasia is a better game then you think! Seen above.

J.I. Canizares - Can't play drums? Play Fantasia, Instead!
As the resident SevenCut musician, I can hardly contain my excitement with the innovations in music-based gaming that are apparent in Fantasia: Music Evolved by Harmonix. People desire to make music of their own, to experience that transcendent, higher level of creation and synergy that their favorite artists seem to float effortlessly to. Yet, the barrier imposed by lack of training or skill stops them. Fantasia accomplishes this without the arduous process of training an instrument, studying music theory or learning to blend with an ensemble. The game only requires the player to move in rhythm. For someone who lacked the means to participate in creating their own music, this may not be the same as playing in an orchestra or rock band, but Fantasia may be the experience they're looking for. 

Rob Dugan - Most potential? No Man's Sky.    

After a seemingly long drought, the 2014 E3 has come back into its own with a great showing of new titles that could get the masses going.  Any number of the shown games could be called my favorite from Sunset Overdrive to Destiny.   So I want to mention the game with the most potential

No Man's Sky been harped about at a lot, but nearly every news outlet seems to praise it with wide eyes and open hearts. No Man's Sky has the potential to be a great game that wins the love of space-sim lovers and exploratory gamers. But because of high expectations, it could turn into a huge letdown.  No Man's Sky's presence at E3 gave just enough to get people excited about the game without giving too much away. From now on, it is going to be all about keeping expectations to a minimum and keep promises vague enough that no one feels let down by whatever the final game looks like.