Ranking The E3 Conferences – Nintendo, Microsoft, Ubisoft, Bethesda, EA, and Square Enix – E3 2019 – IGN

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From best to credit for trying.

E3 isn’t just about what games are announced: it’s about how they’re announced. Every year the major players (except for Sony, in this case) get up on their respective stages and do their best to wow us with the most explosive presentation they can muster, and 2019 was no exception. IGN watched them all with bated breath, and while each of them had some impressive games to show that made us excited about the next year-and-change of upcoming games and gaming-related stuff, here’s how we thought all the major conferences ranked, from most exciting to least.

How do you get gamers to swallow the bitter pill of a delay until March 2020 for Animal Crossing: New Horizons? How about announcing that you’re working on a follow-up to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? Yes, that’ll do it. Nintendo’s Direct hit almost all the right notes with its steady stream of announcements, updated looks, and release dates.

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Were there ever release dates! There is the Switch remake of The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening coming September 20, Cadence of Hyrule Featuring The Legend of Zelda on June 13 (that’s soon!), No More Heroes 3 and a remake of Panzer Dragoon coming in 2020, Daemon X Machina on September 13, and Contra: Rogue Corps on September 24. And let’s not forget the completely unexpected Dark Crystal strategy game from Netflix called Age of Resistance Tactics due sometime this year. It pairs nicely with Empire of Sin, which is an XCOM-style gangster game from John Romero, which should be out next year. Luigi’s Mansion 3 also appeared, but still hasn’t managed to scare up a release date.

We also saw a long list of crowd-pleasing ports, headlined by The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt Complete Edition sometime in 2019, Resident Evil 5 and 6 arriving this fall, Dragon Quest XI S: Definitive Edition on September 27, Spyro the Dragon Trilogy on September 3, Ni No Kuni on September 20, as well as The Sinking City, Alien Isolation, and Super Lucky’s Tale rounding out the chance to live again.

Finally, there was a nice surprise addition to the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate lineup when Rare’s Banjo and Kazooie crossed first-party platform lines as DLC. We’ll also see The Hero from Dragon Quest join that brawl.

With no Sony to contend with this year, it was Microsoft’s E3 to lose. But it was neither a resounding victory nor a failure, just a middle-of-the-road performance with a few high points that kept it from getting dull in its long, 90-minute run time.

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Xbox certainly backed up a dump truck full of video games and unloaded on us, showcasing 60 different games, the long-awaited new Elite controller, and a glimpse at a new Xbox that – by all indications – will be faster than the previous Xbox One X. There were too many games to list here, but Microsoft trotted out its biggest names in Halo Infinite and Gears 5, along with borrowed ones like the showstopping Cyberpunk 2077, Borderlands 3, Dying Light 2, and The Elden Ring thanks to the aforementioned fact that there were no other first-party stages on which to debut games from the big third-party publishers.

We got looks at games from Microsoft’s newly acquired studios: The Outer Worlds from Obsidian, Bleeding Edge from Ninja Theory, and Psychonauts 2 from Double Fine – the latter of which was added to the list of Microsoft Games Studios at the show as an added dose of surprise in what’s now becoming something of a habit for Microsoft. And we saw the launch of Game Pass for PC, as well as the Game Pass Ultimate tier which gives you access to both Xbox and PC games.

There were even a fair number of new game announcements, including a few that hadn’t leaked ahead of time during what has been affectionately dubbed “Leak We3k.” The return of Microsoft Flight Simulator – the last true installment of which landed 13 years ago in 2006 – is something no one saw coming, and the fact that it’s using satellite and Azure services to render our big blue planet is exciting. Phantasy Star Online 2, Tales of Arise, Minecraft Dungeons, a surprisingly spooky Blair Witch game, a LEGO expansion for Forza Horizon 4 (to mitigate the sting of there being no new Forza this year), and the new Borderlands 2 DLC were all crowd-pleasing surprises. Moments like Keanu Reeves walking out to announce his role in Cyberpunk 2077 was without a doubt the high point of the conference, turning what was an otherwise serviceable show into one that will make “Best E3 Moments” lists for years to come.

The final trailer, which showcased the resuscitation of a once-again space-floating Master Chief before ending in a dramatic and heroic fashion hit the right notes, but the lack of gameplay showing him doing the shooty action bits he does best was a little disappointing.

It’s fairly well established by this point that Jon Bernthal’s dog, Bam Bam, stole the show. Sure, Ubisoft unveiled the wildly ambitious Watch Dogs: Legion and its geriatric-yet-ruthless mascot Helen, as well as Berthal’s own Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, but the way Bam Bam sat there like a very good boy the whole time his human was laying out ways to collaborate as a team to silently murder people is just hard to get past. Legion looked great, but Bam Bam is the dog we want to watch.

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He certainly wasn’t overshadowed by the likes of an alien-themed Quarantine expansion for Rainbow Six: Siege, a new spooky, ghostlike Shadows of the Hitokiri expansion for For Honor, the colorful free-to-play Roller Champions competitive roller derby game, Adventure Time characters joining Brawlhalla, Just Dance 2020 coming to the Wii for some reason (with the obligatory live-action, on-stage dance number) or a free weekend for The Division 2. Okay, the blatantly Breath of the Wild-inspired Gods & Monsters – which looks like something we should all be keeping both eyes on – came awfully close to unseating Bam Bam from his lazy throne. And the premium subscription to uPlay+ will let you play any of these new games (and lots of old ones) for $15 a month – which is an awfully good deal if you think of it as a month-to-month rental service.

In games-adjacent news, Ubisoft also brought out It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Rob McElhenney to show off his new comedy about an egomaniac creative director making an MMO (a bit that could’ve used more actual jokes, frankly) and announced a Tom Clancy’s The Division movie project starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Jessica Chastain that’s being made in partnership with Netflix.

While most conferences like to start out with a bang, Bethesda’s show was decidedly back-loaded. Stick around until the end and you’ll be treated to the likes of Doom Eternal, Wolfenstein Youngblood, and intriguing announcement trailers for Ghostwire: Toyko from the creators of The Evil Within and Deathloop, the new game from the creators of Dishonored, both of which made our nomination list for the Best Trailers of E3.

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All four of those looked fantastic and made the slow build worthwhile, but in order to reach them we had to endure some obligatory updates on Fallout 76 (which is finally doing what everyone said it should’ve from the start and adding human NPCs to talk to) and a new Battle Royale mode, alongside The Elder Scrolls Online, which already launched its Elswyer expansion but gave us a badass, dragon-filled cinematic trailer anyway. And there was also an announcement for The Elder Scrolls Blades coming to Nintendo Switch, which would’ve been more exciting if it were a good game when it launched on mobile devices. A reboot of id’s Commander Keen for mobile platforms landed with a cartoonish thud, and a vague presentation of Orion, the under-the-hood streaming software, was more confusing than exciting. And while the heartwarming thank-yous from Bethesda’s employees were nice, it’s not really what we’re here for.

Though technically not a traditional conference as much as a half-day live stream, EA’s show started strong, leading with the strength of 15 minutes of gameplay from Respawn’s highly anticipated action game, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. But after that, there weren’t any surprises to follow up with. Aside from brief looks at Madden 20 and FIFA 20 (which was all live-action footage), the remainder of EA’s conference was about updates to existing games: a preview of Apex Legends’ Season 2 content (including Wattson, a new Legend character), a set of incoming Battlefield V maps, and The Sims 4’s seventh expansion, Island Living. Anthem, which EA launched just three months ago, was conspicuously absent, as was Dragon Age: Dread Wolf Rises, or whatever it ends up being called. Though it wasn’t without excitement, this was a fairly typical conference for EA – if anything, it was marked by a distinct lack of announcements of actual new games.

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Oddly, EA then took to social media to announce the existence of three new EA Originals games: Lost in Random by Zoink Games (which made Fe), an action-RPG called RustHearts from Glowmade (which previously created mobile game Wonder Worlds), and… something about “working together” from Hazelight Studios (which made A Way Out). None of them was shown beyond concept art, though.

The new look at Final Fantasy VII gameplay definitely turned heads, but a disappointing reveal of Marvel’s Avengers that showed next to no gameplay went over like a lead balloon and left people wondering what kind of game this would be when it comes out on May 15, 2020. The announcement trailer for Outriders, a co-op shooter from People Can Fly, seemed interesting but once again, no gameplay was shown. There’s also a third game coming from Tokyo RPG Factory, called Oninaki, and a top-down racing game called Circuit Superstars.

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Outside of that was slim pickings: A Final Fantasy VIII remaster, a remake of Romancing Saga 3, a port of the Japanese Vita game Saga: Scarlet Grace, and a remaster of The Last Remnant that’s out now. The show ended rather abruptly and gave the impression that it just didn’t have enough material to justify itself.

And while we love the insane shenanigans Devolver gets up to every year – including this sneak peek behind the scenes – the PC Gaming Show certainly had a few announcements, and even UploadVR’s showcase, we’re limiting this ranking to the biggest of the big for now.

What did you think of the conferences? Which was your favorite? What are you hoping for next year? All these questions and more can be answered in the comments below!

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