Another E3 has passed and many games have been showcased to the masses. With every E3, certain trends start to appear. Some of these trends form because of common influences (or circumstances being common among game developers), others seem to be a complete coincidence. Regardless of what causes these trends to form, it is worth taking note of them. So, here is the five biggest trends of E3 that I picked up.
1. On-rails shooting.
On-rails shooting sections have been a huge problem in first person shooters for a few years now, but this E3 has gone too far. Not only did games we expected to feature on-rail sections decide to continue the trend, like Call of Duty and Battlefield 3, but games that have had no need for them before have now begun including them.
Remember the strategic squad based combat in Mass Effect? Well that’s not what they’re showing at E3. Instead we get Shepard shooting a mounted machine gun at a giant mechanical spider, so I guess they can add Wild Wild West as an influence. Much of this on-rails influence was caused by the limitations of the Kinect. Now, instead of exploring the beautiful fantasy world of Albion in the newest entry to the Fable series, you’ll be waving your hands at the screen as you take part in a glorified shooting gallery. You will also be doing your best Star Wars kid impression as you flail wildly in the general direction of your enemies whilst playing the creatively named Star Wars Kinect.
Though the concept is extremely complicated, Hideo Kojima with the aid of Mega 64 attempted to explain transfarring at the E3 Konami Press Conference. Though it may only seem like you’re taking a saved game from one console or portable and moving it to another console or portable, it’s so much more than that. By that, I mean that’s pretty much all it is.
After Konami revealed this revolutionary concept, every other company came forward and revealed that they also are doing pretty much the same thing and didn’t feel the need to give it a stupid name and close out their press conferences with it. Lacking any real portable presence, Microsoft announced cloud based save transferring between 360s. Sony, leveraging their new portable, announced the ability to transfer saves between the PS3 and Vita. Hell, Nintendo even kind of based their new console on the concept.
That’s all completely moot though, because no one in their right mind is going to buy two versions of a game just to transfer saves from their console to their portable.
3. Bad shit happening to boats.
If you were a boat during E3 2011 you were in for a world of hurt. Kicking off the show was Modern Warfare 3, which featured an entire harbor of military ships getting destroyed during World War 3. In Tomb Raider, we see Lara Croft narrowly survive as the boat she’s on gets torn completely in half. In the Assassin’s Creed: Revelations demo, Ezio makes it clear that no time period is a safe haven for marine transportation as he uses a flame thrower to set the entire port on fire. Making it clear that Microsoft isn’t alone in it’s hatred for boats, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception started the Sony Press Conference by not only flooding the ship but also flipping it upside down. The only conference without an anti-boat agenda this year was Nintendo’s, though their stock price did sink after revealing the Wii U.
4. Quick time events.
Gameplay design is hard; you have to come up with an idea and then figure out how to make the player control it. Then, you have to make sure it’s not going to break the game when the player tries to take the gameplay you designed for a cerebral crime thriller and use it to run over civilians. But luckily, developers have figured out the perfect way to forgo all that. Instead, they create the illusion of playing a game while watching a cutscene.
These moments were all over the place during E3 this year. Lara Croft frantically searched for the X button as a cave crashed down around her in Tomb Raider, people were on the edge of their seats as racers pressed triangle in Need for Speed: The Run, and Japan got in on the fun by finally replacing that annoying deep combat system from Ninja Gaiden with wall to wall QTE’s. Unless you’re a huge fan of Dragon’s Lair, you’re bound to have been a little disappointed.
5. Only established IPs
There is a dearth of new IPs shown at this E3. While has been a constant problem with games, it’s getting more ridiculous with games being billed as sequels to games they have nothing in common with. It’s apparently become such an uphill battle to establish a new franchise that publishers have taken to pushing games into series that don’t have any real reason to be there.
One notable example is Prey 2. The original Prey was about a native American abductee trying to save his girlfriend from aliens using portals. Prey 2 is about an air marshal turned space bounty hunter. Portal 2 is more of a sequel to Prey than Prey 2 is. Even worse is the reveal of Brothers in Arms: Furious Four. It seems like a pretty big miss step to use a franchise marketed heavily on being a more authentic take on World War II, as something you associate with a game that may have been the result of someone trying to explain Inglorious Bastards to a 13-year old. Returning from last E3 is the new XCOM game which is to XCOM what Fallout 3 was to Fallout. So strong is the lack of faith in the gaming public to support new Ips that publishers would rather alienate the only fans with any attachment to a franchise than establish a new IP.
Will these trends carry over to future E3s? Some of them will probably be influencing the games industry far into the foreseeable future. The one most prominent trend however is great innovative games. Also corny and cliched wrap-up paragraphs at the end of articles like this one.
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