See all our other E3 2019 content via our compilation page here.


The first day brought us presentations by Microsoft, Bethesda, and Devolver Digital. Now that some time has passed and we have gathered our thoughts, each of us from Critical Coins will share our impressions of the press conferences we watched.

Mitch

If Day 1 of E3 2019 could be summed up in a meal, it would be a decent beef stew with stale bread that was lacking just the slightest amount of butter to make it edible.

Microsoft

On this first day of E3 we were treated to the main course of the day, Microsoft, who for all intents and purposes was forced to become the main press conference of E3 2019 due to Sony bowing out this year. What this resulted in was a substantial press conference that had a lot to offer, but it seemed to lack any pizazz. Perhaps the best example of this was when it came to Microsoft’s first-party titles, games that traditionally garnered a lot of the spotlight during Microsoft’s previous press conferences. At this year’s E3, these titles felt almost pushed to the side to make room for everything else. Ori and the Will of the Wisps, Forza Horizon 4 DLC, and even Gears of War 5 were all given the spotlight, but for a far shorter time than I was expecting. Gears of War 5, in particular, is releasing later this year and is essentially Microsoft’s last hurrah for the Xbox One, but all that was learned about was the new multiplayer mode and not a whole more. Perhaps less was shown off because of the existence of Inside Xbox, but being their one major title releasing this year, it was disappointing to see so little shown.

Outside of Microsoft’s existing first party titles, there was plenty to be shown from their newly acquired titles. While games like Outer Wilds stood out to me initially, many of them seemed interesting but personally, I wouldn’t play. What felt odd, was that these titles didn’t feel as first-party titles when presented by Microsoft, rather, they felt like another third-party developer simply highlighting their game during Microsoft’s presentation. I can only assume that this is due to Microsoft’s new philisophy of spreading the titles, but it really takes the bite out of the significance of the announcements. No longer are they Xbox and PC exclusives, they are simply Microsoft titles. More games are always great, but it again made the presentation feel like a catch-all rather than an Xbox presentation.

Finally, we were treated to a glimpse into Microsoft’s next console, and of course, the next Halo. Nearly identical to how the Xbox One X was announced, a quick sizzle real was provided on what this next console could be, but extremely limited on the details. A new Halo was perhaps the most exciting of all the announcements of the presentation, setting the stage for the next title, after what appears to be humanity losing. While again, not much was shown, the fact that Microsoft announced this as a launch title for their next console was both fantastic and left me feeling a little disappointed. If any company was to remove the console generation barriers, I felt it would be Microsoft, and while this is neither confirmed nor denied, having Halo: Infinite as a title that would be playable on both would have been a great announcement.

Overall, Microsoft’s presentation was good, but not great, a solid showing

Bethesda

Bethesda was the stale bread of the day’s announcements. While I completely expect Bethesda’s announcements to be lacking, that didn’t truly set in until the presentation itself. Outside of the two games announced, that no gameplay was revealed for, the highlight of the presentation was Doom Eternal. Even then, Doom is Doom after all, and regardless of how good of a title it is, the gameplay is such that to get the full effect, one must actually play the game.  Doom is really just murder followed by even more murder and, for a presentation, it becomes monotonous. Beyond this, Bethesda’s presentation was more about fixing past games they released, highlighting mobile games, and reminding everyone of what is already announced and coming up. We know already about Wolfenstein, we know already about Fallout 76, and we know about Rage 2. The only difference now is that we know about new content coming to Fallout 76 to fix it, more gameplay regarding Wolfenstein, and Rage 2 is getting some sort of update. These are the types of announcements that don’t need a press conference and made the entire presentation extremely lacking and boring, as the main content that I was looking forward to–game announcements–was virtually non-existent.

Livnat

Microsoft

What I was most looking forward to during Microsoft’s presentation was Cyberpunk 2077, and the second I even got a glimpse of it, I knew what it was. Thankfully this year they didn’t save it for last, as with my time zone Microsoft’s presentation happens bright and early in the morning—last year I couldn’t even stay up! But what else can I say about this presentation? How about Keanu [fucking] Reeves being introduced in the game with a release date earlier than I expected!
Outside of Cyberpunk 2077, there were a few other titles that piqued my interests. There was that one Bambi game that looked unique and whose name escapes me, as well as Scavengers and Dying Light 2 that caught my eye. Tales of Arise also looked to be a nice, much-needed update to a series that will certainly be one I try to stay up to date with.

Bethesda

I can’t believe they used videos about themselves like last year to buy extra time! Everything just felt so empty, and Todd going onstage to talk about Fallout 76 and Elder Scrolls: Blades is beyond me. Ghostwire Tokyo looks interesting, but the rest of the entire event had a cringe factor of 100.

Also, what was with that one guy screaming the whole press conference?

Fallon

Microsoft

The main thing I took away from Microsoft’s presentation that my colleagues haven’t touched on is that Microsoft is very clearly (at least to me) and carefully trying to walk their consumers and fanbase towards an all-streamed, subscription model that looks very similar to Google’s Stadia.  They’re doing it with a bit more caution than Google is because they’re very aware of the roiling backlash that could result from pushing this transition too fast and hard on their fanbase.  Google doesn’t have that fanbase to lose, so their best bet is to get out ahead, but Microsoft has plenty of chips on the table and is obviously always thinking about them.

I’m reminded of hybrid vehicles. There is a significant chunk of the population that is very averse to any change, and so, rather than plunge right into full-electric vehicles, car companies went with hybrid instead.  Why? Because many people still wanted to fill up their SUV’s with gas, like they always have, but wanted some way of being “environmentally friendly,” or progressive or… well, whatever.   Yes, I know, not the greatest analogy, but it will serve.

The point is, like it or not, we’re all headed towards a streaming all the time, online all the time, peripherals only future.  The demonstration of playing Doom with that dongle attached to the controller is just one example of what such a future will look like, and again, while I expect there to be resistance, I doubt it’ll last beyond the current generation of gamers–and I think Microsoft and Google know this.  The next generation will expect to be able to play all of their games anywhere, just like this generation expects the multiplayer online component in their games.

Devolver Digital

Alright, so, Devolver Digital had the most critically artistic presentation this year. The whole “plot” of their presentation video was in fact in line with my own critique about E3, in that it was primarily about making a video presentation instead of an actual live presentation, and that this video presentation didn’t therefore have to wait until E3 or any other conference; they could just put it out there whenever, directly to the gamers. As they say, “We think E3 is a special form of torture.” And I can’t help but love the artistic rendering of that critique in their presentations, offering a bloody bucket of honesty from a developer being poured all over the marketing machine that is E3.