Following his views on the 2013 Electronic Entertainment Expo press conferences of the “Big Three,” Lanceheart joins us once again a year later to share his views on how things have moved along. Note that this was submitted just before Microsoft’s press conference this morning, but I’m only now getting to posting it.
Once again, E3 is nearly upon us. With E3 2014 at our doors, it’s high time I came back and delved deeper into the past year in games. Nintendo settled into its new generation of hardware, Sony and Microsoft launched their new hardware, and a ton of topsy-turvy events kept things quite lively.
As with last year’s “One Year Later” article, I will be tackling each console maker. However, I will once again be skipping the EA and Ubisoft conferences in the spirit of brevity. This year’s edition will see a review of each maker in their regular conference order.
I must remind everyone that my tastes run against David’s. I still prefer Sony to Nintendo and have grown to loathe Microsoft. One more meaningful event from that last year is that I sold my Xbox 360 early on in the E3 cycle, meaning I have practically cut ties with the Microsoft ecosystem.
My impressions last year were exceedingly harsh-– and with good reason. The arrogance exceeding Sony’s and their reliance on the typical dudebro kind of game presentation was a poor showcase for both the Xbox 360 and then-newly unveiled Xbox One. The insistence on killing the used games market and absolute requirement for an online connection to even use the machine was also bordering on insane.
Thankfully, Microsoft came to its senses. However, the damage was already done and the wounds ran deep. The phrase “too little, too late” has become a synonym for the company’s handling of public relations for the Xbox One. Some people forgave them, but not before Sony capitalized heavily on the very same mistake made by itself back in 2006.
With their hardware out of the way, my personal experience with the Microsoft ecosystem was lackluster at best. Shortly after completing the few Japanese Role Playing Games I owned for the console, I packed it up and sold my Xbox 360 without any regrets. The past year in games also failed to make me regret my decision. With a single exclusive release being remotely interesting to me: Max: The Curse of Brotherhood.
In short, Microsoft did nothing to please me, nor anything to pull me away from my Sony and Nintendo systems.
What I want to see from Microsoft at E3 2014
Microsoft has a habit of making interesting surprise announcements at the top of their conferences. I want that game to be such a big exclusive that I’m forced to rebuy a 360 or consider an Xbox One. Without that, there won’t be anything of note for me on Xbox One, especially since I now own a PlayStation 4.
My platform maker of choice had quite the busy and dichotomous year. From crushing expectations with the PlayStation 4, to continuing to fail horribly with the PlayStation Vita, Sony has seen it all. Much like my impressions suggested, Sony’s systems were my most played and most satisfying to game on.
Let me start off with the handhelds: The PlayStation Vita had a strange year. While its sales continued to be abysmal, it saw just as much, if not more digital support in the form of indie projects and niche Japanese titles. From Thomas Was Alone to OlliOlli, the Vita covered indie games in a way that seems to far outclass the Nintendo 3DS or even any of Microsoft’s offerings, save for PC gaming on Steam. Alternatively, from Ragnarok Odyssey Ace to Demon Gaze, the amount of crazy Japanese games also rivaled the PS3 itself.
That being said, the Vita still lacks that killer app that will push people into actually buying the system. Sure, current Vita owners buy a lot of games per capita, but you can’t attract new developers if you can’t sell your system to new users.
The PlayStation 3 had a more “standard” year. In the past three years, Sony made great strides to make the PS3 become a powerhouse that could catch up and even surpass Microsoft’s Xbox 360. This past year saw the PS3 continue its support from AAA titles to indies, but nothing humongous stood out as an event worthy of note outside of “the PS3 is doing really well.”
On my end, the PS3 started to wane due to most PS3 franchises moving up to PS4 or sideways to Vita. It’s not nearly done, what with Persona 5 coming exclusively to PS3 and many more JRPG titles still in the pipeline.
As for the PlayStation 4, I once thought it would be a tight race between the PS4 and Xbox One. I was pleasantly surprised when it was made known that the PS4 had heavily outsold the Xbox One in the past year, with the gap getting wider. By being the fastest selling game console in history, it also seems to have precipitated the migration from last generation’s consoles to this one’s in record time, to the point where even last year’s PS3 hits The Last of Us and Tomb Raider ended up being “upscaled” for the system.
Despite all of that praise, a readily exposed Achilles’ heel still exists: The system still doesn’t have a full complement of killer games yet. Sure, it got Infamous: Second Son relatively recently, but the lack of information on that new Uncharted and what will be exclusive to the PlayStation version of Destiny has me a bit unnerved.
Personally, I love more of my PS4 than I hate. I love the games that are currently out and currently announced. I also love the new PS Plus games every month, due to my subscription running until very far into the future. However, the PS4 also lacks a lot of multimedia components that came standard with the PS3 and even PS Vita. The continued lack of MP3, MP4, and external hard drive storage support makes it a really hard sell for anyone who wants to do “everything” with the system. However, MP3 has been promised, so… I guess that makes up for it? Not really.
What I want to see from Sony at E3 2014
Since most of my top games of the year have already been announced (I’m a huge Musou/Warriors fan), it would take JRPG megatons of Suikoden VI exclusively on PS4 proportions for me to be genuinely surprised by their conference. In the absence of that, I want more promised features for PS4 with release dates. I also want to know when PlayStation Now will go live in the United States and when it will start coming to the rest of the world, preferably North America (yay Canada!), hopefully before year’s end.
The company that surprised me with its Mega Man reveal has continued to impress me all year. Contrary to my impressions, I felt quite a bit more interested in Nintendo’s offerings over the past year than I thought would be the case.
The Nintendo 3DS was by far the most socially relevant system of the year. While the PS4 managed to dominate console sales, the Nintendo 3DS continues its amazing strides with both games and content. Even looking at the past six months has me far more excited than entire years of the Nintendo DS and Wii’s existence. It achieved this with Bravely Default, Kirby Triple Deluxe, and Pokémon X/Y at the forefront of its library.
My own experiences were just as great. With StreetPass becoming less of a tacked on feature and more of a collaborative experience in games (Pokémon Trozei says hi), the system seems to be growing into its own, with developers growing alongside it. The three aforementioned games were more than enough to tear me away from my PlayStation systems.
As for the Wii U, it unfortunately didn’t pick up much steam since E3. While yes, it just recently had Mario Kart 8’s boosting effect, it quite obviously isn’t enough to catapult the system to greater heights. With all hopes resting on Super Smash Bros.-– a game also coming to Nintendo 3DS-– it’s safe to say Nintendo won’t be anywhere close to winning this home console generation.
On my own front, I actually bought a Wii U, aided by the money I made from selling my Xbox 360. While it started off quite rough around the edges, it has since blossomed into one of my most cherished systems. I got caught up on first year releases like Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper (not a particularly good port, unfortunately) and Monster Hunter (once again, a straight port of a Nintendo 3DS title, which is a port of a Wii title), then proceeded to buy a ton of new games. I just wish Nintendo had faster output, but that would mean rushing them.
What I want to see from Nintendo at E3 2014
With the announcement of Hyrule Warriors coming this year, my excitement for this upcoming E3 skyrocketed to amazing heights. With Super Smash Bros. for Wii U set for a fall/winter release, I’m also impatiently pacing around while waiting for my first glimpse of an HD Mega Man on my TV screen. Since Nintendo has a habit of making insane or jaw-dropping announcements during their E3 events, I also expect to see more things I didn’t think I needed.
In summation, I fully expect to be wowed by Sony and Nintendo. Their announcements over the course of this 2013-2014 season have made me more anxious to see those games in action, while remaining hopeful that they have even more surprises up their sleeves.
Microsoft, on the other hand, will continue to kill my interest at every turn. It is an expectation forged from two prior years of these E3 impressions and ten years of watching their gaming moves, waiting for something good to happen. With so many of their title reveals being multiplatform, each new non-Microsoft IP keeps feeling like an ad for the PlayStation version. I don’t expect this to change in 2014.
There you have it! This is my year in review. I will see you once again after E3, with impressions on the Big Three’s conferences.