Category Archives: Brett Williams

Ubisoft’s Passionate E3 and the Pain of Hostile Takeover

It is easy to ignore that the gaming industry’s corporate skeleton is as cold and stiff as any other. Despite engaging in the business of fun, the ebb and flow of our beloved pastime is dictated not by fanatic devotion or creative passion, but by the unwavering severity of the bottom line. We can effortlessly shrug off this reality as we devour our latest digital escape and confront it when it negatively impacts our experience. It is as easy as flipping a switch. And after Ubisoft’s incredible E3 showing – punctuated by exciting new IP, dazzling reimaginations of known quantities and raw human emotion – it is clear that Vivendi’s continued march toward a controlling stake in the company will rob us of one of corporate gaming’s biggest outliers. This can not be ignored.
Continue reading Ubisoft’s Passionate E3 and the Pain of Hostile Takeover

Advertisements

The Biggest Stories of E3 2017

E3 is a maelstrom of gaming news, buzz and hype, and this year’s event did not disappoint. From the reveal of the Xbox One X, a massive array of promising games and the increasing prominence of VR, E3 2017 packed something for anyone to get excited about. But what were the event’s top stories, and what do they mean for the gaming narrative for the next 12 months? Whether you define hardcore gamer or missed the hoopla completely, here are the most important trends from the center of the gaming world.

Coming soon (and available for pre-order)

E3 is about the games, and the most exciting thing about this year’s “best in show” is that we won’t have to wait long to get our hands on them. E3 2017 was dominated by releases slated for the next year-and-a-half. From massive reveals like BioWare’s Anthem to previous standouts like Spider-Man and God of War, almost everything at the show was slapped with a 2017 or 2018 release date. This trend is notable, as years past have been dominated by the reveals of games with no release in sight (looking at you Final Fantasy VII Remake). We saw publishers seemingly playing catch-up with their own marketing. Sony’s biggest reveal was a Shadow of the Colossus remake slated for next year, while Microsoft went deep on games releasing within the next 12 months. Notable outliers include Nintendo’s announcement of Metroid Prime 4 and Ubisofts re-reveal of Beyond Good and Evil 2, but games mostly held tight to an 18-month window. While delays are inevitable, it is comforting to know that we won’t have long to wait for E3’s best titles.

Nintendo is back

Media seem to have reached a consensus – Nintendo was E3’s big winner. Riding the enthusiasm of the launch of the Nintendo Switch and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nintendo gave fans the confirmation that their wonderful new console would not fall into the traps of its predecessor. 2017 will see a new, Nintendo-developed game each month, and each title looked fantastic. The star was undoubtedly Super Mario Odyssey, but Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Fire Emblem Warriors and (shockingly) Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle all look like solid additions to the Switch library. Not content on reiterating its fantastic first year, Nintendo gave fans a glimpse into 2018 and beyond. A new Kirby and Yoshi were revealed on top of the previously confirmed Fire Emblem for 2018, and a core Pokemon RPG was announced to be in development. The kicker was the reveal of Metroid Prime 4, which provided starving Samus fans with the news they had waited a decade for. Mix in third-party juggernauts Rocket League, Skyrim, Minecraft and FIFA and Nintendo is selling even the most skeptical on its hybrid machine.

Everything is better together

One of the most underrated announcements of the Xbox Showcase was the reveal that Minecraft would be going cross platform, allowing players on Xbox, PC and even Nintendo Switch to share in each other’s worlds and creations. After its reveal on Switch, Rocket League also joined the cross-platform party, offering play between the same three communities. Notably missing was Sony, who gave a horrendous excuse for their refusal from the initiatives. Another angle on this theme saw Bungie announce that consoles would be locked at 30 frames-per-second in Destiny 2, likely as a means to ensure parity within console families, a theme that doesn’t bode well for multiplayer experiences on Xbox One X and PS4 Pro. Sony and Destiny 2 combined for yet another controversy involving shared experience, as the PlayStation exclusive content for the game was received negatively by prominent industry leaders like Phil Spencer. As we move closer to a fully digital ecosystem, sharing and parity will only become more prevalent issues.

The war for the mainstream

The hype entering E3 was centered around Microsoft’s Xbox One X, which fans and media touted as a means for the Xbox to catch the PS4. But what Microsoft said about the console, that it was a premium device aimed at the hardcore, turned out to be true, complete with a $499 price tag. As Microsoft trotted out its champion of the 4K war, the battle shifted toward the mainstream gamer. Sony did not even speak the words “PS4 Pro” at their conference, choosing to focus on games rather than tout its less powerful machine as a direct competitor for Microsoft’s hulk. And with Nintendo’s message centering on gaming being for everyone, anywhere they want, the combatants conceded 4K victory to Xbox and turned their attention to the rest of us – Sony through quality exclusive content and Nintendo with the IP we know and love. Microsoft’s tactic involves the embrace of the PC space, allowing any level of gamer to experience the Xbox ecosystem. This will be an interesting battle to see mature in the future.

Press conferences: who needs ‘em?!

Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox, discusses the Xbox One family of devices, including Xbox One X, at the Xbox E3 2017 Briefing on Sunday, June 11, 2017 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Casey Rodgers/Invision for Xbox/AP Images)

Are the E3 conferences we know a thing of the past? This year’s showings did little to rebuke that notion. Sony and Bethesda bookended a series of trailers and gameplay demos with a single speaker, while Nintendo continued to rely on their video presentation format. Even Microsoft strayed in this direction, with early Xbox One X and Forza Motorsport 7 speakers giving way to a barrage of trailers in quick succession. Ubisoft and EA were the lone holdouts, and their shows were criticized for their typical awkward pacing and stage demonstrations. As E3 becomes more about the fan and viewer experience, expect this trend to continue rather than recede.

So there you have it – E3 2017 in a nutshell. While the press conferences were lacking in their typical shock-factor, the games shown contributed to one of the best show lineups in recent memory. Each console-maker had an impressive showing, and provided ample reasons to be excited for the next year of gaming. 2017 is shaping up to be one of the best years in gaming history, and this year’s E3 only added to that sentiment. What did you think of this year’s E3? Let us know in the comments – we’ll be crossing off days on our calendars until next year.


Brett Williams is an Associate Editor for MONG who can’t wait to possess all the humans in Super Mario Odyssey. You can follow his nonexistent ramblings on the newly circular Twitter.

EA Play 2017 Recap

For the second year in a row, EA has kicked off the E3 festivities with a press conference that featured interesting reveals and awkward moments. While retaining its focus on mainstream hits, the showcase offered intriguing new angles on established franchises mixed with promising first looks at new IP. Ending with an extended look at Star Wars Battlefront 2 multiplayer, EA’s presentation was an obvious step up from their first EA Play event.

Continue reading EA Play 2017 Recap

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: How to Conquer 200cc

If you have a Nintendo Switch, chances are you’re in love with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. The game is fantastic, and easily sets a high bar for the series (Double Dash shenanigans notwithstanding). Mario Kart’s debut on Switch has brought the masterful racer into the zeitgeist of gaming culture yet again, which has shone a spotlight on the game’s blistering difficulty mode: 200cc.

Continue reading Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: How to Conquer 200cc

Kingdom Hearts has a Disney problem

Despite releasing in one of the the most critically rich periods in gaming history, Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 ReMix effortlessly pulled me back into the beloved marriage of Disney and Final Fantasy. As the stellar collection’s nostalgic mix of music, action and character washed over me, I couldn’t help but reminisce about a simpler time. Not just in terms of my personal journey (playing the original as a 9-year-old fresh off divorce to now as 23-year-old navigating the perils of young-adult life), but in regards to the series itself. See, Kingdom Hearts has a big problem, and it’s defined by everyone’s favorite House of Mouse. The issue is simple: Kingdom Hearts doesn’t have enough Disney.

Continue reading Kingdom Hearts has a Disney problem

Destiny 2’s familiarity is essential, not disappointing

The legend of Destiny is a tale of extremes. The game navigated the balance between dedicated adoration and overwhelming vitriol with a surprising amount of grace. Like pineapple on pizza or the Dallas Cowboys, it is impossible to pass Destiny by with nonchalance. Whether it buried its hooks deep into your soul or completely missed its mark, the game made a monumental mark on the gaming landscape and altered what we thought was possible from a console shooter. But this leaves its sequel in a precarious position.
Continue reading Destiny 2’s familiarity is essential, not disappointing

Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Episode 1 Review

Come and Get Your Love

Marvel’s original Guardians of the Galaxy film was the snarky adrenaline shot that the Marvel Cinematic Universe needed. With a colorful cast of assholes brandishing hearts of gold, the team stood as a gateway into the wacky and wonderful reaches of the entertainment juggernaut’s bizarre universe. Telltale’s take on the swashbuckling antiheroes is heavily inspired by their movie counterparts and gives players intimate access to an established team in the aftermath of a massive, improbable victory. When this many egos are stitched together, their fabric is a labyrinth that is a joy to navigate, and Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Episode 1 sets up an irreverent adventure with a surprisingly emotional underbelly.
Continue reading Telltale’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Episode 1 Review