So, What Actually Happened & What Was Shown?
Overall Nintendo’s conference will have people, for the most part, divided into two camps. Those who loved it and those who hated it. It’s rare for anyone to be in the middle due to how it all went down. For me, it started strong and ended in a hype generator, but that hype generator was only really for fans of fighting games. I can see where people, who don’t participate in that genre, would feel left out and upset over it. Anyways, let’s dive in.
With a quick, stylized, fifteen second introduction for the direct we went straight into the first game. Sometimes if you can’t end a show, it’s better to start it. That way you aren’t lost in the shuffle of all the announcements that are in the middle. Enter Daemon X Machina, which started the show with its fast-paced action-oriented trailer showcasing Mechas battling in the air with a beautiful art style. The game looks to be a cross between Zone Of The Enders and, say, Armored Core. With a 2019 release, they can start a slow build to its release, but this trailer did wonders for it, to get it some buzz and start the anticipation. Here at The Loot Gaming, we can’t wait to get our hands on it.
From there we went straight into another trailer but instead of a new game, it was for a sizable expansion for Xenoblade Chronicles 2, titled Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna ~ The Golden Country. The trailer shows characters that many will remember from the original released back in December, as well as others not seen yet. The add-on will be massive as its even getting its own standalone release. It was a great honor and blast to review the original and I look forward, should everything align, to review this one too. The Xenoblade series holds a special place in my heart and is a fantastic experience and journey to partake in.
After those two amazing trailers, Reggie Fils-Aimé made his appearance and gave a monologue referencing the extremely popular Pokémon franchise between leading into a trailer for the game. Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu & Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee are a nice, natural, evolution of the franchise with elements from the successful Go mobile game influencing it. This more casual and streamlined approach to the franchise also marks the prettiest its ever been and it’ll be interesting to see how it is accepted among the hardcore and casual markets. One thing I found particularly nice looking was the lighting engine this game is using. The section of gameplay that shows the main character walking through the forest with rays of light penetrating through is wonderfully crafted and I am eager to see how this game functions. Nintendo has shown, with Breath Of The Wild and Mario Odyssey, that it isn’t afraid to make drastic changes to an established formula and Pokémon is one of their most financially successful properties and to see them tamper with the successful formula is very intriguing.
From here we saw the return of Mario Party, titled Super Mario Party, and even though it will have light online aspects, it is designed for couch coop. The game allows single joycon use and if using more than one Nintendo Switch, you can position the screens on a flat surface in almost any combination to alter the way the game flows. A very unique concept and a big chance at redemption for the franchise as the Wii U entry wasn’t received that well. With literally being able to play anywhere, the game will bring classic game modes from prior entries and some new ones to boot. One showcased in the trailer was mobile tanks as players attempted to blast one another. Like other versions, Super Mario Party looks to be a grand time and full of possibilities as you make memories.
After seeing a classic get a shot a redemption, Nintendo finally showed the Fire Emblem game that has been in development for the console and hinted at last year. The game, titled Fire Emblem: Three Houses, finally brings the franchise to the modern era with HD graphics. The game shows the strategy-based gameplay that has defined the franchise but with a wonderful graphical art style. There was never a doubt that the game would look great but what I found particularly nice and unexpected was how sleek and fluid the UI looked. Nintendo has really stepped up the menus and UI in their games this console release and its nice to see that show itself in the new Fire Emblem game, as with most strategy games you’ll probably be interacting with these menus a lot. With beautiful anime-style cutscenes and a look at how the battles will flow, this definitely looks to be the best Fire Emblem to date.
We went from the serious tone of the Fire Emblem gameplay trailer to the upbeat and colorful trailer showing the mega popular Fortnite. Unlike Fire Emblem that received a 2019 release window, Fortnite launched on the very same day as the direct. Here at The Loot Gaming, we may or may not be addicted to the competitive building survival simulator on the hybrid console with cross play. Reggie Fils-Aimé once again made an appearance to put the game over, eagerly looking forward to seeing us on the battlefield, and from there we were shown for the first time Overcooked 2 and Killer Queen Black. Overcooked 2 is the sequel to the super popular cooking mayhem game that will test gamers and their relationships, if you play with your significant other, and Killer Queen Black is a modernized take on a classic while still keeping the heart and soul of the original. Both look interesting and a blast to play. From there the indie darling that never got the recognition it deserved on PC was shown once again, Hollow Knight, and a release date was finally given. Like Fortnite, it also launched on the same day as the direct (as did Paladins. Do. Not. Sleep. On Paladins.). Hollow Knight is an action adventure platformer with enemies and boss fights and it launches on the Nintendo Switch with all previous released downloadable content bundled in.
Hollow Knight’s wonderful art style was a delight to witness and the very next game shown, Octopath Traveler, also had a fantastic art direction. The Nintendo Switch exclusive was once again stated that it would launch July 13th and that there was a demo available that allowed your data to carry over to the full game when it launches. Octopath Traveler has the player control eight distinct characters with their own abilities and skills that can help you approach and complete missions in different ways. A classic RPG from Square Enix that has everyone eager to go on this journey and see this retro feeling game launch soon.
The next set of trailers were presented in a highlight reel and the following games were shown: Starlink: Battle For Atlus, Arena Of Valor, Minecraft, Sushi Striker: The Way Of Sushido, Mario & Rabbids Kingdom Battle: Donkey Kong Adventure, Pixark, Just Dance 2019, Dragon Ball FighterZ, Splatoon 2 Octo Expansion, Captain Toad Treasure Tracker, Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, Ninjola, Carcassonne, Fifa 18 World Cup Update, Fifa 19, Ark: Survival Evolved, Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut, Paladins: Champions Of The Realm, Fallout Shelter, Dark Souls Remastered, SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy, Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate, Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, The World Ends With You: Final Remix, Mega Man 11, and Mario Tennis Aces!
The significance of this highlight reel was to show what is coming this year and what may be coming early next year. Minecraft was shown because its finally receiving its physical release (it has been available digitally), Starlink and Donkey Kong Adventure are both examples of third-party developers successfully utilizing Nintendo properties to create great experiences by using different takes and genres from these established franchises. Arena Of Valor is an interesting experiment. MOBAs don’t usually come to home consoles but the game looks to run amazing and it is visually appealing, no doubt it could help Nintendo establish success in China should the game work well because that genre appeals to that nation. Owning china is the next frontier and goal for console manufacturers and Nintendo may have found its ace in the hole. It will be very interesting to see.
Sushi Striker is Nintendo’s latest release for the console, also available on 3DS, and it makes sense to promote this new IP. Expect a review soon. Ark and Pixark are both survival simulators with dinosaurs and ancient tech, the series has found success on Steam and PC. Pixark, like the name implies, offers a more pixilated art style very similar to Minecraft while Ark goes for a more realistic approach. Just Dance 2019 was no surprise as Ubisoft has been great at supporting Nintendo consoles, even going as far as to release this game also on Wii and Wii U, and the Just Dance franchise as always sold extremely well on Nintendo hardware. Dragon Ball FighterZ was one of the worst kept secrets leading up to the direct but it’s a great feeling to see it confirmed. The game reviewed well and I’ve reached a point in my life that I want everything on the Switch because I just don’t have time anymore to sit down and play a game. Maybe one day but not anytime soon. With that being said, Arc System Works is a phenomenal development team that has also found success with Nintendo and their game BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle is currently having its review written. Splatoon 2 Octo Expansion was shown as it’s the first big expansion for Nintendo’s unique team-based shooter and it was interesting to see Nintendo have it listed in the direct for a Summer 2018 release to give the actual release date a couple of hours later at the Splatoon 2 Championship games. Fifa, Paladins, Wolfenstein (One of the best single player shooters available), and SNK are perfect reminders that third parties are a big part of the Switch and are meant to ease those worries from those that were burned from the Wii U.
Then the man, the myth, the legend himself Masahiro Sakurai himself made an appearance and gave a twenty-five-minute detailed presentation on arguably one of the greatest fighting game properties to have ever been crafted, the iconic Super Smash Bros. The game was revealed and titled Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and the reason behind this was because every character to ever appear in any of the Smash Bros. game as a playable character would be making their return. Even originally DLC characters would be on disc, day one. What this newest version is, is a love letter to all the fans that have supported the franchise over the years. The game looks like the definitive version and, yes, it may have been built upon the Wii U version, but this is not a port. This is a new game that brings all the characters, rebalanced and with upgraded abilities and techniques. After showing the game, the characters, and stages the presentation ended with one more final reveal for the new Smash Bros. game. The long-desired character, Ridley, was finally announced as a playable character and this reaffirmed that this is, entirely and completely, a love letter to fans.
One More Thing?
At the Splatoon 2 championship games, it was announced that the Octo Expansion would be releasing the very next day (adding more fun to the colorful shooter we reviewed):
Like I mentioned at the beginning, the direct would put gamers in one of two camps based on one game. More than half of the direct, the latter half, was entirely on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and if you love Smash you probably loved the direct and if you’re not a fan of Nintendo’s mascot fighter then you more than likely were displeased with this presentation. I love Smash and have many fond memories from over the years playing with family and friends. With that being said, I do think this presentation was rather lacking and weak. With the Nintendo Tree House showing so much of the game, they could have used that to explain the mechanics and used the E3 direct to announce all characters were coming back in a trailer and could have shown off other games. Many people, when they heard the direct was forty-five minutes, let their expectations grow as they thought it would be announcement and game reveal one after another and, unfortunately for them, they didn’t get that. I think one more announcement, something out of left field, would have done wonders for this direct. They started strong and an unexpected announcement could have had them end stronger.
With all that being said, this was a good direct. Let’s keep in mind that Nintendo doesn’t rely on these events for big announcements and reveals, they don’t need E3 anymore. We have several more Nintendo directs coming over the course of the rest of the year and many more showcases and announcements. E3, unfortunately, isn’t what it used to be, and Nintendo has my trust. My most anticipated game to be seen in one of, if not my, favorite franchise is Bayonetta 3, which wasn’t shown and I’m sure there is a good reason for that. Reggie has stated that they like to show something once its closer to release and I prefer that approach over what Sony does with showing and announcing games too early. Metroid Prime 4 will be shown when its ready and, if you really take a look at the landscape, Nintendo has a stacked year. This year, like last year, is strong if not stronger. Let’s all put away our pitchforks, stop being angry and negative, and be happy and game. Go play Paladins, that game is vastly underrated!