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Nepenthe

Zelda and the One-Game E3 Blowout

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(Although there were other games, but you know what I'm saying.)

Ever since E3, I've continuously rewatched the showcase videos for Breath of the Wild, along with engaging in theories and listening to the music. Recently, GameXplain's 2-hour analysis of all of the content we've seen reignited my interest in consuming BotW content. I can safely say this is the hungriest I've been for a game, and I'm probably not the only one. It racked up a massive social media presence and snagged some Best Of E3 awards. The video of people rushing to play it on the expo's last day was something magical.

Part of me thinks this would be far different had Nintendo done the expected and given it smaller, equivalent amount of attention with other games in its upcoming roster. Whether or not this was due to a lack of games to fill the time slot doesn't really matter; BotW ran away with the show which now makes me question the E3 format a little bit. If I were to characterize E3 now, it's like going to the movies and instead of seeing some trailers before the main event, you're instead watching an hour's worth of movie trailers and some behind-the-scenes stuff. There's no meat.

I think copying the format Nintendo did would be a nice shake-up to how the expo is conducted. The whole show's become predictable to the point where we're picking at seams with terms like "The Mic Trick." On top of that, games are a tricky beast to advertise and fraught with a lot of mistrust due to deceptive marketing. To have a team of people sit there and play the game as it is in real-time for hours and hours- much longer than Ubisoft's rehearsed demonstrations- would hype people up, give them a much better sense of general gameplay, and ease questions of whether or not they were watching the real deal.

The biggest problem I can see is that this probably won't work for many games. BotW got away with it in part because the physics-heavy design of the game combined with its size facilitated the use of extensive explanations and demonstrations into how the mechanics worked, particularly in the context of the franchise's previous conventions, all without spoilers. You probably couldn't get away with this for Sonic 2017, at least not for as long as Nintendo did here.

So yeah, the question here is: Should tentpole titles be given days-long demonstrations in the future at E3 like Breath of the Wild?

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A mix of Nintendo and Sony's showings would be ideal. 

Nintendo focused on showing off this one game that absolutely needed the time it got, and that's great, but I can't think of another game at ALL at this E3 that would warrant that sort of thing. Companies straight up don't make demos as enormous as the Breath of the Wild one, and the mechanics wouldn't be in depth enough to warrant it anyway. This was nice, but it's an unusual approach for an unusual game. 

On the flip side, I think Sony had the right approach with it's rapid fire showing, bouncing from game, to game to game. Not much fat at all, which is pretty admirable imo. They just showed what we wanted to see, and I think that's an important thing that they both did well and why E3 was so enjoyable this year in particular. No bullshit. They just showed us what they had for us. 

Basically, just give your games the time they need and nothing more. If they are worth a damn, they will speak for themselves. You don't need to bloat your conference out with sales numbers, speeches about how great the game is, or performances. Except you, Ubisoft. Your performances are good.

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I agree with Wraith on this one.  Breath of the Wild was an unusual game with mechanics that justified its length and the time spent discussing it.  Not many games can live up to that standard.  That's not a bad thing, because some games (perahps Sonic 2017) pride themselves on their simplicity and approachibility.  But it would get boring pretty quick if they became the focus of an entire convention dedicated to showing highlights from all the big names from the entire medium.  Plus, I feel like if every E3 only focused on one game for each developer, no matter how good that game was, it just wouldn't do it for me.  What I love about E3 is seeing all the different games coming out in a year.  For as memorable as Breath of the Wild was, I still have fond memories of similar things like Nintendo Direct, where I would come out pleasantly overwhelmed by all the different things I had to look forward to.  Changing the format to have the one, big game, just wouldn't be an ideal format to me.

I have to agree, though, that E3 as it currently is could stand to sacrifice a little bit of the specticle and just focus on showing the games.  Because of how the marketing for games is often deceitful in practice, I think it would be nice if, as stated, the games should speak for themselves.  It's not that having a trailer that showcases the narrative merits of a game is bad, but I feel like without a decent amount of time focused on the actual gameplay, it's hard to look forward to... well, anything.  The Sonic 25th Anniversary stream did a decent job with this when unveiling Sonic Mania using a trailer that proposes an idea and shows us a proof of concept.  By contrast, during the exact same stream, Sonic 2017 was also unveiled, but with only a 30 second trailer, leaving us with nothing but speculation and confusion, as opposed to optimistic curiosity.  So basically, I feel like games that don't even have presentable gameplay yet shouldn't demand a standing ovation with fancy presentations that sometimes feel designed explicitly to distract us.  As said, let the games speak for themselves.

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I don't disagree with Nintendo's method with BotW being shown off as it did. As Tara and Wraith said, due to BotW's scope, scale, and different features, it justified the longer time. However, this isn't something that most games would be able to pull off, and honestly something I wouldn't like seeing. I prefer Sony's rapid fire style because not only to they still keep it focuses on where the focus should be, the games, but it also means they aren't putting all their eggs in one basket. What if I don't happen to like a game like The Last Guardian for example? Well it's alright, because there's footage of Insomniac's Spider-Man coming up, or Kingdom Hearts 3. If this was the case, then I'd be seriously screwed for E3 announcements.

I think the bigger thing to achieve is actually showing proper gameplay from the game. Unaltered. Nintendo did this on a bigger scale and didn't do bullshit to try make it sound more exciting like Ubisoft did. They got people passionate about games, and fans of Zelda to play it, and discuss the new features. That's good, but would need scaled down to work on normal E3 conferences. But look back to Sony's conference during 2015, where they showed Uncharted 4 footage of the chase scene, but oops, major mistake, the controller isn't connected. You'd expect most people to take the piss and laugh at the disaster, which yeah I'm sure a lot did, but there was something else present. Relief, and praise. Why? The malfunction meant that it was actually being played on actual hardware. It wasn't created to sell the game for E3 hype. It was actually in the game. Even better? There was more present than what was actually shown, it's a full 10-20 minute sequence fully present in the game, among other really good sequences. So I think it should be a matter of more legitimate gameplay, rather than having more of it.

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