Our Most Agreeable highlights of E3 2019

E3 is over for another year, so we thought this would be a good point to gather in the Drawing Room to discuss our highlights of this year’s show. Turns out we’re pretty much all about Nintendo right now.

Lucius P. Merriweather

Do you know what the biggest surprise of E3 2019 was for me? Suddenly I’m actually interested in buying a Final Fantasy game. Despite starting several entries in the series, I’ve never got past the first couple of hours in any of them – even though I generally love JRPGs. Each time I simply got bored and drifted away, so my hype for Final Fantasy VII Remake before the conference was zero. And yet now I want to buy it on launch day.

The combat looks phenomenal in this game, and I love the way it switches between real-time and tactical mode to give you a bit of space for planning. Plus it looks utterly gorgeous. Based on that battle with the scorpion thing, I am totally sold on this.

Watch Dogs was another series I had zero interest in before E3 2019, but the trailer for Watch Dogs Legion was one of the biggest highlights of the show for me. It’s fantastic to see near-future London in video game form – recognising familiar landmarks like Camden Market was surprisingly moving for someone who isn’t used to seeing their home in a video game. And the mechanic of being able to recruit anyone you see is brilliantly clever.

Still, the pinnacle of the trailer was undoubtedly Helen the badass OAP. She more than sold the game for me. Along with FFVII Remake, this game has suddenly shot to the top of my most-wanted list from a previous level of complete uninterest.

Elsewhere, Spiritfarer caught my eye as one of the most memorable indie games of E3, with it’s billing as a ‘cosy management game about dying’. New genre alert? Also, coming from Jotun makers Thunder Lotus, it obviously looks beautiful.

Luigi’s Mansion 3 was another highlight – the Treehouse Live footage showed off a phenomenal amount of clever ideas packed into the game, like a boss battle on a kaiju movie set, and Gooigi is just a genius idea. You can keep your Pokemon, give me the green brother any day of the week.

Map Schwartzberg

The only word I can think of to summarize my feelings on E3 2019 is satisfied. I wasn’t blown away by anything in particular, but I’m not left wanting either. As a predominately Nintendo game player, a lot of what I’m looking forward to is relatively safe.

Unlike for some people, Pokemon Sword and Shield IS actually on my radar this year, partly because the Galar region looks lovely and exciting to explore, but also because my 9-year-old son is so over the moon he has actually pre-ordered it with his own money so he doesn’t have to wait for Christmas. I love to play/talk about games with my boys, and nothing sounds more thrilling to me than comparing Pokedex entries and gym-leader strategies.

The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening is Nintendo at it’s finest; going above and beyond expectations and crafting something simply wonderful. I’ve played it on Game Boy and can vouch for its brilliance, but there’s something about the veneer of this remake that just tickles me no end. While everyone else is trying to come out of the other end of the uncanny valley, Nintendo jinks left and makes things that look artistic and toy-like. I’m also super curious about the Breath of the Wild sequel and like what we’ve seen so far: it’s great to see them go back to that copious well. Here’s hoping they exceed expectations!

Although I am slightly bummed that Animal Crossing: New Horizons is delayed until next year, I’m stoked at the amount of customization there is, as well as the couch co-op! I’m not sure I’m totally sold on the deserted island theme, but I will give the big N credit for not simply toeing the line and instead making something that will be unique and thematic.

Lastly, I’d like to touch on the Collection of Mana, a relatively safe assemblage of classic Squaresoft adventure games. I’m indifferent about Final Fantasy Adventure, but I’m always up for revisiting the wonderful Secret of Mana. What got my attention, however, is that they’re finally releasing a localized version of Seiken Densetsu 3, now titled Trials of Mana. I know there’s a remake of this game as well, but seeing the original nearly brought a tear to my eye because I’ve been wanting to play it since I saw it in games magazines when I was a teenager. I’m not one for sketchy emulation, so seeing Square Enix bring it out is a big deal for me. I wish I could go back in time and tell my 16-year-old self he’s gonna get to play it someday, he just has to be patient!

Professor GreilMercs

As a long-time Nintendo fan, it’s a relief to see that the days of lackluster or, frankly, embarrassing E3 presentations are far, far in the past. Nintendo seem to almost have E3 down to a science: a few huge reveals combined with an steady parade of trailers with at least something to appeal to everyone, followed by the Nintendo Treehouse Live segments that go deeper into gameplay and include interviews with developers. The huge reveals this year were wholly satisfying: two new Smash Ultimate DLC characters (one huge for Japanese fans and one geared more towards Western audiences), the first reveal of Animal Crossing: New Horizons and the titanic ‘one more thing bombshell reveal of the sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Not to mention additional major announcements including reveals for No More Heroes 3 and Witcher 3 on Switch and new trailers for Dragon Quest XI S: Definitive Edition, Luigi’s Mansion 3 and Fire Emblem: Three Houses.

Phew! With all those announcements, though, there were some that personally stood out for me. Fire Emblem: Three Houses revealed that a central part of the game is going to be a time-skip mechanic, and we got our first look at the three main characters (and the player’s character) after the time skip. The differences are drastic, and that combined with the Treehouse segments have fans champing at the bit. July 26th can’t come soon enough.

Witcher 3 on Switch was heavily rumored and, of course, there were the inevitable crowds of naysayers who immediately rushed to complain about how it won’t compare to the versions running on other systems. But it’s always great to see AAA third-party titles on Nintendo platforms, so this was a welcome announcement (although I’m not sure that I’ll be picking it up myself any time soon given how long it is).

The Astral Chain Treehouse gameplay segments have me even more psyched for the game than I was at its initial reveal. PlatinumGames can always be counted on to make top-tier games, and as one of the few brand-new IPs that were part of Nintendo’s E3, it has me particularly interested.

One blip in the proceedings was the uproar that resulted when it was announced that Pokemon Sword and Shield would not include every Pokemon from the previous games. With more than 800 Pokemon and counting, it makes perfect sense to me from a technical standpoint, but Pokemon fans seem to be a particularly rabid bunch, and I’ve heard everything from labeling Game Freak as ‘lazy’ to calls for boycotts of the game and rants about how the Pokemon developers don’t know how to program (and this from people who aren’t even programmers themselves). It always astonishes me how entitled people can be about video games, and although it was disheartening to see the reactions, it does remind me of how passionate people can get about gaming. It will be interesting to see how Nintendo proceeds from here.

I was fairly unexcited by the Animal Crossing: New Horizons reveal since the series hasn’t evolved much and it doesn’t look like it will in this iteration either, but it was impossible not to be swept up in the excitement around the reveal of a sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I really enjoyed the style of Breath of the Wild, even though I was less enthused by the open-world aspects. I’ve loved pretty much every game that has resulted from the Zelda developers revisiting a previous game’s game engine or world (i.e. Majora’s Mask, Spirit Tracks and A Link Between Worlds), so I’m really looking forward to seeing what twists the team comes up with this time around. I’m still hoping for a playable Princess Zelda for once, and the new short-haired Zelda from the trailer looks great. It’s probably going to be a long while before we see more about this game, but it has definitely shot to the top of many a video game fan’s want list.

It’s hard to complain about the polished format of Nintendo’s E3 this year, but a little more out-of-left-field wackiness would have been appreciated. A few humorous tidbits of info did come out through various interviews, such as Gooigi apparently being edible and Mr. Resetti being on the lookout for new employment. Still, Nintendo had a great E3 by all measures, and as usual now comes the tough part: waiting for all these fantastic-looking games to be released!