By Alex Daud Briggs
This year’s E3 was underwhelming. With the next generation of consoles fast approaching, it’s clear that many developers are saving their bigger projects for next year. This is particularly apparent from Sony who didn’t even bother showing up this year. Most of the press conferences this year were simply decent, such as Square Enix and Microsoft, with one outright poor conference from Bethesda (whose audience was either paid or obscenely drunk). This year’s ‘winner’, then, is no other than Nintendo.
Simply put, Nintendo’s 2019 E3 Direct was the best E3 presentation this year, mainly thanks to its emphasis on new announcements. Pulling no first-party punches, Nintendo kicked off with two new Smash Bros Ultimate characters: Hero (Dragon Quest) and Banjo and Kazooie (from, well, Banjo-Kazooie). It also brought further information about previously teased games like Luigi’s Mansion 3, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and the much anticipated Animal Crossing: New Horizons. What makes these exciting is that, unlike a bad E3 which often shows off footage of games that have already been seen multiple times with little new to offer, these presentations are all new. Even games like Fire Emblem: Three Houses, which was announced a year ago, was revealed to have a brand-new aspect of the game in the form of a five-year time skip with the promise of a darker turn in the game’s narrative. The direct concluded with one last bang, teasing a sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
One element that deserves praise how Nintendo learned from their failings. In previous generations, Nintendo’s E3 was usually dominated by Mario, Link and a lot of Miis. However, in the era of the Switch, a significant portion of coverage has been dedicated to new games from other companies. This E3, we saw the return of Suda51’s cult classic No More Heroes with No More Heroes 3, a localization and remake of Seiken Densetsu 3 (Trials of Mana), a game that has been called one of the best JRPGs on the JRPG haven that was the Super Nintendo. We also got a lot of ports from Resident Evil to Spyro to The Witcher 3, something that many deemed impossible for the Switch. Many would argue that ports shouldn’t be considered significant, but it’s important to remember that a port is still potentially the first time that a person may play these games and for them it’s still something new. They weren’t all winners though; the new Contra game looks like a bad mobile port, but I think the high emphasis on third parties shows how far Nintendo has come from the dreaded E3s of 2007 and 2008 with little announcements of anything but Nintendo’s first party casual titles.
The crowning achievement of Nintendo’s E3 this year was simply how compact it was. The Direct was only 40 minutes long, yet, compared the hour and half presentations from other conferences, it felt much more communicative. This is because Nintendo Directs are good at cutting the fat out of the conferences and getting straight to what people want to hear about at E3; the games. While Microsoft bringing out cars is cool and seeing live demos may be interesting, at the end of the day, they bog down the pace of presentation and take away from what people really came to see. Nintendo’s 40 minute direct was nothing but rapid-fire trailers for new content and new releases that gives the viewer no chance to lose interest. For people who want more In-depth gameplay footage, they can watch the Nintendo Treehouse demos (which are a great inclusion in its own rights) but for the actual presentation Nintendo brought what mattered the most: games, games, games!