Dawn of the final day! After a week of exciting press conferences and show floor meetings, there was only one day left of E3 2019. With only precious few hours left to wait in lines or get to press meetings, everyone at the event was trying to make the most of their time left. I’d be meeting with a few companies, and walking the show floor to get some fun pictures. If you’re interested in what transpired, then read on to find out how day 3 went!
Kicking off the morning would be a series of briefings, all of them with Ubisoft. They were offering demos for Watch Dogs Legion, and as the company themselves put it, “Rocket League, but with roller blades”. While I absolutely loved Watch Dogs 2, and was psyched enough for Legion from its trailer, this Rocket League wannabe had my attention from the very moment I heard of it. So, I followed the Ubisoft guide into the media lounge. Inside, there was an entire platter of snacks--most importantly, freshly popped popcorn--and a near endless pile of microSD cards, which were free for media to use and keep, if they wished to use their own capture card for footage.
Roller Champions, the name of the newly revealed Rocket League-like game, would be the first game I got to experience. There was an elaborate setup for the game, with a place to put a capture card, a GoPro docked to the top of the monitor to record a facecam to go along with the footage, and an array of different inputs, from a DualShock 4, to an Xbox One controller, and even a very glowy RGB keyboard and mouse setup, all connected to a huge curved monitor. As for the game itself, it was a pre-alpha build, lacking a main menu or options. I was thrown directly into a 3v3 match, facing off against the other writers that were sitting on the other side of the room. A developer of Roller Champions then proceeded to explain the rules of the game: You’re in a roller-rink, trying to gain possession of a ball. Once either team grabs it, you then have to make three complete laps around the stadium in order for the goal to open up. If you at any time drop the ball, or have it stolen by the other team, you’ll lose any progress on those laps, and it’ll be the other team’s turn to try to make three loops and score.
Where Rocket League is more about skilled control and using physics to calculate your shots, Roller Champions is instead more of a cluster of concepts. Much like Rocket League, you’ll need to rely on your teammates, as passing the ball will help keep you from losing your chain when you inevitably get tackled by an opponent. You also need to preemptively attack the opposing team. Imagine a Rocket League match where you needed to constantly blow up your enemies cars, while also trying to control the ball, and you could only shoot for the goal once you’ve driven around the entire circumference of the field. Off the bat, Roller Champions lacks the easy-to-play-difficult-to-master charm that Rocket League has. There’s too many clashing elements going on all at once, and the core gameplay doesn’t feel satisfying enough to make you want to learn the deeper mechanics. Hopefully, given that the game is in very early development, the team at Ubisoft has some time to further refine the idea of Roller Champions, because there’s a fun concept buried beneath the clunk.
E3 2019 certainly had an excess of trailers chock-full of CGI, but very little amounts of gameplay. One of the standout games that balanced both cutscenes and actual game footage came from an unexpected source: Ubisoft. After seeing the main idea of Watch Dogs Legion--the fact that you can recruit any and all NPCs--I was definitely interested in what the latest entry in the series would be like. The demo began fairly early on in the game, and I was given the ability to choose any NPC that I wanted to join my team. In the corner of the screen was a little prompt noted “E3 Cheat”, which, due to the limited time of the demo, allowed me to instantly recruit a teammate without having to win them over. In the final version, you’ll need to balance character relationships and keep them happy in order to influence them into joining DedSec. Each NPC also has their own special quirks and abilities; the granny from the trailer can’t parkour her way up walls, but she has drones and higher stealth stats than the other characters around town to make up for it. After meandering through a few locales, I picked a man who looked like he’d be fun to play as, with a personal penchant for getting into fights and offering a huge ammo bonus to shotguns, he sounded like the perfect choice for a guns-blazing mission.
However, that NPC would be forever lost, because a power surge occurred, knocking every single computer, console, and screen out at E3. I sat in complete darkness, blankly staring, waiting for the power to come back. During this fiasco, the Ubisoft representative next to me laughed awkwardly, saying “Hey, it’s part of the experience! I guess DedSec hacked us!”. A few seconds later, the power turned back on, as every computer booted to a Ubisoft logo and command prompt. The Ubisoft workers began running around the tiny room, dashing to each PC, trying to fix them back up. It wouldn’t be a Ubisoft game if there wasn’t some major issue, now would it?
Once the demo was live again, I got to play once more, though my super cool shotgun NPC was gone. Perhaps he was somewhere else? Or maybe he was unique and would never be seen again. In the world of Watch Dogs Legion, each NPC has a generated personality to go along with their skillset, and you’ll even see them living their life, driving to work during the mornings, and spending the night at British pubs. The scope of detail even goes so far as to change cutscenes depending on which character you’re playing as. Dialogue and character animations will vary from person-to-person. Shotgun-man had entered the cutscene looking bored with the whole affair, and replied with a level of sarcasm. When I chose my next NPC, a bartending woman, and she was in the cutscene, her responses had been more serious. Ubisoft claims that each and every story cutscene has multiple scripts, voice acting, and animations, to fit all the varying personality types you’ll find, which seemed incredibly impressive.
Another element you may remember from the E3 trailer was that permadeath is in Legion. During the mission I got to play, I managed to survive, so in order to demonstrate this new feature, the rep told me to fling myself into a group of enemies and just die. Once my health bar had depleted, I was given two options: either to make a last stand and keep fighting, or to surrender, and be arrested for my crimes. If you choose the latter, that character will be removed from your team, and unavailable for a set amount of missions. If giving up isn’t your cup of tea, then you can make a last stand, in hopes of clearing out the remaining enemies so you don’t have to fail the mission. Choosing that option gives you a small fraction health, but if you go down again, that character is killed in action, and will never be playable ever again.
Overall, Watch Dogs Legion seems like a very solid contender for the jam-packed lineup of amazing games set for early 2020. I can’t help but think that it seems overly ambitious at times, but from what I’ve seen so far, the groundwork is all there and the demo definitely convinced me that Ubisoft could pull such a concept off.
In the midst of the hustle and bustle of E3, I had decided to book a meeting with Logitech, who was located in a very calm area. After the cramped spaces of the Ubisoft booth and all the walking along the show floor, it was such a relief to take a moment to relax and test out some cool PC accessories. There, I learned that Logitech was updating three series of their gaming mice, with the G403, 703, and 903 all featuring new batteries that would quadruple their battery life, as well as adding a HERO sensor, making them leagues more accurate. After trying out the G903 mouse, I had to admit, I had never used such a nice mouse before. I’m not a mouse/keyboard gamer, but even for everyday use, it felt comfortable (even featuring a left-handed design), and my cursor glided with unprecedented smoothness. They’re all set to release later this month, and when they do, I just might consider a purchase.
My penultimate stop would be with Warner Bros, in order to see some footage for the latest LEGO game. Revealed as LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, this game would cram in content from all nine of the Star Wars movies. My experience with Star Wars could be considered somewhat decent; I’ve watched the original trilogy multiple times, and had kept up with the new ones, while I’d seen bits and pieces of the prequels along the way. LEGO games, however, were mostly new territory. The last LEGO video game I’d played was an Xbox Live Arcade trial for 2008’s LEGO Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures. I didn’t know exactly what to expect, and I certainly didn’t assume I’d be stunned by what was shown, and yet, I was.
The E3 presentation was a private showing--no gameplay allowed--as a developer from TT Games showed us 30 minutes of gameplay--with a privacy clause that stated that anyone who dared take video would be immediately thrown out. Rather than function as a cash-in for the upcoming movie, or be a packed-together rehash of all the previous games, Skywalker Saga is a brand new game that lets you play through an open world that has excruciating detail work put into it. There’s 20 planets to explore, covering all the major story beats, and creating what the team considers to be the peak Star Wars video game experience. You can play as Luke and manipulate objects with the force, or you can roll around as the adorable R2D2, running around giant worlds that contain references to the series hidden in every corner. On top of the major visual overhaul, or the meticulous re-creation of Star Wars lore in little LEGO bricks, TT Games has also refined the gameplay, to now have a combo system that feels more rewarding than just button-mashing. LEGO: The Skywalker Saga was a total underdog hit of E3 2019, and I’ll definitely be interested in learning more information about the game.
And so, we come to the final event of my trip to E3. The last game I’d get to try would be Borderlands 3. Unlike LEGO, I was very familiar with Borderlands, having played and loved both 1 and 2, but becoming entirely disinterested with the series once I had played Pre Sequel. I was curious to see if 3 would be good enough to recapture my interests--after all, in recent times, I’ve come to love looter shooter style games--or, if this would just be another Pre Sequel incident. Before being able to actually play the game, there was a slight explanation and tutorial on how to control your character, and some of the things that were new to Borderlands 3. An almost worrying amount of time was spent on detailing all the microtransaction skins and gun decals; a definite sign of modern gaming. I waited, almost impatiently for the demo to begin, and the second it loaded, I was off. There was just something about Borderlands 3 that had gotten my attention more than any other demo I had tried. The prior day, when I’d played Link’s Awakening, there was a definite level of nostalgia and enjoyment, but I’d never fully gotten into the game over the course of my short time with it. I knew the demo would end imminently, and I tried to get as far as I reasonably could. For Borderlands 3, though, I was so engrossed in what I was playing, Los Angeles could have suffered a world-ending earthquake, and that still wouldn’t have been enough to pull me away from the game. Visually, the landscape is typical fare for the series, taking place in a desert-like area teeming with familiar Psychos and new enemy types. It felt incredibly satisfying to blast through with a shotgun, and jumping around to open up crates holding loot. At the end, there was a boss who used a giant speaker system to fight you. At points, the arena would glow, and a wave of sound would hit, breaking the shield, and taking down a massive amount of HP. It took some time to learn the enemy’s attack pattern, and it kept me constantly moving, resulting in a super fun fight.
I couldn’t help but feel disappointed when a screen popped up telling me that my session had ended, because I wanted to know more, I wanted to see more, I wanted to play more. Borderlands 3, in its short time, had completely captured me. Originally aggrieved at its Epic Game Store exclusivity, it was the first time that a game had almost made me consider creating an Epic Account for its September launch. I’ll be counting down the days, anxiously waiting for its April 2020 Steam release.
And as I walked away from the brightly glowing booth for Borderlands, I also made my way out of the Los Angeles Convention Center, as E3 was coming to a close. Booths were quietly packing up, trying to make the longer lines dissipate, while people ran around, trying to give out leftover pins and swag, so they wouldn’t have to pack it up themselves. The loud and excited buzzing of media, industry, and gamers had quieted down from its fever pitch, as streams of people exited the building.
Yet another E3 has ended, with this being my fourth year in a row attending the event. I’m so grateful to have had the chance to attend E3 2019, and while it’s a tiring experience, and it’s a lot of work, there’s no other feeling in the world that compares to getting to gaze up at the convention center, seeing the sights, walking past gigantic crowds of people, and getting to play so many different and awesome games. Just as every year prior, I hope everyone on GBAtemp enjoyed reading about my experiences, and hopefully, I’ll see you next year, for E3 2020!
What games revealed at E3 are you most looking forward to? What was your favorite press conference? I'd love to hear what you guys all thought of this year's E3!