E3 2012 opened this morning with Microsoft's press conference, during which we're pretty sure we heard something about Windows 8...in relation to Xbox integration. Oh bother. It's our yearly reminder that PC gaming isn't a brand, but feelings of rejection can't get us down when there's so much to look forward to. We mushed some editor heads together to give you an overview of what we expect from this year's show, what we're most excited for, and how we'd like the PC to be treated at E3.
What do you think E3 will be like for the PC?
JOSH: I bet we'll be the quiet winners once again. We don't get the flashy ceremonies or the huge concerts/press conferences with celebrities dancing around like doofuses, but we almost always have some of the most experimental and clever gameplay innovations. They're just usually tucked away in some indie booth in the corner.
EVAN: Totally agree; because there isn't an over-hyped venue for drawing attention to the PC with athletes and celebrities, most of the PC's surprises tend to hide in plain view. Last year that was Orcs Must Die! and Payday. We'll be on the hunt for games like that.
TYLER: Yeah, the E3 spectacle machine will chug out fake smoke and laser beams, but it can't occlude the gems. And one thing will be especially hard to miss: the free-to-play model. It'll plant an immovable flag in the concrete floor, and we'll see Valve, Perfect World, Riot Games, Sony Online Entertainment, and the rest stroking their overgrown frontier beards as they receive visitors to their burgeoning nation.
What do you wish E3 would be like for the PC?
JOSH: I wish someone would step up and throw the E3 press conference the PC deserves. Alas, Microsoft seems pretty hellbent on ignoring its roots and there's very few other companies with a big-picture investment in the PC to justify the costs.
EVAN: What Josh said -- I wish we had a united front. Hardware manufacturers, boutique PC makers, big publishers, free-to-play start-ups and indie are all there, but they don't do a very good job of Voltroning to create a central message for the PC. All these parties would benefit if they just agreed to get in a room and say some nice things about themselves to an audience. Get TotalBiscuit to do it. Get Day to do it. Get us to do it; I don't care. Make it happen.
TYLER: E3 is flashy and expensive promotion for established franchises. That pomp can be exciting for PC gamers, but it ignores the pre-mainstream inventions of indie teams and niche developers. Maybe that stuff is better left to PAX and the Independent Games Festival, but E3 won't truly represent the future of electronic entertainment without a bigger place for it. Like you guys said, I want to see us unite to show off the creativity of PC developers.
What E3 game are you most excited about?
JOSH: I'm really excited to see more info on Defiance , the MMOFPS from Trion Worlds that ties in with the Syfy TV show. We saw the first bit of live gameplay at last year's E3, but haven't really heard anything since. With other top-notch MMOFPSes like Planetside 2 and Firefall on the way, Defiance is going to have to do something extra to make itself stand out—and E3 seems like the perfect time to reveal it.
EVAN: Arma 3 . This is our first chance to actually touch it, and I'm expecting that will immediately answer some concerns about optimization, AI, UI/accessibility, and new systems. I'm also going to get a chance to talk to Dean Hall, the creator of Day Z. Should be a fun follow-up to my previous interview .
TYLER: Evan has me drooling over Arma 3's sparkling Aegean Sea, but I'm not as fluent in military speak, so I'll leave the alpha bravos to him while I peek at PlanetSide 2 . It presents a similar reason to be excited: huge environments to assault according to player-defined tactics. My hope is that planning and reconnaissance will be valuable, and that player freedom won't result in an endless series of head-to-head skirmishes. I want to assemble a sniper squad, flank an objective under the cover of night, and clear out the best-equipped guards before signaling a large-scale assault. I look forward to putting SOE's ambition to the test.