Over the past few years, we've noticed quite a few trailers containing stomp-clap songs. You know, songs that have a stomp and a clap. Like this one. There wasn't a whole lot of stomping and clapping this year, so that might be on the way out, though the 'haunting, too on-the-nose song' thing returned strong for another year. Here are some of the other trends we noticed at E3 2018:
Battle royale, obviously
Battlefield 5 will get a 'Royale' mode after launch. The announcement was comedic in that there wasn't even a logo to show, suggesting that someone said, 'Hey, you have to do a battle royale mode and announce it at E3' well after there was time to actually develop such a mode, or even decide what sort of art treatment to give it. We also saw Mavericks Proving Grounds, which purports to support 400 players and more, a 2D battle royale game based on a webcomic, and a big Fortnite tournament. Even where battle royale wasn't present, it had to be mentioned that it wasn't present, with nearly every developer being sure to clarify that they are not doing battle royale. But really, they all might be doing battle royale. —Tyler Wilde
Console-only games making the leap to PC
This was a decent E3 for previously console-bound series finding their way to our desktops for the first time, which has really been a trend for the last few years. That continued this week with the announcement of Madden 19 coming to PC for the first time in about a decade, following the example of FIFA a few years ago. And, on a completely different end of the scale, the Yakuza series, revealed at our very own PC Gaming Show, arrives on PC starting in August.
Major publishers: bring your games to PC, then we can complain if they don't support 21:9 monitor resolution options.
Games that don’t really exist yet
Announcing a game way too far in advance is a risk. There’s a chance everyone gets sick of waiting for it, and after too much time has passed the final result rarely lives up to the hype. The Elder Scrolls 6 isn’t in any sort of playable state, and who knows if the terrain flyover will be at all representative of how that game will finally look. Before we get The Elder Scrolls 6 we’ll get Starfield, but even that game seems way off (though Todd Howard has confirmed that Starfield is in a playable state internally). Beyond Good and Evil 2 is another example. Beyond the intricate CGI trailers there doesn’t seem to be a huge amount to see yet.
Then there's Respawn's Jedi: Fallen Order, which didn't even have a video teaser to support its existence, just Vince Zampella wearing a hat. Still, at least we do have a release date for that one, suggesting it's in a pretty advanced state—we're just not allowed to see it yet.
Destiny 2’s getting bows. The Last of Us 2 has a nice bow. Lara has bow. The Division 2 has a crossbow. I bet Fallout 76 has a bow. Bows have been a staple of E3 for a few years now and there is no sign of this stopping any time soon. Bows are great. Keep ‘em coming.
Samurai are in
We saw three big samurai games at E3. One of them, Sucker Punch's Ghost of Tsushima, is exclusive to PS4, but the other two, Nioh 2 and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, are PC-bound. We also saw For Honor's new Breach mode, which undoubtedly involves samurai. Three samurai games may not sound like a lot, but consider this: that's three more samurai games than we had two weeks ago. We've gone from zero to three samurai. You can't even quantify that in a percentage, and it sure sounds like a lot when you put it that way. And like bows, samurai are great. More, please.
No dogs allowed
While bows have stayed in vogue, dogs are out. The lack of good virtual doggos at E3 2018 is a severe disappointment. The games industry needs to get this sorted out for 2019 or there will be stern words.
Shared world looter shooters are here to stay
Like MOBAs and MMOs before them, every big publisher has to have one. EA have saddled BioWare with this mammoth task, and even though the stage presentation at E3 was underwhelming, Anthem will probably consume us when it comes out in February. Destiny 2’s Forsaken expansion will be a tipping point for the game when it comes out in 2018, and it actually looks great. If colourful futuristic worlds aren’t to your taste, you can endure the misery of a country reeling from a horrible smallpox outbreak in The Division 2. Yaay.
By the way if you can think of a better genre label than shared world looter shooter (SWLS), help us out in the comments.
Assassin's Creed Odyssey lets you romance whoever you want in the game, no matter which character you're playing as, which got a deservedly good response. It's a system that brings a bit more life to an Assassin's Creed story, giving you the ability to forge relationships that are hopefully as meaningfully done as Bayek and Aya in Origins. On the non-PC front, The Last of Us 2's trailer put a kiss front-and-centre—before cutting to lots of being being knifed to death, because hey, games. Expect smooching from Cyberpunk 2077, too.
For BioWare, too, the lack of romance options in Anthem seemed to symbolise to some that the developer had moved away from making the kind of games it's known for—although this subject was brought up again with Casey Hudson to a more ambiguous response, so it's hard to say where that will land.
Developers are leaving their comfort zones
It can be worrying for fans of a game when a developer changes directions with their next offering. And we saw a lot of that at E3: Bethesda is taking Fallout online, BioWare is doing a shared-world shooter, Metro is less linear and more open world, Wolfenstein is going co-op, Cyberpunk is a first-person game. Change is scary and when a developer steps away from what they do best to try something different, it's perfectly normal to feel a bit skeptical, or even disappointed.
But it's exciting to see developers evolve, grow, and want to explore new ground. I'd be perfectly happy if Bethesda stuck to singleplayer RPGs—and they showed they're still doing that with Starfield and The Elder Scrolls 6—but Fallout 76 gives us a chance to see another side of them. Change is hard to grapple with, and not always successful, but it can lead to great things and fresh experiences. Stepping out of our comfort zones is important to do from time to time: not just for developers, but for the people who play their games. —Chris Livingston
This was the best-run show in years
Leaving E3 last year, and reading Rami Ismail's blog on the lack of security around the event, the chilling conclusion was that the ESA was sleepwalking into a potential tragedy. This year the difference was dramatic. Bag searches, metal detectors, and sniffer dogs (adorable) all contributed to making the show feel as safe as possible. On the floor the staff at the doors were patient, polite and helpful to a fault. Particularly impressive given the searing heat outside. No idea whether it was a new firm or there had been additional training this year, but it made navigating the packed crowds as close to a pleasure as possible.
Speaking of which, some of us have been going to E3 for well over a decade now, and I think we'd all agree that this was the most diverse year yet in terms of attendees. Roll your eyes all you like, but it was heartening to see a noticeably more even gender split amongst both industry and public. On the subject of the public, who had access to more tickets than last year, it really is a pleasure to see and meet people so excited to play the latest games. Some have bemoaned that it makes the job of reporting harder, but that's ridiculous. Without them, there'd be no job to do in the first place. —Tim Clark