The biggest disappointments of E3

Marvel's Avengers

E3 2019 has come and gone, leaving us with a lot to look forward to and a few things to look back on. We're excited by plenty of the upcoming PC games we saw at E3, but not everything left us as thrilled as we felt when we saw Keanu Reeves being Keanu Reeves. We had our share of disappointments, too.

Sometimes our disappointment came from a game we saw for the first time, other times it was a game we'd hoped to see but simply didn't show up. Here are a few things from E3 that let us down for one reason for another.

The Avengers reveal was a little dull 

This could easily have been Square Enix's E3—a Final Fantasy 7 remake that's almost ready, and the long-awaited reveal of the Avengers game. The former delivered, but the latter didn't look too impressive, either in its public trailer or its behind-closed-doors demo. In an otherwise fallow year for big gameplay reveals, Marvel's Avengers should've been a slam dunk. Instead, it looked like a just-OK third-person action game that happened to have a lot of playable characters. Its long-term ambition to be a co-op game you play over many years feels far away from what was shown at E3. Hopefully its next showing will be more exciting. —Samuel Roberts

On the one hand there was bound to be a bit of disappointment no matter what—we've spent the last decade watching some good films filled with talented actors playing characters we've come to love. Suddenly seeing them looking and sounding completely different was always going to be a bit of a letdown. But it was sort of extreme. Iron Man's armor looks like it's made of plastic. Steve Rogers looks like your high school football team's assistant coach. It's all just a bit generic, which feels like a major shame since the films were anything but. —Chris Livingston

The new Splinter Cell is for cellphones

There was a lot of Tom Clancy at E3. We got a look at the next three episodes for the Division 2, plus news of a Division Netflix show, more footage of Ghost Recon Breakpoint, and confirmation of a Rainbow Six co-op spinoff game called Quarantine. Plus, Ubisoft keeps sticking Sam Fisher in everything from Ghost Recon Wildlands to Far Cry New Dawn. And just a couple months ago Yves Guillemot said we'd see something about Splinter Cell "at some point." So, you can't blame us for being absolutely primed for a new Splinter Cell announcement this year.

What we got instead was a mobile tactics game called Elite Squad. Not that there's anything wrong with that—we all play mobile games, and this looks like a fun one that pulls in characters from different Tom Clancy games. We were just hoping for a new Splinter Cell PC game starring Sam Fisher. Even just a tease to let us know it was in the works. Maybe next year. —Chris Livingston

There sure were a lot of 2020 release dates 

It's always exciting seeing gameplay footage or a trailer for something you've been looking forward to for years, and then seeing a release date announcing you've only got a couple of months before you can actually play it. But this year felt like a lot of games were trying to avoid the crowded holiday season and aiming for next year instead. Ori and the Will of the Wisps? February, 2020. Cyberpunk 2077? April, 2020. Dying Light 2, Halo Infinite, Wasteland 3, Marvel's Avengers: all 2020.

I'm not suggesting games should be rushed or crunched or shoved out the door until they're ready, but it's hard to not feel some disappointment when you finally learn a game you're waiting for is coming out later, rather than sooner. —Chris Livingston

The Cyberpunk 2077 controversy 

Cyberpunk 2077

CD Project Red has once again gone into damage control mode after a poster featured both in gameplay footage and as a physical object at the event drew criticism. The poster was for a fictional drink called ChroManticore with the tagline 'Mix it up' and featured a possibly transgender model. The poster was called out by many as being transphobic (a manticore is a fictional beast having the parts of several different animals) and for fetishizing transgender people, another example of insensitivity from a company that has demonstrated it more than once in the past. It's also unclear what other representation of transgendered people might exist in the game beyond this sort of reference, which may be why CDPR quickly announced it is "working on" character creation options that aren't limited by gender.

The artist defended the poster, saying it's meant to criticize corporations that create hypersexualized advertisements to sell products in the dystopian world of 2077. I'm not sure the context helps, really. Pointing out some fictional future company's insensitivity isn't so clever when your own company has a poor track record of its own. —Chris Livingston

Not enough of E3's line-up was playable 

Without Watch Dogs: Legion, Doom Eternal, and Jedi Fallen Order, it wouldn't have been much of an E3 in terms of hands-on with the most exciting new games—Cyberpunk, Avengers, and The Outer Worlds offered hands-off demos. It's not that big a deal for you watching at home, and therefore I won't complain too much being lucky enough to be at the show, but it is kind of the point of having E3 to begin with.—Samuel Roberts

Everyone else liked Watch Dogs Legion except for me 

You ever have a take that's so out of step with your peers that you're pretty sure you shouldn't share it, but you do anyway, because what the else is the internet for? This is mine, and I fully accept that it may be bad: I did not like Watch Dogs Legion at all. I say this for several reasons, foremost of which is the tone. Imagine Attack The Block, Kingsman, and the collected works of Guy Ritchie thrown into a blender, but the extracted juice containing none of the jokes. To me, Legion felt witless and brash (witness the enormous anti-police graffito which used the C-word) in a way I expect from Saints Row rather than Ubi's supposedly slick hack-'em-up series. 

Then there's the combat which, absent of any serious cover system, was mushy as hell. It's all well and good trumpeting the fact that British cops will favour a non-lethal response, but I still soon turned Scotland Yard into the kind of massacre that makes the first Terminator film's equivalent shootout look a disagreement over a parking fine. More preposterously, I was only there to erase some CCTV footage on behalf of an NPC I was aiming to recruit. After the slaughter she was all "thanks for the favour, fam!" Uh yeah, maybe don't read the papers for the next couple of days. Oh, and as for the whole NPC harvesting thing, much as I like building collections of characters, I suspect this is going to be largely smoke and mirrors, with only voice modulation and slightly different perks (does '+15 silenced weapon damage' get your blood racing?) to distinguish recruits. 

Still, literally everyone else I spoke to thought it was brilliant, so there's a tiny chance they're right and I'm wrong. Tiny. —Tim Clark

Platinum's Babylon's Fall is probably dead 

Babylon's Fall

Last year at E3, Square Enix ran a bizarre lore dump of a trailer for a game called Babylon's Fall, rapidly laying out the history of a fantasy world and then closing on a pretty cool action shot that felt very Platinum. Supposedly, the game was coming out in 2019. But here we are, halfway through the year with E3 behind us, and no sign of it. Since that E3 reveal, there hasn't been so much as an official tweet or blog post about it. I'm afraid Square Enix has quietly swept this one under the rug and we'll never see it again.

Then again, the official site is still around, and it still has a listing on Platinum's site, too. Maybe it's just delayed until 2020 or later. I hope it's still coming, because Platinum and Square's last collaboration, Nier Automata, turned out pretty OK. — Wes Fenlon

We knew we weren't getting more of The Elder Scrolls 6 but still wanted more of The Elder Scrolls 6

The Elder Scrolls 6

At last year's E3 Bethesda brought down the house by announcing The Elder Scrolls 6. We understand why: it was to soften the blow of announcing a multiplayer-only Fallout game and reassure us it wasn't abandoning singleplayer games altogether. We also understand why we didn't hear anything new about ES6 at this E3: there's basically nothing to tell. The game is years and years away from release. We have a long damn wait ahead of us. Starfield is coming first, and they're barely even talking about that yet.

But still. We were hoping for something. A little something. Hell, even just that same brief teaser would have gotten some whoo-hoos, I bet. I mean, we're still using that same damn screenshot from last year. It's all we've got. —Chris Livingston