Darkstation's Favorite Conference of E3 2018

Darkstation's Favorite Conference of E3 2018

Our writers all watched the E3 press conferences ready to take in every last bit of news that they could. After the dust settled we all gathered and picked our favorite conference of the year. And of any year this year had the most diverse set of responses we've ever had. 

Microsoft Conference

More Games, Less Talking by Jukka Piira

I’m not impressed by flashy and cinematic trailers. I want to see actual gameplay footage. Often, a fancy trailer doesn’t equal a good game. It also works the other way around. There wasn’t much to see gameplay wise over all the E3 showcases so I decided to choose the presentation that bored me the least. In that sense, the winner is Microsoft. They presented more games with less talking than the others. I was surprised by Ninja Theory jumping to the Redmond giant’s bandwagon after their big talks about being “triple-A indie” developers but as their fan, I can only hope for some great results. Out of all Microsoft exclusives revealed at the show, I must admit - much to my surprise - that Gears 5 piqued my interest. With Kait taking over the leading role, I finally get to play the series with someone else than the thick-necked grunts - though I most definitely want to see a Gears of War movie with Dave Bautista playing Marcus Fenix!

Consistently Entertaining by Mike Takahashi

No conference was truly exceptional this year, but I’ll give a nod to Microsoft’s simply due to its pacing and variety. It’s always preferable to have fewer people talking on stage in favor of more trailers and reveals, particularly when shown back-to-back. There was a good showcase of games ranging from standard AAA titles to intriguing indie compilations. I would have liked to see more from Halo and less from Forza, but the latter has always been a major title in the eyes of many. While it lacked conference-defining moments of excitement – aside from DMC5 – I consistently thought “huh, that looks interesting.” At the end of the day, the only conference that was enjoyable from start to finish is worth being called the best, even if I was never blown away. Perhaps this is less of a win for Microsoft and more of an indictment of the overall quality of E3 this year.

The Slightly Less Bland One by Garland Pan

As a teen, I always loved checking out the latest and greatest game announcements during E3. However, it’s really gone downhill for me lately. I’ve had some interest, but I haven’t felt genuinely compelled to follow the press conferences all the way through. Most - if not all - of the announcements that interested me were from third party developers that will probably release their games on multiple platforms. The other games I wanted to play were mostly unsurprising to learn about. There were plenty of ports, predictable sequels, and previously announced games. It’s very formulaic and bland to me. However, I decided to choose Microsoft’s conference as it came first, it unveiled Devil May Cry 5 with Hideaki Itsuno at the helm, and it was the first to show From Software’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. To be honest, I don’t even own an Xbox One, but the conference made the idea of owning the console somewhat more appealing. Even Crackdown 3 looks more interesting than most other games announced this year. It has Terry Crews voicing the protagonist and I couldn’t be happier. Microsoft’s conference had slightly more interesting games than the others. Regardless, there doesn’t seem to be a definitive winner to this year’s E3.

All the Games by Brandyn Boyd

At first, I was finding it quite difficult to pin down a “favorite” press conference at this year’s E3. As most of third parties (as well as Nintendo) were content to offer up a smattering of late-2018 experiences and promise more for next year and the years that follow, the decision really came down to choosing between Microsoft and Sony. Playstation certainly had what I would consider to be the “hypest” games, between excellent gameplay demonstrations for The Last of Us Part II, Ghost of Tsushima, and whatever madness has most recently spilled forth from Hideo Kojima’s increasingly bizarre noggin. And yet, Sony fell into their same old traps: we already knew about these games. While surprise reveals for Nioh 2 and the long-awaited Resident Evil 2 remake were certainly nice additions, it’s hard to let go of the fact that most of Sony’s big-hitters are still quite some ways away. Microsoft, on the other hand, showcased one of the largest, most varied lineups I’ve ever seen brought to stage. Sure, many of the titles may not be exclusive, and Microsoft continues to have trouble presenting reasons as to why one should own an Xbox, but they managed to both drop trailers for hotly-anticipated releases and reveal games that I never even knew I wanted. In addition to their clearly positive relationship with third-party developers, Xbox’s recent acquisition of development teams such as Ninja Theory and commitment to consumer-friendly services such as GamesPass inspires confidence in the brand - inspires the feeling that one day soon, Microsoft will be truly competitive again. And for that, I can’t help but give them the nod, here.

The Winds of Change by Brandon Brodsky

This year felt very awkward despite a very good set of games shown off by Sony and Bethesda. Everything that could go wrong with their presentations did go wrong, even if I was extremely excited for some of their announcements. I believe Microsoft is the company that really took home the show. While it’s not so much the games that win E3 for them, it’s the way they went about the show that really shows how much they care about their fans. The show was game after game, and when they did stop to talk, it was brief. They also managed to get their hands on a select few developers who will now be working alongside of Microsoft to make things better, and whether that’s for better or worse, it’s a clear indicator that they want to earn back the trust of everyone who has lost faith. I am very happy with everything the show had to offer, and I’m excited to try out the new Gears Tactics, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and Devil May Cry 5. Interestingly, Microsoft managed to get me interested in games I never thought I would care about, which is extremely impressive. Even their indie showcase had a really good presentation and they were treated just the same as any other AAA game. I sense a wind of change coming from Microsoft’s direction, and I hope it stays. Here’s to a great E3!

Dying of the Light by Allen Kesinger

On the whole, I was largely unimpressed with most of the conferences at this year’s E3. Sony tried to get to really artsy by taking players on a “journey” that meant fighting for pews and watching two guys yell at each other as we struggled to find chairs in a second theater. Ubisoft had some fun stuff to show, including their crowdsourced Beyond Good & Evil. But of all the shows, Microsoft got a big reaction from me simply because they had the most games to show. Regardless of what will or won’t be an exclusive to the Xbox, I was beyond thrilled to see Dying Light 2 (I absolutely loved the first game) and the upcoming prequel/sequel to Life Is Strange 2, “The Adventures of Captain Spirit,” and Fallout 76, a game I got more and more interested the more I saw of it. Plus, all the announcements regarding what games would be coming to GamePass got me to actually subscribe to the service, so that had to count for something!

Games, Games Everywhere by Jonathan Paris

Going into E3, I didn't expect too much from MS conference in comparison to Sony, but to my surprise Microsoft's was by far my favorite. Kicking the presentation off with Halo Infinite was nice, but announcements such as Gears of War 5, and Forza Horizon 4 (shared world!) were more up my alley. Ori and the Will of the Wisp is still looking absolutely gorgeous. On the 3rd party side, I've been waiting to see what From Software has been up to, so Shadows Die Twice definitely caught my attention as did that Devil May Cry 5 reveal! The Cyberpunk 2077 trailer was probably the highlight of the show. Despite not really showing too much on the gameplay side, it still remains one of my most anticipated games in years. I believe the game pass is still the best service in gaming, it just needs the more games, so the addition of new game pass titles was also a plus. Maybe most of all I appreciated Microsoft's commitment to the future with their purchases of new studios. In particular, the Ninja Theory pickup I believe will prove to be a fruitful sooner than later.

Ubisoft Conference

The Most Ubi Presser Ever by Joel Szerlip

This has been a very odd E3. There have been a ton of great announcements but it felt muffled by leaks, second and third showings of games, and not a lot of surprises. And even though we knew almost everything that was at the Ubisoft E3 press conference, I found there press conference to be the most organized, well thought out of all of the publishers. They showed updates to their existing franchises, new takes on future releases, and ended with what I thought was one of the best looking games of E3, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. It might have started with an odd Just Dance routine but it was a conference that was true to themselves and true to their passion for games and it rang true in the hour and half Ubisoft showcase.

Giving us what we want by Marcus Gonzalez

Some conferences may have had more announcements or explosive reveals but Ubisoft made the case for everything in their portfolio. Live music can come across ghezzy, but Ubi knew when to bring it and how to ‘remix’ it for fans. Having their own development teams and Ubi-fans in the crowd, brought a great atmosphere in the room and I hope other pressers will do the same. The hype for every game was palpable. Even if you weren’t into a certain game, you get the passion from the development teams; a true earnest that they are listening to fans, that they know how to deliver and want you to stay in their worlds forever. Bringing in expert gamers and listening to fans to develop new projects for each game. I believe Beyond Good Evil 2 will be the optimity of this, allowing fan collaboration in every aspect of the design. They also had their own surprises with RAIDS for TCD2, and bringing in Star Fox by continuing their relationship with Nintendo. Every game they gave you a reason to buy into what they were selling. Overall, it was concise, brought hype and made you glad to watch what they were pitching and eager to at least try if not buy every one of their games.

For knowing what you are good at by Brian Tyler

The best presentations are the ones that know why they are there and are unafraid to embrace their own version of weird and just roll with it. Ubisoft is that upped to 11. Want to talk about Just Dance? Bring out a dude in a panda suit and a whole host of dancers to just go nuts on stage. Want to introduce DLC to a year old game? Play some themed clips of said characters while a band plays music from Tropical Freeze. March Mr. Nintendo out two years in a row because Yves Guillemont is adorable and like to give him stuff. Also, they manage to do all this without the super awkward, “we’re trying way to hard” show stylings of EA. I did miss Aisha Tyler bringing the Girl Wood, but overall, Ubisoft did Ubisoft, and that just proved better than all the rest.

Sony Conference (Or Whatever That Was)

Banjo and Flute

Sony tried something different this year with their conference and it… kind of fell flat. The abrupt venue shift and the somewhat tiring slog through the pre-show talking heads almost turned me off of Sony’s outing this year, but then they actually got around to showing off the games. Ghost of Tsushima had a strong showing and I’ll admit to making an audible gasp when I saw that horse galloping through the wheat field. The combat instantly reminded me of the kind of measured, patient dance that was prolific in the PS1 title, Bushido Blade, and I could not be more into it. Later on in the conference The Feudal Japan setting got some more love with the surprise announcement of Nioh 2 and even though I haven’t touched the dlc for the original Nioh, I’m somehow totally ready for the next installment. If you didn’t already get the multiple memos leading up to the Sony conference, Kingdom Hearts 3 is a thing. Despite the awkward writing and copious amounts of anime cheese, I love the Kingdom Hearts series. So, seeing the Pirates of the Caribbean world rendered in the Unreal 4 engine was kind of magical. Sony’s conference was less bombastic and I could tell they were going for a more intimate vibe this year; and despite the awkward pacing, I was into it.

Unexpected reveals beats out the expected shows by Ed Bobincheck

I tossed and turned with my favorite conference because there were three standouts.  Devolver Digital deserves to be mentioned among the best for their continued amazing conferences. Not only was it short, but they broke down and parodied the “triple-A” missteps that drive the gaming audience bananas so perfectly. But the lack of actual games made me feel like they didn’t deserve the top spot. Then Ubisoft came to mind. Not only did they show off a strong amount of games, but they were, and remain, the only company to put on a show. From the Just Dance 2019 intro, featuring a marching band, JRPG protagonist dressed ladies, and all being led by a Panda bear, they had flash and style. The Trials intro with the speaker riding a motocross bike in the auditorium also stood out, and they had a live orchestra playing during a trailer. It was a show. But none of the games stood out too well and were all interesting, but things we’d seen or were just sequels. Then Sony happened. With an opening almost as awkward as the Bethesda concert opening, things were interesting, but not great.Then, without having the flair, they showed game after game. They had a new IP from my favorite dev team in Sucker Punch. They just showed new IPs, new games, all without talking. To me, Sony was the best because they used their conference to get down to basics, and showed me where games were going, not retreading old ground. The opening, while awkward and embarrassing, just made each reveal more and more exciting when you started off thinking they had screwed the pooch. Good job Sony!

Devolver Digital Conference

Because…. Eff it all by John K.

It has finally happened. E3 has become such a caricature of itself that one publisher has now made making fun of it their calling card. Devolver Digital, for the second year in a row, “wins” E3. Yeah sure, the humor in Devolver’s E3 parody “press conference” is a little too Rockstar-like in its hamfistedness, but I’ll take it. If you make fun of loot boxes and fake gameplay demos, then a few unfunny jokes can be forgiven. Oh, and Devolver is also publishing my most anticipated game - Serious Sam 4.

The Future’s Future’s Future by Jonathan Miley

There were some bad conferences this year. Others were awkward and other were just boring. While I love hearing about new games, it’s the theatrics surrounding the games that gets the most pumped and I was never more pumped then when watching the insanity that Devolver Digital produced. Seriously, just do yourself a favor and checkout their 20 minute show. It’s pure bliss.

Bethesda Conference

Some Heroes Don’t Wear Capes by David Silbert

As I take time to reflect and decompress following this year’s gauntlet of E3 pressers, it's hard not to feel a bit disappointed. From Sony’s awkwardly paced showcase, to Ubisoft's relatively safe conference, to the absolute mess that was Square Enix’s effort, there was a distinct lack of that “wow factor” that we've come to expect from gaming’s biggest stage. It's clear that we’re reaching a lull period as publishers begin the transition to the next generation of consoles. Still, there was one publisher I counted at E3 that successfully managed to tease the future while still delivering on games you can play now, and that was Bethesda. Todd Howard is the hero we don't deserve, and his monologue leading into Fallout 76 (complete with a hilarious nod to the port-Skyrim-to-everything internet jab) demonstrates why he's one of the best in the business. As apprehensive as I was going into the gameplay reveal for Fallout 76, Todd somehow managed to reassure me that it would be every bit as exciting and as engaging as past Fallout titles. Rage, Wolfenstein, Doom, Prey, Fallout... practically every Bethesda IP was in attendance this year, adding something substantial that you'd be able to play either later this year or in 2019. And then, to end not just with a reveal for Starfield but a teaser for The Elder Scrolls VI... for me, Bethesda won E3, no contest.

Nintendo Conference (Direct)

Nintendo - Simply Smashing by Alex Mateo

In a year filled with disappointing E3 conferences, Nintendo’s presentation delivered one of the few games that I am truly excited about: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Watching character after character pop up during the reveal trailer was pure bliss to me, and as soon as I saw the words, “Everyone is here,” I flipped out. Sure, most of the show consisted of that single game, but I had more fun watching the moveset breakdown than I did for other long gameplay showcases. I do wish there were more on the table other than Smash, and I had hoped to see at least a little of Metroid Prime 4 or the new mainline Pokémon. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to quite a few games: Fire Emblem Three Houses, Overcooked 2, Dragon Ball FighterZ on Switch, Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee, and the Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Torna expansion. Daemon x Machina’s artstyle and mech gameplay intrigues me, and Super Mario Party is, well, finally on the Switch. It was a fairly safe showing, but as long as Nintendo sticks to its trademark brands and gameplay styles, I’m happy. In the end, Nintendo’s presentation held my interest in a way that the other conferences did not.

Other Choice

Can I Say None of Them? by Rom

Up front, as much as I look forward to E3 every year, it’s been a long time since I was really like *wowed* by the show and conferences, which often celebrate the parts of games that I wish weren’t so prevalent: highly cinematic style, ultraviolent gameplay, interchangeable action and ideas. This year especially seemed to double down on it, and most of the conferences just bounced right off of me. I get that it’s huge and has fans beyond the usual players, but Nintendo’s dedicating over half their show to Smash was an odd choice at best. Sony confused me with a “smaller” stage show that was both pretentious and slap-dash at the same time, just intercut with excessive violence. Microsoft showed a lot of big trailers for franchises I don’t really have much stake in. Ubi at least had fun stage antics but didn’t have many games to back it up with. Square Enix was slight. EA bored me. Bethesda broke me. So yeah, I’m gonna sit this one out. See y’all next year for more disappointment!

Grand Tally

Winner: Microsoft (7)

Runner-Up: Ubisoft (3)

Sony (2)

Devolver Digital (2)

Bethesda (1)

Nintendo (1)

None of them (1)

Electronic Arts (0)

Square Enix (0)

PC Gaming Show (0)

I'm the Owner & Editor in Chief of Darkstation.com. After spending seven years as the reviews editor I took over the site in 2010. The rest is history. Now I work with our amazing staff to bring you the best possible video game coverage. Oh and I really like sports games.