What we learned from E3 2018

E3 2018
Image Source: slashgear.com

As the dust settles on yet another marathon week of gaming reveals, the age old question will be thrown around from pillar to post: who won E3 this year? As time goes on it’s a question that is starting to have smaller significance, because, let’s face it; whether you loved or loathed Sony’s E3 conference this year – you’re still buying Spiderman come September 7th, right?

That’s not to say that all of a sudden E3 bares no significance on the gaming sphere, it’s still the time of the year where gamers congregate in the hopes of being blown away for what awaits them further down the line. The size and scale of social media is starting to detract from E3’s relevancy though, if Nintendo were to upload a trailer for the next Zelda across their social media platforms today, they’d have every chance of reaching a million people by tomorrow lunch time – and it’s clear companies are becoming more and more aware of this.

Regardless, E3 2018 did its usual job of still giving us plenty to criticise, lush, and wonder over. Here’s what the event tells us about where Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo are heading.


Meant in the most complimentary was possible: things were very much ‘as you were’ for Nintendo. It speaks volumes of the success that the Switch has proved to be, and the Japanese giants deserve all the plaudits that they have received for sticking to their ethos of knowing what their core audience will want, and giving it to them. Back in March of last year you wouldn’t have had to look far for doubters of the sustainability of the Switch – they’ve all since been silenced with sales nearing 20 million, and some mighty strong first party exclusives, oh; and the newly dropped Fortnite.

The ‘Nintendo Direct’ style presentation that the company tend to opt for also speaks for the way that E3 is shifting. A 40+ minute trailer reel with occasional input from developers or Nintendo America CEO Reggie Fils Aime is the kind of showreel that could be released at any point in the year and still get the same traction, and you have to wonder whether Nintendo will find it worthwhile taking part in E3 in future years, especially since the company are so clear on their objective of offering the charming, friendly alternative to Microsoft and Sony.

Smash Bros
Image Source: smashbros.com

In terms of what was actually on show though: Nintendo gave credence what a strong position they’re in. There was no new Metroid, Animal Crossing or heaps of new details announced on the new iteration of Pokemon Go; but there was Super Mario Party, Fire Emblem, and of course: Super Smash Brothers Ultimate. The final 25 minutes of the show was dedicated to Smash Bros – showing just how important the franchise is to the Nintendo faithful. The game will go on to sell millions, get people huddled round their friends with Switches in tact, and continue to boost Nintendo’s family, and gamer friendly trend. Nintendo continue to be the quieter but deadly army.


As the pressure continues to mount on Microsoft to deliver a AAA exclusive capable of capturing the zeitgeist, the Americans set out on a near two hour slog of world premiere’s and exclusive reveals. It was the tried and tested formula of having a spokesperson stand on a stage with a multitude of screens behind him/her while they tell you about why every game on show should be on your wish-list. The format is a little mundane by this point but Phil Spencer has enough charisma to not make it a snoozefest within 20 minutes.

The biggest and most telling story to come out of this years E3 though is one that sums up the “console war” of Playstation 4 vs Xbox One. Microsoft’s most exciting announcement wasn’t Halo Infinite, it wasn’t Forza Horizon 4, and it wasn’t Gears 5; because while respectfully all three of those franchises have a large audience and will receive strong sales in their own right, the Xbox One fanbase is crying out for new IP’s to invest within.

Microsoft E3
Image Source: news.xbox.com

Announcing the purchase of Undead Labs, Compulsion Games, Playground Games, Ninja Theory, as well as new studio called ‘The Initiative’ was Microsoft’s “hang with us” powerplay, and it was one they desperately needed to make. While it may still have seemed disappointing to some fans that Microsoft don’t seem to have a major exclusive to land this fall – the American titans have certainly bought some good will with their studio initiative. An exclusive Ninja Theory title on the Xbox One X sounds incredibly tasty; all eyes on E3 2019… yeah?

Away from the studio news, Microsofts bombardment of world premiere’s backed their often reiterated motto of “this can be played everywhere but will be best on the X”. Sekiro, Cyberpunk, and Tomb Raider were amongst the cross platform games that stood out, but as previously mentioned – it looks like we’re gonna be waiting another year to see if Microsoft can blow us away.


There was a charming level of arrogance to the way that Sony approached the showcase this year. Announcing several weeks in advance that their main focus of the show would be on four games: Last Of Us 2, Ghost Of Tsushima, Death Stranding, and Spiderman seemed like Sony’s leap of faith into the visions of their partners – and their ability to leave people reeling over what they’re about to see.

It wasn’t just this faith that was telling of Sony’s confidence though, having a whole theatre/church set out and dressed up to mirror the opening scene of The Last Of Us 2 trailer was smug genius. And while the intermission between the end of TLOU2 trailer and moving people across to the arena where the rest of the show would take place was odd – Naughty Dog have more than earned enough stripes to warrant such a bold move. The game itself look shudderingly excellent, and if there’s one team on this planet that can create something to beat the original Last Of Us – it’s most certainly Neil Druckmann and co.

Image Source: gamespot.com

Death Stranding continued to deepen its intrigue factor (does anyone know what that game actually is yet?), Spiderman looked like beautiful chaos certain to sell copies in the millions; and Ghost Of Tsushima was the kind of vast, exquisite looking samurai adventure which finally explains why Suckerpunch went quiet for so long. It’s easy to look at Sony’s conference and scream “THERE WAS NOTHING NEW!” but look deeper and you find a company with 100% belief in their studios, their ethos, and their plan going forward.

With Sony also putting on their annual ‘PlayStation Experience’ event every December, it makes much more sense for the blue brand to save a lot of their new big hitters for their hardcore audience that will attend, as opposed to the heaps of journalists that parade E3.

The Future

Whether this time in five years there is still an annual showcase for all gaming powerhouses to come and show what they’ve got in their locker remains to be seen. But this year certainly painted an interesting landscape for gaming to go forward over the next 12 months, we haven’t even mentioned Battlefield, Call Of Duty, Destiny, or Assassin’s Creed here – which speaks volumes for where the impact of this years gaming expo really landed.

Going forward, all three of gamings biggest hitters left us with more questions than answers, though that is usually the case for this type of event. The term “console war” seems to get more dated every day, especially when each company seems to be particularly adamant in offering something in alternative to the other. As Nintendo continue to make waves, Microsoft build bridges, and Sony reinforce theirs; one thing is clear: it’s a great time to be a gamer.

God Of War: Playstation 4’s Crown Jewel

Image Source: godofwar.playstation.com

More than just one of, if not THE greatest game of this console generation; God Of War is the benchmark for what Sony’s gaming philosophy has stood for over the last 8+ years.

You’ll remember that the launch of Playstation 3 wasn’t anywhere near as successful as Sony wanted, a luxury priced machine with clunky online functionality wasn’t going to cut it when Microsoft’s Xbox 360 was reinventing multiplayer gaming, introducing achievements and bringing digital games to life.

But Sony’s faith, attention, and emphasis on single player experiences such as InFamous, Metal Gear Solid 4, Heavy Rain, Uncharted, and The Last Of Us kept the PS3 in the fight with the 360 – despite receiving a few hay-makers in the early going.

As we fast forward to 2018, the Playstation 4 has had one hell of a run in its near five year life span, and the tide has most certainly shifted back in Sony’s favour. A large component in this shift has without a doubt been, once again, a focus on single player experiences: Bloodborne, Horizon, Crash Bandicoot, Nioh, Uncharted 4 (you get the point.) But nothing speaks of the success of the Playstation 4 quite like God Of War.

For context on the success of the game thus far: Gran Turismo 5 was the PS3’s greatest selling exclusive – clocking in at around 12 million copies. God Of War sold 3.1 million copies in 3 days. Reaping the rewards of the huge install base that was there to appeal to, the games developers Santa Monica have taken what seemed to be a tired concept, and reinvented it to what could be looked at as a stand-out moment in the annals of gaming history.

Light spoilers will lie ahead here, nothing that gives any of the twists and turns of the game away (there’s plenty) but some of the combat elements and story ark will be discussed.

Kratos and Atreus
Image Source: cnet.com

Story and characterisation are two organs of the anatomy of a game which cannot be understated in terms of importance – especially when it comes to single player experiences. You remember the first time you played as Solid Snake, Marcus Fenix, Commander Shepherd, Nathan Drake, the list goes on. But for all the success that God Of War had experienced in its ferocious combat in previous years, Kratos was rarely a protagonist whose character and back-story were particularly compelling besides him being a super-human Spartan who got angry quite a lot.

With this latest iteration of God Of War, Santa Monica have taken Kratos from his high-horse of emotive ignorance and have turned the Spartan into a tired monster among creatures, but more than that: he’s just a father acting out his wife’s final living wishes. Accompanied by his young, wide eyed son Atreus; this isn’t just a journey into the trials and tribulations of a god-like Spartan, this is front seat viewing of a connection, or seemingly lack thereof between a man and his child.

History confirms that ever-present sidekicks can be more of a hindrance than an addition in gaming, but the story between Kratos and Atreus is so insatiably fascinating that the imaginary thought of this being a solo mission almost doesn’t bare thinking about. You sink into every ounce of dialogue between the two, you have an unquenchable thirst for more knowledge on their back-story; it’s all fed to you in a way that is terrifically paced and Kratos’ mentor over father attitude makes every occasional micro second of affection between the two live long in the memory.

Newcomers to the franchise are more than welcomed here, and Santa Monica employ the genius tactic of feeding you enough information about the characters involved to make you feel a personal connection – while still leaving enough room for you to be curious about certain aspects of their lives. Each participant in God Of War’s 30+ hour story feel absolutely vital to its make-up, and while the main story only involves around 7 characters, they are explored tremendously; from Kratos himself to the dwarven merchants – everyone has a cemented place in this tale.

Despite the flawless story between man and son, combat is where God Of War shines at its brightest. Moving on from the hack and slash, Devil May Cry-esque styled combat of the previous games in the series into a more strategic form of combat, this iteration of the game is some of the most satisfying combat you will ever experience. You sense the power of a univerise at your disposal, and dishing it out on your foes is immediately gratifying.

Image Source: theverge.com

The Leviathan Axe is your meat clever in a butchers shop, and the way it slices through enemies with unmatched gore never stops being a thrill ride. Each new skill you learn or purchase comes with the added bonus of seeing the obliteration of your enemies in another way; throwing your axe into an enemies skull is just as fun as summoning a river of ice to rip them apart.

The Souls like element of being handed a shield and a button for dodging adds to the glamour too, the moments where you’re surrounded with enemies makes for tense chess battles of combat; dodging or parrying just in time before getting a few strikes in and repeating manifests itself into duels of bravery and timing.

Atreus is more than just a character with an intriguing story too, his presence in combat is not only a pleasant addition – it’s a necessity at times. Summoning mythical animal attacks, distracting enemies with arrows, or holding them in position while you decapitate them – Atreus is a vital part of what makes God Of War’s combat as smooth as silk, and the ability to level him up while you go sets in a subconscious mindset that you are part of his growth along this journey.

Perhaps God Of War’s greatest, and possibly unnoticed by some’s masterstroke though is in its camera angle. Yes the visuals are beyond stunning, and the vibrancy of certain areas in the vast world of the game are so breathtaking you’ll be legitimately staggered, but the fact that the entirety of your adventure is done from one entire shot is the cherry on top of this ten tiered cake of excellence. It feels like you’re a first hand witness on this twisting journey, there’s a level of escapism bought with that you may never have felt in a game before. Every boss fight feels extra climactic, every rage burst is a true adrenaline rush. This is a first hand experience of Norse mythology unlike any other you’ll find.

As season passes and micro transactions continue to become ever-present in the gaming world, God Of War is a reminder of the power a single player experience can hold. There’s no other way to dissect it – Cory Barlog and co at Santa Monica Studios have taken a franchise that seemed to be running low on steam and turned it into the Mona Lisa of this console generation.

A story of scattering your wife’s ashes manifests itself into a touching, vivid, incredibly deep journey which stands out as the pinnacle of storytelling over the last 5 years. Several games have paid back Sony’s faith in solo experiences in the last decade or so, but arguably none more so than God Of War. Prepare for shocks, blood, anger, twists, and to immerse yourself in the greatest story on Playstation 4.